Summary: The Lord’s coming is getting closer with each passing day. Even as the end time prophecies of the Bible are unfolding themselves, earnestly seek the gift of discerning of spirits so that we will not fall into the wiles of the enemy.
We are living in the last days. The Lord’s coming is getting closer with each passing day. Even as the end time prophecies of the Bible are unfolding themselves, it is essential to remember the caution that Jesus gave us.
As children of God, we need to be able to discern between false prophets and the true servant of God. If we lack this important gift, we might end up messing with our life.
There is one such man in the Bible who lost his life due to lack of discernment.
In 1 Kings 12: 25, we read of a king named Jeroboam. Jeroboam was a king who sold himself to wickedness. He had changed the place of worship and embraced idol worship (1 Kings 12:28-30), he had priests appointed from tribes other than Levi (12:31), he instituted a festival on a date of his choice (12:31) and chose to offer sacrifices on the day of the festival.
In 1 Kings 13:1, Jeroboam, as determined by him, stood by the altar to make an offering. Here again, the king commits a grave sin. Only the Levite priest had the right and privilege to offer sacrifice before the altar. No one else, though a king, was permitted to ever take over that work. However, here we find Jeroboam assumes the place of pries and prepares to offer incense on his new altar at Bethel.
In the same verse, we also read about another person who is simply referred to as a man of God. We know nothing much about this man of God except that he was ordered by God to go to Bethel. The prophet reaches the altar at Bethel at a crucial hour and as Jeroboam was standing ready to make an offering, he cries 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.”
His prophetical words indicate God’s total displeasure against the altar that Jeroboam built. Priests would be sacrificed on this altar where animals are supposed to be offered. Men’s bones will be burned. And this prophecy exactly fulfils 356 years later (2 Kings 23:15-20). And immediate sign that all these things would take place is found in v3: altar would burst and Ashes would spill the ground.
By proclaiming God’s words against the altar, the prophet was actually pronouncing God’s displeasure against king Jeroboam and all the worshipers who gathered there to worship. It seems this was the only purpose God brought this prophet all the way from Judah to Bethel.
Once Jeroboam heard this prophecy, instead of repenting and humbling himself, he raises his hand against the prophet of God. The king misuses his God-given authority and asked that the prophet be arrested.
No sooner he stretched his hands against the prophet, his hand shriveled up so that he could not pull it back. Another sign also fulfils. The altar was split apart and ashes poured from the altar.
Even now, the king refused to repent. That’s what the shivered hand, split altar and poured out ashes should have led to. But Jeroboam was apparently worried only about his hand. Finding no other way, the king entreated the favour of the same prophet.
Once the king was healed, he offers the prophet drink, food and reward. He invites him to come to the house. Although wicked and unrepentant, he showed great kindness to the prophet, considering that his hands were restored owing to the prophet’s prayer.
The prophet however refused knowing it was not God’s will for him. For 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. (1 Kings 13:9,10)
What a mighty prophet he was!
• He was sent all the way by God from Judah to Bethel to speak against the altar.
• He spoke bravely the words of God before a wicked king
• He was able to withstand the wrath of the king
• He proclaimed the destiny of the altar and its worshipers.
• By name, he could predict a king would appear 356 years later
• When the king stretched out his hands against the prophet, his hand withered
• The prophet prayed for the restoration of the withered hand and it was immediately restored.
• He shunned the lure of riches and refused the king’s invitation in accordance to God’s words.