So for the second part of this blog, as already mentioned from the first part, I am writing about the obedience of the ‘man of God’ from 1 Kings chapter 13. Hope you’ll enjoy this.
The Forbidden Meal
I know my title said “complete obedience.” But first, let’s take a look at the “seemingly good opportunities” our obedience will have on other people. And how the ‘man of God’ handled them.
Let’s take a look at verse seven first.
Then the king said to the man of God, “Come to the palace with me and have something to eat, and I will give you a gift.”
To which the ‘man of God’ replied in the next verses…
“Even if you gave me half of everything you own, I would not go with you. I would not eat or drink anything in this place. 9 For the Lord gave me this command: ‘You must not eat or drink anything while you are there, and do not return to Judah by the same way you came.’” 10 So he left Bethel and went home another way.
Here we find another proof that the ‘man of God’ was obedient to God’s commands to the letter. Why God didn’t want the ‘man of God’ to eat or drink there was to show just how much He disapproves everything there and to show yet again His anger towards their idolatry and turning away from Him. Also to teach us not to have “fellowship with the works of the darkness” otherwise they bring us together in their doom or we might mislead them. And really, we cannot afford to mislead people.
The ‘man of God’ was commanded to go another route on his way back to Judah. Which meant that this command was to be done by him as he passes on that road. Meaning he was not sent there on purpose. Like a special mission. No. God’s command was to prove that the people there were not worthy of such a favor. It was like going that road and then suddenly led by the Holy Spirit to say something to these people.
If you will read the next verses, you will notice that Jeroboam never really thank God for healing his hands. Instead, he offered the ‘man of God’ some entertainment. Did you notice that? That deliberate rejection of God’s grace and mercy by this wicked king whom God still loved by giving him this very warning?
But then this ‘man of God’s obedience is highlighted here. He’s probably poor, tired and hungry. Notice that the ‘man of God’ could have taken this “seemingly good” opportunity to maybe disciple this king but he didn’t. Why? Not because of anything but only because God didn’t command him to do so. The ‘man of God’ would NOT think himself wiser than God. He was given God’s words. He would follow exactly what the Lord has told him.
Complete obedience isn’t about taking advantage of opportunities presented to you even if they seem advantageous. You follow God’s words. You follow them to the letter. You do not deviate from His instructions.
Complete obedience is not about worrying what you will eat or drink or what other people would say.
11 As it happened, there was an old prophet living in Bethel, and his sons[a] came home and told him what the man of God had done in Bethel that day. They also told their father what the man had said to the king. 12 The old prophet asked them, “Which way did he go?” So they showed their father[b] which road the man of God had taken. 13 “Quick, saddle the donkey,” the old man said. So they saddled the donkey for him, and he mounted it…
15 Then he said to the man of God, “Come home with me and eat some food.”
The Cost of Disobedience
If you read further, you will find that the ‘man of God’ refused the “old prophet’s” offer. He repeated God’s words to the “old prophet” but the old man replied…
18 But the old prophet answered, “I am a prophet, too, just as you are. And an angel gave me this command from the Lord: ‘Bring him home with you so he can have something to eat and drink.’” But the old man was lying to him. 19 So they went back together, and the man of God ate and drank at the prophet’s home.
This “old prophet” maybe really was a prophet before but then also turned away from God, otherwise, he would have come against all the terrible things the king did. But I’d like to think of him as a really bad man and a false prophet. Others thought of something good about this ‘old prophet’ like, his intentions maybe really was to care about this ‘man of God’, to learn from him and what not, but this ‘old prophet’ was told by his sons that the ‘man of God’ was forbidden to eat or drink there.
Now, my personal interpretations are, first, if you are someone who was given a task to do by God, be careful not to be persuaded to follow other people because they seemed nice, concerned, kind, say God’s name. Be careful.
This scenario shows us that the weakness of the ‘man of God’ was not that he cannot follow God’s orders. But that when someone pretended they were also given word by God, he believed it.
My second interpretation, if you are a follower of God, and you are put in a situation where you know that God placed that particular person in that situation, don’t mess with that person and the other person’s task. Never allow your emotions to affect how you deal with that person. You’ll never know what your disobedience or emotions can cause the other person.
20 Then while they were sitting at the table, a command from the Lord came to the old prophet. 21 He cried out to the man of God from Judah, “This is what the Lord says: You have defied the word of the Lord and have disobeyed the command the Lord your God gave you. 22 You came back to this place and ate and drank where he told you not to eat or drink. Because of this, your body will not be buried in the grave of your ancestors.”
Isn’t it strange that God used the lying “old prophet” to rebuke the ‘man of God’ of his disobedience? This was not just to rebuke the ‘man od God’ but also to open the mind of the lying “old prophet” to his sins. If you continue to read verses after that, you will find that this “old prophet” cried out in agony. It could be that he cried so hard because he finally realized that if someone can be punished in such a way for a small act of disobedience, how much more him who sinned much more?
23 After the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the old prophet saddled his own donkey for him, 24 and the man of God started off again. But as he was traveling along, a lion came out and killed him. His body lay there on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. 25 People who passed by saw the body lying in the road and the lion standing beside it, and they went and reported it in Bethel, where the old prophet lived.
Does it seem harsh to you that the ‘man of God’ died but Jeroboam, his evil cohorts and the lying old prophet didn’t? Well, this is just to prove who God really is. That He is sovereign. That those who deceive other people and the deceived ones are all under his judgment. And that we cannot fathom His judgment. This is to prove that God can be that angry to disobedient ones. And that God is “displeased at the sins of His own people” and that no one is protected in disobedience.
At this day and age, where a lot of people including many of those who profess themselves to be Christians, but who would rather choose to be comfortable with their sins and then ask for forgiveness later, let this story be a reminder. There might be no later.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, be careful. Let your life be a living sacrifice.
Personally, I spent a lot of time writing this particular blog. It’s not the most celebrated story and people would rather not hear or read about words like this. But I hope in my heart that this will serve as a reminder to people. And a good reminder, at that.
33 But even after this, Jeroboam did not turn from his evil ways. He continued to choose priests from the common people. He appointed anyone who wanted to become a priest for the pagan shrines. 34 This became a great sin and resulted in the utter destruction of Jeroboam’s dynasty from the face of the earth.