From 1 Kings 12-14
A man of God predicts what will happen to the false worship Jeroboam has instituted. Jeroboam refuses to repent or take notice. What happens afterwards is a very unusual story and sign which validates the truth of the man of God’s prophecy. In the gospel Jesus says his resurrection is a sign to all they need to repent, turn to him and do good.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Today’s passage is long. I’ve chosen it because the story is so interesting and has a bit of strange logic going on.
At this point in 1 Kings, the kingdoms of Judah and Israel have split under Rehoboams and Jeroboams leadership respectively. Jeroboam has created golden calves for the Israelites to worship in an attempt to prevent his people from returning to the temple of the LORD (which is in Jerusalem-Judah) to worship. Unfortunately he has led his people into idolatry. In today’s passage he is condemned for it.
13 And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. 2 And the man [of God] cried against the altar by the word of the LORD and said,
“O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’ ”
3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying,
“This is the sign that the LORD has spoken: ‘Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.’ ” (1 Ki 13.1-3)
The man of God stands by one of the altars before a golden calf Jeroboam has made can calls down a judgment on it. He predicts in the future a king named Josiah will come, sacrifice and burn to ash all the false priests who worship here at the golden calf and its altar (cf 2 Ki 23.15-20). Basically the altar and its worship will be destroyed.
Then be predicts a sign will be given to validate his prophecy. People will come and tear down the altar and its ashes poured out.
Clearly this message will not go down well with the people worshipping there.
4 And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him.” And his hand, which he stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. 5 The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. (1 Ki 13.4-5)
Jeroboam overhears the message and doesn’t like it. He tries to capture the man of God. Jeroboam in turn is afflicted by the LORD. Then people come and tear down the altar and pour its ashes out.
Its looking like the man of God’s prophecy is in fact true because of the sign.
The king is hoping to have his hand healed and seems to have a change of heart.
6 And the king said to the man of God, “Entreat now the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” And the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored to him and became as it was before. 7 And the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.”
8 And the man of God said to the king, “If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, 9 for so was it commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.’ ” 10 So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel. (1 Ki 13.6-10)
Here we learn something else about the man of God. He has been commanded by the LORD not to eat or drink nor come by the way he came. If he does we can assume bad things will happen to him.
So in short the man of God has issued a prophecy which predicts the demise of the false worship Jeroboam has set up by a future king named Josiah. He has given a sign to demonstrate the validity of his prophecy. He has also revealed he is under command of the LORD not to eat, drink or return the way he came.
11 Now an old prophet lived in Bethel. And his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. They also told to their father the words that he had spoken to the king. 12 And their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him the way that the man of God who came from Judah had gone. 13 And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him and he mounted it. (1 Ki 13.11-13)
This old prophet hears all that has happened and for some reason wants to catch up with the man of God. He finds him,
14 And he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak. And he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?”
And he said, “I am.”
15 Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.”
16 And he said, “I may not return with you, or go in with you, neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, 17 for it was said to me by the word of the LORD, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.’ ”
18 And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’ ” But he lied to him.
19 So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water. (1 Ki 13.14-19)
He immediately tempts him to eat and the man of God reveals the command of the LORD. So he lies to him in order to get him to eat and drink.
Why do you think he would want the man of God to break the LORD’s command?
20 And as they sat at the table, the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back. 21 And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD and have not kept the command that the LORD your God commanded you, 22 but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’ ” (1 Ki 13.20-22)
After the man of God eats and drinks the prophet is given word of judgment by the LORD. So the man who lied to him now proclaims judgment on him. We also learn part of the judgment is when he dies he will no longer be laid with his fathers.
How would you feel if you were the man of God? Deceived? How would you feel if you were the prophet?
The man of God leaves.
23 And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. 24 And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body. 25 And behold, men passed by and saw the body thrown in the road and the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the city where the old prophet lived.
26 And when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of the LORD; therefore the LORD has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word that the LORD spoke to him.”
27 And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And they saddled it.
28 And he went and found his body thrown in the road, and the donkey and the lion standing beside the body. The lion had not eaten the body or torn the donkey. (1 Ki 13.23-28)
The man of God goes out and is killed by a lion. He was killed because he disobeyed the word of the LORD.
People walk by and notice the unusual sight of a lion standing by the dead body of the man of God. The tale spreads around.
The man who predicted the destruction of the idolatrous priests and their altar has been killed by a lion.
The prophet who deceived him and condemned him by the word of the LORD hears of it and seeks him out to see if it is the truth.
29 And the prophet took up the body of the man of God and laid it on the donkey and brought it back to the city to mourn and to bury him. 30 And he laid the body in his own grave. And they mourned over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!” 31 And after he had buried him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. (1 Ki 13.29-31)
Strangely when he finds him he mourns his loss. I say it is strange because he was the one who lied to him and got him to eat. He is part of the reason why he was killed in the first place.
None the less we know the prophet’s grief is genuine. He calls him brother and lays him down in his own tomb (not the man of God’s father’s tomb) which is where he will be laid himself.
Confusing story with a strange twist? Yep. Here is the significance of what has happened.
32 For the saying that he called out by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel and against all the houses of the high places that are in the cities of Samaria shall surely come to pass.”
33 After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people. Any who would, he ordained to be priests of the high places. 34 And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth. (1 Ki 13.32-34)
The man of God disobeyed the LORD’s command and was killed for it.
The man of God’s death by the lion is seen as another sign proving his earlier prophecy about the false priests being sacrificed and burned to ash is true (1 Ki 13.2). Even then Jeroboam still hardened in his fear and sin still did not repent.
Israel was given many warnings by the LORD. Most I expect were more conventional than what we have seen today.
The man of God died because of his disobedience. This too was a warning to Jeroboam. Those who disobey the LORD will die. If the man of God was not exempt, neither will he be or the nation he leads.
What we have read was written many years later and was intended to explain to the punished nation why they have been punished as they were. They were given ample warning, they ignored those warnings, they were punished justly by the LORD.
Signs from the LORD can be very important. In the gospel Jesus refers to his own death and resurrection as the most important sign we all need to take notice of and respond to.
19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried,
23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’
25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’
27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’
29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’
30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ” (Lk 16.19-31)
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the sign the LORD has given us.
Like Jeroboam, perhaps there is some sort of sin in your life you need to deal with.
We need to respond to Jesus death and resurrection by repenting of the wrong we have done and doing good deeds in keeping with our repentance (cf. Lk 3.7,9; Acts 26.20).
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.