“At the Lord’s command, a man of God from Judah went to Bethel, arriving there just as Jeroboam was approaching the altar to burn incense. Then at the Lord’s command, he shouted, “O altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: A child named Josiah will be born into the dynasty of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests from the pagan shrines who come here to burn incense, and human bones will be burned on you.” That same day the man of God gave a sign to prove his message. He said, “The Lord has promised to give this sign: This altar will split apart, and its ashes will be poured out on the ground.” When King Jeroboam heard the man of God speaking against the altar at Bethel, he pointed at him and shouted, “Seize that man!” But instantly the king’s hand became paralyzed in that position, and he couldn’t pull it back. At the same time a wide crack appeared in the altar, and the ashes poured out, just as the man of God had predicted in his message from the Lord. The king cried out to the man of God, “Please ask the Lord your God to restore my hand again!” So the man of God prayed to the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and he could move it again. Then the king said to the man of God, “Come to the palace with me and have something to eat, and I will give you a gift.” But the man of God said to the king, “Even if you gave me half of everything you own, I would not go with you. I would not eat or drink anything in this place. For the Lord gave me this command: ‘You must not eat or drink anything while you are there, and do not return to Judah by the same way you came.’” So he left Bethel and went home another way. As it happened, there was an old prophet living in Bethel, and his sons came home and told him what the man of God had done in Bethel that day. They also told their father what the man had said to the king. The old prophet asked them, “Which way did he go?” So they showed their father which road the man of God had taken. “Quick, saddle the donkey,” the old man said. So they saddled the donkey for him, and he mounted it. Then he rode after the man of God and found him sitting under a great tree. The old prophet asked him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” “Yes, I am,” he replied. Then he said to the man of God, “Come home with me and eat some food.” “No, I cannot,” he replied. “I am not allowed to eat or drink anything here in this place. For the Lord gave me this command: ‘You must not eat or drink anything while you are there, and do not return to Judah by the same way you came.’” But the old prophet answered, “I am a prophet, too, just as you are. And an angel gave me this command from the Lord: ‘Bring him home with you so he can have something to eat and drink.’” But the old man was lying to him. So they went back together, and the man of God ate and drank at the prophet’s home. Then while they were sitting at the table, a command from the Lord came to the old prophet. He cried out to the man of God from Judah, “This is what the Lord says: You have defied the word of the Lord and have disobeyed the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back to this place and ate and drank where He told you not to eat or drink. Because of this, your body will not be buried in the grave of your ancestors.” After the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the old prophet saddled his own donkey for him, and the man of God started off again. But as he was traveling along, a lion came out and killed him. His body lay there on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. People who passed by saw the body lying in the road and the lion standing beside it, and they went and reported it in Bethel, where the old prophet lived. When the prophet heard the report, he said, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the Lord’s command. The Lord has fulfilled His word by causing the lion to attack and kill him.”
1 Kings 13:1-26 NLT
Do you remember your last act of disobedience to the Lord? We praise Jesus that some of us are still here to give a response. It’s always better to obey. The alternative could cost you your life or even someone else’s. Grace isn’t a license to do whatever we want. Romans 6:23 rather it’s a decision to do whatever He wants. His grace enables us to do what we’re not capable of doing in our own strength.
The man of God in the text above, set out with a mandate from God, he was instructed to be God’s mouthpiece to a disobedient king, with specific instructions. Don’t eat or drink water in Bethel, nor even take the same route to return home. He knew the instructions so well, that when faced with the decision to disobey, he’d repeat it out loud. The problem we sometimes face when sharing what is personal to us, is that we’re not the only ones listening.
The man of God had passed the first test of his obedience. He refused Jeroboam’s offer of gifts and a meal and was well on his way. Until the sons of a prophet went home and told their father everything that had transpired and most importantly what the man of God had said about not eating, drinking or going back the same way he had come. The Bible says Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14. Now I don’t know if it was Satan who inspired the old prophet to go after the man of God, but I do know that God never resorts to deception to fulfill His plans. James 1:13. Disobedience will always encounter the challenge of doing right or doing evil. We get to choose. God will never stop us from sinning, but He trusts us to obey Him. What we never have a choice in, which Satan never discloses, is the consequences for our disobedience.
The old prophet went after the man of God. This was a deliberate act. Why did he choose to do that? Why set a trap for this man? The answer is two fold. It could be a test of obedience for the man of God, or it could be that the old prophet wanted to prove that this man of God was who he claimed to be. Whatever his reason, he was able to convince the man of God to disobey the Lord’s command by telling him, that he too had received a word from the Lord. The devil is always in the details. Read what I’ve underlined again. From whom did the man of God receive his warning? From the Lord. From whom did the old prophet receive his word? An angel from the Lord. This was the clue that the man of God missed. All he heard was “I too am a prophet as you are.”
But the giveaway was; “ an angel said to me by the word of the Lord.” Did you catch the play on words? Where do we find a similar temptation? Luke 4
Warning! Never listen with your head, listen with your spirit. Especially when it comes to your obedience to God. The Bible says “but when He the Spirit of Truth is come, (and He has) He will guide you into all truth.” John 16:13
“Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.”
1 John 4:1 NLT
The man of God was deceived because he disobeyed. Obedience is the antidote for deception. Obey God’s command no matter if an angel comes with a contrary message to the one God has given you, obey the original command and leave the consequences to God. Paul warned the Galatian church about that very same thing. Galatians 1:8 listen for the clues within the message. If God wanted the prophet to do something different, He would have told him directly. Deception is always of the devil. Because it’s not about us, it’s about Christ in us. He wants us out of the picture because we’re a threat to him and his kingdom. Jeroboam failed in his attempt to kill the man of God, so Satan found another way, through someone who could be trusted. I am as you are, a Christian. Really? Listen for the clues within the message.
Remember when Paul encountered the slave girl saying all the right things? Acts 16:17 then one day he heard the clues within the message. And cast the demon out of her. The Lord gave me a dream years ago that I did not like, it was a warning about a decision I was about to make. I shared the dream with a few Christians and they assured me that it wasn’t from the Lord, but I knew it was. I didn’t want to believe it, so I did what I wanted to do, and ate crow for a season. Thank God it wasn’t for long because I came to my senses after the Lord used a most unlikely source to expose my heart. God says what He means, and means what He says. I live to please Him now. It may come at a cost, but the alternative is costlier. The man of God had his last meal that day. Deceived through disobedience. If you’re reading this message, it’s a warning to you. You’re the only one who knows what God has instructed you to do. Take heed and do exactly as He has commanded.
We’re no longer our own, we have been purchased at a great price. 1 Corinthians 6:20. If He’s more than your Savior, then allow His Lordship to shine through. He has promised that if we’re willing and obedient, we’ll eat the good or best of the land. Isaiah 1:19 don’t let an old fool, fool you into being disobedient. Always be obedient to the first and last thing the Lord has told you. If He changes His mind, which He rarely does, He will let you know.
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
April 19, 2021