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“When Three Prophets Speak…”

Morning Message: John Cline

Text: 1 Kings 11-14

Reader: Henry Aidoo

When I try to figure out why people who have experienced the touch of God in their lives, heard His voice, seen His moving, observed Him moving miracles or healing people, yet won’t believe Him when He has a word for them, or, worse, choose to ignore what He says because it seems to hard, I am taken back to events at the time of the OT kings. There is so much similarity! The worship of other gods, the obsession with sex, the thumbing of noses at God by leaders – all eerily familiar and disheartening. Take King Jeroboam, for example, the first king of the divided nation of Israel. He had various words from God spoken directly to him and yet he chose to live as if they didn’t matter. Jeroboam was in King Solomon’s inner cabinet. Perhaps being up close and personal to the inner workings of the king’s court made Jeroboam too aware of the injustices that were going on, shortly after, Jeroboam decided to oppose Solomon.

About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give you ten tribes. But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe. I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molek the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in obedience to me, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my decrees and laws as David, Solomon’s father, did.’” (1 Kings 11:29-33)

Jeroboam was told to his face by Ahijah the prophet that the reason God turned away from Solomon was because he led the people in worshipping other gods. In a dramatic tearing up of his new robe into 12 pieces, Ahijah showed Jeroboam what was about to happen. Jeroboam fled to Egypt for his life as he learned that Solomon was now trying to kill him. But then Solomon died and his kingdom rule was handed down to his son Rehoboam. Jeroboam returned from Egypt and told Rehoboam that he and all the Israelites would serve him if he lessened the tax burden Rehoboam’s father, Solomon, had place on them. But Rehoboam promised heavier taxes. As a result, the 10 northern tribes of Israel rebelled against his rule and Jeroboam became king, just as the prophet Ahijah had predicted. Jeroboam was unsure of who his people thought about him and feared that as they went to Jerusalem to worship YHWH God in the temple there, that their allegiance would switch to Rehoboam. He consulted his friends.

After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other. (1 Kings 12:28-30)

Did you notice what Jeroboam didn’t do in those alternate places of worship at faraway Dan or nearby Bethel? He didn’t built them places in which to worship God. No, he made places where they could go and worship other gods, golden calf idols which he told the people were the gods who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, in a move again eerily similar to what Aaron did with the Golden Calf incident while Moses was up Mount Sinai being told the 10 Commandments by God. And that, after, Ahijah the prophet had said to him that the reason he would be breaking up the United Kingdom of Israel and leaving Rehoboam, Solomon’s son with just 2 tribes in the new southern kingdom of Judah was as follows: “I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molek the god of the Ammonites”. What didn’t Jeroboam understand about that? Yet, he ignored God’s words for him, making sure that disaster would come. The prophet Ahijah had spoken God’s words of blessing to Jeroboam:

“However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you.” (I Kings 11:37-38a)

Where was his gratitude to YHWH? Then, we read,

Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites. He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made. On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. So, he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings. (1 Kings 12:31-33)

Jeroboam then went to the altar in Bethel to offer sacrifices to those gods. In response, YHWH God sent a second prophet from Judah.

By the word of the Lord a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. By the word of the LORD, he cried out against the altar: “Altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.’” (1 Kings 13:1,2)

Ahijah’s naming the king named Josiah who would come to the throne 300 years later would be fulfilled, as we will read. Short-term, though:

That same day the man of God gave a sign: “This is the sign the Lord has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.” When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, “Seize him!” But the hand he stretched out toward the man shriveled up, so that he could not pull it back. Also, the altar was split apart, and its ashes poured out according to the sign given by the man of God by the word of the Lord. (1 Kings 13:3-5)

The short-term proof that the “man of God from Judah” was speaking God’s words was proven in that Jeroboam’s altar to false gods split apart and its ashes poured out. What followed was Jeroboam’s hand with which he was pointing at the “man of God from Judah” and ordering his guards to arrest him was frozen. Terrified, Jeroboam pleaded for the prophet to pray for his healing, which happened. You might think that all that would produce awe in Jeroboam, but nope!

Now there was a certain old prophet living in Bethel, whose sons came and told him all that the man of God had done there that day. (1 Kings 13:11a)

This third prophet I will refer to as the “old prophet”. A dislikeable man, God still used him. He set out to find that second prophet.

He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” “I am,” he replied. So, the prophet said to him, “Come home with me and eat.” The man of God said, “I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. I have been told by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.’” (1 Kings 13:14b-17)

This “old prophet” assured the “man of God from Judah” that he too was a prophet and that God had told him that it would be ok for him to go to his house and have a meal with him. “But he was lying to him.”

While they were sitting at the table, the word of the Lord came to the old prophet who had brought him back. He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore, your body will not be buried in the tomb of your ancestors.’” (1 Kings 13:20-22)

The “man of God from Judah” turned out to be similar to Jeroboam in that he was told something specific by God and yet chose to ignore it. Too often, humans believe they can ignore God’s words. Not good!

As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was left lying on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it. Some people who passed by saw the body lying there, with the lion standing beside the body, and they went and reported it in the city where the old prophet lived. (1 Kings 13:24,25)

The “old prophet” went and got the “man of God from Judah’s” body.

Then he laid the body in his own tomb, and they mourned over him and said, “Alas, my brother!” After burying him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. For the message he declared by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel and against all the shrines on the high places in the towns of Samaria will certainly come true.” Even after this, Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places. This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth. (1 Kings 13:30-34)

Well, almost 300 years later, a descendant of King David ascended the throne of Judah. He was a good king who understood why the northern nation of Israel had fallen to Assyria and why trouble was all around for his nation of Judah. Guess what he decided to do? Tear down all the shrines and altars that Jeroboam and other bad kings had erected.

King Josiah also desecrated the high places that were east of Jerusalem on the south of the Hill of Corruption—the ones Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the vile goddess of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the vile god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the people of Ammon. Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles and covered the sites with human bones. (2 Kings 23:13,14)

Asherah poles, by the way, were made to look like phallic symbols and being in the shape of male genitalia, there was only one purpose for them – to have sex at them, which the people did with the various female and male prostitutes who served the goddess Asherah in those places. When I see people today obsessed with sex, I suspect that those Christians who believe that the ancient gods have come to o ur society. In any case, after cleaning up Judah, good King Josiah then headed north to deal with Jeroboam’s shrines and altars.

Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin—even that altar and high place he demolished. He burned the high place and ground it to powder and burned the Asherah pole also. (2 Kings 23:15)

Thus, the fulfillment of the long-range prophecy of the “man of God from Judah”. But the story doesn’t end there. The “man of God from Judah’s” end had not been a good one. However,

Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things. The king asked, “What is that tombstone I see?” The people of the city said, “It marks the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and pronounced against the altar of Bethel the very things you have done to it.” “Leave it alone,” he said. “Don’t let anyone disturb his bones.” So, they spared his bones & those of the prophet who had come from Samaria. (2 Kings 23:16-18)

So, both the “man of God from Judah” and the “old prophet” were honoured by good King Josiah. The Bible always finishes its stories! God’s Word can be trusted. Why don’t people listen to and apply it?

Just as he had done at Bethel, Josiah removed all the shrines at the high places that the kings of Israel had built in the towns of Samaria and that had aroused the Lord’s anger. (2 Kgs 23:19)

Ok, back to Jeroboam the first king of the northern nation of Israel, his son became ill. The first prophet that spoke to Jeroboam, Ahijah, is now called upon to heal Jeroboam’s son, but he refused to do it because Jeroboam tried to trick him into doing it.

And Jeroboam said to his wife, “Go, disguise yourself, so you won’t be recognized as the wife of Jeroboam. Then go to Shiloh. Ahijah the prophet is there—the one who told me I would be king over this people. Take ten loaves of bread with you, some cakes and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy.” So, Jeroboam’s wife did what he said and went to Ahijah’s house in Shiloh. (1 Kings 14:2-4)

The prophet Ahijah, in his old age by then, was almost blind.

But the Lord had told Ahijah, “Jeroboam’s wife is coming to ask you about her son, for he is ill, and you are to give her such and such an answer. When she arrives, she will pretend to be someone else.” So, when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps at the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why this pretense? I have been sent to you with bad news. Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I raised you up from among the people and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me. Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. (1 Kings 14:6-10a)

God was not a genie in a bottle obligated to answer wishes. He would not heal Jeroboam’s son just because Jeroboam realized He was the only God who could heal. Jeroboam had lied to God’s prophet Ahijah and had spent his entire reign in Israel worshipping forbidden gods.

“The Lord will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave to their ancestors and scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they aroused the Lord’s anger by making Asherah poles. And he will give Israel up because of the sins Jeroboam has committed and has caused Israel to commit.” (1 Kings 14:15b-16)

Jeroboam’s son sadly died but the Bible says that he was the only member of Jeroboam’s family that God considered to be “good” so if his salvation is a concern to you, I think you can be assured.

They buried him, and all Israel mourned for him, as the Lord had said through his servant the prophet Ahijah. The other events of Jeroboam’s reign, his wars and how he ruled, are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel. He reigned for twenty-two years and then rested with his ancestors. And Nadab his son succeeded him as king. (1 Kings 14:18-20)

Ok, all this leads me to last Sunday’s NFL Super Bowl. $16 million US was spent on two tv ads, the “He Gets Us” ads which showed paintings of imagined scenes where Jesus or his representatives were washing the feet of people identified as being hated by many in American: an illegal immigrant, a drug-addict, an environmental terrorist, a lesbian, an abortion-clinic worker, a native American, a transgender person, a BLM activist. In none of the paintings was there any call to change. The ads ended with the words: ‘Jesus didn’t teach hate. He washed feet. He gets us. All of us. Jesus.’ Many Christians felt the ads, though well-intentioned, missed the mark in that it was unfair to imply that Christians are hateful people if they speak truth into a situation or to a person, and that the Gospel message is not so much about how Jesus getting us as understanding and saving us, and then freeing us from thought patterns and lifestyles that will destroy us if not abandoned.

Being with the Lord means listening to his message and responding accordingly, the very thing Solomon, Rehoboam, and Jeroboam all did not do, causing them grief and costing them their kingdoms. are part of coming to Jesus.” What the Christians pushing back are saying is what I have been saying about the kings of Israel: they didn’t seem to care what God did for them or the words He spoke to them. Their lives weren’t affected. They just kept on doing whatever they wanted to do and had always done. That is not how people should interact with God. Irish Pastor Jamie Bambrick released a subsequent ad the day after the Super Bowl that sought to redeem the “He Gets Us” campaign by showing several videos and photographs of people who Jesus had met, and who had responded accordingly. A former witch, an abortionist turned Prolife doctor, a former jihadist and son of a leader of Hamas, and on and on…you will see them as we view the video. The point it that Jesus doesn’t just get us. He saves us. He transforms us. He cleanses us. He restores us. He forgives us. He heals us. He delivers us. He redeems us. He loves us. The video concludes with a reference to 1 Corinthians 6:11 which reads, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Project “He Saves Us” video…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rV3AnTUPiDY

Pray…

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