DISOBEDIENCE to God brings DEATH: But the man of God said to the king, "If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place. For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, 'You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.'“ So he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel. (1 Kings 13:8-10)
In 1 Kings 13, we read the story of an unnamed ‘man of God’ who travelled from Judah to Bethel to pronounce a prophecy to the ungodly King Jeroboam. We cannot get more specific details about this prophet except that He came by divine authority as he accurately predicted an event that took place three hundred sixty years later. His boldness and fortitude to stand and pronounce judgment before the king of Israel was remarkable. The two incidents that happened rapidly in close succession – the withering of King Jeroboam’s hand (v. 4) and the altar splitting apart with the ashes pouring out (v. 5) - were truly dramatic. When King Jeroboam requested this ‘man of God’ to pray for healing and restoration, he did that and the king’s hand was restored immediately (v. 6). By all accounts, this young prophet was in the will of God, and he was clearly told what he should not do after completing his ministry – he was not to eat bread or drink water in Bethel, and he was not to return back to Judah using the route that he had travelled.
This young prophet obeyed God by refusing the reward that King Jeroboam offered as a bribe (v. 7-9), and also took a different way to return to his home town. However, we see some definite steps that led this fiery young prophet to an early death through disobedience:
- DELAY: This young prophet delayed in his return journey, and we read that the old deceitful prophet found him sitting under an oak (v. 14). This act of delay allowed for the encounter with the old prophet. Our act of obedience to God should have no delays or looking back. Let’s remember Lot’s wife (Gen 19:26).
- DECEPTION: When the young prophet delayed in his obedience, he allowed himself to be deceived by the old prophet who was actually lying (v. 18).
- DISOBEDIENCE: Instead of recalling the specific command of God and following it completely, the young prophet disobeyed God’s word and went back with the old prophet to eat bread and drink water in his house (v. 19)
- DAMNATION: The old prophet showed his true color and intention only after the disobedience was complete. He cried out with passion (as a result of his own guilt and due to the young prophet's approaching misery) and pronounced the ultimate death sentence as damnation (v. 20-22).
- DEATH: Just as the old prophet had cursed, the young prophet was killed by a lion on his return journey (v. 24), and was buried in the old prophet’s tomb instead of his fathers’ (v. 22b, 30).
Let us decide to obey God’s word completely and without any delay – no matter what happens in our lives or who tells us otherwise…!!!