Summary: What God has said will never change. Be cautious in listening to those who claim to have a "new" Word contrary to God’s WORD.
From the Desk of Toby Powers
Truth Baptist Church
Four Lessons From 2 Prophets, 1 King, a Lion and an Ass
Intro: 931 BC was a lot like today. Confusion and trouble were in the government and the world in the Middle East, especially in Israel where an “uncivil” war was breaking out. The ten Northern tribes became confederate against the southern tribes with the Mason Dixon line just north of Jerusalem. Jeroboam was brought back from his exile in Egypt to reign over the ten Northern tribes. It looked pretty good for Jeroboam for quite a while. But soon it came near the Jewish feast days. He was certain that he would lose his people if they went to Jerusalem. He had to come up with a plan. As it is so many times with politicians today, religion was a problem, but he knew how to use his religion to help him reach his political goals. He made th4e first example in the Bible of a religion that was user-friendly, politically correct, and convenient to the people’s lifestyles. It was a place where people did not have to meet all the rules that they did in Jerusalem. They could just come as you are. He built two churches; one was in Bethel of the South and the other in Dan of the North. He made himself the high priest and ordained the lowest among the people to serve as the other priests under him. It seemed he had everything that they had in Jerusalem… except God!
In each church he placed a calf to worship. It was not exactly an original idea. Aaron had made the same error in Exodus 32, but he had not thought up the idea all on his own. It was the way that they worshipped in Egypt. Apus, the Sacred Bull, was held in high regard by the Egyptians. The problem with sacred cows is that they have a way of dying on you. So when he died, they would go out and find a calf that was born on the same day that Apus died and claim that he was the reincarnation of Apus. You can travel to Egypt and see the Sarcopagi in Egypt where these many editions of Apus are buried along with the other many sacred animals of Egyptian idolatry. It was on old idea with a new twist.
All this new religion seemed so good until God woke up a man of God one day and told him to do something. It was the dedication day at the new multi-purpose facility and family life center in Bethel, and God wanted the man of God to be in attendance. So, he went. He preached against their wickedness (v. 2-3).
This angered Jeroboam (v.4). He could not pull his hand back. This will constitute for Jeroboam a great problem in the future. It would make all those around him a bit uncomfortable as well. But he requested of the man of God to pray to his God to heal his hand. He did, and God did. With gratitude Jeroboam asked the man of God to stay with him and be fed (v. 7-10).
Dwelling in the same country was an old man of God who was not in service to the Lord any more, but he had heard what was done by the preaching of the young man of God. He went to find the young man and he met with him (v. 14-19).
As they were fellowshipping, however, God did give the old man a word from the Lord (v. 20-25). What kind of self-respecting ass would stand by after a lion attack? What lion attacks without eating its prey or fleeing the scene? No. They stood there as a testimony to teach us a lesson.
I want to show you today 4 lessons from 2 Prophets, 1 King, a Lion, and an Ass:
I. Yesterday’s Triumph’s Will Not Be Sufficient For Tomorrow’s Trials. The wayside is filled with the carcasses of has-beens. Remember, however, it is not the beginning that determines your success, but it is the finish. The prophet was a hero. The king and his servants feared him. He had a great ministry potentially ahead of him. He could have been like Elijah, but in one error he destroyed it all!
II. Earnest Desire Is No Substitute For Absolute Integrity. The old prophet earnestly desired to fellowship with the man of God, but he lied to do it. He thought that God would not mind. He thought that it would not hurt anything. He thought that God would understand. He thought that breaking the command of God would not matter, and that it was not one of the “important” commandments. It was only a small thing, but it was a deadly thing! We live in a time when people marvel at the scam artists of our day and admire their ability to make us believe lies. Politicians long for this Clintonian gift, but I declare that it is not a gift to be able to make others believe a lie. You cause more harm than you could ever know. Many are saying today that they have a word from God, but they too are telling a lie!