When you hear something from the Lord, it’s easy to doubt what you hear. Did I hear correctly? Is this right? Was this just my imagination? If it’s something we want, then we receive it fully. But if it is contrary to what we desire, we begin to doubt it. But sometimes the Lord speaks to us and we feel we can rest in that word. This happened often to the prophets and teaches us something very important.
Jeroboam was the ruler of the northern kingdom of the split tribes of Israel, but he did evil and worshiped and served idols. He even set up a substitute for everything–the temple, the sacrifices, the city, etc… God’s judgment was upon Jeroboam for these actions and so the Lord sent a man of God to confront him.
So the man of God from Judah was given the Word to go to Jeroboam and prophesy against him, but also not to eat bread or drink water there or go back by the way he came (1 Kings 13:9,17). The man of God from Judah went and found Judah and prophesied against him. Jeroboam tried to have him arrested but when he pointed with his hand it withered and was cursed. He pleaded for Jerboam to pray and the Lord restored Jeroboam’s hand.
Jeroboam was grateful and invited the man of God from Judah to his house. But the prophet held firm.
“If you were to give me half your house, I still wouldn’t go with you. and I wouldn’t eat bread or drink water in this place, for this is what I was commanded by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or go back the way you came” (1 Kings 13:10).
All is well for the moment. The man of God from Judah is standing firm in the word of the Lord to him. But then another test comes.
An old prophet met the man of God from Judah on his journey. The old prophet invited him to come to his house to eat. The man of God from Judah repeated his instructions from the Lord, stating that he could not go with him to eat at his house because the Lord had told him not to.
But the old prophet was persuasive. He said that he too heard the word of the Lord and an “angel” had spoken to him to invite the man of God from Judah to his house. So the man of God from Judah did just that and accepted the invitation.
Why did the man of God from Judah do this?
He had stood firm with Jeroboam, but how is it that he crumbled so fast before the old prophet? There are many reasons for this I can assume.
First of all hospitality was and is one of the highest values of the land in this culture. To deny someone’s hospitality was a slap in the face. With Jeroboam it wasn’t hard because he was evil. But this was different which leads us to the second point.
The old man was just that–an old man. Respect for elders is tantamount. You typically don’t spurn your elders.
Third the old man was a prophet. He was a religious leader. Perhaps even known to the people. It would have been easy for the young man from Judah to doubt his own word he had received from the Lord in the face of an “experienced” prophet. Certainly he might have doubted himself in the shadow of this man.
Fourthly its very possible he was tired, hungry and thirsty. They say we are most likely to compromise our values when we are hungry, angry, lonely and/or tired (H.A.L.T.). The young prophet probably was a bit of some or all of these.
Regardless, the young man of God from Judah went to eat at the old prophet’s house, disobeying the Lord. While they were at the table the word of the Lord came to the old prophet:
“This is what the LORD says: ‘Because you rebelled against the command of the LORD and did not keep the command the LORD your God commanded you–but you went back and ate bread and drank water in the place that He said to you, “Do not eat bread and do not drink water” – your corpse will never reach the grave of your fathers” (1 Kings 13:21-22).
The man of God from Judah left his house and on the way home he was killed by a lion. The old prophet was deeply grieved, buried him and commanded that he himself be buried with him.
Why did he have to die? Why did the Lord bring judgment against this young man of God?
It’s because the man of God as a prophet was to be held to the standard of righteousness and obedience. When he rebelled against the command that God was giving him, he was doing nothing less than what Jeroboam did–rebelling against god. So in the name of God the man of God was acting hypocritical.
Furthermore this was a highly transitional time, an important time for the move of God. It’s been my observation in life and from Scripture that when these seasons occur, there’s a much higher emphasis on obedience. We see this in the birth of the early church when Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) lied to the Holy Spirit and died soon after. It was a holy time.
What Can We Learn from This?
It actually is very important and critical that this lesson be received. We are definitely in a time of transition globally and in a time of many competing voices, especially even by Christians.
This is the lesson: We must stand firm in the Word of the Lord we hear for ourselves.
Of course it must line up with Scripture and not be something stupid like charging a zillion dollars on a credit card. This would be foolish.
But in matters where we hear the word of the Lord and it lines up with His ways, his character and his Word, we need to stand fast in it. Circumstances, people and our own suffering must not detract us from what we feel the Lord is leading us into. This is easy to do when we face the “Jeroboams” of our lives, but much harder when we talk to older, “seasoned” people that we respect and love.
Again, we don’t need to be foolish. But we need to stand firm in the Word of the Lord to us. There will always be those who will try to lead us down different paths, and they may even be very well-intentioned.
Secondly, and this is from an entirely different angle, but it’s something I heard long ago. A man was preaching and said when evil laws were being passed, many of those who don’t know God know that they will not win the first five or six times when they fight it. This is because Christians are good at rallying once or twice but many have difficulty for the long battle. Therefore, the unbelievers will paitently wait, accepting defeat the first half dozen times knowing that they will win on the seventh or eighth time they fight on an issue.
This happened right here in this story. The man of God stood firm the first time, but it was the repeated battle that wore him out until he compromised. He stood firm with Jeroboam the first time, he stood firm to the old prophet initially, and it was the third conversation where the old man said “an angel told him” that he caved.
Standing firm in righteousness is not standing firm only a few times. It is standing firm in the long haul. It’s kind of like eating healthy and exercise. We can do this for 2-3 weeks but where are we 10 weeks later?
It’s the same with obedience. It’s not just how we begin, it’s also how we end.