1 Kings 13 – Disobedience of the Prophet
Jeroboam was the first king is Israel. He ruled over ten tribes and did great wickedness in the eyes of the LORD. Idolatry was a great sin of his. He raised up common, low-life people to become priests not from the tribe of Levi. He erected golden calves and other pagan worship practices in Bethel and Dan. He did this because he feared that the people would return to Jerusalem to worship the LORD which would cause him to lose control over his kingdom. 1King 12
Often, fear causes irrational and sinful behavior. Jeroboam was afraid.
So, God sends a prophet, a “man of God” to him. It’s interesting to see that this prophet comes from Judah. Judah was the tribe at greatest odds against Israel. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son was king over Judah. So, God sends His word directly from the brother who was at war. This often happens inside our own families. God has great ways of keeping us together.
So, the man of God goes up to Bethel, where Jeroboam erected one of his own altars of worship. He goes and prophesies that Josiah would be born and that the priests would be sacrificed and burned right on that altar. And, that the ashes would be poured out over a broken altar.
As it turns out, Josiah was born of the line of David. He was the 16th king of Judah. In the eighth year of his reign, he starts to seek out the God of David his father (2 Chron 34:3). This sets him upon a zealous rant of bringing down idolatry and the high places that had been erected. Eight brings new beginnings, indeed.
Four years later, he is on a tirade of cleansing Judah and Jerusalem. This led to him destroying the priests of the high places and burning their bones upon the altars that they had built, including the one in Bethel, as he entered into parts of Israel.
We get a good view of just how prophetic this man of God really was. He foretold of events long before their time all the way down to naming the person who would be responsible for purging idolatry out of the land.
Often times, the LORD places great weight on the obedience of His prophets. He asks them to do things that “normal” people aren’t asked to do. God continually tests our obedience and faithfulness to His word. There is a great responsibility that comes with hearing His voice and carrying out His word – especially as we increase in the Kingdom, and the LORD brings us in front of kings.
He tells Jeroboam the word of the LORD, and Jeroboam directs him to be arrested. Often times, when giving a directive or corrective word, people do not receive it. This is a big deal for the prophet. You must obey and deliver the word no matter what it is. Ezekiel had this same issue. The blood of the people were on his hands if he failed to deliver.
But, we also see the opposite effect. God gets behind His word. When Jeroboam says to have the man of God seized, his hand withers up. Imagine that! The dude is struck with palsy. So, he freaks and asks the man of God to pray for him to get it back. It’s funny how people will be brought to their senses when God gets behind His own word. So, the man of God prays, and Jeroboam’s hand is restored.
So, now how does Jeroboam respond?
7Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.”
He goes from arresting him to rewarding him. Was it fear? Was it gratitude? He wasn’t so focused on the prophetic declaration anymore.
What does the man of God say?
8But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water in this place.
9″For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came.'”
I believe that we see the first mistake made. The man of God speaks the game plan that God had given him. He tells Jeroboam that he isn’t supposed to eat or drink or go the same way. The wise men were given a similar instruction at the birth of Jesus so as to avoid a trap laid by Herod. The devil is always on the prowl seeking whom he can destroy. Often, God gives us strange direction just for our own protection.
But, the word is now out. He does the right thing in obeying. Test passed.
But now, we get to a more tricky spot.
11 Now an old prophet was living in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the deeds which the man of God had done that day in Bethel; the words which he had spoken to the king, these also they related to their father.
12 Their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” Now his sons had seen the way which the man of God who came from Judah had gone.
13 Then he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him and he rode away on it.
14 So 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 He said, “I cannot return with you, nor go with you, nor will I eat bread or drink water with you in this place.
17 “For a command came to me by the word of the LORD, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water there; do not return by going the way which you came.'”
18 He said to him, “I also am a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to 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.
What do we see here?
1) The enemy listens. He hears what the man of God tells Jeroboam and lays a snare to entrap him.
2) A “prophet” comes on the scene and says, “Hey, I am just like you – meaning, I hear God too, and God said that you need to come with me and eat”. That should be a huge red flag. When a man contradicts the word of the LORD, run! When a man says that God told him to tell you something that contradicts the word that you have, run fast!
3) How does the old prophet convey it? He says that he heard from an angel. Now, we know that the devil comes as an angel of light.
# 2 Corinthians 11:14
No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
I believe that the old man got a word, but he got it from the devil who had previously heard what was said. Then, he played on position to tempt the guy. I am a prophet, and you are a prophet. Hey, you know what it’s like to hear from God, and so do I. And, I got a word that you are now to disobey exactly what God had directed before. God said, and man was tricked. This happened in the garden. Did God really say? Often, the enemy will come at us with those four words. Be aware!
4) It says, “but he lied to him”. Who is a liar and the father of all lies? So, we see that it was clearly the devil.
20 Now it came about, as they were sitting down at the table, that 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, saying, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have disobeyed the command of the LORD, and have not observed the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you,
22 but have returned and 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 grave of your fathers.'”
23 It came about after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, for the prophet whom he had brought back.
24 Now when he had gone, a lion met him on the way and killed him, and his body was thrown on the road, with the donkey standing beside it; the lion also was standing beside the body.
25 And behold, men passed by and saw the body thrown on the road, and the lion standing beside the body; so they came and told it in the city where the old prophet lived.
26 Now when the prophet who brought him back from the way heard it, he said, “It is the man of God, who disobeyed the command of the LORD; therefore the LORD has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke to him.”
So, the true word comes to the old prophet, and he pronounces judgment on the man of God. When the LORD tells us to do something, it is critical that we do it. We never know what weighs in the balance, great or small. We must be obedient. It is the prophet’s duty to hear and obey.
Look at verse 24. Now, when he had gone, a lion met him on the way and killed him, and his body was thrown on the road, with the donkey standing beside it; the lion also was standing beside the body.
Jesus first came as the lamb. We know that the LORD is going to pour out His spirit in these last days as prophesied in Joel 2. There will be prophetic folks running all over the place. And, when Jesus returns, it will certainly be as the lion of the tribe of Judah.
I believe that this entire story paints quite a prophetic picture. We have one of the prophets from the tribe of Judah disobeying the word of the LORD and being taken out by the lion. The lion doesn’t eat him. He removes him from operation. And, I also believe that the donkey once again shows us that God uses all resources around us to set our paths straight. Balaam had a donkey too. And, that donkey saved him. Note how the lion does nothing to the donkey. Rather, it is the disobedient that He deals with.
So, the LORD is certainly pouring out His Spirit, and many will prophesy. But, we must not take lightly the weight of the assignment. We must understand that obedience is a key. As much as our own flesh might want to do otherwise, life and death hang in the balance to our hearing and obeying.
As is the case with Balaam, grace certainly abounds. But, Balaam was on the path to his own death. This nameless man of God, who carried such a high prophetic anointing, ends up killed by the lion. And, the lion stands over him on the side of the road.
None of us wants our dead bodies laying on the side of the road as we return from a God-ordained mission. It is life to bring the word of the LORD to His people. It is awesome to see Him back up His word with signs and wonders. It is exhilarating to get in front of kings and leaders and deliver the bread.
But, the enemy wants to take the prophets out. And, we must say no to that. Our obedience to what we know is true brings life. And, life and death hang in the balance.