From the Desk of Toby Powers
Truth Baptist Church
Four Lessons From 2 Prophets, 1 King, a Lion and an Ass
I Kings 13:1-10
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!
III. Ardent Sincerity Is No Substitute For Spiritual Discernment. Many are sincere in their belief, but they are sincerely wrong. The old man of God sincerely believed that it would be okay to re-route the young preacher’s way, but he became partially responsible for the young man’s death. All those in false religion sincerely believe their religious conviction, but they all share one thing- a dependence on human works. Human works, however, can never divinely save. They are sincerely wrong, sincerely diluted, and sincerely mistaken. The old man said, “I have a word from the Lord,” but the young man should have never listened to the man. He should have depended on the voice of God. Always beware of that bunch that always is hearing from God for you!
IV. Human Confidence Is No Deterrent To Divine Judgment. The old man was confident that God would not mind this preacher stopping by at his home. The Young man was confident that it was more than conceivable that God would change his mind. But God’s judgment will strike in spite of your confidence. You may feel sure that it is okay, but you better just be obedient to God. You can only be certain that 100% obedience will be pleasing to the Lord. When you are confident all is okay, the time clock of God’s judgment will expire, and he will levy punishment in righteous indignation. Ask:
A. Uzzuh who touched the ark to stabilize it in transport when at Nachon’s threshing floor (II Sam 6:6).
B. Nadab and Abihu that offered strange fire before the Lord, and there went out a fire from the Lord and devoured them both (Lev 10).
C. Ananias and Sapphira whom God killed for lying about their tithing record (Acts 5).
D. I Cor 11:30 “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” For they had taken from the table of God while unfit. You can be judged at the table of the Lord, if you will not partake according to his Word.
Above all you must be a faithful servant to God!
Conclusion: I want to close with an illustration. The message has been about a couple of prophets who fell by the wayside, but I want to tell you of a man that finished the race:
Dave and Nikki Mc Donald were missionaries to Iraq. They were shot in pieces by mortar fire and AK-47’s while in Iraq working on a water-purification project and sharing the Gospel. Dave was shot destroying his spleen and breaking his back. Still he managed to get a call out on his cell to an ambulance. He was concerned for his wife who also was hit. When the wife went in for surgery, she asked about Dave. They assured her he would be okay. It was only when she woke in a Hospital in Dallas, TX when they told her that he has died and was buried several days ago while she was still unconscious. Still, before she was released from the Hospital she was making plans to return to Iraq and continue their mission! His parents were asked if it was worth it, and they said that they would pray for Dave to do it all over again! Don’t depart from the path God put you in; finish like Dave McDonald, and you will have no regrets.