Prophets and Prophesy

1 Kings 13-14

God is not pleased with Jeroboam, to put it mildly. “By the word of the Lord,” a phrase repeated twice in the first two verses, a man of God has this message for Jeroboam,

On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you. 1 Kings 13:2

The narrative takes a strange turn here. Jeroboam hears the prophet’s words and reaches his hand out against him. His hand shrivels as he does and he asks “the man of God” to intercede and heal his hand. The man of God does that, but when invited to eat and drink with Jeroboam, he refuses because of the command God had given him to deliver the message and return without eating or drinking with these people.

That part makes sense, these are crazy people following Jeroboam’s new religion. Mingling with them can only lead to trouble, so he leaves. Here’s where it goes off-rail. An old prophet (whatever that means) hears about the interaction and tells his sons to “saddle the donkey” so he can catch up with the man of God. He meets him and invites him to eat and drink with him, but again, the man of God refuses. The old prophet then lies to him,

“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.) 1 Kings 13:18

Trapped in a lie, the man of God returns and eats with the old prophet. The Lord gives the old prophet a vision and tells the man of God he will die because he defied the Lord’s instructions. The man of God leaves and is killed by a lion on the roadside. The old prophet retrieves the body, mourns for him and buries his body in his own tomb. He tells his sons to buy himself beside these bones when he dies.

Kinda like a dream within a dream, the man of God comes and goes. Sad, really, he proclaimed truth and was caught in a lying old prophet. Why did he turn back? If he would have simply continued on, there would have been no story.

Even after this Jeroboam did not change his evil ways…the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth. 1 Kings 13:33-34

I’m sure Jeroboam heard that the man of God was killed since his body was not mauled and the old prophet easily recognized him. Perhaps he figured he could continue his religion since the man of God was gone. Foolish.

Chapter 14 includes Ahijah’s prophecy again Jeroboam, the disaster that is coming to his household as a result of his great sin. Jeroboam sends his wife on a secret mission, but the blind prophet, Ahiijah, was told by God that she was coming, the purpose of her visit (sick son) and the message to give her. Of course the message is NOT good and their son dies when she steps into the house on her return.

Jeroboam reigns for 22 years. Nothing good to be said about his legacy. Still, 22 years? In my mortal thinking this is a very long time to lead 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel on a journey far from God.

Meanwhile, the last section in chapter 14 goes back to Rehoboam. He started out on the right path, but soon got lost and somehow forgot all that was holy. Crazy. At this point, he had an incredible palace and temple — I mean INCREDIBLE! The twin towers of its day. But he begins to worship idols, sets up Asherah poles all over the place, even has male shrine prostitutes,

the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. 1 Kings 14:24

By the fifth year, it all comes crashing down on Rehoboam and on Judah (the southern kingdom).

Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. 1 Kings 14:25-26

His life was calamity. He lost everything of value to Egypt, constantly fighting Jeroboam, then dies and is succeeded by Abijah. The narrative of the kings continues.

As I read through the stories of those in power at the time, I wonder what the common people must have been thinking and doing. The temple is routed, so what happens now? The land is filled with idols and despicable activity. Yet some, no doubt, kept the faith. Those strongest in their faith kept passing down the mantle of righteousness. Lord help us to be strong in you! We have such an advantage with the Bible printed, online, anytime and anywhere. Help us to look only to you and not these lewd activities of the world. Build up your people Lord. Make us strong as the years tick by. Give us patience, but not complacency. You ways Lord, not ours.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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