A Lesson in 1 Kings 13 – Man of God from Judah Meets the Old Prophet from Bethel
Now there was a certain old prophet living in Bethel, whose sons came and told him all that the man of God had done there that day. They also told their father what he had said to the king. Their father asked them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him which road the man of God from Judah had taken. So he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And when they had saddled the donkey for him, he mounted it and rode after the man of God. He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?”
“I am,” he replied.
So the prophet said to him, “Come home with me and eat.”
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.’”
The old prophet answered, “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.) So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.
While they were sitting at the table, the word of the LORD came to the old prophet who had brought him back. He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, “This is what the LORD says: ‘You have defied the word of the LORD and have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your ancestors.’”
When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was left lying on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it.
~ 1 Kings 13:11-24
Know this: The enemy will pursue you! But he won’t look like any enemy you’re expecting. He’ll come across as familiar, friendly, welcoming.
His first test will be to ask you who you are. If you have no awareness of your identity, you only make his job easier. But notice the enemy had no difficulty in destroying the man of God from Judah. He approached as not only a friend, but as a fellow believer offering hospitality. Even though the old prophet’s offer was in direct opposition to God’s explicit instructions to the man of God from Judah, the man of God fell for the seduction of food and drink and went with the promptings of his flesh. He followed the lying old prophet to his death.
God didn’t just wash His hands of the Man of God. Even as the man of God sat eating and drinking in the place he was commanded not to, God spoke through his seducer. God reminded the Man of God of his instructions, confronted him with his sin and warned him of his punishment.
Now the chicken that I am, I would have immediately repented! Even as God was speaking through the old prophet! I would have spit out the food I was chewing on and would have commenced praising my Lord as I ran out the house and sped out of town. God’s word convicts me that strongly. I don’t always know when I’m wrong, but when I know and/or I’ve been confronted, I immediately repent. I want to make things right, right away.
Check it! Read the last paragraph again. The line immediately following God’s warning is, “When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him.”
It doesn’t sound as if the man of God is too troubled by God’s confrontation. He took his sweet time getting back on the road. He sat there and continued to eat and drink. And to add insult upon injury, he accepted even more hospitality from the old prophet – a donkey – he accepted a ride! Nothing in that paragraph points to the man of God repenting and correcting himself before God. Instead he went deeper into his sin. He trusted the friendly hospitality of a self-proclaimed believer over the word of God.
Think of the time he had between finishing his meal, preparing an animal and getting onto the road. It was plenty of time to speak to God. But he did not use his time wisely. In response, God sent a lion to kill him on the road. Make no mistake, when those who know better trifle with God’s word, His judgment is swift.
The man of God started off in faithful obedience and ended up dying in sinful disobedience. He made the mistake of putting his trust in a man who claimed to be a faithful servant like him. However, a faithful servant will never ask or entice you to disobey your master. The old prophet didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. He was only offering hospitality. He was only seeking to fellowship (spend time) with the man of God. He was only willing to lie to get his way.
Know this: It is not for anyone else to believe God’s message to you. Don’t expect someone else, even fellow travelers/believers, to have your best interests at heart. If you know what has been spoken into you and shown to you through God’s Spirit, it’s your responsibility to ACT on it. With each test of faith and obedience, God will increase your understanding and deepen your relationship with Him immeasurably.
Here’s an analogy: Picture a stadium full of married couples. Faithful and submissive within their marital relationships. You and your spouse interact in a way that works for you. You have an excellent marriage. It’s healthy and growing. You’re journeying and learning together. You’re hopeful for your future together. That’s how you enter the stadium.
In the stadium, couples are placed shoulder to shoulder, back to back with other couples. No one thinks anything of it, because everyone there is married. Everyone is aware of the other’s relationship and they all honor the sacred vows.
Then everyone is given an exercise: Turn to the person at your back and discuss the foundational principles of your marriage and why they’re so important.
You turn away from your spouse and start discussing your marriage with the person at your back. They discuss theirs with you. Somehow, theirs sound better. You hear some things you think you can implement. When it’s time to turn back to your partner, you introduce the ideas of this outside person into the sanctum of your relationship with your spouse. What your spouse hears is doubt, uncertainty, second-guessing, regret – things that weren’t there when you two where just focused on your own assessment of your relationship. Somehow, through the lens of an outsider, what was paramount to you both has been reduced to triviality.
In the most basic sense, our relationship with God is a marriage. He communicates with us as individuals in a way that He doesn’t communicate with the next person. Our relationship with Him should be intimate. Personal. Paramount. Even though His Word and His Spirit are the same throughout all of His personal, intimate relationships, the details of each relationship will be different. The details make our relationship special. Looking to others to validate the details of your marriage/relationship with God trivializes the relationship. Others are going to speak to you from their experience, perspective and desires.
Be vigilant and protective of God’s word in your life – even more so than you would be of your earthly marriage.