Through the Bible Day by Day
And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
JUDGMENT UPON WORTHLESS WORSHIP
What a noble name for anyone to bear-a man of God! Yet we all might so bear the impress of God in our character that those who come in contact with us might feel that ineffable something which you cannot define, which does not need advertising, but which tells that the person who bears it is truly a child of God.
The altar by which Jeroboam expected to consolidate his kingdom was the cause of its overthrow and disaster, until at last Israel was carried into captivity. When we turn from the fountain of living waters and hew out for ourselves broken cisterns that can hold no water, we start on a course of unfailing disaster and loss.
Literal obedience to God is indispensable to those who would carry his messages. It was a fit and proper answer that the prophet, in the first instance, gave the king. He rightly told Jeroboam that he must abide by the exact terms of his commission, and that the bribe of half of Jeroboam’s house would not induce him to tarry even so long as to take a meal at the royal table. This minute and rigorous obedience stood out in striking contrast to the conduct of Jeroboam. God is exact and requires exact obedience.
BREAKING THREE COMMANDMENTS
1Ki_21:1-29; 1Ki_1:1-53; 1Ki_2:1-46; 1Ki_3:1-28; 1Ki_4:1-34; 1Ki_5:1-18; 1Ki_6:1-38; 1Ki_7:1-51; 1Ki_8:1-66; 1Ki_9:1-28; 1Ki_10:1-29; 1Ki_11:1-43; 1Ki_12:1-33; 1Ki_13:1-34; 1Ki_14:1-31; 1Ki_15:1-34; 1Ki_16:1-34
From a worldly point of view Naboth might have done a good stroke of business by selling his estate to. Ahab. A royal price and assured favor might have been his-but he had a conscience! Above the persuasive tones of the monarch’s offer sounded the voice of God: “The land shall not be sold for ever, for the land is mine.” See Lev_25:23; Num_36:7; Eze_46:18.
Ahab knew perfectly well that Jezebel could not give him the property of another except by foul means, but he took pains not to inquire. Though the direct orders for Naboth’s death did not come from him, yet, by his silence, he was an accomplice and an accessory; and divine justice penetrates all such specious excuses. God holds us responsible for wrongs which we do not arrest, though we have the power. The crime was blacker because of the pretext of religion, as suggested by a fast. See also 2Ki_9:26. The blood of murdered innocence cries to God, and his requital, though delayed, is inevitable. See Rev_6:9-10.
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.
LED ASTRAY BY A FALSE MESSENGER
The unnamed prophet from Judah had received distinct instructions not to eat bread nor drink water while on his divinely-commissioned errand. He was therefore justified in refusing the royal invitation; and it would have been well with him had he also refused the invitation of the old prophet, who followed him with the persistent invitation to return with him to his house. But the younger prophet failed, because the older man professed to speak by divine warrant and because the invitation chimed in with his own inclinations. As he sat there under the oak, tired and hungry, he was only too willing to believe that the prophet’s message was true, although it was altogether contrary to his own impression.
When God has spoken to us, let us not dare to turn aside on the advice of others, however good they seem, even though their proposals may be draped with a show of religious phraseology. God does not say Yea or Nay; but all His commands, like all His promises, are Yea and Amen in Christ. In Him is no variableness, nor shadow cast by turning.
And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came unto the prophet that brought him back:
SIGN UPON SIGN UNHEEDED
There is a tragic note in this paragraph. The man of God had performed God’s errand bravely and well, and his words were verified by the result; but he perished as a castaway. See 1Co_9:27. If only he had obeyed God’s word, as it came directly to himself, he might have been entrusted with many similar errands; but “Alas, my brother!” was a true elegy on the part of the man who had led to his downfall. How careful we should be never to dissuade a young soul from some heroic purpose which has formed itself in his imagination! Too many young men have perished on the threshold of their life-work, because older prophets have cried, “Spare thyself; have mercy on thy flesh.”
God never goes back on His first instructions. If He has clearly spoken to your soul, refuse to take your marching-orders from others. No man, however aged or holy, has any right to intrude into the sacred dealings of God and the individual disciple. We may always detect the false voice, because its suggestions so exactly chime in with the weakness of our nature, in its desire to eat bread, drink water, and enjoy the society of our fellows.