Jeroboam son of Nebat was a man who didn’t trust God. He was an official under Solomon and rose to the position of being in charge of the whole labor force of the house of Joseph. One day the prophet Ahijah met him. Ahijah tore his new cloak into 12 pieces and gave Jeroboam 10 of the pieces. Ahijah prophesied that Jeroboam would become King of Israel. He would rule over the ten northern tribes. Jeroboam was given this promise from God:
And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel. And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you. (1 Kings 11:37–38, ESV)
Jeroboam had to flee from Solomon who made an attempt on his life, but after Solomon’s death, he returned from Egypt and became King of Israel just as God had promised. Yet, Jeroboam worried that he would loose his kingdom because the people must worship in Jerusalem. Because of his lack of trust in God’s sure promise, he rebelled and set up the golden calves in Dan and Bethel and commanded the people to worship there. He established an alternate feast and an alternate priesthood using men who were not Levites.
God warned Jeroboam. A prophet predicted that Josiah would someday offer Jeroboam’s priests on the altar at Bethel. A sign was given that altar would be split apart and the ashes would be poured out. Jeroboam ordered that the prophet be seized, but when he stretched out his hand it shriveled. When the prophet interceded for him his hand was restored. To top it all, the sign came true as well. Certainly, this should have made Jeroboam change his ways, but it didn’t. (1 Kings 13:1-6)
Jeroboam had evidence of great blessing in his life, and God’s sure promise if he but obey. Yet, he turned away—he was a man who didn’t trust God.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4, ESV)