A Man of God Confronts Jeroboam
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. And the man 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.’” 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.’” 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. 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. 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. And the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” 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, 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.’” So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel.
The Prophet’s Disobedience
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. 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. And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him and he mounted it. 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.” Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” 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, 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.’” 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. So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water.
And as they sat at the table, the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back. 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, 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.’” And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. 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. 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.
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.” And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And they saddled it. 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. 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. And he laid the body in his own grave. And they mourned over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!” 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. 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.”
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. 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 Kings 13 Commentary
by Hank Workman
It is the strangest of stories.
A nameless prophet is sent to speak against the false worship King Jeroboam has established. His prophecy is bold and harsh as to what is to come through this evil king and leading the people astray from God. Enraged, Jeroboam who sits there while this strong word is spoken, raises his arm declaring his men to seize him. Instead, God strikes Jeroboam’s hand and it shrivels up, unable to even pull it back to himself. Begging for mercy, Jeroboam pleads for prayers of restoration and God answers. His hand is intact.
This man of God had traveled from Judah and was given strict orders by the Lord as to what he must and must not do. He was to go pronounce this prophetic fate, eat or drink nothing while on the journey and return a different way home. Enter a lying prophet… some man who actually lived in the land of Jeroboam hears of this that happened and sets off to find him. Lying through his teeth, he tells the original prophet God has changed His instructions and he can eat and drink and is to come home with him.
I pause here and wonder even in the story, what was in it for this false prophet? Why was he so fascinated with the man of God? Was it because people speaking truth were such a rarity?
Regardless, without any questioning of God, the prophet returns with the man. During dinner, God speaks through this false prophet declaring he has disobeyed and his life will be taken. On the way home a lion kills him and he’s left in the road where the lion looks on and his donkey who was not attacked stands.
The man of God listened to the lie. No matter how God had spoken to him specifically of what he must do, he did not resist the temptation to follow and it ended in his own destruction. When we have been directed by God on some task or mindset we must not listen to what others say. We must stay true to the calling He has for us. For even if they come to us using the “Word of the Lord” we must go back to our God and seek counsel; we must pray for wisdom and discernment into the matter. There are many today who claim to speak for God but are a snare of the enemy to lead us away from Him and our obedience. God never contradicts His words.
Give us wisdom and discernment God in our following the words of you. Give us insight and determination to complete the mission you’ve given. Let us not be distracted from obedience.
1 Kings 13 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
As we read in 1 Kings 12, Jeroboam’s kingdom was in a terrible state and God had a message for him. There are three different scenarios we see play out in this scene.
From start to finish, Jeroboam never changes his mind. His heart is depraved and he refuses to repent. Even after hearing a true prophecy and then watching the old prophet change his tune, he was content to continue sinning. There are some today who see miracles and experience the Word of God in action, yet, refuse to bend their knee.
The Prophet from Judah’s Compromise
This man did so many things right! He just didn’t finish. He spoke a message of boldness and took courage in sticking to his guns when dealing with Jeroboam. However, the turning point was the emotional, spectacular experience (which was a lie) that the old prophet used against him. Instead of trusting the Word of God, he trusted in a word of man. This is a metaphor for the state of the church in our culture today. Many are replacing the certainty of the Word of God with a high-energy emotional experience. This is a compromise today just like it was then.
The Old Prophet’s Heart
I get the impression that this old prophet was a sincere follower of God who had made costly compromises under Jeroboam’s leadership. It’s possible that he may have been associated with the ancient school of prophecy under the leadership of Elijah. But his decision to deceive this prophet from Judah was a direct result of his own spiritual life. This is a key point considering the prophet of Judah would face God’s judgment. The old prophet grieved this man of Judah. Why?
Because after everything shakes out, the old prophet realizes the consequences of his own actions. Because he was not spiritually dialed in, and because he chose to deceive this man, a genuine prophet of God was led into disobedience and ultimately death. This is a metaphor for exactly what is happening under Jeroboam’s leadership! This is why the old prophet changes his heart and agrees to the message given by the prophet of Judah.
After the burial the prophet said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in this grave and lay my body next to his. 32 The words that he spoke at the LORD’s command against the altar in Bethel and against all the places of worship in the towns of Samaria will surely come true.”1 Kings 13:31-32 GNB
He not only agrees with him but wants to be buried next to him. He saw the consequences of sin and compromise with absolute clarity. This was the truth of God. He mourned because he knew that his sin was greater than this man of Judah, yet, he was still alive. This was the grace of God. When we experience the fullness of truth and grace, our hearts change. This old prophet was no longer the same. He would not allow the life of this man of Judah to go in vain. He would set his mind to live according to truth and grace.