1 Kings 13:1-3
And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.…
Jeroboam went to inaugurate his feast of tabernacles at his principal temple in Bethel, and to give effect to the ceremonies officiated in person as high priest. Then, as he stood by the altar, censer in hand, he was confronted by the word of the Lord. A man of God from Judah denounced the altar in the words before us, which contain a very remarkable prophecy; and he authenticated his message by a miraculous sign. (Compare Mark 16:20.) The subject teaches -
I. THAT GOD SEES THE END FROM THE BEGINNING.
1. This is evinced in His works of creation.
(1) There is foresight in the constitution and adjustments of the framework, and in the motions, of the orbs.
(2) Also in the anticipatory instincts of animals - storing of food, provisions for young. Moths deposit their eggs upon leaves, not used by themselves as food, but proper to sustain the larvae.
(3) And in the anticipatory faculties of man. Intelligent foresight in business, in politics, in science, in religion.
2. It is evinced in prophecy.
(1) Great outlines of the world's history pre-written there (see Genesis 9:25-27; Daniel 7.).
(2) Particular example here. (Compare this with 2 Kings 23:15-20.) The facts here were attested - By the Jews, on whose behalf they were ordered - By the Ephrathites, who would have impugned their authority if they could.
3. This example is too circumstantial to have been accidental.
(1) The child was to be of the house of David. Who but God could foresee that the house of David should occupy the throne of Judah at a distance of 856 years?
(2) Who but God could foresee that Bethel would then have passed from the kings of Israel under the dominion of Judah? (See 2 Chronicles 13:19.)
(3) Who but God could foresee that at a distance of 840 years a child should be born to the house of David, bearing the name of Josiah, who should in due time do these things?
(4) Who else could anticipate, even when Josiah received his name, that the grandson of the wicked Manasseh, and son of the no less wicked Amen, should come to the throne, and with pious zeal bring these things to pass? Note: Such prescience as God displayed in this prophecy, and such providence as He evinced in its accomplishment, encourage faith. They assure us that our very names are in His book (Philippians 4:8). They encourage prayer.
II. THAT HE WILL CONFRONT THE SINNER IN JUDGMENT.
1. The message to Jeroboam was to this very effect.
(1) He bore His testimony against the altar. It had been consecrated, after a fashion, by the king, but God would desecrate it. The bodies of its priests were to be sacrificed upon it, and the bones of men were to be burnt upon it (1 Kings 13:2). God will accept no will worship - no worship ordered after the policy of statesmen.
(2) In the demolition of the altar, not only is the religion connected with it doomed to be overthrown, but the judgment involves its votaries - the king, his priests, his people.
(3) The testimony was strong. The man of God cried aloud. He did not quail in the presence of the king amidst his friends. God's messengers should never cringe nor quail God's word can never fail.
2. These things were an allegory.
(1) Many of the wonderful narratives of Holy Scripture may be thus understood. We have the famous example, Galatians 4:21-31.
(2) Here Jeroboam, like all other leaders in apostasy, was a forerunner of the Antichrist. As the religion of the "man of sin" is a caricature of the religion of Christ, so was that of Jeroboam a parody upon the Mosaic.
(3) Josiah was a type of Christ, the true Son of David. (Compare Isaiah 7:14.) Warning and mercy come before destruction. The army of Judah was stayed from crushing Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:24), and in the mission of the man of God there was mercy in the warning. Let the sinner be admonished not to refuse the gospel. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.