1 Kings 13:3
And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.
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(3, 4) The sign.—Both the signs, like most miraculous signs, shadow forth plainly the thing signified. The sign, announced to secure credence to the prediction, is itself a visible type of what that prediction foretold, in the shattering of the altar and the scattering of the ashes of the burnt-offering. The sign actually given includes, besides this, the sudden withering of the king’s hand, stretched out in defiance of the prophet—an equally plain symbol of the miserable failure of his strength and policy, when opposed to the Law and the judgment of God. It should be noted that the withdrawal of this last sign of wrath, on the submission of the king and the prayer of the prophet, was apparently designed to give Jeroboam one more opportunity of repentance. The last verses of the chapter (1Kings 13:33-34) seem to imply that, but for the interposition of the old prophet of Bethel, he might still have taken that opportunity.

1 Kings 13:3. He gave a sign the same day — That is, he then wrought a miracle to assure them of the truth of his prophecy. Saying, this is the sign, &c. — A proof that I speak from God, and not from myself. The altar shall be rent, &c. — This could not be effected but by the power of God, who hereby demonstrated that he had sent this prophet to speak these words which were presently fulfilled.

13:1-10 In threatening the altar, the prophet threatens the founder and worshippers. Idolatrous worship will not continue, but the word of the Lord will endure for ever. The prediction plainly declared that the family of David would continue, and support true religion, when the ten tribes would not be able to resist them. If God, in justice, harden the hearts of sinners, so that the hand they have stretched out in sin they cannot pull in again by repentance, that is a spiritual judgment, represented by this, and much more dreadful. Jeroboam looked for help, not from his calves, but from God only, from his power, and his favour. The time may come when those that hate the preaching, would be glad of the prayers of faithful ministers. Jeroboam does not desire the prophet to pray that his sin might be pardoned, and his heart changed, but only that his hand might be restored. He seemed affected for the present with both the judgment and the mercy, but the impression wore off. God forbade his messenger to eat or drink in Bethel, to show his detestation of their idolatry and apostacy from God, and to teach us not to have fellowship with the works of darkness. Those have not learned self-denial, who cannot forbear one forbidden meal.He gave a sign - A sign of this kind - an immediate prophecy to prove the divine character of a remote prophecy - had scarcely been given before this. In the later history, however, such signs are not unfrequent (compare 2 Kings 19:29; Isaiah 7:14-16).

The ashes ... shall be poured out - i. e., "The half-burnt remains of the offerings shall be ignominiously spilled upon the ground."

2-9. he cried against the altar—which is put for the whole system of worship organized in Israel.

Behold, a child shall be born … Josiah by name—This is one of the most remarkable prophecies recorded in the Scriptures; and, in its clearness, circumstantial minuteness, and exact prediction of an event that took place three hundred sixty years later, it stands in striking contrast to the obscure and ambiguous oracles of the heathen. Being publicly uttered, it must have been well known to the people; and every Jew who lived at the accomplishment of the event must have been convinced of the truth of a religion connected with such a prophecy as this. A present sign was given of the remote event predicted, in a visible fissure being miraculously made on the altar. Incensed at the man's license of speech, Jeroboam stretched out his hand and ordered his attendants to seize the bold intruder. That moment the king's arm became stiff and motionless, and the altar split asunder, so that the fire and ashes fell on the floor. Overawed by the effects of his impiety, Jeroboam besought the prophet's prayer. His request was acceded to, and the hand was restored to its healthy state. Jeroboam was artful, and invited the prophet to the royal table, not to do him honor or show his gratitude for the restoration of his hand, but to win, by his courtesy and liberal hospitality, a person whom he could not crush by his power. But the prophet informed him of a divine injunction expressly prohibiting him from all social intercourse with any in the place, as well as from returning the same way. The prohibition not to eat or drink in Beth-el was because all the people had become apostates from the true religion, and the reason he was not allowed to return the same way was lest he should be recognized by any whom he had seen in going.

He gave a sign the same day, i. e. he then wrought a miracle, to assure them of the truth of his prophecy.

And he gave a sign the same day, saying, this is the sign which the Lord hath spoken,.... As a confirmation of the truth of what the prophet had said, and for the proof of his being a true prophet of the Lord:

behold, the altar shall be rent; of itself, by an invisible hand, by the power of God:

and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out; signifying it should be entirely demolished, not only shaken but destroyed, so as not to be capable of retaining the ashes on it; this was an emblem of the utter abolition of idolatry here in future times.

And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the {c} sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.

(c) By this sign you will know that the Lord has sent me.

3. And he gave a sign the same day] The sign was necessary because the event foretold was to be at so remote a date that none who were living in Jeroboam’s day would be alive to see it. Hence to assure them that it would come to pass a startling token of the power in which the prophet spake is exhibited by the rending of the altar and the scattering of what was on it in the presence of all who stood by. The word מופת rendered ‘sign’, is much more frequently used of ‘wonders’ and ‘miracles’, and it has that sense in some degree here. With this we may compare the use of τέρας as well as σημεῖον for the miracles of the New Testament.

and the ashes that are upon it] The Hebrew word, which is the same as that so often rendered ‘fatness’, applies only to the ashes of an altar, which would be mixed up with the fat of sacrifices burnt upon it. Hence the LXX. renders by ἡ πιότης ‘the fat’, or ‘fatness’.

Verse 3. - And he gave a sign [The Heb. מופֵת rather signifies a portent (τέρας, miraculum, prodigium) than a sign, the proper word for which is אות. The word occurs repeatedly in the Pentateuch, where it is rendered wonder, or miracle, by our translators (Wordsworth). Signs had, of course, been given before (Exodus 4:30; Exodus 7:9; 1 Samuel 12:17; etc.) but hardly in such immediate attestation of a special message. From this time forward such signs are not infrequent (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 38:8; 2 Kings 19:29). They mark the decline of faith (Matthew 12:39). As to the need at this crisis for some miraculous token, see Homiletics. The fitness of this particular sign is obvious] the same day, saying, This is the sign which [Rather that; דועק ְ אֲֶשר. The A.V. rendering hardly makes sense. Nor does it agree, as Rawlinson seems to think, with the LXX., which reads τοῦτο τὸ ῤῆμα ο{ ἐλάησε κύριος, etc.] the Lord hath spoken [i.e., by me. "This is the proof that my message is from Him, and is no idle threat." Wordsworth sees in this sign "a proof vouchsafed by God Himself to the man of Judah, as well as to Jeroboam, that he was really sent by God," etc. But surely a man who came "in the word of the Lord," and cried, "Thus saith the Lord," wanted no proof that "he was doing God's bidding" (see 1 Corinthians 14:22)]; Behold, the altar shall be rent and the ashes [strictly, fat ashes. דֶּשֶׁן; properly, "fatness" (see Judges 9:9; Psalm 63:5. πιότης, LXX.), is the fat of the sacrifice, which was burnt upon the altar, mixed with the ashes that consumed it] that are upon it shall be poured out. [The sign, a partial destruction of the altar, and the scattering of the sacrifice, was admirably calculated to presage its ultimate and final and ignominious overthrow. The idea favoured by Stanley ("Jewish Ch." 2:280) that this prediction was fulfilled "if not before, at least" in the time of Amos, when the altar was destroyed by an earthquake shock (Amos 9:1; cf. 3:14), does not seem to take account of ver. 5.] 1 Kings 13:3In confirmation of his word the prophet added a miracle (מופת, τέρας, portentum, see at Exodus 4:21): "this is the sign that the Lord hath spoken (through me): behold the altar will be rent in pieces, and the ashes upon it will be poured out." דּשׁן is the ashes of the fat of the sacrificial animals. The pouring out of the sacrificial ashes in consequence of the breaking upon of the altar was a penal sign, which indicated, along with the destruction of the altar, the desecration of the sacrificial service performed upon it.
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