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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Cafeteria-Style Religion (1 Kings 12:28-31)

 "After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt. One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there. Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites."

Cafeteria style dining attracts those who want to assemble their meal from a wide assortment of choices, unlike a set menu where entrees come with few options. Cafeteria style religion characterizes religionists who collect beliefs they like and reject those with which they disagree.

King Jeroboam was a cafeteria style religionist. In order to prevent the ten tribes of Israel from returning to Jerusalem to worship he developed a new religion by taking what he liked from Judaism (holy days, sacrificial system, priests, and festivals), added golden calves from the Egyptian religious system, and goat and calf idols from local religious systems. The end result was a cafeteria style religion. One that led the heart of the children of Israel away from God.

Cain was the first cafeteria style religionist. He didn't want to come to God His way--through the shedding of the blood of the innocent animal as a covering of the sins of guilty mankind--so he offered the fruit of the ground instead. God had already established the pattern of approach in the Garden of Eden when He slew an animal and covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve. Ultimately, all cafeteria style religionists reject God's way of approach (Christ alone) and seek to establish a system of beliefs which exclude repentance from sin and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Cafeteria style religion is on the increase today as men and women turn away from the absolute truth as revealed in Scripture and seek to concoct a religion that gives them a free ticket to heaven "by and by" coupled with a "live anyway you want to live" attitude in the "here and now."

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: 1 Kings 12:1-13:34; 2 Chronicles 10:1-19; 11:1-4, 13-17
  • What type of leadership do the elders recommend to Jeroboam and why does Jeroboam reject their counsel?
  • What kind of leaders do most people really want?
  • Why do young leaders have a tendency to reject the counsel of elders?
  • What happens as a result of Rehoboam's harsh decision?
  • Describe Jeroboam's style of leadership. How does his leadership differ from Rehoboam's?
  • What does God do that reveals His mercy and longsuffering?
  • How does Jeroboam respond to the unnamed prophet?
  • Why does the unnamed prophet listen to the old prophet and what does the prophet's lying cost the unnamed prophet?
  • What does this narrative tell you about the spiritual condition of most of the spiritual leaders in this period of Israel's history?
Turning truth into prayer
This story should warn us to know the uncompromising truth of God's word and to remain loyal to its teachings. Pray for your pastor that he will be a man of the Word. Pray for your church that they will be grounded in the Word.