Summary: God's commands are to be obeyed. We excuse disobedience at the threat of divine judgement.

“An old prophet lived in Bethel. And his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. They also told to their father the words that he had spoken to the king. And their father said to them, ‘Which way did he go?’ And his sons showed him the way that the man of God who came from Judah had gone. And he said to his sons, ‘Saddle the donkey for me.’ So they saddled the donkey for him and he mounted it. And he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak. And he said to him, ‘Are you the man of God who came from Judah?’ And he said, ‘I am.’ Then he said to him, ‘Come home with me and eat bread.’ And he said, ‘I may not return with you, or go in with you, neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, for it was said to me by the word of the LORD, “You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.”’ And he said to him, ‘I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, “Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.”’ But he lied to him. So, he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water.

“And as they sat at the table, the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back. And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD and have not kept the command that the LORD your God commanded you, but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, ‘Eat no bread and drink no water,’ your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.”’ And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body.” [1]

“How many men are you going to kill?” I was taken aback when a sister asked this question in the week past. I was unclear concerning what she meant, but when I asked for clarification she indicated a desire to know more about the series of messages I am currently bringing. As you know, this current series of messages has been entitled, “Men Whom God Killed.” Truthfully, time constraints and the need to address other issues restrict me from speaking of all the individuals recorded in the Word whom God killed. While I know that God is love, and while I am prepared to insist that “love,” selfless love, characterises both the Lord God and those who are born from above and into His Kingdom, I caution people that this loving God is holy. We must never forget that He is holy.

After speaking of God’s sentence against Israel’s unbelief in the wilderness and the subsequent death of everyone over the age of twenty during the next forty years, the Apostle writes, “These things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” He then draws warnings from the examples of God’s judgements, concluding, “These things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come [see 1 CORINTHIANS 10:1-11]. Because these things—judgements, and even extreme judgements—were written down for our instruction, it is appropriate that we should study them so that we may be warned to avoid sinning against the Lord.

Thus far in these studies, we have witnessed God’s warning against dishonouring the family, [2] God’s warning against presuming to lead when He has not appointed one to leadership, [3] the divine warning against becoming complacent in worship [4] and the divine warning against growing arrogant in our relationship with God and with others. [5] These warnings need to be sounded in this day so that Christians will take heed and adjust their lives to reflect the transforming power of the Living God. Today, we will consider another individual who was persuaded to deviate just a little from what God commanded. His deviation cost him his life.

REBUKING THE KING — “Behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the LORD and said, ‘O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: “Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.”’ And he gave a sign the same day, saying, ‘This is the sign that the LORD has spoken: “Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.”’ And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, ‘Seize him.’ And his hand, which he stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. And the king said to the man of God, ‘Entreat now the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.’ And the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored to him and became as it was before” [1 KINGS 13:1-6].

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