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“Jeroboam’s wicked innovations in worship did not go unnoticed or unrebuked by the Lord. A prophet identified only as ‘a man of God,’ went forth by divine commission from Judah to Bethel. He was sent with the very explicit instructions to bring a message of judgment to Jeroboam, king of Israel. He told him that a king from the line of David, Josiah by name, would execute the false priests of Jeroboam’s idols. This prophecy would be fulfilled 300 years later. As a sign of the authenticity of his message, the man of God told Jeroboam that the altar standing next to him would split apart, and its ashes would pour out.

Jeroboam's initial reaction to this prophecy was not humble repentance. Instead, he stretched out his hand from the altar and commanded his men to arrest the prophet. But as he did so, to his horror the hand he stretched out withered before his eyes. Just then the altar split open, pouring its ashes on the ground at the startled King's feet. God now had Jeroboam’s attention. The king cried out for the prophet to pray to the Lord that his withered hand might be restored. The prophet interceded on behalf of Jeroboam and God mercifully restored the King's hand. Nevertheless, neither displays of wrath or mercy from the Lord turned the heart of Jeroboam away from his foolish design to reinvent devine worship, for the chapter concludes by telling us that for all of this the king did not turn from his evil way, to the eventual destruction of all his house.

In the midst of these events, we read of the sad demise of the prophet himself, who had received explicit instructions from the Lord to make no stops in his journey. Overjoyed and thankful for the healing of his hand, Jeroboam urged the prophet to return to the royal palace and receive a reward. But the man of God had strict instructions from the Lord. He was not to turn aside for refreshment, and he was not to return to Judah by the same path he had taken to Bethel. In obedience to his instructions, the prophet declined the King's invitation and set off towards home by another way.

So far, the steadfast resolve of the man of God to follow his divine commission is commendable. But now the story takes a sad turn. An old prophet who lived in Bethel had sons who apparently had witnessed the confrontation between the king and the man of God. These sons hurried home to tell their father what had happened. For reasons undisclosed in the passage, the old prophet determined to overtake the man of God and invite him to come back to his home for refreshments, even though he knew that the man of God had divine instructions not to turn aside to eat or drink. The indication from the context is that this old prophet had long ago forsaken the worship of the God of Israel and had turned aside to the worship of the idols set up by Jeroboam. Apparently, therefore, he felt it his duty to corrupt the young prophet from Judah, enticing him to disobey the orders he had received from the Lord.

It soothes the consciences of the disobedient to recruit others into their ranks, and the devil is always ready to use such methods against God's people. At first, the man of God refused the invitation of the old prophet, explaining to him that he had explicit instructions from the Lord not to eat or drink in this defiled place. Unwilling to be dissuaded, the old prophet resorted to the devil's favorite strategy... he lied.
‘I too am a prophet as you are,’ he said to the man of God, ‘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.’ The inspired writer of 1 Kings tells us bluntly at the end of verse 18, ‘He was lying to him.’ Most sad of all is the fact that the man of God believed the old man's lie and returned to Bethel to eat and drink in his house. His disobedience to the word of the Lord cost him his life, as the remainder of the chapter records. No sooner had he departed from the old man's house, but the man of God was overtaken by a lion and killed…

The experience of the man of God, who allowed himself to be turned from the way, was itself a sign to Jeroboam of the consequences of straying from the commandments of the Lord. God's definite commands are to be obeyed. No reason- whether a pragmatic consideration or a proposed counter- revelation-is sufficient to set aside the Divine Word. The man of God's disobedience was no different from that of Jeroboam. Both allowed themselves to be turned aside from the path of conformity to God's clearly revealed will, and both were judged as a result.”

‘He who keeps his command will experience nothing harmful (Eccl. 8:5) (Comin, 97-100)

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