The Man of God and the Old Prophet

Be very careful about following anyone, including those in high positions. Why did the man of God in the following passage, who was sent by God and empowered by God, ultimately lose his life? What should he have done?

(Hint: verse 21.)

1 Kings 13:1 And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the Lord unto Beth-el: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.

And he cried against the altar in the word of the Lord, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.

And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the Lord hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.

And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Beth-el, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.

The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord.

And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Entreat now the face of the Lord thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.

And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward.

And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:

For so was it charged me by the word of the Lord, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.

10 So he went another way, and returned not by the way that he came to Beth-el.

11 ¶ Now there dwelt an old prophet in Beth-el; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Beth-el: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father.

12 And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah.

13 And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon,

14 And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I am.

15 Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread.

16 And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place:

17 For it was said to me by the word of the Lord, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.

18 He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him. (JST…drink water, that I may prove him; and he lied not unto him.)

19 So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water.

20 ¶ And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back:

21 And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee,

22 But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.

23 ¶ And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back.

24 And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase.

25 And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcase cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcase: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.

26 And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he 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, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake unto him.

27 And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled him.

28 And he went and found his carcase cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcase: the lion had not eaten the carcase, nor torn the ass.

29 And the prophet took up the carcase of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him.

30 And he laid his carcase in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, my brother!

31 And it came to pass, after he had buried him, that he spake to his sons, saying, When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones:

32 For the saying which he cried by the word of the Lord against the altar in Beth-el, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.

Meekness

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Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

The meek shall inherit the Earth. Why? What does meek mean? The Greek word praus was used to describe a horse trained for battle. Wild stallions retained their fierce spirit, courage, but were disciplined to respond to the slightest nudge from the rider. They were not frightened by arrows, spears, or torches. Then they were said to be “meeked,” or in other words, completely loyal to, and dependent upon their master. It is the restraint of bridled power.

Think of Jesus who spoke a word and raised Lazarus from the dead, or who spoke a word and cursed the fig tree so that it withered, or who calmed the wind with a word when the disciples were scared of perishing, or who walked on water, or multiplied the fishes and loaves. Imagine any of us with that kind of power by speaking a word. What kind of evil would we do with it? Meekness is having the potential to be a monster, but having it under control. Jesus could have called down twelve legions of angels to fight, but instead He used his power to die for us so that He could save us. He did nothing except His Father’s will. Meekness is not being weak. It is being powerful yet subdued. It is to have control of yourself when you have the potential to wreak havoc. The meek shall inherit the earth not because they are harmless, but because they do not use their power to harm or injure others. Instead, they bless others.

Joseph Smith, Winter Solstice

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On this day, in 1805, Joseph Smith was born. In the year 1805, Winter Solstice occurred on December 22, the longest night of the year. The next day, the 23rd when Joseph was born, marked the time on our calendar when the days grew longer, triumphing over night, and light prevailed over darkness.

http://www.neoprogrammics.com/sun/Northern_Winter_Dates_and_Times.html

I Can Do All Things…

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Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

I’ve seen many Christians cite this passage as a powerful affirmation. It has become a meme. And indeed you have it in you to climb that mountain. You are capable of enduring and overcoming anything if you set your mind to it. You are willing to suffer to become the master of your own destiny. But are you willing to suffer the same things for the benefit of a family member? What about a neighbor? A stranger? A homeless beggar? How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to go for someone who can do nothing for you? What’s in it for you anyway? And if you have the strength alone to help someone in need, how much strength would you need from God to go the extra mile for someone else? How willing are you to become equal to an inordinately burdensome and punishing task for any of the previously mentioned people? There is a reason why there are no traffic jams along the extra mile. People usually don’t enjoy suffering let alone suffering for someone else. Longsuffering is not a part of most people’s vocabulary. But you really are stronger than you might think, and if you are willing to suffer for Christ’s sake, you will find strength that you never thought was possible.

Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

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While studying King Hezekiah’s relationship with the prophet Isaiah, I realized something else. Without God to uphold our hearts, we tend to fail every time He tests us. In other words, when God withdraws His Spirit and we feel abandoned, we discover the true nature of our own hearts.

2 Chronicles 32:31 ¶ Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.

He had put his trust in God during the Assyrian invasion and was given an additional fifteen years of life. But when the Lord withdrew to test him, Hezekiah ultimately became accountable for the Babylonian captivity. When we feel abandoned, we all stray. Some of us become monsters.

“Well, if God doesn’t care, why should I?”

But He does care. That is why he steps away periodically. Like a parent who teaches her toddler to walk, He must step away. I remember when one of my sisters was a toddler and still learning to walk. My mother set her at one end of the living room on her wobbly legs and walked to the other end. My sister began to cry because Mom appeared to abandon her. Desperate to be near my mother, my sister began to take one step and then two. Crying and striving to reach Mom, she inched her way forward one wobbly baby step at a time. She has been walking and running ever since. What is the solution?

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

William Gurnall wrote that all our strength is fetched without doors, or in other words, outside of ourselves:

“Reason Second.  The second reason may be taken from the absolute necessity of this act of faith above others, to support the Christian in the hour of temptation.  All the Christian’s strength and comfort is fetched without doors, and he hath none to send of his errand but faith; this goes to heaven and knocks God up, as he in the parable his neighbor at midnight for bread: therefore, when faith fails, and the soul hath none to go to market for supplies, there must needs be a poor house kept in the meantime. Now faith is never quite laid up till the soul denies, or at least questions, the power of God.  Indeed, when the Christian disputes the will of God, whispering within its own bosom, will he pardon? Will he save? This may make faith go haltingly to the throne of grace, but not knock the soul off from seeking the face of God.  Even then faith on the power of God will bear it company thither: ‘If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean;’ if thou wilt, thou canst pardon, thou canst purge.  But when the soul concludes he cannot pardon, cannot save, this shoots faith to the heart, so that the soul falls at the foot of Satan, not able more to resist; now it grows more listless to duty, indifferent whether it pray or not, as one that sees the well dry breaks or throws away his pitcher.”–William Gurnal, The Christian in Complete Armor.

The strength to flee temptation comes only from God. And that strength comes only through prayer. Without prayer, we fail. How strong are we when God steps back to test our hearts?

Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the night hour.
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Jesus Christ suffered intense agony for six hours nailed to the cross while the effects of countless lashes had ripped his flesh, thorns had pierced his brow, spikes had pierced nerves in his extremities, hunger and thirst afflicted his body, and gravity made it all the more unbearable. But He did not waver from his mission. He had spent the entire night before in Gethsemane praying and also suffering. Prayer was His constant companion. He was no stranger to an entire night of prayer. He was no stranger to forty days of praying and fasting. But imagine for a moment, if He had stepped down from the cross, being abandoned or, rather, forsaken by His Father to become a monster and to smite the Romans who inflicted so much pain on Him and to make all the high priests wither as dried reeds, or to become as chaff that disappears in the wind and to strike down all those who mocked Him while He suffered intense agony. Only a monster would do such a thing. But Jesus was not a monster. Though capable of destruction of cosmic proportions, as demonstrated by the great flood during Noah’s day, or the pestilences inflicted upon Pharaoh in Moses’ day, Jesus Christ, the God of all creation humbly, meekly, and willingly suffered all things of His own will. Without His Father to uphold His heart, Jesus Christ upheld us all. He, and He alone carried all our guilt.

agony

Returning to Hezekiah, consider finally the following commentary:

“God left him to himself in it, to try him, v. 31. God, by the power of his almighty grace, could have prevented the sin; but he permitted it for wise and holy ends, that, by this trial and his weakness in it, he might know, that is, it might be known (a usual Hebraism), what was in his heart, that he was not so perfect in grace as he thought he was, but had his follies and infirmities as other men. God left him to himself to be proud of his wealth, to keep him from being proud of his holiness.

It is good for us to know ourselves, and our own weakness and sinfulness, that we may not be conceited or self-confident, but may always think meanly of ourselves and live in a dependence upon divine grace. We know not the corruption of our own hearts, nor what we shall do if God leave us to ourselves. Lord, lead us not into temptation.

3. His sin was the his heart was lifted up, v. 25. He was proud of the honour God had put upon him in so many instances, the honour his neighbours did him in bringing him presents, and now that the king of Babylon should send an embassy to him to caress and court him: this exalted him above measure.

When Hezekiah had destroyed other idolatries he began to idolize himself. O what need have great men, and good men, and useful men, to study their own infirmities and follies, and their obligations to free grace, that they may never think highly of themselves, and to beg earnestly of God that he will hide pride from them and always keep them humble!–Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 2 Ch 32:31.

In our individual journeys to seek His face, we must pray and pray often. Yesterday’s prayers are not sufficient for today, for as the Apostle Paul declared, we stand in jeopardy every hour! And when that sweet Spirit of the Lord deliberately withdraws from our hearts, which leaves us feeling empty and desperate, in order to test us, it is then that we truly discover who we are without Him. It is imperative that we learn to be godly without Him to uphold our hearts, else we might find ourselves, like that son of morning, fallen from heaven and cast down to Earth because of our pride and lust and vanity.

Isaiah 14:11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of the viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou has said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.