The Menu Said, "No Substitutions"

While visiting one of our local restaurants for breakfast a while back, I wanted bacon instead of sausage, but the menu said, “No substitutions.” Often when it comes to God’s will for our lives, we desire our own way over His way. As a result, many have made substitutions in God’s arrangement of things. Consider the example of Jeroboam. He did not want Israel reuniting with Judah so he developed his own religion to replace God’s. The Bible says, “Now this thing became a sin” (1 Kings 12:30).

What substitutions did Jeroboam make and what lessons can we learn? (Romans 15:4).

1) Jeroboam substituted the place of worship – Instead of the people returning to the temple at Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:32; Deuteronomy12:5-14) altars were set up at Dan and Bethel (1 Kings 12:27-29). Today, men have replaced God’s temple, His church (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) with denominationalism, cultism and spiritualism. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). God adds all the saved to it (Acts 2:47). There is only one church over which Jesus is head and of which He is the savior (Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 4:4; Ephesians 5:23). This is the church purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). No other church belongs to Christ. Jesus did not die for any substitute!

2) Jeroboam also substituted the priesthood – God had ordained the sons of Aaron and the other Levites as priests (Exodus 28:40-41; Numbers 3:3; Leviticus 8). Jeroboam consecrated whoever wished to be a priest from every class of people (1 Kings 12:31; 1 Kings 13:33-34). There is a priesthood in the New Testament church, but it is not the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops and Priests of Catholicism. Nor is it the clergy of any other religious organization. Every Christian is a priest (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:5-6)! As priests we offer up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 13:15-16). Jesus is the only head of the church in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18; Colossians 1:18) and the one mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). Let us appreciate the responsibility we have as Christians and do away with all these other substitutions!

3) Jeroboam substituted the object of worship – Like the golden calf Aaron made for the people (Exodus 32), Jeroboam made two calves of gold and said to Israel, “Here are your gods” (1 Kings 12:28-29). Men still bow before images and statues. Some kiss the feet of men or worship at the shrine of Mary. Others worship the angels of heaven. Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew 4:10). When John fell down to worship before the feet of the angel he was told, “Do not do that… Worship God” (Revelation 22:8-9). Cornelius fell at Peter’s feet and worshiped him. “But Peter lifted him up, saying, Stand up; I myself am also a man” (Acts 10:25-26). Idolatry or image worship is specifically condemned in Scripture (Romans 1:20-25; 1 John 5:21). Whenever we put our desires above God’s, we have substituted the true and only worthy object of worship (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5; Matthew 6:24).

4) Jeroboam substituted the pattern of worship – He ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month (1 Kings 12:32). This was like the feast of Judah, but not on the same day and month which God had ordained (cf. Leviticus 23:33-35; Numbers 29:12). Rather, it was something “he had devised in his own heart” (1 Kings 12:33). It had always been important to follow the pattern God gave (Exodus 25:9), and even more so in regards to the new and better covenant of Christ (Hebrews 8:5-6). Yet, men have taken unlawful liberties and changed God’s pattern.

Dear reader, any religion of substitutes, is a false religion, because it has its origin in men and not God. Such is “vain” and will be “uprooted” (Matthew 15:7-14). We must not change God’s way for our own way (Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 John 9; Revelation 22:18-19). By the way, in the restaurant where I went for breakfast, the waiter allowed me to have my bacon, but when God says, “No substitutions”  that’s exactly what He means!

Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets