Read 1 Kings 13
The Man of God From Judah
13 By the word of the Lord a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. 2 By the word of the Lord he cried out against the altar: “Altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.’” 3 That same day the man of God gave a sign: “This is the sign the Lord has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.”
4 When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, “Seize him!” But the hand he stretched out toward the man shriveled up, so that he could not pull it back. 5 Also, the altar was split apart and its ashes poured out according to the sign given by the man of God by the word of the Lord.
6 Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.
7 The king said to the man of God, “Come home with me for a meal, and I will give you a gift.”
8 But the man of God answered the king, “Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. 9 For I was commanded by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’” 10 So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel.
11 Now there was a certain old prophet living in Bethel, whose sons came and told him all that the man of God had done there that day. They also told their father what he had said to the king. 12 Their father asked them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him which road the man of God from Judah had taken. 13 So he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And when they had saddled the donkey for him, he mounted it 14 and rode after the man of God. He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?”
“I am,” he replied.
15 So the prophet said to him, “Come home with me and eat.”
16 The man of God said, “I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. 17 I have been told by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.’”
18 The old prophet answered, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the Lord: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (But he was lying to him.) 19 So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.
20 While they were sitting at the table, the word of the Lord came to the old prophet who had brought him back. 21 He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. 22 You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your ancestors.’”
23 When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. 24 As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was left lying on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it. 25 Some people who passed by saw the body lying there, with the lion standing beside the body, and they went and reported it in the city where the old prophet lived.
26 When the prophet who had brought him back from his journey heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who defied the word of the Lord. The Lord has given him over to the lion, which has mauled him and killed him, as the word of the Lord had warned him.”
27 The prophet said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me,” and they did so. 28 Then he went out and found the body lying on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. The lion had neither eaten the body nor mauled the donkey. 29 So the prophet picked up the body of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back to his own city to mourn for him and bury him. 30 Then he laid the body in his own tomb, and they mourned over him and said, “Alas, my brother!”
31 After burying him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. 32 For the message he declared by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel and against all the shrines on the high places in the towns of Samaria will certainly come true.”
33 Even after this, Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places. 34 This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth.
We will focus on the 3 main characters of the text: King Jeroboam, The Prophet of God, and The Old (lying) Prophet. All three had to face consequences for their disobedience.
Jeroboam started off well. King Solomon took note of Jeroboam’s work ethic and had him promoted (1 Kings 11:28). Eventually, Jeroboam would become king. In 1 Kings 11:38, we read the following: “If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David, and will give Israel to you.” Unfortunately, Jeroboam lost his way, and began to worship golden calves and idols. In our text today, the “man of God” (a prophet) spoke out against Jeroboam and his wickedness. In 1 Kings 14:10-11, a prophetic word is uttered against Jeroboam–he and his family would die, and their remains would be fed to the birds. God does not tolerate idolatry and wickedness, and the consequences for Jeroboam’s disobedience extended beyond him individually to impact his family and nation.
Then, the unnamed prophet of Judah was given clear orders from God not to share a meal with Jeroboam or anyone in the city of Bethel (vv. 8,9). Unfortunately, he was tricked by the lying older prophet. In the New Testament we read, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 1:4). The lifeless body on the road (v. 24) bears silent witness that it is never safe to venture outside the shelter of the Lord’s explicit word. Even when another believer may speak into a situation, all advice must be weighed against the word of God.
Why did the older prophet lie to the “man of God”? Some commentaries suggest that he was trying to keep the prophet in town to alter the outcome of the prophet’s word. Perhaps hew was trying to change God’s mind or prevent the predicted destruction. Either way, his advice was not from God. And yet the Lord gave this rascal a true word of judgment to speak against the man of God (vv. 20-22). But that doesn’t excuse his previous lie and deception. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus warned us against such false prophets:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
The Old prophet interfered with God’s word to another—possibly with good intentions. But his disobedience and deception had dire consequences, both for the prophet of God and for himself, as he had to lose his own tomb to accommodate the man he deceived; additionally, his city and king were still doomed to the consequences previously predicted.
This chapter and the three characters show that disobedience, whether well-meaning or not, is still a sin against God which requires payment. Thankfully, we have the gift of Jesus to cover our sins today!
- What did this passage teach you about God? What did it teach you about humanity?
- Are you being obedient to God’s word?
- Why did the Man of God from Judah not question the old prophet’s words?
Dr. Thomas Constable, a seminary professor, said this regarding this passage:
“The fate of this disobedient prophet anticipated that of Israel: As he had been disobedient to God’s Word and suffered punishment for it, so Israel had been disobedient and would suffer for it.
Disobedience to the Word of God, even on the advice of trusted leadership, leads to divine discipline. We must follow the LORD’s Word rather than the counsel of other servants of God—when these conflict. We need to obey God’s directives, not what other people say is God’s will for us.”
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