I Kings 13
From A Man of God's Notes
God spoke to me today, telling me to go to the city of Bethel. There I would find an altar that Jeroboam, the king of Israel, built.
I put on my sandals, took my walking stick, and journeyed from Judah the few miles to Bethel. Jeroboam made the altar easy to find, it was huge. Many Israelites stood in line, waiting to offer their sacrifices.
Why they didn't go the short distance to Jerusalem and offer their sacrifice at the temple as they should have, I don't know. But these are the disobedient ones. They followed Jeroboam and made him their king instead of staying loyal to Rehoboam, the grandson of David.
I walked past the line, confident in my steps, right up to the altar where Jeroboam stood offering his sacrifice. The words God gave me flowed from my mouth, "O altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: 'A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.'"
Jeroboam's brows furrowed, his eyes squinted, and his face turned angry red. He knew he had done wrong by appointing anyone he pleased to serve as a priest. Not one Levite was chosen. The people would have priests who didn't truly worship God.
I refused to be afraid. I had to continue saying the words God gave, no matter what Jeroboam did or said. "This is the sign the Lord has declared: the altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out."
Jeroboam drew in a deep breath and lunged his arm toward me and screamed, "Seize him!"
Before our eyes, Jeroboam's hand shriveled up. He couldn't move it at all. A loud rumble came from the altar. The rocks split apart and the ashes from the sacrifice poured out. Exactly as the Word given to me by the Lord said.
Jeroboam's eyes grew wide. He stared at his hand then looked at the altar and back at his hand. His body shook with fear and anger. "You, man of God. Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored."
I did as he asked. The Lord chose to restore the king's hand as it was moments later.
Jeroboam seemed quite concerned and still a bit frightened. He invited me to go with him to his home and to eat a meal. He also promised to give me a gift in return for helping him.
"No," I said. "Even if you were to give me half of all your possessions I would not go with you. Nor would I eat bread or drink water here. I was commanded by the word of the Lord not to eat bread or drink water or return on the same road. And I will do as the Lord says."
I walked away from Jeroboam, using a different path as the Lord commanded. After traveling a short ways I took a break and sat under an oak tree. While sitting there an old prophet from Bethel approached me, riding a donkey. He said, "Are you the man of God who came from Judah?"
"Please come home with me and eat."
I shook my head and said, "I cannot go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. I have been told by the word of the Lord not to do these things."
He smiled and held a hand out to me. "I, too, am a prophet, as you are. An angel said to me by the word of the Lord: 'Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water."
I didn't feel well at the time and thought God had given new instructions to this man for me. I went with him to his home and ate a wonderful meal.
But while we sat at the table, God spoke to the old prophet sitting across from me. He suddenly cried out, "This is what the Lord says: 'You have defied my word and have not kept my command. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where I told you not to do those things.'" He leaned forward and said, "Therefore you will die and not be buried with your fathers."
After the meal, the old prophet saddled his donkey for me. I thanked him for the food and rode away, thinking about the words he said at the meal. He was right. I had gone back, but I believed his words the first time when he said God told him to invite me.
As I rode, a lion suddenly burst from the bushes....
1. What do you think happened next?
2. Let's look at the beginning of the story. What did God ask this prophet to do?
3. What did Jeroboam do when he heard the message from the prophet?
4. What happened to Jeroboam and to the altar?
5. Jeroboam invited the prophet to stay for a meal, did he? Why or why not?
6. Who else invited the prophet to stay for a meal. Did the prophet go or not?
7. What did the prophet do wrong?