1 Kings 13:18
Then the prophet replied, "I too am a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'Bring him back with you to your house, so that he may eat bread and drink water.'" The old prophet was lying to him,
Sermons
The Old Serpent AgainJ.A. Macdonald 1 Kings 13:11-19
Disobedience in One PointF. F. Emerson.1 Kings 13:11-32
Disobedience VisitedSketches of Sermons1 Kings 13:11-32
On the Character of the Man of God that Came from JudahJ. Puckle, M. A.1 Kings 13:11-32
The Disobedient ProphetR. Jones, M. A.1 Kings 13:11-32
The Disobedient ProphetT. Grantham.1 Kings 13:11-32
The Disobedient ProphetH. P. Liddon, D. D.1 Kings 13:11-32
The Disobedient ProphetG. Hunsworth, M. A.1 Kings 13:11-32
The Disobedient Prophet of JudahJ. O. Coghlan, D. D.1 Kings 13:11-32
The Fatal Result of DisobedienceW. A. Griffiths.1 Kings 13:11-32
The Law of ObedienceN. D. Hillis, D. D.1 Kings 13:11-32
The Nameless ProphetA. Rowland, B. A.1 Kings 13:11-32
The Penalty of DisobedienceR. W. Evans, B. D.1 Kings 13:11-32
The Prophet's Temptation and FallT. H. Barnet.1 Kings 13:11-32
Disguises of Sin1 Kings 13:18-19
Evil Under the Guise of GoodH. O. Mackey.1 Kings 13:18-19
Lead Us not into Temptation, But Deliver Us from EvilA. Rowland 1 Kings 13:18, 19
The Way of the TempterHomilist1 Kings 13:18-19
Truths About ConscienceW. Hoyt, D. D.1 Kings 13:18-19
The miraculous element in this chapter is, with many, a reason for its rejection. The same reason might lead us to reject the story of our Saviour's life, and deny the possibility of supernatural revelation. If miracles and signs ever occurred they would be likely to do so at the time described in this chapter. Idolatrous practices were being set up. Many who had been worshippers of Jehovah had been seduced. Worldly policy, social influences, moral enervation, following on the extravagant prosperity of Solomon's reign, and an inherent tendency to sensuous worship, were all combining to induce the people to put away all belief in Jehovah. Then, if ever He would fitly reveal His power, as He did at the later crisis when Elijah faced the false prophets on Carmel. The effect on Jeroboam was nil, but the godless had warning, and the secret worshippers of the Lord still left in Israel were encouraged. The story of the temptation and fall of this prophet, who at least delivered one message with fidelity, is tragic and suggestive. After reading it we have left with us the following thoughts:

I. THAT A STRONG TEMPTATION HAD BEEN RESISTED. Jeroboam had failed to reach the prophet by violence, but resolved to overcome him by craft. Terrible as had been the effect of Jehovah's wrath (ver. 4), the king's conscience was not stirred. His heart was not touched, though his arm was withered. Hence he did not ask the prophet to pray that his sin might be forgiven, but that his arm might be restored. Immediately after, with a show of civility and gratitude, he invited him to his house. Clearly this was not in order to honour the prophet, but to weaken the effect of his message. The people had heard it, and had been moved by it; but if they saw the messenger going down in seeming friendship with their king, this would diminish, perhaps destroy, the effect of his words. Lest this should happen, the prophet had been forbidden to enter any house. As the representative of Jehovah, he was to show that God would not dwell amongst the people. Firmly, therefore, he rejected the invitation of the king, saying, "If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread not drink water in this place," etc. The temptation was resisted; the victory won. Give illustrations of similar moral conquests. A young man tempted to impurity says, "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" Another sits silent among the scorners, and cannot be induced to join or smile with them, etc. There are times when we are specially able to resist: e.g., when we come fresh from the influences of a Christian home; when we are feeling the impression of an earnest sermon; when we are made serious by the death of a dear friend. Under such influences many obey the command, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you!"

II. THAT A NEW TEMPTATION WAS SUCCESSFUL. (Read vers. 11-19.)

(1) What were the motives of this old prophet of Bethel? Probably he was not a false prophet, though these existed; as tares amongst the wheat, as Judas among the apostles. Nor must he be charged with the malignant wish to bring this man to his death. Picture him as one who knew his Lord's will, but did it not. He had been silent, instead of protesting against the impiety of Jeroboam, and now felt rebuked by this daring stranger. To entertain him might reinstate him in his own good opinion, and in the eyes of the people. Hence he gives the invitation, and when it is resisted another sign of his moral decadence appears, and he tells a lie about receiving a message from the Lord.

(2) How came this temptation to succeed? Not improbably there was some self-complacency in one who had just resisted the king successfully, and a sense of false security which is indicated by his resting under the terebinth instead of pressing on homewards. Observe here -

1. The conquest of one evil may only bring on the assault of another; e.g., when sensuality is repressed, scepticism may arise and prevail. We sometimes forget that it is not a momentary but a life-long conflict we have to wage. If the Egyptians are drowned, the Amorites and Canaanites await us. A gross sin fails to conquer us, but a subtle sin may lead us to bitter bondage. We can never say to our soul, "Take thine ease;" but always, and everywhere, must listen to the command, "Watch, and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."

2. Lingering near scenes of temptation may imperil us fatally. Had the prophet not rested he might not have been overtaken, but would have crossed the border line of the two kingdoms. As the moth flutters round the candle, so do some hover about sin. They read of vices which they think they would never commit, and choose associates unlike what they mean to be, and yet dare to pray, "Lead us not into temptation." He who "standeth in the way of sinners," as one half inclined to join them, may at last "sit in the seat of the scorners," as one who has united with them. "Avoid it, pass not by it," etc. (Proverbs 3:15).

III. THAT A TRIVIAL ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE WAS A GREAT SIN. It seemed a small offence to go home with a brother prophet; but observe that he was in no doubt as to the will of God. He was not really deceived by that lie about the angel's message. He knew that he was forbidden to enter any house, and that the reason for that inhibition was weighty: he knew further that God would not contradict Himself, or alter his command, yet his sensuous wish for food and rest prevailed. An act may seem trifling, but the principle involved in it may be momentous. So it was in Eden. To eat the fruit, or to leave it untouched, might appear a question of small consideration; but man's decision of it, "brought death into the world, and all our woe." It is in trifles that we test the willingness of our children's obedience. If they refuse to do an unimportant act because to do it would be to disobey us, we are more satisfied with their sensitive loyalty than if the act were notoriously evil. To sin for the sake of a passing pleasure is morally worse than to sin for the sake of a kingdom, for the temptation is less.

IV. THAT A TRAGIC PUNISHMENT WAS INFLICTED. (Read vers. 23-25.) Note the points which marked out this event as the result of God's displeasure, and not of accident; e.g., that it was foretold (vers. 21, 22), and that the lion did not kill the ass, nor eat the dead body. Show how Jesus Christ used the judgments of God, as recorded in the Old Testament, for purposes of moral and religious instruction. Sin merits punishment. "We are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth, against them which commit such things," etc. (Romans 2:2-5). In the consciousness of frequent disobedience let the prayer arise, "God be merciful to me a sinner." - A.R.







He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art.
I. CONSCIENCE, OF ITSELF ALONE, IS NOT A SUFFICIENT GUIDE FOR LIFE. Every night, set in the front of the locomotive as it dashes on through the darkness, gleam the rays of the headlight, piercing the gloom for a mile ahead. So, say many, man is himself luminous. Surround him with whatever darkness, and at once it is pierced and thrust aside by a blaze of inherent radiance. But neither Scripture nor experience sustains such notion. Yet conscience is a guide for life. Still, simply in itself conscience is not a sufficient guide for life. For, conscience does not possess the power of origination. It cannot make right right, or wrong wrong. It is only our power of recognising the distinction already made, and as eternal as the heavens. And, just as a blind eye cannot distinguish between night and day; just as a guide-board wrongly written may send the wearied and famished traveller from the warmth and help of home; so may a blinded, misinformed conscience lead toward wrong instead of toward the right. And therefore, if a man would do the right, he must not only follow his conscience, but he must follow a conscience educated into a knowledge of a higher law; of a standard higher than itself; a conscience conformed and bending to some exact and supremely reigning rule. This, then, is the all-important question — where may the conscience find such enlightenment and education? The answer is immediate. In the Bible and especially in the character of Christ, standing out from the pages of the Bible, gathering up into Himself the vigour of its law, the loveliness of its mercy, the winningness of its invitation. God manifest in the flesh is the real standard and education for the conscience.

II. LEARN THE DANGER OF MAKING FEELING, RATHER THAN AN ENLIGHTENED CONSCIENCE, THE TEST FOR LIFE. Feeling is not to rule. Conscience, educated by the Divine command and teaching, is always to rule.

III. LEARN THE DANGER OF A CONSCIENTIOUS ERROR. It is no less error. It is not less surely sin. The prophet was conscientiously deceived. That did not hinder the Divine retribution. It does make all difference what a man believes. It does make all difference if a man conscientiously hold to what is false. God has not only given conscience; He has also given light for conscience. It is a man's duty to hold his conscience in the light which God has given.

(W. Hoyt, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. THAT THE TEMPTER OF OUR RACE ASSAILS THE BEST OF MEN. The man who now became the victim of temptation was no other than a prophet of the Lord. He was Heaven's appointed delegate. While in this world we are on the tempter's ground. His agencies thickly play around us, and try us in every point of our character. If invulnerable in one part we are tried in another. Through them the best of men have been overtaken in faults. Once they turned the meek Moses into a creature of stormy wrath; the spiritually minded David into a hideous adulterer; the bold indomitable Peter into a contemptible coward. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

II. THAT THE TEMPTER OF OUR RACE INVARIABLY ACTS THROUGH THE AGENCY OF MAN. How did the tempting spirit appear to this prophet of Judah now? Not in the form of a serpent, as he appeared of old in Eden, nor in the form of an angel, but in the form of a MAN. The devil comes to man through man — acts on man by man. Look for the devil in man. Man is the tempter of man. The fact that man is the tempter of man shows:

1. The moral degradation of human nature. Man has become the tool of Satan. The false religionists, the hypocrites, the infidels, the blasphemers, the carnal, what are they? The instruments of the devil, to seduce and corrupt their fellow-men. Who shall destroy his works? There is One who can, and to Him we look, and in His all-conquering strength we trust. The fact that man is the tempter of man shows:

2. The necessity of constant watchfulness. In social circles be ever on your guard; be cautious as to the companionships you form, as to the books you read, as to the guides you follow.

III. THAT THE TEMPTER OF OUR RACE ALWAYS ASSUMES THE GARB OF GOODNESS. The temptation came to this "old prophet" not only through a man, but under the garb of piety.O that deceit should steal such gentle shapes!The fact that the tempter ever assumes the garb of goodness teaches:

1. The latent sympathy with virtue that still exists in human nature. If men had a natural sympathy with error as error, wrong as wrong, the devil need not disguise himself so. All the mis-showings, hypocrisies, hollow pretensions, in this false world, are a practical homage rendered to that sympathy with virtue and truth which still exists in human nature. The devil himself appeals to this in order to succeed. The fact that temptation works under the form of goodness teaches:

2. The importance of cultivating the habit of looking through appearances. "Things are not what they seem." Every man "walketh in a vain show." Brush off the varnish and examine the wood; ring the coin and test it; melt the metal and ascertain its worth. Believe no man because he says he is a prophet; trust no man because he says he is a Christian; yield to no man because he professes to love you.

IV. THAT THE TEMPTER OF OUR RACE GENERALLY BECOMES THE TORMENTOR OF HIS VICTIM. This tormenting conduct of tempters is:

1. A matter of necessity. A tempter is a sinner, and no sinner has any consolation to offer to a sinner.

2. Prophetic. It shows what must be the case for ever. The response of every appeal in the future world of misery, of the infidel to his agonised disciple, of the seducer to his tormented victim will be "What is that to us? see thou to that."

V. THAT THE TEMPTER OF OUR RACE ONCE YIELDED TO MAY ACCOMPLISH OUR RUIN. In the physical fate of this prophet we are reminded of two things:

1. The course of justice. That dead carcass lying in the wayside is an eloquent homily against sin. In it the voice of justice declares, with telling emphasis, that compliance even with the most plausible temptation is a sin, and that sin even in a good man, and a true prophet, must be punished. In the physical fate of this prophet we are reminded of:

2. The interposition of mercy. The ravenous lion, contrary to his instincts, instead of devouring his victim, stands over it as a kind guardian. Justice made that lion do so much, but mercy restrained him from doing more. Mercy triumphs over judgment. The philosophy of all human history is symbolised here. Justice goes with nature. It was the nature of the lion to destroy. Mercy interrupts the course of justice. It was contrary to the nature of the lion to guard rather than devour its victim.

VI. THAT THE TEMPTER OF OUR RACE IS COMPELLED TO DO HOMAGE TO THE VIRTUE HE HAS ASSAILED. There is not a being in the universe, even the prince of tempters, that is not bound by the laws of conscience to respect the virtue he seeks to destroy.

(Homilist.)

It is said that a few years ago a detachment of forty Russian soldiers — part of an advanced guard of reconnoitrers — crossed the Yalu river, Korea, to an island in the middle of the river, and there changed their costume, so that they might appear as civilian settlers instead of military invaders. This is said to have been one of the many features of the invasion of Korea compelling the recent strife between Japan and Russia. So sin and error often come in friendly guise, when their intention is very aggressive and destructive. We need much Divine wisdom to recognise the cunning devices of our enemies.

Sir Charles Follett, the chief of H.M. Customs, speaking on the clever tricks of smugglers says: "We have had many extraordinary dodges come under our notice. For instance, innocent looking loaves of bread, when accidentally examined, were discovered to have every particle of crumb removed from them, and the inside crammed with compressed tobacco. This is only one example of manifold specimens of cunning to bring in prohibited goods." How cunning is our great enemy to bring into our souls his contraband. Evil thoughts, desires, and deeds, covered with the most innocent and harmless-looking excuses; so that we need the wisdom from above if we are not to be unmindful of his devices.

(H. O. Mackey.)

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