As I read from the first book of the kings, chapters 11:1 through 13:34, I read a story I am familiar with. It is the story of how the kingdom of Israel was split after the death of King Solomon. This section of scripture is about disobedience and it’s consequences.
Solomon was the son of King David. He was the one who built a great palace in Jerusalem and more so, He is known as the king who built the house of God, the Temple of Jerusalem. Solomon reigned over Israel for 40 years. He was known as a very wise king, the wisest of His day. The Lord had given him great riches. He was also the wealthiest king of his time.
King Solomon took the throne after his father David. David was a man that pleased the Lord. Even with David’s sin against Uriah the Hittite, who’s wife David had impregnated, and then had Uriah killed, the Lord counted David as a man after His own heart. David never turned to worship other gods. God was David’s rock. David worshipped God with all his heart. He gave God glory in everything He did. David never ever turned his heart away from God.
Solomon, because of the foreign wives he had taken, went after other gods in his old age.
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn you heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love. (1kings 11:1-2)
As a consequence the Lord tore the kingdom from Solomon. Because of David he didn’t do this while Solomon was alive. He waited until His son took the throne and tore it from his hands.
The Lord said to Solomon,
“Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. But because of your father David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.”(1kings 11:11-13)
When Solomon’s son took the throne after him, he made the mistake of listening to younger inexperienced counselors rather than the older men who had served his father. The people came to king Rehoboam to ask him to lighten the heavy taxes the Solomon had burdened them with. Per the advice he was given by his chosen counsel Rehoboam said, “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!” So the king paid no attention to the people.
As a result of the king’s decision the people of Israel responded, “Down with the dynasty of David!” Then they returned home refusing to be ruled by the son of Solomon. So the kingdom was split. Some time later Israel made Jeroboam king over Israel. The prophet had already spoken to Jeroboam and told him that He would be king as a result of God tearing part of the kingdom from the hand of Rehoboam. Rehoboam had started to gather an army to put down the rebellion until the prophet Shemaiah told him that it was God’s will that the kingdom had been split because of Solomon.
Even though God had given him the kingdom, Rehoboam feared that the people would rebel against him when they went to Jerusalem to worship.
“Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David. When they go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the LORD, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead.”(1kings 12:26-26)
Jeroboam’s fear caused him to rebel against the Lord in a way that would cause him to lose his kingdom. On the advice of His counselors the king made two gold calves and said to the people of Israel, “it is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem O Israel, these are the god’s who brought you out of Egypt!”(1kings 12:28)
Talk about making God mad. And on top of this Jeroboam instituted a religious festival that was taking place at the same time as God’s Feast Of Tabernacles. God then sends a prophet to Jeroboam on the very day that he went up to the altar he had built to sacrifice to the two calves.
The man of God shouted,
“O altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: A child named Josiah will be born into the dynasty of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests from the pagan shrines who come here to burn incense, and human bones will be burned on you.”
That same day the man of God gave a sign to prove his message, and he said, “The LORD has promised to give this sign: This altar will split apart, and its ashes will be poured out on the ground.”
King Jeroboam was very angry with the man of God for speaking against the altar. So he pointed at the man and shouted, “Seize that man!” But instantly the king’s hand became paralyzed in that position, and he couldn’t pull it back.
At the same time a wide crack appeared in the altar, and the ashes poured out, just as the man of God had predicted in his message from the LORD.
The king cried out to the man of God, “Please ask the LORD your God to restore my hand again!” So the man of God prayed to the LORD, and the king’s hand became normal again.
Then the king said to the man of God, “Come to the palace with me and have something to eat, and I will give you a gift.”
But the man of God said to the king, “Even if you gave me half of everything you own, I would not go with you. I would not eat any food or drink any water in this place. (1kings 13:2-8)
The prophet said this because he had clear instruction from the Lord. But even the man of God, the prophet failed to obey God and paid for it with his life. The Lord had told the man of God in the next verse,
“For the Lord gave me this command: ‘You must not eat any food or drink any water while you are there and do not return to Judah by the same way you came.’”(1kings 13:9)
The prophet was determined to follow God’s command but then another prophet, I am supposing he was a prophet, deceives the man of God. He lies to him to get him come back to his house and eat with him. And as they were sitting together, the prophet who lied, gets a word from the Lord for the prophet whom he had deceived.
Then while they were sitting at the table, a message from the LORD came to the old prophet.
He cried out to the man of God from Judah, “This is what the LORD says: You have defied the LORD’s message and have disobeyed the command the LORD your God gave you.
You came back to this place and ate food and drank water where he told you not to eat or drink. Because of this, your body will not be buried in the grave of your ancestors.” (1kings 13:20-22)
After the man of God left the prophet’s home, a lion killed him. The lion did not eat him so, the old prophet went and got his body and buried it in his own grave.
What a trip! Solomon loses the kingdom for his son Rehoboam because of his love of foreign women and following their gods.
Jeroboam loses his part of the kingdom because he sets up idols for the people of Israel and tells them that these are god who brought you out of Egypt. Then he sets up a religious holiday that commences at the same as the feast of tabernacles.
Then the prophet, the man of God who was sent to prophesy against him dies, because he was deceived and didn’t follow the instructions God gave him for his mission.
It is really the man of God who died that caught my attention this morning. Out of all of these failures I thought his was the least worthy of death. However, having read the all of the scripture this year up to this point, I know that the Lord considered the entire area where the prophet was sent defiled because of the idolatry instituted by Jeroboam. The prophet needed to get in and get out without defiling himself.
It makes me realize that if God has given you an instruction about a certain thing you need to obey Him no matter what anyone else says, even if they seem to be telling you the truth. I am reminded of a scripture in first chapter of Galatians concerning hearing a different gospel than what Paul had preached.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)
Sometimes we may hear something that sounds very convincing. It may seem like the right thing to do. It may even be coming from a man of God. However, if you know that you have been instructed by the Lord to do a certain thing and, instructed to do it a certain way, do it as the Lord told you. This is not to say that we should shut ourselves off from wise counsel. But when you know that you know that know you have heard from the Lord, do what He says. The price can be very high for not obeying God.