Complete Obedience (A Man of God p.2)

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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. 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?

Let’s continue..

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.

A Man of God

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In the first book of Kings chapter thirteen there’s an interesting account of a man who was named simply ‘a man of God.’ At first, it would seem that there was not much to know about him. He was only introduced as a prophet from Judah, and that he was given a command by God.

In this blog, we will take a good look at God’s command to the prophet, the attitude of the man of God and what complete obedience really means.

The Command

In this chapter, from the very first verse, you will see the man of God follow the words of the Lord. From studying this chapter, here are the commands given by God. It wasn’t given in the form of a sentence so I hope you will read the entire chapter but I thought I should give you the summary.

Here they are:

  • To show the wicked king God’s kindness by warning him of God’s wrath because of his ungodliness & unrighteousness;
  • To reclaim Jeroboam from his evil ways before his heart is hardened by the deceitfulness of his sins;
  •  And to attack the king’s pride and that what he was so proud of.

At the Lord’s command, a man of God from Judah went to Bethel, arriving there just as Jeroboam was approaching the altar to burn incense. – 1 Kings 13:1

Notice that the man of God came into the picture while Jeroboam was dedicating at the altar. This was a huge event at that time. This wicked king Jeroboam was misleading the people of Israel to worshipping idols and abandoning the one true powerful God of Israel.

Did you notice God’s timing here? It was at this great moment where Jeroboam’s future and the future of his family will be decided.  It would seem to me that God called this very moment to be the last straw for the wicked king.

For those people who did all the wrong things in life, or maybe those who kept disobeying God especially those who claim to know Him, who then find themselves neck-deep in consequences after consequences, they only see themselves and their “reputation” as they are blinded by their sins. But God always gives us that moment when He opens our eyes for us to finally see and allows us to make the choice: to repent & turn from wicked ways or to make the same decision Jeroboam did which we will see later.

With the kind of relationship you have with the Father, has He given you a task to do? If He has, did you obey? How did you follow His instructions? Would you say He’s given you something like the command He’s given to this ‘man of God’?

The Attitude Scene

So from the second verse of this chapter we see attitudes.

Then at the Lord’s command, he shouted, “O altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: A child named Josiah will be born into the dynasty of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests from the pagan shrines who come here to burn incense, and human bones will be burned on you.”

Does it seem weird to you that God commanded the ‘man’ to direct his words to the altar? Well, two things God wanted to make the people understand: First, stones can hear and yield to God’s commands more than those who are lost in the madness of loving their idols and those who are deaf to divine calling.

And second, during this time, the king and his subjects were so wholeheartedly devoted to the altar (pagan worship) so if God can be that angry to a lifeless stone, how then can they escape God’s terrible anger? I agree with others who said that the act of insulting the altar was for those people there whose hearts were harder than the stones and won’t listen to God’s words.

That same day the man of God gave a sign to prove his message. He said, “The Lord has promised to give this sign: The altar will split apart, and its ashes will be poured out to the ground.” – Verse 3

What kind of attitude a man of God needed to do what he has been commanded? The combination of boldness, confidence & fearlessness that is divine. You see, the will of God is never really for the fainthearted.

Let’s back up a bit. On verse two, notice the name Josiah. He was going to be the king from David’s house who will bring God’s people back to Him. Josiah won’t be born until 300 years later. This is just a proof, and I personally love this revelation, that no future is hidden from God. Wow, right?

But then notice how the wicked king reacted on verse four.

When King Jeroboam heard the man of God speaking against the altar at Bethel, he pointed at him and shouted, “Seize that man!”

Let this be a reminder, if you rebuke a sinner, he will hate you or do bad things to you if he can. But if you are commanded by God to rebuke them, you must ‘expose yourself’ than betray God’s trust.

If you continue reading, you will find in the same verse that ‘instantly the king’s hand became paralyzed in that position, and he couldn’t pull it back.’ Verse five continues with, ‘At the same time, a wide crack appeared in the altar, and the ashes poured out, just as the man of God had predicted in his message from the Lord.’

Remember that this scene was happening in front of a lot of people. Can you imagine how the crowd reacted when the king couldn’t pull his hand back? It must be both a funny and a very dreadful experience for the crowd watching them. And the man of God’s undoubted trust to the One who has commanded him to do these things pays off right away in this verse. The altar was split. Who wouldn’t believe his message???

But you must see how the king responded on verse six.

The king cried out to the man of God, “Please ask the Lord your God to restore my hand again!” So the man of God prayed to the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and he could move it again.

Let’s take a moment to take a deep breath because I love how this particular scene was played out.

Observe that the king didn’t ask for the prophet to pray that God forgives his sins and that his heart be changed. He just asked for his arms to be healed. Here we will see the kind of man Jeroboam was.

This wicked king instead of trembling at God’s words and after the proof of the truth of God’s words were given to him, STILL didn’t examine his heart and had the nerve to ask the prophet to pray for him. Wow…

And did you see how the man of God responded? He prayed for him right away. What does that tell you? Those disobedient ones will be thankful for the intercession of the genuine, faithful children of God because “the prayers of the righteous availeth much.” (James 5:16)

I have always loved scenarios that reveal a person’s heart. You see it a lot in fairy tales. Here, we see the wicked heart of Jeroboam and the humble and wise heart of the man of God. Such a great contrast, wouldn’t you agree? We all know it isn’t entirely true that people can’t see what’s in our hearts. The bible reveals that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34, Luke 6:45)

But then take this observation: ‘If God, in justice, harden the hearts of sinners, so that the hand they have stretched out in sin they cannot pull in again by repentance, that is spiritual judgment and much more dreadful.’

What situation are you in right now? Would you say you’re experiencing something like what Jeroboam has experienced here? How did you respond? Did you ask God to forgive you, save you from yourself, to change your heart and make it brand new? Or did you just ask God to leave you alone so you can do whatever you want to do with your life?

I am never one to presume to tell people what to do. I do, however, believe in guiding them allowing them to decide for themselves which road to take. If you decided to read this blog hoping you could be told how to be man of God, I am sorry to disappoint you. That is something I can never tell anyone to do. Plus, I’m a woman. I can never tell a man how to be a man, more so how to be a man of God.

A good question to ask, in my opinion, is how does one get that divine boldness, confidence and fearlessness? How, indeed?

This is a two-part blog. Tomorrow, I will post the second part. We will talk about the man of God’s obedience and what complete obedience really means. For now, I ask you to masticate the lessons from this blog. It is my prayer that you’re able to learn a great deal from it. If not, I hope someday you will.