1 Kings 13

Summarize the events recorded in 1 Kings 12:25-33.
According to 1 Kings 12:25-33, Jeroboam built golden calf shrines (idols) at Dan and Bethel (rival worship centers) and recruited false priests. He did so because he feared that if the people of the ten Northern Tribes continued to return to Jerusalem to worship at the Temple, they might want to see the kingdom reunited under Rehoboam. He thus feigned altruism by telling the people that he had erected the worship centers in the north for their convenience. 1 Kings 12:30 tells us “this thing became a sin.” God was not pleased with what Jeroboam had done. He succeeded in keeping the northern tribes at home, but sowed the seeds that would yield a harvest of idolatry and ruin for the nation. The occasion for the events of 1 Kings 13 is the dedication festival of the Bethel altar.

What do we know about the “man of God” who mysteriously appears in 1 Kings 13:1?
A. He is referred to as a “man of God” rather than a prophet throughout the chapter.

B. He was from Judah, Israel’s rival kingdom.

C. He came “by the word of the Lord,” that is to say, “in” the power of God’s Word, obeying its impulsion.

D. He came to Bethel, the center of the problem. God sent this man to the heart of the matter.

Where was Jeroboam when the “man of God” arrived on the scene?
He “was standing by the altar to burn incense” (1 Kings 13:1). Jeroboam was playing a leading role in the national apostasy. According to 1 Kings 14:16, Jeroboam was held accountable for causing Israel to sin. Everything rises and falls on leadership.

Why did the “man of God” cry against the altar rather than against the king?
A. The altar was a symbol of the system of idolatry, which the king had imposed upon Israel.

B. The altar represented the system that would ultimately lead to the downfall of the Northern Kingdom. Recall that the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 B.C. (see 2 Kings 17:6-23). 2 Kings 17:22 states, “And the sons of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them.”

C. A prediction regarding the destruction of the altar would carry with it and include the destruction of its architect.

What did the “man of God” prophesy in verse 2?
That a child born to the house of David would desecrate the altar erected by Jeroboam. The descendant’s name was Josiah (which means “whom Jehovah sustains”). King Josiah fulfilled this prophecy 360 years later (see 2 Kings 23:15-16). Note also that this is a very specific prophecy. There are only three other instances in the Bible where specific names were included in a prophecy: Israel (Genesis 17:19), Solomon (I Chronicles 22:9), and Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1).

How was the altar to be desecrated by Josiah?
By burning on the altar the bones of the priests who had used it. See 2 Kings 23:15-16.

What sign did the “man of God” give to show Jeroboam that this was no idle threat?
The altar would be split apart and the ashes upon it poured out in the very presence of Jeroboam. See verses 4 and 6.

What was Jeroboam’s response to the “man of God” and what happened to Jeroboam?
Jeroboam defiantly stretched out his hand and called for the arrest of the “man of God” (verse 4). Like all tyrants who feel they have been threatened or embarrassed, Jeroboam resorted to the use of force. But God protected his messenger by causing Jeroboam’s outstretched arm to become paralyzed “so that he could not draw it back to himself.” This served as a warning to Jeroboam not to harm God’s messenger and as advance notice of judgment to come.

What impact did the events have on Jeroboam according to verse 6?
Jeroboam asked the “man of God” to “entreat” God on his behalf “that my hand may be restored to me.” The word “entreats” means “to soften.” Jeroboam asked the “man of God” to soften the face of the Lord or to smooth the Lord’s angry countenance through prayer. Notice two things about Jeroboam’s request.

A. Jeroboam asked the “man of God” to “entreat the Lord your God” thus implying that he had no personal relationship with the God of Israel. Someone noted, “They who in prosperity reject the warnings of God’s messengers are ready enough in distress to have recourse to their prayers.”

B. Jeroboam betrayed his impenitent heart by expressing greater concern for his sufferings than for his sins. Yet God in his grace allowed the king’s hand to be restored to normal. Even this did not cause Jeroboam to repent of his evil ways according to 1 Kings 13:33-34.

What invitation did the king issue to the “man of God” according to verse 7? What do you think was Jeroboam’s motivation in issuing the invitation?
The king invited the “man of God” to his home for rest, refreshment, and a reward for restoring his arm. It was customary to offer a prophet a gift or reward if he performed something requested of him (see 1 Samuel 9:7-8, 1 Kings 14:3, 2 Kings 5:5 and 8:9). Regarding Jeroboam’s motivation, his offer could have been a step to try to “buy” the prophet.

Why did the “man of God” refuse Jeroboam’s invitation?
A. Because God said no (see verse 9).

B. Because accepting Jeroboam’s invitation could have been perceived as his approval of what was going on in Bethel. He did not want to imply any kind of friendly relationship with Jeroboam.

C. Rejecting Jeroboam’s invitation was a marked way of showing God’s abhorrence of Jeroboam’s actions.

Notice also that the “man of God” was instructed by God to take a different route home. Perhaps this was to insure his safety lest anyone be lying in wait to harm him.

What do we know about the old prophet of Bethel mentioned in verse 11?
A. It is possible that he was a “false” prophet.

B. He was living in Bethel, a center of idolatry.

C. He had sons who witnessed the events of 1 Kings 13:1-10.

What did the old prophet of Bethel do when he heard the report from his sons? What do you think motivated his actions?
He got on his donkey and pursued the “man of God” to persuade him to come to his home for rest and refreshment. He could have been motivated to pursue the “man of God” for several reasons:

A. Perhaps he was filled with shame for being a faithless prophet in the midst of faithlessness.

B. Perhaps he felt that he would somehow benefit from an association with the courageous “man of God.”

C. Perhaps he saw an opportunity to gain the king’s favor by getting the “man of God” to contradict himself and thus impair the weight of his message.

What should have “tipped off” the “man of God” regarding what kind of prophet the old man was?
A. He was living in Bethel but apparently had not spoken out against the sins of Jeroboam. It is possible that the old prophet did not agree with the king, but he lacked the courage to speak out and the sense to protect his family from such sin. If the old prophet had spoken out against the corruption in Bethel there would have been no need for God to send the “man of God.”

B. “‘An angel spoke to me’ is regarded by the story as an inferior medium of revelation to the direct command by the Lord already quoted.” (Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 3)

How did the “man of God” disobey God?
Note that verse 14 states the “man of God” was sitting under an oak tree when the old prophet found him. Delay sometimes gives opportunity for the tempter to overtake us.

The “man of God” disobeyed God by violating the command of God, which he defined in verses 9 and 10 and verses 16 and 17. It is interesting to note that the “man of God” nobly resisted greater temptation when invited by the king and yet yielded to a lesser temptation when he accepted the invitation of the old prophet. 1 Corinthians 10:12 states, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

D.C. Martin comments (Bible Book Study Commentary, page 80), “One main lesson in this baffling story is probably this. When we have a strong conviction of the Lord’s expressed will, one from Him alone, then we must be extremely cautious when considering doing something different, even if the new thought seems to come from a messenger of the Lord.”

How was the “man of God” punished?
A lion killed him and remained with the body until the old prophet of Bethel arrived on the scene (see verse 28). Note the behavior of the lion and the donkey in verse 24. This was regarded as a sign that these animals were under the Lord’s control.

What did the old prophet do when he learned of the death of the “man of God”?
He took the body back to Bethel and buried the “man of God” in his own grave. He then spoke to his sons and asked them to bury him in the same grave (see verses 29-31).

Why do you think the old prophet asked his sons to bury him in the same grave as the “man of God”?
The old prophet was now convinced that what the “man of God” had spoken would come true. Perhaps he hoped to escape having his bones burned on the altar as the “man of God” had prophesied. According to 2 Kings 23:16-18 the bones of the old prophet were not burned on the altar because he was buried in the same grave as the “man of God.”

What impact did the events of 1 Kings 13:1-32 have on Jeroboam?
Absolutely none, according to 1 Kings 13:33-34. He continued to blatantly sin against God. Such behavior would have disastrous results in the life of Jeroboam, his family, and the nation. We are reminded in verse 34 that sin will not triumph. See Galatians 6:7 and Colossians 3:25.

Do you think there is any connection between Jeroboam’s sin and his son’s illness?
Yes. See 1 Kings 13:34. The child’s illness was yet another warning from God to the impenitent Jeroboam.

Practical Considerations

God will hold us accountable for how we live our lives.
God held Jeroboam accountable for the sinful leadership he offered the nation of Israel. Jeroboam continued in his evil ways (1 Kings 13:33) even after repeated warnings from God. See Proverbs 29:1. The “man of God” was held accountable for disobeying God’s instructions. He had a clear word from God and compromised it by listening to the lie of the old prophet of Bethel.

We should speak out against the evil in our day.
The “man of God” spoke out against Jeroboam’s evil. The old prophet of Bethel remained silent in the midst of evil. When God’s people are silent, evil grows.

The consequences of sin are always severe.
The consequences of sin were severe for Jeroboam, his family, and for the nation. Jeroboam sowed seeds of sin that yielded a terrible harvest at the hands of the Assyrians in 722 B.C. The Bible teaches us that we cannot break the law of the harvest (see Galatians 6:7).

Delay sometimes gives opportunity for the tempter to overtake us.
The “man of God” was “sitting under an oak” when the old prophet of Bethel found him and enticed him to return to his home.

We must listen to God if we expect Him to listen to us.
Jeroboam was not interested in what God had to say until his son Abijah became sick. Only then did he seek to get a word from God. We cannot ignore God and spurn His laws and then expect Him to listen to us. Proverbs 28:9 states, “He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”

Children suffer when their parents refuse to follow God.
Abijah suffered because his father was unrepentant and persisted in his evil ways. This impenitent attitude (1 Kings 13:33-34) resulted in the prophesy of severe judgment upon Jeroboam’s house (1 Kings 14:10-11). Abijah was the first male to be cut off from Jeroboam’s house.

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