1 Kings 13:4-6
And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel…
When the man of God predicted the confusion of the political religion of Jeroboam, and gave the sign that the altar at Bethel should be rent and its ashes poured out, the pride of the king who stood there as a priest was mortified, and his resentment was manifested as described in the text.
I. JEROBOAM WAS A TYPICAL SINNER.
1. He transgressed God's law -
(1) In making images. The law forbad this (Exodus 20:4, 5). But he made two golden calves. Note: Images of God must be caricatures, and God will not be mocked, solemnly or otherwise, with impunity. How many frightful caricatures of Deity has the "man of sin" perpetrated! (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12.)
(2) In multiplying altars. Legal worship was limited to one altar "in the place which the Lord should choose" (Deuteronomy 16:16). This was to keep before men the one only Mediator (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5). Therefore other altars than that at Jerusalem were "altars unto sin" (Hosea 8:11).
(3) In creating priests. According to the law, none but sons of Aaron had a Divine vocation to the priesthood (Exodus 30:7, 8; 2 Chronicles 26:18; Hebrews 5:4). According to the gospel, Christ is sole Priest. Jeroboam, an Ephrathite, invaded the law principle, making himself high priest, and making subordinate priests of the lowest of the people.
2. He did so impudently.
(1) His sin was not of ignorance, for he had access to the Scriptures; but it did not serve his purpose to refer to them.
(2) Prophecy was particularly distasteful to him, for his doom is written there. Jeroboam had this from the lips of Ahijah, and now has it from the man of God from Judah. Beware of the spirit that would discourage a study upon which God has pronounced a blessing (Revelation 1:3).
(3) The spirit of his religion was political. He would not have troubled himself with it had he not political ends to serve (1 Kings 12:26-29). And to carry out these he dissembled: "It is too much for you to go to Jerusalem!"
II. HIS DOOM ALSO WAS TYPICAL.
1. He was confronted by the word of God.
(1) With this the man of God from Judah withstood him at his altar. So by the word of the Lord, and especially with the spirit of prophecy, has the man of sin been confronted by Waldenses, Paulikiaus, Hussites, Lutherans, and such like men "from Judah."
(2) But against this testimony he invoked the civil power under his usurped control (ver. 4). The spirit of persecution was there. The modern Jeroboam carried it further (Daniel 12:21; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 17:6).
2. He was humbled by the power of God.
(1) His hand was withered; his power to persecute was paralyzed. How powerless is the hand of man when arrested by the hand of God! Behind the political restraints which now hold the persecuting hand of our enemies we must discern the invisible hand of God.
(3) The altar, then, was cloven, and the ashes of the spurious sacrifices poured out as with contempt. This also was effected by the same invisible hand. Who can resist the might of God?
(4) Constrained by these judgments, he confessed the finger of God, and entreated the man of God to pray for the restoration of his hand (see Exodus 10:16, 17; Numbers 21:7; Matthew 5:23, 24).
3. Yet he persisted in his sin.
(1) His humiliation was selfish. It was the creature of his terror and suffering, so it was transient.
(2) True repentance is of a loftier principle, and is enduring. It is a life, as faith also is a life.
(3) Instead of using his restored hand to demolish his high places, he used it to repair the altar at Bethel, and persisted in his sin (vers. 33, 34; 2 Chronicles 13:20). But Josiah executed the judgments of prophecy in due time, So will the modern Jeroboam and his monstrous organization of sin perish in the fires of the judgment (Daniel 7:10, 11; 2 Thessalonians 2:8). Note: Let those come out of Babylon who would escape her plagues. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.
WEB: It happened, when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar in Bethel, that Jeroboam put out his hand from the altar, saying, "Seize him!" His hand, which he put out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back again to himself.