Saturday, December 10, 2011

Obedience, Courage, & Discipline

While I was reading through 1 Kings this morning I came upon the story of the prophet from Judah who came to Bethel with a word against Jeroboam, king of Israel (Chapter 13).  The story is rich with miracles and lessons and I just have to share it! 

A little background on the story - while Solomon was ruling over all of Israel he allowed his heart to become divided, choosing to build temples in the land for other gods. In response, the Lord divided the kingdom giving Solomon's son, Rehoboam only the tribe of Judah, and the rest to Jeroboam. The Lord had told Jeroboam that he would be king over Israel saying, “if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you." [1 Kings 11:37-38]

Ok, so years later Jeroboam became king and completely disregards the Lord, building golden calves, temples, and making priests that were not of God's appointed to serve in them. (Didn’t this guy take history class? Golden calves never turn out well.) Then, Jeroboam declares a feast- where all the crazy stuff happens. The feast is in full swing and Jeroboam is standing by the golden calf in Bethel making an offering to the idol when all of the sudden this guy in the crowd yells out. Turns out he is a man of God from Judah bringing word from the Lord declaring doom and destruction on the king as well as prophesying a sign that the idol will be torn down and all the ashes spilled. Jeroboam commands his officers to grab him and as his hand stretches out to point at the prophet his hand dries up "so that he could not draw it back to himself!"  While he's probably freaking out, the altar comes down, ashes spill all over, and I imagine the crowd is running for cover screaming.  So the king looks at the man of God and asks him to pray for his hand's restoration, which he does. His hand is restored and then King Jeroboam invites the young prophet to his home where he will reward him. The prophet not only refuses but goes on to say that if the king had offered half of his house he would not go, "for it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying 'You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.'" As he's leaving, the young man is run down by an older prophet from the city and offered meal and drink, which he refuses. (now the story gets even deeper) The older prophet then lies saying an angel of the Lord came and told him to invite him and feed him. So they return to the older prophet's home and as they are eating God speaks to the young prophet through the old man saying, because of his disobedience, coming to eat and drink in the city, his “body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.” After the meal the man of God saddles his donkey and continues on his way home. Not a verse later and the man is killed by a lion who then stands on one side of him while his donkey on the other side of him. Just standing there. Some passersby see the lion and donkey standing on either side of the dead prophet and (no doubt awestruck of the sight of a lion and donkey standing beside a dead man) call upon the old prophet. He comes and fetches the young man’s body, burying him in his own tomb and telling his sons to put him beside the younger prophet's bones when he dies. They mourn the man’s death and then the next verse goes on to say that king Jeroboam never turns from his evil ways. Every member of his house is killed and the kingdom taken by another. And so it goes.

Wow! After reading I had to stop and just re-picture what just happened. The Lord hands over nearly an entire kingdom to a servant, giving him an incredible promise of HIS PRESENCE being with him and having a kingdom like King David's! Years later when the man has the kingdom dropped in his lap, he chooses the counsel of man over the Lord, fearing their return to the house of David. Then a young prophet shows up, craziness breaks loose, his hand dries up and then healed by the Lord, and the prophet leaves, refusing the hospitality of the king - all in a day. On the way out an old prophet lies to the younger man and encourages him to disobey the word of the Lord – ultimately causing his death. Which happens when a lion kills him and then stands watch over the body with his donkey until the old prophet arrives to bury him. 

These passages are rich in the importance of obeying the Lord, and the consequences of disobeying Him. When I first read through this I thought to myself, “I’m sure glad God doesn’t punish people when they disobey like that nowadays!” Thinking how I’d probably be dead with a donkey and lion chatting over my dead body… but then I remembered Jeroboam who was promised the nearness of God in return for obedience.

Some days I am probably just a disobedient dead man on the road somewhere with a lion and a donkey standing on either side of me shaking their heads.  God has promised us a kingdom as well that we are named heirs of, with the opportunity to walk in the authority of the King every day! Sometimes God asks us to do things that are not pleasant, like going to prophesy against a king and not being able to eat or drink while you're there, and it takes such courage to step out and do it... but He has promised us so much! God is reminding me of His vast promises these days and is telling me to go way outside my comfort zone - having to rely on Him for the necessary things that seem so impossible. It's a stretch, but I know that reading this passage today has helped me regain perspective. I desire to please the Lord with my life, I desire to be obedient, and I SO desire His Tangible Presence! Lord, here I am again... at the foot of your cross... 

Love Always

1 comment:

  1. great insight! loveddd this.

    hope all is well bunkmate, love and miss you!