Viewing the actual site of the unearthed and reconstructed high place of Jeroboam was one of the ironically low and high points of the trip. I was amazed that I was viewing here the ruins/reconstruction of the physical result of this amazing declaration by Jeroboam:
It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. (1 Kings 12:28)
Rebellious Jeroboam, first king of Israel following the division of 1 Kings, the one who led the rebellion against Rehoboam was clearly paving, for the 10 tribes of Israel, the path to laziness, ease, idolatry and ultimate ruin. He built two gold calves and set up an altar on this hill in Dan and called the people whom God had rescued over and over again, to worship the images in this very place. I wonder how/if Jeroboam would have altered the course if he could have peered through the lens of time and seen this mound of ruin where God’s followers still today lament over the bold departure from the Will of the Sovereign One. I wonder if he would have changed his mind about moving the “mound” of worship to Dan, if he could have known that people 3000 years hence would be reading over 20 passages in the Old Testament in which Jeroboam was described as the sinful one who led Israel into idolatry. I wonder if he would have placed the altar for idol worship in Dan if he had known that the tribe of Dan would be omitted from the genealogies of 1 Chronicles or from the listing of the 144,000 in Revelation 7.
To us today, the altar at Dan shouts an ultimatum: Reverence or ruin.
For those in our religious world today who think it unimportant to work (yes, work) to make our worship pleasing to its Sovereign audience, the altar of Jeroboam stands as a sentinel warning. Worship which disintegrates to an arena of human fulfillment, rather than obeisance (literally, worship means crouching before the high one) to the Infinite One, the path is destruction and omission from eternal blessings.
In practical terms, may we be diligent to put the “work” aspect of our worship in the hearts of our children and at the center of our homes. We do this by preparing for it, praying about it in terms our kids can understand, laying aside our generous contributions ahead of time (and our children’s), making all efforts to be there on time and to be fully engaged, and making sure there is no laughter and visiting with friends during worship. It’s figuratively keeping our worship in Jerusalem and always refraining from “high places” of our own devising.