Monday Musings: A Cautionary Tale of a King, Two Prophets, and a Lion (taken from 1 Kings 13)
If God sent a lion to devour you because you believed a prophet of God was telling the truth, how would you respond? I might be inclined to feel a brief moment of anger, if I wasn’t so busy trying to outrun the lion, that is.
Hardly seems fair, does it? You’re just sitting out under a tree, when a prophet comes up to you, relays a message from an angel of God and the next thing you know, boom, The Cowardly Lion’s un-cowardly cousin is chasing you down humming “Man on the Run”. If that were the entire story, then fairness is out of the question. But, as you might have suspected, there are a few more details to this.
Jeroboam has led a revolt against the son of Solomon and has just committed a grand act of apostasy by building two golden calves for the people to worship (thus proving he was twice as misguided as was Moses’ brother, Aaron). Feeling all smug and safe in his new role as King and Golden Calf facilitator, Jeroboam receives a visit from an unnamed prophet. Strangely, the prophet didn’t say a word to Jeroboam at first; instead he talked to the altar upon which Jeroboam was burning incense. Speaking words of judgment against Jeroboam while still addressing the altar, the prophet predicted a pretty bleak future for the rebel king.
Not being just super pleased with this outlook, Jeroboam was going to have the prophet seized. Suddenly, the hand he was using to direct the soldiers (“You, yes you, grab him, yeah, the one talking to the pile of rocks.”) withered. Disliking this even more than he disliked the prophet, the king asked the prophet to entreat God for healing. Being the stalwart man of God that he was (note “was”) the prophet did so and the king’s hand was healed. Forgetting all about the fact that he was going to have him arrested about 30 seconds previously (or maybe just trying to butter him up) the king invited the prophet to supper. The prophet said no, because “For so it was charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.’” ( In other words, don’t eat anything, drink anything or travel the same way twice). Having thus proclaimed his own doom, the prophet departed and journeyed to Bethel.
This is where it gets dicey. An old prophet that lived in Bethel heard all about what the young prophet had done and so went to find him to invite him to supper (apparently missing the part of the story about don’t eat or drink anything). When Young Prophet told Old Prophet that, flattered as he was, he couldn’t come to supper because…well, you know why, Old Prophet did the second stupidest thing you will read about in this story. He made up a tale about how an angel had appeared to him and told him to bring Young Prophet home for supper. YP (Young Prophet) believed OP (Do I have to explain that one?) and “Went back (wrong) with him, and did eat bread (wrong) in his house and drank water (wrong).” (vs.19) This is the most stupidest thing in the story. To make matters worse, the word of God came to OP and he told YP that God was going to kill him for disobeying. Hence, the meeting with the lion shortly thereafter. YP died and was buried in Bethel by the old man that had helped bring about his untimely end.
This leads me to this point, when you know that God has told you to do or not to do something, don’t let someone pressure you into disobeying. Even if they claim to have a word from God. Remember what Paul said in Galatians 1:8? “But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached, let him be accursed” Essentially what Paul said is this, once you have the Truth and know the Truth, never let anyone convince you of a lie. The Young Prophet did, and it cost him his life. What might it cost us?