In chapter 13 of First Kings, we have a story fit for Hollywood. God sends a Man of God to Bethel which Jeroboam, the rebel king who divided Israel, had chosen as his new sacred place of worship and sacrifice. Just as Jeroboam was standing by the altar, this man of God came and cried out against the altar: ” ‘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 make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you. This is the sign the Lord has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.’ When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, ‘Seize him!’ But the hand he stretched out toward the man shriveled up, so that he could not pull it back. Also, the altar was split apart and its ashes poured out according to the sign given by the man of God by the word of the Lord.”
This is prophecy instantly fulfilled, just what TV viewers want. The bad guy is thwarted, his proud arm shriveled, but there is more instant power. “Then the king said to the man of God, ‘Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.’ So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.” Then we are given an important fact that is key to the whole story. Jeroboam invites the man to dinner and offers him a gift, but he declines adding, “I was commanded by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’ ” So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel.
In episode two we learn that an old prophet in Bethel heard about what had taken place and caught up with the Man of God. He invited him to eat, and was informed that God had forbidden it, but in deceit says, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And 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.’ ” But he was lying to him. So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house. Instantly, as they ate the old prophet prophecies that the Man of God would die in a foreign place because of this disobedience to God’s command. Shortly after leaving he is strangely killed by a lion. The old prophet got the body, which was not mauled with the Lion and unharmed donkey standing nearby, and buried him in his own tomb in Bethel, promptly fulfilling another prophecy.
This story gives us a lot of quick action and prompt fulfillment of prophetic judgment, but what is the message? Was God unjust toward the Man of God? Why did the old prophet deceive the Man of God? What did the signs and wonders accomplish? “Even after this, Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places. This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth.” (1 Kings 13: 33-34). The message is that obedience to God and His word and ways is preeminent. We must cling to God’s direction, even if others whom we respect say otherwise. We are responsible for our weakness and willingness to believe a lie, for whatever reason, so that God is just in His judgment. We can always call out for help and guidance in times of doubt, confusion, temptation, weakness, and uncertainty for it is to Him alone that we owe allegiance. Signs and wonders are of no benefit to wicked unbelieving people, who do what they think is good; Yeshua knew this and proved it in life. Signs and wonders in scripture frequently stand as evidences for condemnation, judgment and wrath. In the end times (today?), the enemy will release powerful deceptions as never before in an effort to deceive even believers and we must hold to the truth of God’s word. (Matt. 24: 24).
“Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” ( Hebrews 6: 17-20).
God’s purpose and faithfulness are confirmed on His oath. Moreover, God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable. “And this is my covenant with them when I take away their (Israel’s) sins.” As far as the gospel is concerned, they (Israel) are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you (Gentiles) who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you (Gentiles). For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” (Romans 11: 27-32, Parentheses added).
Every believer is a light in this dark world. Yes, light is everywhere, even on cloudy rainy days, but that is indicative of the magnitude of its power. Even in your weak, fragile state, God’s light is all around you and capable of piercing the darkness. It is His Almighty power; you and I are merely conduits of His love, mercy, and Truth. Lord Yeshua, fulfill your work in us to your glory and honor. Remind each one of your call and gifting that in hope is set before us.