At the end of the reign of Solomon as king of the nation of Israel, the kingdom was split into two separate kingdoms, Judah and Israel. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon was made king over Israel in his father’s stead, but the ten northern tribes rejected him and chose Jeroboam to be their king, forming two distinct nations. Jeroboam, fearing that Israel would return to Jerusalem to worship at the temple and be turned back to Rehoboam, decided to give them an option in worship. He set up two golden calves, one in Dan and the other in Bethel and provided altars, priests and feast which Israel accepted. All of this can be studied in the twelfth chapter of the book of I Kings. The thirteenth chapter provides the account of two prophets that provides us with a number of good lessons for us to keep in mind today. Let us consider a few as space allows.
The Lord sent a young prophet to Bethel to prophesy against the altar built by Jeroboam. He prophesied that one would be born of the linage of David, Josiah by name and that he would burn the bones of the priests upon that altar (I Ki. 13:1-2). Jeroboam after initially being angered, and then being grateful to the young prophet for healing his dried up hand invited the young prophet to come home with him and be refreshed (I Ki. 13:4-7). The young prophet stated emphatically that he could not do so, for the Lord had instructed him not to eat nor drink anything there and to return by a different route (II Ki. 13:8-9). We are then introduced to an old prophet that went to the young prophet and told him that he too was a prophet and that an angel had spoken to him telling him to go and bring the young prophet back and give him food and drink. However, the text says that he lied about this (I Ki. 13:11-18). The young prophet believed his words and after going to the old prophet’s house and eating and drinking, he was slain by a lion for his disobedience (I Ki. 13:19-24). Consider the following lessons for us.
First; whatever God says will happen, it will indeed happen. God’s words concerning the man named Josiah who would burn the bones of the priests upon that very altar came to pass some three hundred and fifty years later as recorded in II Kings 23:15-16. Also, the prophecy given to the old prophet while the young prophet was still at his house, that the young prophet would not live to reach home was fulfilled shortly after he left when a lion slew him (I Ki. 13:20-24). There are many promises that God has made that apply to us in this age. Space will not allow numeration of them all. However, one great promise that we need to realize will happen is that of the judgment. Jesus said, “…the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29). Paul wrote that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10). You can be sure; you will face the judgment and be judged according to what you have done. You can be sure; that the disobedient will suffer eternal damnation and the obedient will enjoy eternal life.
A second lesson learned is that God has specifically spoken concerning what man is to do. The young prophet could not argue that he did not know what God wanted him to do. He specifically stated God’s commands to him when addressing Jeroboam and then again to the old prophet. God had instructed him, and God has instructed us as well. God has spoken to us by way of the gospel of Christ (Heb. 1:1-2; Rom. 1:16-17). We will be judged by it in the last day (John 12:48; Rom. 2:16). We therefore have access to all the instructions we need to live as God would have us live and then have our home in heaven in the end (II Tim. 3:16-17; I Tim. 4:16). We will have no excuse in the last day if we hear the Lord say, “depart from me ye that work iniquity”.
One last lesson that we will mention is that of rejecting those who teach us something different from what God has said. The young prophet knew what the Lord had said. Yet, fell he prey to the lies of the old prophet. The old prophet told him that an angel had given him the message that he delivered. Paul said, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9). It matters not who the person is; be it spouse, preacher, president or pope, if what is said is not in harmony with the gospel of Christ, it is false doctrine and should be shunned as if it was the plague. Since God does not speak directly to us as He did to the young prophet, we will have to spend time “trying the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). We will have to “study to show thyself approved unto God” (II Tim. 2:15). We must “prove all things, hold fast that which is good” (I Thess. 5:21). As Eve learned in the Garden of Eden and the young prophet learned in Bethel, to hear, believe and obey a lie results in death.
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