1 Kings 13-14: The Power of God’s Word
June 9, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Now the Word of God comes (13:1). Jeroboam, king of Israel, is leading Israel to sin by encouraging and officially sponsoring pagan deities and their worship. At one altar for such worship, God sends a man of God with the Word of God (13:2-3). Aslan, as C.S. Lewis would say, is on the move—though whether he is attacking the witch’s castle, or rescuing the Narnians, or both at the same time is as yet unclear. The Word of God is clear and is clearly demonstrated by first the freezing of Jeroboam’s hand when he attempts to counter-order the prophet’s words (13:4), and then by his healing at the word of the prophet (13:6).
This prophet has been commanded by God not to eat or drink, and to return by a different path (13:8-9). He tells Jeroboam as much and sets out on his way (13:10). But now another prophet, an older man, comes to him and invites him into his house to eat with him (13:15). When the younger prophet protests that God has told him not to do this (13:16-17), the older prophet lies to him (13:18). He says he has received a word from God to countermand the previous instruction and now it is fine for the younger prophet to eat with him (13:18). And so he does (13:19). But now the Word of God actually does come to the older prophet (13:20-22), the younger prophet hastily leaves (13:23), and he is killed (13:24).
A strange story, to be sure, what does it mean? More than likely, the intentionality is to teach us of the reliability of God’s Word. The first prophet had just predicted, under God’s inspiration, that the altar would be destroyed. He had also declared that God had said he must not eat or drink on the return home. If one was true, so must be the other. God will not let his Word be countermanded by human preference or choice.
This emphasis on the inviolability of God’s Word continues in the next chapter, too. Jeroboam’s son is sick (14:1)—a desperate situation for any father. He sends his wife on a secret mission to a prophet (14:2-4); so often when we are desperate we finally turn to God. She is to go in disguise so the prophet does not recognize her. What a strange double-think! Going to God in hiding asking him to do the miraculous! If God is the God of miracles, we cannot hide from him.
The prophet has been warned of the wife of Jeroboam’s arrival, and is not fooled by her disguise (14:5-6). He delivers God’s Word to her (14:7-11)—a sobering word if ever there was one. The son will die (14:12), and Jeroboam’s legacy will be distraught (14:10-16). God will “burn up the house of Jeroboam, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone” (14:10)—a metaphor that in the vernacular could not be utilized in most churches, but which comes on the lips of the man of God by the Word of God to indicate the extreme displeasure and real terror of the wrath of God. Not only are Jeroboam and his heirs no more than dung, they are no more than dried cheap dung that you burn up for heat. Still there is no repentance.
Meanwhile, Rehoboam is having his own troubles. Perhaps copying the nefarious tendencies of Jeroboam (what’s good for the goose is good for the gander), Rehoboam also begins to encourage pagan idolatry (14:21-24). As a result, Egypt, against whom Israel famously won a glorious victory, now comes to defeat Israel (14:25-28). Egypt is back, and with a vengeance. Solomon’s gold shields are replaced with bronze ones (14:26-27). The economy is starting to take a nosedive when even the most public elements of reputation are downgraded.
All in all, remember: God’s Word is to be read, listened to, heeded and obeyed. If you are a Bible teacher, be especially careful to do what it is that you teach. By publicly declaring the truth of God’s Word, you put yourself in the category about which James warns: those who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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