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There is great counsel in the old stories of God's faithfulness and truth. We have been looking at some from 1 and 2nd Kings. Today I want to look at a odd story from 1 King 13
It is about a Man of God from Judah who goes to deliver a message to king Jeroboam.
Jeroboam is the frist king of the split 10 kingdoms. He is instrumental in setting up a lot of idol worship. He is sent a man of God who tells him what will happen in the future. He says this is the sign, this alter will split and the ashes on it will be poured out. Jeroboam reaches to grab the man and his arm withers. He has to ask the man to intercede to God and pray for his hand to be restored. I think that it is interesting to note that even with this powerful sign from God, Jeroboam hardens his heart and continues in his evil ways and leadership.
The part of the story that is perplexing to me is that Jeroboam invites the man of God to have something to eat and offers to give him a gift. 8 But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place. 9 For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.’”
So he goes home by another route but on the way he meets and old prophet from Bethel. He is still in "this place" and the word from God to him was that he was not to eat or drink there. The new prophet says something to the effect of "look man, I'm a prophet too and an angel told me to bring you home and give you bread and water. The man of God has walked into a trap. I don't understand why another prophet would want to destroy him but he is lying. The man of God dis obeys the instructions that God has given him and takes the other mans word on the matter.
While eating the man from Bethel speaks a word from God to him. “Thus says the Lord: ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord, and have not kept the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, 22 but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the Lord said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’
So he saddles his donkey and heads for home and is met by a lion on the road who kills him. The man from Bethel goes and finds the body with the donkey and the lion standing by. The lion has not eaten the man or the donkey. The man takes the man back and morns for the man and buried him in his own burial plot and instruct people to burry his own bones on top of this man when he dies.
He then proclaims For the saying which he cried out by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel, and against all the shrines on the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, will surely come to pass.”
The final verses of the is chapter says 33 After this event Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but again he made priests from every class of people for the high places; whoever wished, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. 34 And this thing was the sin of the house of Jeroboam, so as to exterminate and destroy it from the face of the earth.
So what is the counsel of old to us in this story. If God gives you specific instructions - follow them to the letter. Just because someone else brings you a new instruction you should not heed it if it is contrary to what God has already instructed you. Here's the thing about receiving prophetic words from others. They should be used to confirm what God has already been speaking to you. They should not set you off in a new course contrary to what God has spoken to you directly. I know a lot of folks go looking for others to tell them what God is saying. Here is the old truth - God knows your address and you don't have to go chasing moves of Gods or prophets to give you a word. Allow the Lord to speak directly to you in his word and in your quiet time with Him. If he sends you to a prophet or someone prays a word over you look for confirmations to what God has already told you and beware of new direction that is contrary to what God has already spoken to you.
I am still somewhat perplexed by this story. Why one prophet would lie to the other. It is clear from his lament Alas my brother that these two were equals to one another.
It bothers me that the local man of God was not speaking up against Jeroboam's wickedness. That God had to send someone from Judah. I suppose there is sometimes jealousy that arises in us when God uses someone else to do what we should have done. I think the old prophet gives him respect in burial because he knows that this man was a better man then he and by lying his bones beside his he was in a sense aspiring to be a better man of God. The other thing that bothers me is why God judges a man who has obeyed in the big things, ministered in his power and boldly proclaimed his message, who slips up by eating and drinking in that place. Yet the prophet who has not doen his job in his community and who lies is not punished. I don't have an answer to some of the inequities of God.
It would seem complacency and lying are rewarded and a small disobedience brings swift but merciful judgement. The lion kills the man but it does not maul him.
The man of God does speak of someone named Josiah born to the house of David coming in the future and putting to death all the false prophets and priests of idol worship. If you read Josiah's story in 2 Kings 23 he comes upon the tomb of the man of God and asks about it. 16 As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs that were there on the mountain. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. 17 Then he said, “What gravestone is this that I see?”
So the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel.”
18 And he said, “Let him alone; let no one move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria.
God works in ways we don't understand and he must have wanted this man of God's bones to be there in that place. Josiah finds him many many years later and hears the word that was given about him long before he was even born. We serve an awesome God and we don't always understand his plans and purpose and how he uses us sometimes even in death to speak to a future generation.
So I don't have all the answers on this story but it is one that every time I read it I have to stop and ponder it and consider the councils of old and what they mean for me today.
Prayer: Lord speak through this story to each of us. You have a message if we will take the time to hear it and search it out. Your word is full of hidden treasures help us to understand guide and teach us by your Holy Spirit.