Man Of God ( 1Kings13)
Perhaps there was not a qualified messenger within the Northern Kingdom of Israel, so God sent a messenger from Judah to Bethel. Bethel was approximately 13 miles north of Jerusalem.
At the Lords command, this Man of God walked right up on King Jeroboam as he was burning incense on the altar of the golden calf.
In Ancient Israel, God commanded a stringent separation between kings and priest. One of the great sins of the House of Jeroboam is that Jeroboam obscured that separation.
At the Lords Command, the Man of God began to speak to the altar, he said:
Josiah would arrive on the scene over 300 years after this prophecy. Only the Lord himself knew when this prophecy would take place. This was a significant reproach towards Jeroboam because Josiah would come from the House of David.
In 1 Kings 12:27 Jeroboam feared the Kings of Judah would take the allegiance of his people.
The Man of God said:
King Jeroboam heard the Man of God speaking against the altar at Bethel.
He pointed at him and shouted, “Seize that man!”
Jeroboam’s response was not one of repentance but instead to have the Man of God arrested. Instantly Jeroboam’s hand became paralyzed in that position. The hand he stretched out toward the Man of God shriveled up so that he could not pull it back.
At the same time, a wide crack appeared in the altar, the ashes poured out, just as the Man of God had predicted in his message from the Lord.
The immediate sign of the alter splitting was for the present-day people. It was an invitation to all to turn away from idolatry and repent.
The king cried out to the Man of God, “Please ask the Lord your God to restore my hand again!”
Jeroboam asked the Man of God to pray for his hand to be healed. Certainly, it is reasonable to question why Jeroboam did not turn to the gold calf for healing? Did he realize that the calf was simply a show for all and utterly useless?
The Man of God did what the king asked. He prayed to the Lord and the king’s hand was restored.
Jeroboam asked for healing without asking for forgiveness. God was willing to extend mercy to Jeroboam as evidenced by the healing of his hand. This would have been the ideal time for Jeroboam to ask forgiveness and turn from his transgressions. It would have changed everything! Yet, the king did not.
Jeroboam did not even acknowledge the Lord as his Lord. He asked Man of God to call on “Your” Lord to heal his hand. Furthermore, when Jeroboam received the healing. He did not bother with giving thanks or praise of any kind.
The king said to the Main of God, “Come to the palace with me and have something to eat, and I will give you a gift”.
The Man of God remembered the Words of the Lord. It was the Word of God that prevented him from being corrupted by the king. Jeroboam claimed to want to reward the Man of God for praying for him. In consideration of Jeroboam behavior to this point. His offer of hospitality may have instead been an attempt to manipulate or harm the Man of God.
The Man of God responded to the king:
Hence, the Man of God left Bethel and went home another way.
There was a man living in Bethel. The only description the bible gives is that he is an old prophet. The old prophet description suggests that he was once a prophet that had fallen in his devotion.
His sons had been at the idolatry festival worshipping the gold calf. They witnessed what the Man of God had done there that day. The sons went home to tell their father. The old prophet asked what direction the Man of God had gone and he rode after him. When the old prophet found the Man of God, he said to him:
“Come home with me and eat”~ 1 Kings 13:15
The Man of God responded:
“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. 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.’~ 1Kings 13:16,17
The old prophet answered:
So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.
Why did Man of God listen to the Old Prophet?
- Because he was an old prophet. He had respect for him.
- The old prophet identified with Man of God saying ” I am one too”
- The old prophet claimed to have been given a Word from God
- The old prophet did not appear to be an idolater like the others.
We, as men and women of God need to resist suggestions that do not line up with the Words we hear from God. Even If those suggestions come from the elders that we respect, people that say they “are the same” or that claim to have a word for us from God or appear to be good people trying to be helpful.
We must trust what we hear from God and deal with God firsthand.
And then what happened? Well…
This is a “What tha heck?!” moment for me. The same old prophet that spoke a lie in the name of the Lord now receives a true prophecy from the Lord?!
This really confused me until I realized that the old prophet was a compromiser. Then I realized that I too have been a compromiser. This old prophet’s relationship with God was lukewarm. God can still use us when we are wayward but our disobedience hinders our complete use to God. Our disobedience causes pain for the people we simply intended to help.
The old prophet had not gone to the idolatrous festival yet his sons did. His sons told him about the Man of God. Did you notice that the Old prophet did not offer chastisement to his offspring? He did not seem concerned about them participating in idolatry. He just wanted to meet the Man of God. Was he starstruck?
It is impossible to know the motives of the old prophet. It seems he lied without necessity or benefit to himself. Perhaps he was visited by one of Satan’s deceiving angels rather than an angel of the Lord. Satan and his servants can appear as angels of light according to 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.
It is fair to assume that God did not want us to understand the old prophets’ mindset or reasons since He did not record it in His Word. We already know that the motive of “the father of all lies” is to kill, steal and destroy.
This old prophet lied to the Man of God, led him to do evil, predicted judgement against him and would later bury the Man of God in his own tomb. It seems the old prophet felt sympathy for the Man of God. The bible tells us he truly mourned for the Man of God. He buried the Man of God in his tomb and asked his sons to bury him with the Man of God when he dies. In ancient Israel, a person’s burial made a statement about whether his life was honorable or not. It was a disgrace to be buried away from family and with strangers. Was the old prophet punishing himself by insisting his sons bury him with the Man of God?
The Man of God listened to bad counsel rather than obeying a direct word from God. He used his own judgement instead of Gods judgement. The Man of God disobeyed God because he questioned the Word of God.
I wonder what the Man of God’s reaction to the old prophet was. The bible does not tell us. It does tell us that the old prophet saddled his donkey for him after dinner. There is a lot of reference to saddling a donkey in this story. That is insightful because during Old Testament times, a donkey symbolized stubbornness and pride.
Undeniably this scene was meant to portray a supernatural death since the Lion did not eat the Man of God or the donkey. In Old Testament times, the lion was a symbol of Judah. It represented power and truth. The donkey represented stubbornness and pride.
By all appearances, It seems the Lord judged the Man of God harsher than He did the compromising prophet and the calf idolizing king. The Lord holds His children to a higher standard. God begins his judgement with his own people according to 1 Peter 4:17.
God knows that the world will not be reached when his people are rebellious. I personally believe that God punished this Man of God with the death of his body while extending mercy to his soul. This story was recorded by the Lord because it continues to teach those that will hear. I am so grateful that because I live after Christ, I do not have to die because of my transgressions. Jesus died for me.
Proverbial lions and donkeys still stand near the men and women of God today. They symbolize the choices we make after we hear the Word of God. Do you allow the Lord to give you power and truth? Or… do you choose to saddle that donkey and ride on your own stubbornness and pride? Watch out for the old prophet! The devil will send him. His job is to cause you to question what you already heard God say.
What to know what happened to Jeroboam?
Click here to visit my article on Jeroboam to learn more about him.
The Bible and the following websites were utilized in the study necessary to write this article: