The end of 1 Kings 13 is a strange story. The “holy man” who brought the message of Jeroboam’s end is deceived by an “old prophet” to return and have some dinner with him. He lies to the holy man and gets him to come back directly in contradiction to God’s command. The holy man had left town as directed by God, but this old prophet chases him down and tricks him into coming back. God is not pleased and when the holy man leaves again, he is killed by a lion just down the road. The lion does not devour him but only stands guard until the old prophet can retrieve the body and bury it. The holy man is confronted with these words: “You disobeyed GOD’s command; you didn’t keep the strict orders your GOD gave you; 22 you came back and sat down to a good meal in the very place GOD told you”. This really takes obedience to a new level. Here we have a guy who is delivering a message from God to the king. It wasn’t a very nice message so he put his life on the line just to bring it. He leaves town as directed by God but is tricked into coming back by another prophet and falls into that temptation or trickery. Based on that deceit and the holy man’s inability to discern, he is killed. Why? DISOBEDIENCE! There was no place to point fingers and say that someone else had made him do it. God was not interested in why disobedience occurred – only that it had occurred. Wow – this brings obedience to a new level doesn’t it.
Jeroboam still is on the road to destruction. We learn that the real issue for him is that he was “recruiting priests for the forbidden shrines” and that “is what ruined him”. So the original message that the holy man delivered was true. The holy man did everything right to the point of actually having left town and was on his way down the road when he was convinced to come back. Even with all those facts, disobedience cost him his life. I am not saying that when we disobey we die – obviously that is not always true or I would not be writing this email. But I am convinced that God takes obedience very seriously and we need to pay attention to how we live. It is a very recurring theme in scripture. Is it recurring in your life??
Jeroboam begins to get the message about what will happen because of the way he has abandoned God and put false idols in place. God sends a “holy man” to preach at the Altar. This holy man tells Jeroboam and everyone gathered there that a son will be born into “David’s family named Josiah…will sacrifice….human bones burned”. Pretty straight stuff considering the king is sitting right there. Jeroboam reaches out to arrest the holy man but “his arm was paralyzed and hung useless”. Whoa – that changes things pretty quickly. And just then the “Altar broke apart and the holy offerings spilled” just like the holy man had said it would. Jeroboam changes his tune very quickly after seeing the power of God in action through this man. He immediately asks for prayer to heal his arm and receives it. All is restored and he asks the holy man to “join me for a meal”. “The holy man told the king” that he was under “God’s orders….don’t eat a crumb..” So he left “by a different road than the one on which he had walked” just as God has commanded him. Can you imagine the change that Jeroboam has in his life in a few short minutes here. He is on top the world ruling his kingdom when some unknown guy walks in to his place and announces that a future ruler would be born to another family. As he reacts in anger, his arm goes limp and then the altar splits before his eyes. He immediately gets it. This guy is for real and needs to be listened to. So he asks for prayer to get his arm back and offers a meal, which is refused. How quickly things can change. In this case, Jeroboam was given the kingdom because Solomon had been disobedient. Guess what, Jeroboam falls into the exact same trap. He turns from God and allows other idols to get in the way. It wasn’t women this time but same issue – something got in the way of the relationship with the true God. My how quickly people forget. The fact that God wrote it as one of the 10 commandments should be a clue that He is serious. There shall be no other God’s before Him. There shall be no idols created by human hands that take His place. We need to keep Him in His rightful position in our lives men. It is critical!
Solomon is dead. His son Rehoboam is now being seated as the king. When he assembled the people to talk about this change in rulership, he got an ear full. The people wanted relief from all the hard work and toil that Solomon had placed them under. They were ready to have a break. They pleaded with Rehoboam to back off a bit. He seemed taken aback by their request and asked for three days to consider their request. The elders said “If you will be a servant to this people, be considerate of their needs and respond with compassion, work things out with them, they’ll end up doing anything for you.” But Rehoboam “spurned the counsel of the elders” and rather listened to “the advice of the younger set” of advisors he had grown up with. Big mistake as we will find out in the days ahead. Rehoboam pulled the “if you think life under my father was hard” card. He tells the people they are going to have it worse than before. Obviously wisdom was not passed down to this young arrogant kid. He did things partially right – he asked the elders what to do. But he makes a very fatal mistake by spurning their counsel and listening to the young people he had grown up with. He blows off the wisdom of his elders – to treat people well with servant leadership. Who we surround ourselves with and listen to makes a huge difference guys. We can learn much from our elders. Some may work for us, it may be our parents or an older man or couple we know. But we need to heed the lessons here. We need to find godly counsel from older people and pay attention. The Bible teaches that lesson over and over. We can fall into the pride battle of thinking we know it all or can figure it out for ourselves. That is a quick way to fail. Rehoboam screws up his future completely by shunning the wisdom of the elders for his own desires. What a mistake.