The prophet of God came to Bethel and prophesied. When the old prophet of Bethel learned of this, he lied to him saying an angel told him to come and eat and drink in his house. God had told the prophet not to eat nor drink nor return the way he came. When he believed the old prophet, he went home with him, ate bread and drank water - then God spoke through the old prophet that he would not be burried with his fathers for going against what he had been told. He was killed by a lion when he left that place. - why did the old prophet lie this way and cause the man's death? And why was the old prophet not also killed by the lion?
1 Kings 13:18
NLT - 18 But the old prophet answered, “I am a prophet, too, just as you are. And an angel gave me this command from the Lord : ‘Bring him home with you so he can have something to eat and drink.’” But the old man was lying to him.
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The broader context of this passage lies between 1Kings 13:1-32. This passage has always puzzled many because of what appears to be contradictions of sorts in it. If we argue that the old prophet was a false prophet, how come God finally spoke through him and passed judgment on the young prophet? If the old prophet initially spoke his mind and not the will of God, why did he apparently lie to the young prophet who spoke the truth? Is this not a question of moral contradictions for a man of God? The old prophet had obviously not spoken the mind of God when he initially claimed that an angel had spoken to him regarding the young prophet being permitted to eat food. However we learn from his second prophecy that he was now speaking the mind of God given the tragic consequences that follow. Why was the old prophet not punished? We should appreciate that in the context of this passage, the young prophet is actually the subject and not the old prophet. The young prophet is the principal character of the narrator whose actions capture gist of the passage idea. The moral is simple; the young prophet who had been mightily used of God failed his obedience test when he trusted the voice of a man rather than the voice of God. God was his true master and not the old prophet or even an angel! How we often fail this test too! The old prophet was merely a divine instrument that God chose to test the young prophet and to achieve his higher purposes. There are a number of spiritual lessons we can draw from this passage. First, we should test every spirit or prophecy to see if it is from God (1John 4:1-2). Not every person who claims to speak the mind of God is necessarily from God. Some are from Satan, intent on destroying our faith. Jesus rebuked Peter openly when he tried to stand in the way of the Cross (Matthew 16:23). God's word must remain the radar and mast for our spiritual journey. Secondly, we need to understand the moral nature of our God in that He does not change his will or purposes to suit our circumstances neither does He contradict Himself (James 1:17). God means what He says and says what He means. Scripture declares in Numbers 23:19 that "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" This is not to suggest that when we petition God regarding His judgment He will not change His mind and forgive. We know that He is full of compassion and mercy. He changed His mind on the destruction of Israel after Moses pleaded with Him (Exodus 33:17). He showed mercy to King Hezekiah after declaring that he would not recover from his illness. Hezekiah made a passionate plea that touched the heart of God (Isaiah 38:1-4). Thirdly, we need to distinguish God's voice from the din and clutter around us. Prophet Samuel learnt his hard lessons early in life. It took the experienced hands of Eli the Priest to help him clearly distinguish between the voice of God and the voice of man (1 Sam 3). Understanding the mind of God is a lifelong experience. We should daily rely on His spirit and His word to discern His will. Finally we learn that God punishes disobedience but has also offered a solution to the stain of sin (Romans 3:23, 6:23). If we disobey God and do not repent then the consequences are certainly tragic. There is no evidence from the passage that the young prophet repented of his sin.
The old prophet did lie to the man of God as stated in the question, but his lie did not cause the man of God's death as stated in the question. Rather it was his disobedience to a specific command from God that caused him to lose his life and legacy. Instead of being buried with his ancestors, he was buried in the grave of the one who lied to him. None of us wants that, to be eternally laid next to the one who deceives us and leads us to destruction. That's how the story ends! The old prophet tells his sons to lay his bones next to the man of God's bones upon his death (verse 31). I believe that to be a main part of this teaching to digest spiritually. Paul says it this way to the church at Galatia: Let God's curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different Good News than the one we preached to you. GAL1:8 NLT I don't know about the man of God in the story of 1Kings 13, but I imagine I would have been easy to deceive when it comes to offering me something to relieve my hunger pains. I bet the old prophet knew he would be easy to convince at that point. The moral to the story is clear: hold on to The Word of God and don't waver. Peace and Blessings to all God's people!
The man of God was punished severely for his disobedience because he was very close to the divine God and received the command of God very clearly. The old prophet was not severely punished because he was a "retired" prophet and no longer close to God. He was much like an ordinary Israelite, no longer having the spiritual awareness. He might not intend to harm the man of God, but just wanted to entertain him with a meal. As Jesus said in Luke chapter 12:47-48, the punishment of disobedience is proportional to one's knowledge of God's will. 47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Furthermore, the old prophet was not "immediately" punished because God has his time. Similarly, Jeroboam I was not immediately punished but his entire house perished eventually.
Perhaps the old prophet was attempting to test the truthfulness of the new prophet--having heard what the man of God told the king about not eating or drinking, he wanted to see if he would stick to his word as a true prophet would or if he was yet another false prophet saying whatever he wanted. When the man of God yielded and disobeyed by coming home with the old prophet, he cast doubt over the prophecy he had just been given! If I were the old prophet, I would assume, nope, this isn't a true man of God, and the prophecy was just falsehood. To counteract the effects of the prophet's disobedience, God revealed the truth to the old prophet. And, for the same reason, God also had to follow through by killing the prophet to reinforce the truthfulness of the prophecy. Note, the donkey wasn't hurt and the lion didn't eat his kill--a miraculous circumstance for sure. As a prophet who was currently on the job, speaking for God and being evaluated by others, he had to be held to a very high standard. The old prophet, on the other hand, while he shouldn't have lied, may not have had nefarious reasons for doing so. He may have just been trying to tell if the new prophet was "for real." Note that at the end of the story, his reason for wanting to be buried with the new prophet is "for the saying which he cried out....will surely come to pass."
God chose to let the lying prophet live to learn a valuable lesson, just grace, God's grace. We notice the old prophet took the body of the man of God and buried him in his own tomb, telling his son that when he died to bury him along side the man of God. The old prophet and I would hope his son lived to see the prophesies of the man of God come true. God is gracious to all of us as He chooses to be. The bottom line is that if God says it we should obey, God is over all creation.
I believe that as children of God our obedience and adherence to the Word of God will always be tested. In the beginning God gave the commandment to Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and then the tempter came in chapter three with the intent to get them to disobey the commandment and they yielded to the temptation. With that being said, we can always be sure when we have received a direct command from the Lord we will be tried. The devil is very cunning and he knows just what to use to get us to disobey. In the epistle of James the first chapter we learn that we are drawn away by our own lust. We will always be tempted by these three things, the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. 1John 2:16
Because he lied, we assume the old prophet was not a good man. But sometimes God allowed His servants to tell someone a lie they wanted to hear (for example, in 1Kings 22:20-23). The old prophet boycotted Jeroboam's ceremony, and sent his sons instead. It wasn't because he was too weak to make the trip, because he makes a hasty journey himself to meet and retrieve the Judean prophet. The old prophet evidently did not approve of Jeroboam's actions, and something in the way his sons described the Judean prophet's speech may have led him to think the speech was not given as firmly as it could have been. So he found the Judean prophet and made the invitation in almost the same words as Jeroboam had spoken. I think it was a test, brought on by something the old prophet thought was lacking in the Judean prophet's delivery. The young prophet did not take his holy charge seriously, easily falling for the invitation to do what he wanted to do anyway, now that it was justified as another message from God. Both prophets testified against the sinful display at Bethel. When it was all over, the elder prophet added his own witness to the true message of his failed brother, that all his words will be fulfilled (1Kings 13:30-32).
Because the devil "is a liar and the father of lies". He has been a "murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). When we turn away from God's ways and are attracted to sin, we open a door for the enemy to enter and take control. Rather than yielding ourselves as "instruments of righteousness to God," we become "instruments of unrighteousness to sin" (Rom 6:13). People who are caught committing gruesome crimes like murder often tell stories of hearing voices that instructed them on specifics of what they should do! The bible warns: "Do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies that you should OBEY [emphasis mine] it in its lusts!" (Rom 6:12) I don't know who the old prophet was listening to, but it certainly wasn't God!
The old man was a FALSE prophet who served in the temple at Bethel. He promoted idol worship to the golden calf with false prophesies. The young man was a TRUE prophet of God sent to pronounce judgement and destruction on this temple of idol worship at Bethel. The old FALSE prophet knew that his livelihood was threatened by the prophecy from the young TRUE prophet since people would stop coming to the temple at Bethel. The old FALSE prophet heard that the young TRUE prophet could not stay to dine with the king because God had commanded him to leave immediately. The old FALSE prophet tricked the young TRUE prophet with his lie about a message from an angel so that he disobeyed the Lord, so he could discredit the young TRUE prophet and his message, so people wouldn't believe him. Then God used the old FALSE prophet to speak to the young TRUE prophet and pass judgement on his disobedience. God can and will use anyone he chooses to communicate his message. Remember how God used king Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel. The young TRUE prophet was then killed by a lion on the road after he left the home of the old FALSE prophet. The lion stood by the body and didn't hurt the donkey or anyone else who passed by because the lion was being controlled by God - this was an act of God's judgement on the TRUE prophet alone. The old FALSE prophet took the body home and buried it so the people would not revere this young TRUE prophet. He wanted his own bones buried next to the TRUE prophet so that somehow his evil would be covered by the holiness of the TRUE man of God. Why did God deal so harshly with the young TRUE prophet. Whenever God raised anyone to an important position in his kingdom work - prophet, priest, king - he expected and demanded total obedience. The young man of Judah, a TRUE prophet of God listened to a false voice of deception instead of listening to the Lord. That disobedience cost him his ministry and life. This shouldn't surprise us. Moses disobeyed God once at the waters of Meribah. He tapped the rock twice to bring forth water from it, but God had commanded him to tap it only once. For that disobedience, God refused to allow Moses to enter the promised land, ended his ministry and took him home. The message for us today is: 1. If we want to be used by God to advance his kingdom in our world, we must obey him. 2. We must listen to his voice alone. His voice comes to us through his written word in the bible and through the voice of his Holy Spirit living in us. 3. If we listen to other voices, even religious leaders, without confirming that their message is in agreement with the message or commands we have received from God, we too may become disobedient, by listening to lies and being tricked by deceptions. 4. God may decide to end our ministry because he can't trust us anymore. 5. Maybe God will also decide to take us home early because we are not giving honour and glory to him anymore. 6. How well we recognise, listen to and obey the voice of God depends entirely on a) how well we know the bible (inside and out) and, b) how faithfully we walk with the Holy Spirit every day.
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