Keep dealing with yourself...
Read, 1 Kings 13:1-25 before reading this blog, it will be worth it, trust me.
What a story! Hollywood, please make live action movies from the Old Testament. It would be so entertaining! The stories are already written, they just need to make them look cool, like a Marvel Movie. Of course, with the true heroes of the Old Testament and not fictional superheroes. That's not likely to happen, but I really love this epic story told in 1 Kings 13.
Not only is it exciting, but it is also teeming with ancient wisdom applicable to the church today. To recap the story, an unnamed prophet is told to stand up to the wicked king of Israel. He was to warn him that because of his idolatry the Lord was going to bring an end to his rule. Obviously the king, like many other wicked kings, does not respond well to the message. He tries to apprehend the prophet to punish him. Well, the obedient prophet’s words are validated and God defends him by paralyzing the hand of the king, just as he raises it to order his soldiers to seize the prophet. At this point, the king realizes his authority is not equal to the supreme authority of the Word of the Lord, and relents. In a moment of defeat and weakness, he repents and asks for the unnamed prophet to pray to God for His hand to be healed. The prophet obliges and in a flash of humility the king invites the prophet to his palace to feast and freshen up before his long trip home. The vindicated prophet, who is probably pretty pleased with himself at this point, sharply replies to the king that the Lord has directed Him to not eat or drink until he returns home. I believe the Lord is teaching the prophet to live out Jesus’s words in John 4:32, while walking in the wicked land of Bethel. He is learning that sustenance for life is found in being obedient to God’s Word! He then leaves the king and begins his journey home to Judah. What a great lesson and triumphant victory of faith for the young unnamed prophet. He was bold and faithful to God’s Word in the face of a violent and wicked king, and was proved right by God’s power! Certainly, he can return home proud of his steadfast devotion to God’s Word, in the face of an idol worshiping culture.
On His way, he is met by another (presumably from the text) older prophet. The older prophet has heard, from his son, of the great exploits of the young prophet and hurries out to find him probably tired and famished underneath a great tree. The old prophet sees the state of the young prophetic hero and, most likely (assumed from the text) takes pity on him and invites him to dinner at his own home before heading back to Judah. Again, but with less vigor than when he retorted to the king, he explained to the old prophet that the Lord told him not to eat or drink anything until he returns home. The old prophet then tells the younger one, that he too, is a man of God, and an angel of the Lord instructed him to invite the younger prophet home for dinner. Upon hearing this the young, convinced man obliges and goes as a guest to the elder’s house for a meal. During dinner the old prophet does indeed hear a Word from the Lord and declares that the young prophet has induced death in his own life through being disobedient to the Word of the Lord. Of course, on his way home the young prophet is attacked by a lion and dies.
Did the older prophet lie? Probably not. As stated earlier, Bethel was a land of corruption. If this older prophet was a reliable voice of God, he would have been used by God to deliver the message the younger prophet was sent by God, all the way from Judah, to give. Most likely this older prophet was not a reliable voice for heaven. While he may have had some sort of supernatural being, give him a message in regards to the young prophet, it was clearly not of God. As 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 explains, sometimes Satan and his messengers can appear as angels of light to deceive believers. My bet was this older prophet’s vision was a demonic assignment from hell to destroy a younger and zealous servant of God. The older prophet, having lived comfortably in a culture of deception, was not able to discern this until it was too late. One might argue that's not fair! The young prophet was tricked. It doesn't seem right that he would die after all he had done. To which I would respond, yes, it’s not fair. The devil is a liar and a counterfeit. He has never played fair since his fall from heaven. It’s unfortunate that the situation played out the way it did, but we can learn as a church from the young prophet's fate. If the young man had been as passionate about applying God’s Word to his own life, as he was to apply it to the wicked king's life, he would not have fallen prey to the older prophet’s deception. When the young man decided to boldly preach God's Word to the king, he was also preaching and declaring to the principalities that were dominating Bethel through this king's disobedience. The young prophet picked a fight with hell, an unfair adversary. He was right in his decision to do this. Hell is always defeated where the Word of God is preached. It’s always important that you apply to yourself what you apply to others. The young man could have avoided death if he applied to himself what he spoke to the king.
This is a word the church needs right now. If we get riled up about the immorality of culture around us, then we need to be equally riled up about the hidden sin in our own hearts. When we become bold for the Word of God in the face of wicked rulers, we can be sure the enemy will try to prove our own words against us. He accuses us with any secret sin we have become complacent with. Does this mean we have to be perfect before we can speak out against injustice.? Not at all. It means that we first must be bringing light into our own hearts, and walking humbly in a lifestyle of repentance, before we attempt to call the world to the same. If we try to walk in obedience to the Word in public before men, but are rebellious to His Word in private, we will certainly open a door for an attack from the enemy. The best way to deal with corruption in the world is to deal with it within yourself first.
We can be thankful for this powerful image in 1 Kings 13. We can also be thankful for Jesus's grace and shed blood that covers and protects us even while we still are figuring ourselves out. Like you, I’m still growing. Thank God He does this with us! My prayer is that I will be obedient to the Word publicly and privately. Jesus, we need your help to do that.