Warning: God Is Just, and He Will Not Ignore a Nation’s Sins Forever (1 Kings 13)

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 13

Having rejected Rehoboam as king, the ten tribes in the north, now known as Israel, followed Jeroboam and made him king. The two tribes in the south, Judah and Benjamin, now identified as Judah, continued to serve Rehoboam.

King Jeroboam, fearing the worship of the LORD in Jerusalem might unite the people (12:26-27), established his own religion, and encouraged the people to worship two golden calves (12:28). One calve he sat in Bethel, and the other in Dan (12:29-30). He then ordained “the lowest of the people” to serve as his priest (for the sons of Levi had apparently refused to participate in Jeroboam’s idolatry, 12:31).

Acting as a priest, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar he had built in Bethel, and it is there we find him in today’s Scripture reading, 1 Kings 13.

1 Kings 13 – Wickedness and Tragedy in Israel

God Sent a Prophet from Judah to Condemn Bethel’s Idol Worship (13:1-10)

We do not know the name of the prophet, but he faithfully discharged his duty as God’s prophet, and condemned the altar Jeroboam had built at Bethel (13:1).

The prophet foretold a son would be born in Judah, of the lineage of David, and his name would be Josiah (13:2). He warned Jeroboam how the king named Josiah would lead a revival in Judah, and he would destroy the illegitimate altar at Bethel, and the prophets, and the bones of dead men would be burnt upon the altar (13:2).

Jeroboam was furious with the prophet, and when he stretched forth his hand to order the prophet to be seized, his hand drew up, and withered (13:4). The king cried for mercy, and the prophet prayed and Jeroboam’s hand was restored (13:6). Restored to health, the king invited the prophet to his home for food, drink, and a gift. The prophet, however, refused, for the LORD had commanded him to neither eat nor drink in Bethel (13:7-9). So, the prophet departed another way as he had been commanded (13:10).

An Act of Disobedience, and A Tragic End (13:11-32)

As the prophet departed, he was met along the way by a man described as “an old prophet in Bethel” (13:11). The old prophet and his sons lived at Bethel, in spite of the idolatry, and wickedness Jeroboam had raised up there.

Having heard how the prophet from Judah had boldly confronted the altar and the wicked Jeroboam, he invited that faithful prophet to his home at Bethel for bread and water (13:11-17). Hearing the hesitancy of the prophet, the old prophet lied, and persuaded the prophet from Judah that the LORD had sent him to bring the prophet to his home to “eat bread and drink water” (13:18).

Foolishly, the prophet heeded the old prophet’s words, disobeyed the LORD, and invited upon himself the wrath of God (13:19-22). Even while he was eating, God filled the old prophet’s mouth with His judgment against the prophet from Judah, and foretold he would die along the way, and not be buried in his father’s sepulchre (13:22).

Sending the prophet from Judah on his way, the old prophet soon heard there was a man seen slain outside Bethel, and a donkey and lion stood over the man’s lifeless body (a scene that was contrary to nature, and therefore an act of God, 13:23-25). The old prophet believed God’s judgment had been fulfilled, and said, “It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the Lord: therefore the Lord hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him” (13:26).

The old prophet left his home, found and retrieved the lifeless body of the prophet (13:27-28), and lamented his death. He commanded the body of the dead prophet be placed in his own tomb (13:29-30). After the prophet was buried, the old prophet instructed his sons to bury him one day in the same tomb (13:31).

Though he had failed to condemn the sins and idolatry of Bethel, the old prophet acknowledged the words of the prophet from Judah, and asserted the judgment of God would one day fall upon that place as the prophet had foretold (13:32).

The King and Israel Continued in Wickedness (13:33-34)

The cry of the prophet against the altar at Bethel did not dissuade Jeroboam or Israel from idolatry. Instead, the king led the people in “his evil way,” and chose “of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places” (13:33). So great was this wickedness, God determined He would cut of Jeroboam’s lineage, and “destroy it from off the face of the earth” (13:34).

Closing thoughts – Compromise has become the way of believers, and the way of the churches today. Preachers have failed to speak out against the wickedness of the world, and it is no wonder that gross wickedness has been embraced by our homes, churches, and schools. If God is faithful and just, and He is, He will surely pour out His judgment upon this generation that justifies its sins under the pretense of liberty, love and grace.

1 Samuel 15:22b – “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to hearken than the fat of rams.”

Copyright© 2021 – Travis D. Smith