1 Kings 13:11-32
Now there dwelled an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel…
We have in this account a very striking illustration of the truth enunciated by the Apostle James, the Lord's brother, at the first council at Jerusalem, namely, that "known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). The prediction uttered by the man of God against the altar at Bethel was not fulfilled for the space of 360 years; and yet, when the time fixed in the counsels of Omnipotence arrived, not one thing. failed of accomplishment of all that he had declared should come to pass. Now, this truth may afford comfort to all who love and fear God. Many of God's people, when they hear of the overflowings of ungodliness and unbelief, may be almost inclined to think that God hath forgotten His gracious promises, and that He will in truth shut up His loving-kindness in displeasure. But they may chide away their unbelieving fears as David did: "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God" (Psalm 42.). But I must point out a few lessons of instruction which this portion of holy writ may furnish us with.
1. And, first, it may teach us that, whenever God hath plainly declared His will, no grounds of supposed expediency, and no less fully authenticated declarations, however they may profess to proceed from Him, should ever induce us to depart from it. This we may learn both from the conduct of Jeroboam, as well as from that of the man of God. And, assuredly, we have abundant examples of its danger. We know that the Jews, who lived at the time when our Saviour was upon earth, are accused by Him of making void the law of God by their traditions; and even to the present day, by listening to the same fallacious guide, though they nominally admit the Divine authority of the Old Testament scriptures, they fritter away all their most important requirements. But how, it may be asked, does it arise that men can satisfy themselves to pay any attention to such a pretender? And the answer is, because, like the old prophet, it comes forward with a bold assertion of its Divine authority, though with as little regard to truth as he displayed. Tradition, among the Jews, professes to be an interpretation of the law given by God to Moses, and transmitted through elders, prophets, and wise men.
2. Another lesson to be learned from what is here recorded is that we cannot judge of a man's eternal state from the way m which he may be taken out of this world. A man of God sins; and within a few hours a lion slays him: the lying prophet that seduced him lives on, and goes to his grave in peace; yea, wicked Jeroboam continues his idolatrous worship, and treads upon the grave of his reprover. What shall we make of this? Doubtless such events teach us that there must be a judgment to come, when all these seeming inequalities will be corrected, and when rewards and punishments will be dispensed with impartial justice and unerring wisdom. At present God's people are chastened; but it is that they may not be condemned with the world; whereas the ungodly and the profane are in many instances unpunished.
3. A third lesson which may be learned from this narrative is, not to be induced heedlessly to follow any guide, whatever may be his pretensions, or whatever his apparent sanctity. The Apostle John gives the following caution: "Beloved, believe hot every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). And, if such advice was needful in apostolic times, much more is it required now.
4. The last lesson which I would point out to you as derivable from this passage of Scripture is, that no command of God is to be lightly regarded, and that the nearer people are to God the more certainly will their transgressions be punished. Implicit, unquestioning obedience has been in all ages the characteristic of God's most eminent servants.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father.
WEB: Now there lived an old prophet in Bethel; and one of his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. They also told their father the words which he had spoken to the king.