Who’s Faithful?

Posted: April 14, 2010 in 1 Kings

1 Kings 13-14, “Who’s Faithful?”
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Several years have passed since the reign of Solomon, but at this point it hasn’t been all that long since the entire nation of Israel was unified, and celebrating the glory of God at the dedication of the temple. There were massive displays of worship – incredible displays of wealth – the eyes of the world was upon Jerusalem as kings & queens came to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Those days seem like a lifetime ago now. As a result of Solomon’s apostasy, the kingdom split in two with a foolish king over Judah & an idolatrous king over Israel. Would God let the king He established in the north run rampant in his idolatry? Of course not – God responds to Jeroboam’s faithlessness in Ch 13.

1 Kings 13 (NKJV)
1 And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.

A. Who was the “man of God”? From the rest of the Scripture, he was obviously a prophet. Other than that, we have zero information – no name, no background, etc.

B. Where did God send him? To the false altar of Jeroboam. Remember that Jeroboam had created a false version of Hebrew worship…sort of a pseudo-Judaism… … Jeroboam (and presumably his false priests) were offering incense at the false altar (in violation of the 1st Commandment), and God sends his prophet directly to the source.
__a. Why did God care? After all, all over the world there were (and are) multitudes of other false religions… God cares because these were HIS people – Jeroboam was the king GOD installed. Non-believers will act like non-believers (that’s expected), and although they will still be held to account for their sin, it truly matters to God when HIS people sin. … God loves us too much to allow us to sin without consequence…
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2 Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’ ” 3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign which the LORD has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be poured out.”

A. Very specific prophecy! 1st: There would come a king named Josiah who would bring reform. Josiah wouldn’t come for another ~300 years, but when he did come, he brought religious reform to both Judah AND Israel (2 Kings 23). He was a king who would turn “to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might” (2 Kings 23:25). What a contrast with Jeroboam who was called by God, but promptly turned away to idolatry!

B. 2nd: God would give a very visible sign of the altar splitting in two & pouring the ashes out. Seems strange…why the ashes? The ashes were the sacrifices that had been offered upon the altar. In essence, the altar would be dumping the ashes & thus rejecting the sacrifice…
__a. We must worship God in God’s way… (Made especially clear in the Torah Law.) Any attempt to worship God in ways other than what He can opened up to us will be rejected. We have but ONE way to worship God: through Jesus Christ – the way, the truth, and the life… Thus we worship God in spirit & truth…
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4 So it came to pass when King Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, who cried out against the altar in Bethel, that he stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Arrest him!” Then his hand, which he stretched out toward him, withered, so that he could not pull it back to himself. 5 The altar also was split apart, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD.

A. Dramatic scene! King Jeroboam tries to have the prophet arrested & finds his hand withered… In the process, God gives immediate fulfillment of the sign.
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6 Then the king answered and said to the man of God, “Please entreat the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” So the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored to him, and became as before.

A. Quite the turn-around! Goes from antagonist trying to arrest the prophet to humbly seeking the prophet’s help in asking for mercy…

B. As an aside, this is ALWAYS the purpose of the discipline of God in our lives! God doesn’t discipline us simply because He’s got nothing better to do; He disciplines us so that we would repent & seek His face. … (Unfortunately for Jeroboam, it seems that his faith in God was shot = “the LORD your God”)
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7 Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” 8 But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place. 9 For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.’ ” 10 So he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel.

A. Is Jeroboam attempting to bribe the prophet? Yes & no. If the prophet shared fellowship with Jeroboam, he would be giving credence to him & in essence saying “Everything’s ok now.” Obviously it wasn’t; Jeroboam had been given a word from the Lord, but he hadn’t yet responded to that word. Repentance was still lacking…

B. Wonderful response from the prophet! There wasn’t necessarily anything inherently wrong with the prophet visiting the home of the king, EXCEPT that God had specifically told this prophet not to do so! God sent the prophet to do one thing & one thing only – and otherwise he was to get out of town… At this point, the prophet is being absolutely obedient & faithful to the command of God.
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11 Now an old prophet dwelt in Bethel, and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; they also told their father the words which he had spoken to the king. 12 And their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” For his sons had seen which way the man of God went who came from Judah. 13 Then he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him; and he rode on it, 14 and went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak. Then 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 cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. 17 For I have been told by the word of the LORD, ‘You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.’ ”

A. The old prophet pursues the other prophet (younger?) & presents the same challenge to him. The young prophet gives the same response at 1st – which is good! But things change…
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18 He said to him, “I too am a prophet as you are, 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.’ ” (He was lying to him.)

A. This is a tough verse. The older prophet supposedly speaks in the name of the Lord & tells an outright lie. … We would expect that a prophet speaking a lie in the name of the Lord would be cut down (which God certainly could have done), but God was under no obligation to do so. The Law had made provision for how to deal with a false prophet (Deut 18:19-22); it was up to the people to test the prophet to see whether or not the prophet was telling the truth. (God’s omnipotence is no excuse for us not to be faithful to our own responsibilities to be Bereans…)
__a. Since God did not strike the older prophet, does this mean God was lying? No. Keep in mind that we have no indication that God actually sent the older prophet…the prophet seems to have pursued the younger prophet out of his own doing. … That said, there are times God uses lies for His purposes (lying spirits – 1 Kings 22:23-23, Hebrew midwives – Exo 1:20). But God Himself never lies. Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? []. When God speaks, we can trust Him – thus everything He has spoken through His revealed word is absolutely trustworthy. …

B. Was God tempting the younger prophet? No – God does not tempt us to sin (Jas 1:13-14). But God CAN test us… (Ask Abraham!) God searches the world to find those whose hearts are going to be loyal to Him (2 Chr 16:9). The entire event with Job was one huge test God allowed Job to go through – and Job passed the test! [] When you’re tested, how will you fare? How have you fared in the past?

C. The obvious point here was to see whether or not the young prophet would remain steadfast to the command of the Lord – no matter who told him otherwise. How did he respond? See vs. 19…
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19 So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water. 20 Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back; 21 and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you, 22 but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the LORD said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’ ”

A. Question: had the younger prophet indeed disobeyed the Lord? After all, he had a prophet of God tell him God said it was ok. Yes – the younger prophet DID disobey. He had been given a clear command from the Lord Himself, and he definitely disobeyed what he had been told. The fact that the conflicting word came from another prophet is no excuse; he could have sought the Lord at any time for confirmation, yet we have no indication that he did so.

B. Underscores the idea that we are to be faithful to the word of God, no matter what other people may say. …

C. No better example of this than with the gospel. We are to hold to the gospel of Jesus Christ, no matter what! It doesn’t matter if a pastor tells you a different gospel – or a famous writer – or a guy with a PhD after his name – or an angelic vision, etc…you keep the gospel, no matter what! Galatians 1:8-9 (8) But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. [] Keep in mind this is exactly how the Islamic & Mormon religions came about – via angelic visions…what Paul wrote was not theoretical… In the end, it doesn’t matter who tells you otherwise, Jesus Christ is the Son of God crucified for sins & risen from the dead who offers salvation to anyone who repents & trust Him by faith. THAT’s the gospel & no matter how many times atheists like Richard Dawkins or supposed Christians like John Shelby Spong tries to talk you out of it, don’t do it.
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23 So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back. 24 When he was gone, a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse.

A. Just as Jeroboam saw a quick fulfillment of the sign of the altar, so the young prophet saw a quick fulfillment of the word given to him…

B. “Oh come on – this could have been a coincidence…just a random killing.” How many lions just stand by their kill & don’t eat it? This was an obvious sign of the judgment of God.
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25 And there, men passed by and saw the corpse thrown on the road, and the lion standing by the corpse. Then they went and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt. 26 Now when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard it, he said, “It is the man of God who was disobedient to the word of the LORD. Therefore the LORD has delivered him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke to him.” 27 And he spoke to his sons, saying, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled it. 28 Then he went and found his corpse thrown on the road, and the donkey and the lion standing by the corpse. The lion had not eaten the corpse nor torn the donkey.

A. The older prophet learns what has happened & acknowledges it was the judgment of God.

B. We tend to not to want to consider the judgment of God. But God has every right to judge. And God can judge sin just as easily as He can show His mercy… The real question is not: “Why did God judge the prophet?” But rather, “Why would God show mercy to us?”
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29 And the prophet took up the corpse of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back. So the old prophet came to the city to mourn, and to bury him. 30 Then he laid the corpse in his own tomb; and they mourned over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!” 31 So it was, after he had buried him, that he spoke to his sons, saying, “When I am dead, then bury me in the tomb where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. 32 For the saying which he cried out by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the shrines on the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, will surely come to pass.”

A. Interesting that the older prophet mourned the young prophet. Obviously there were no hard feelings here.
B. 1st mention of Samaria…
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33 After this event Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but again he made priests from every class of people for the high places; whoever wished, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. 34 And this thing was the sin of the house of Jeroboam, so as to exterminate and destroy it from the face of the earth.

A. Wow – the determination for men to continue in our sin is sometimes nothing less than mindboggling. Even after all this: the prophecy, the withered hand, and the judgment against the prophet – none of that seemed to have the slightest impact on Jeroboam. If the prophet of God received the judgment of God for disobedience, how much more would the king? No one was above the word of the Lord! Yet He STILL did not repent.
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1 Kings 14 (NKJV)
1 At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam became sick. 2 And Jeroboam said to his wife, “Please arise, and disguise yourself, that they may not recognize you as the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh. Indeed, Ahijah the prophet is there, who told me that I would be king over this people. 3 Also take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him; he will tell you what will become of the child.”

A. At this point, Jeroboam likely understands that the child’s sickness is part of the judgment of God. He seeks out Ahijah in hopes to get cozy with the prophet in order that the prophet would bless his son… Interesting that Jeroboam doesn’t seek out his false replacement religion this time – when he really needed miraculous help, he turned to the one true God (even if he was trying to backdoor his way in).

B. Easy for us to look back on & sniff at – but how many of us do the same thing? Caught in our own sin, we try to go back to the way things used to be. Instead of repenting & starting anew with the Lord, we try to ignore it & pretend it never happened. …
__a. What God desires from us is not a bribe & some sweet-sounding words, but a true heart change & repentance as we seek His face…
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4 And Jeroboam’s wife did so; she arose and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were glazed by reason of his age. 5 Now the LORD had said to Ahijah, “Here is the wife of Jeroboam, coming to ask you something about her son, for he is sick. Thus and thus you shall say to her; for it will be, when she comes in, that she will pretend to be another woman.”

A. Ahijah may have been nearly blind & unable to recognize the queen, but blindness is no obstacle for our omnipotent God!
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6 And so it was, when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps as she came through the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another person? For I have been sent to you with bad news. 7 Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you ruler over My people Israel, 8 and tore the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it to you; and yet you have not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only what was right in My eyes; 9 but you have done more evil than all who were before you, for you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molded images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back—

A. God had done so much for Jeroboam! He had:
__a. Exalted him
__b. Made him to be king over Israel
__c. Given the kingdom into his hands
__d. Promised him a dynasty along the lines of David’s…

B. Jeroboam should have been amazed & humbled at the grace of God! Yet ultimately Jeroboam did not respond in trust & worship (as David did), but in rebellion & rejection. Jeroboam was no David!
__a. Keep in mind David wasn’t perfect; he was just humble before God…

C. In light of what God does for mankind, it’s a wonder that people still have the opportunity to wake up every morning! God does so much for mankind, yet ultimately most in mankind reject their Creator every single day. God’s judgment is most rightly deserved. … And because it is so rightly deserved, it shows even more the magnitude of the grace we have received in Jesus Christ!
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10 therefore behold! I will bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male in Israel, bond and free; I will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as one takes away refuse until it is all gone.11 The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Jeroboam and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the field; for the LORD has spoken!” ’

A. Because Jeroboam had rejected God, God rejected Jeroboam…

B. Some people shake their fists all their lives at God & shout “I don’t need You!” At the judgment, they’re only going to find God agreeing with them. If Jesus is not your Savior in this life, you can be assured He will not be your Savior in the next life…
__a. If that’s you, stop shaking your fist at God! Turn & repent today – humble yourself before Almighty God & receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord & Savior!
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12 Arise therefore, go to your own house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. 13 And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he is the only one of Jeroboam who shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something good toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.

A. As with the lie of the older prophet, this is a curious verse. Why would God take the child? Especially if the son had something good found in him? Scripture doesn’t give us too many details. Perhaps it’s as simple as an act of mercy. Because the child was pleasing to the Lord now, perhaps God was protecting the son from the evil influence of Jeroboam. Whatever the case, we can trust God did what was right & good – even if we don’t understand all the details about it now. …
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14 “Moreover the LORD will raise up for Himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam; this is the day. What? Even now! 15 For the LORD will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their wooden images, provoking the LORD to anger. 16 And He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and who made Israel sin.”

A. Beyond judging the house of Jeroboam, God says plainly here (through Ahijah) that He will eventually judge all Israel for their apostasy & idolatry. Their idolatry only gets worse under future kings, and God will not allow that to last indefinitely. Eventually the surrounding nations would come in & take them into captivity. …

B. Some of the scariest words in the Bible are “God gave them up” – that’s exactly what He would eventually do to Israel. And that’s what God does with mankind. When mankind persisted in its love-affair with sin, God gave them up (Rom 1). …
__a. Yet again we see the marvelous grace of God. It is WHEN God gave us up because of our sin that God sent His Son to be our Savior. He died for us when we were yet still sinners! (Rom 5:8)
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17 Then Jeroboam’s wife arose and departed, and came to Tirzah. When she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. 18 And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet. 19 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he made war and how he reigned, indeed they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 20 The period that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years. So he rested with his fathers. Then Nadab his son reigned in his place.

A. The first part of the prophecy came true when the child died; the 2nd part of the prophecy will come true in the reign of Nadab when Nadab is assassinated & the house of Jeroboam is destroyed. The last part of the prophecy will not be fulfilled until Israel is taken captive by Assyria.
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21 And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king. He reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there. His mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess. 22 Now Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. 23 For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree.

A. Keep in mind here what got Jeroboam into so much trouble: false worship & idolatry. Judah is doing the exact same thing here under Reboboam (the grandson of King David!)… Judah is no better than Israel at this point…
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24 And there were also perverted persons in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.

A. Even worse, Judah is no better than the Canaanites that they had cast out…
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25 It happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. 26 And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house; he took away everything. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made. 27 Then King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. 28 And whenever the king entered the house of the LORD, the guards carried them, then brought them back into the guardroom.

A. Why did Shisak come out against Judah? Possibly because he was an ally of Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:40)…perhaps simply because he conquered a bunch of other cities. Whatever the reason, Egypt plundered the temple & took the golden shields.

B. The shields were replaced with bronze ones…a dim reflection of what had once been. Just a cheap substitute of the past glory of the temple. In less than a generation, they went from gold to bronze. It doesn’t take long…
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29 Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 30 And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days. 31 So Rehoboam rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. His mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess. Then Abijam his son reigned in his place.

A. Unlike his father Solomon, Rehoboam lived most of his days at war…and sadly, it was at war with Israel, the northern kingdom.

B. Who says sin is victimless? Sin has LASTING consequences! The entire reason the northern kingdom even existed was because of Solomon’s sin against the Lord. As a result of Solomon’s apostasy, his son reigned in idolatry – the kingdom had split in two, and even the northern kingdom had been given over to idolatry. Terrible results of one man’s faithlessness to God…

Conclusion:
God has been so incredibly faithful to us; are we being faithful to Him? Jeroboam was faithless – the prophet was faithless – Rehoboam was faithless…and the list of people is only going to get longer as we read Scripture. Yet even though man is faithless, God will always be faithful! … We can praise God for the faithfulness He shows us in Christ Jesus – for the faithfulness He shows to His promises of grace, mercy, adoption, and return!

How ought we respond to the faithfulness of God? By our own faithfulness back to Him. May we be of those who not only praise God with our lips but with our actions. Our whole reasonable response back to the work of God is to present ourselves back to Him as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1-2). Don’t be like Jeroboam, who sought God only when he needed something. Don’t be like Rehoboam, who put on a pretense of holiness, but lived like the rest of the world around him. Beware of even being like the prophet, who obeyed God for a while, but was swayed away from the word of God by the deceiving world.

May God give us the strength to be faithful unto Him! Empowered by His Spirit & strengthened to be steadfast to His calling at all times. Will there be times we falter? Yes – but praise God we have an open door to repent & seek the face of God…use it & be encouraged to start anew.

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