I Kings 13:1-34; II Kings 23:15-18.;
293 Junior Class
MEMORY VERSE: “The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey” (Joshua 24:24).
We remember the story of Aaron who made a golden calf and proclaimed to the people, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4). This was contrary to the first commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). A golden calf! What a poor substitute for the great God who had been so very good to His people!
Many years later we find another man, King Jeroboam, making two golden calves and announcing to the people: “Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (I Kings 12:28). Another attempt to substitute a golden calf for the great God of Heaven and earth, but another failure!
Down the years people have set up idols and worshiped them instead of worshiping God. Of course, in our civilized land, people do not make golden calves and fall down and pray to them. Yet, there are many other forms of idol-worship. Those who frequent the theatres, dances, ball games, and other places of worldly amusement are worshiping the god of pleasures. God will someday bring into judgment those who do not love and serve Him with all their heart.
The Man of God
One day as King Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense unto the calves which he had made, there came a man of God from Judah and foretold the birth of Josiah, which took place 360 years later; he also said that upon that very altar the bones of the wicked priests would someday be burned. As a sign that this should come to pass, the Lord caused the altar to be broken and the ashes poured out.
This prophecy made Jeroboam angry, and he put out his hand and said, “Lay hold on him.” Then, as he tried to draw back his hand, he could not, for it was dried up and stiff. “Intreat now the face of the Lord thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again,” he said.
Jeroboam was in the very act of burning incense to false gods; but now that he needed help, he wanted it from the Lord God. The man of God prayed, and the king’s hand was healed. Just so with many people today: any kind of religion is all right so long as things are going smoothly; but when sudden trouble comes, they often call for prayer from the true people of God whose prayers are heard and answered.
Now the king asked the man of God to come home with him and refresh himself. “And,” he added, “I will give thee a reward.” But the man of God refused to go with the king, for he had had instructions from God to eat no bread, drink no water, and to go home another way. Because the people had turned from the true worship of God was no doubt the reason that this man should not have fellowship with them. In obedience to God’s commands, he stated for home by another road from that which he had come.
The Old Prophet
Some boys had been listening to the conversation between Jeroboam and the man of God. They had watched, too, as the man of God started for home, and then they hurried off and told their father everything. “What way went he?” asked the father, an old prophet of Bethel. When they told him, he said, “Saddle me the ass.” Down the road went the old prophet riding as fast as he could. “Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah?” he asked as he at last overtook the man of God. “I am,” was the reply of the man of God who sat resting under an oak tree. “Come home with me, and eat bread,” begged the old prophet.
Although possibly weary, thirsty, and hungry, yet still determined to carry out all orders given him by the Lord, the man of God said that he had been told not to eat bread, drink water, nor go back by the way he had come.
Often Satan may not win his first attempt to overthrow a child of God. But he will try again, perhaps using another approach. The old prophet was not easily discouraged. I’ll try again, he thought. Instead of simply saying, “The Lord spoke to me,” he said: “I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water.” What a clever lie! How much like the devil to tell a lie in order to win his point.
Caught in a Trap
Had the man of God not stopped under the oak, he would not have been overtaken by the wicked old man. He stopped; he sat down; he listened; he carried on a conversation with an enemy. Then he turned back and went to the house of the old prophet; he ate bread and drank water with him. He was caught in the trap of the enemy!
But the sad story of the man of God does not end there. As the two men sat at the table, the old prophet pronounced the doom upon the man who was sent of God to carry out a duty: Because he was disobedient unto the Lord and had come back and eaten and drunk, he would not reach home alive. As he proceeded on his way toward home, he was met by a lion and slain.
God had given him a duty to perform, and he had done it well. But on his way home he turned aside from his course. After God had given him orders as to what to do and what not to do, why did he listen to the lying prophet who claimed to have received contrary orders?
Snares Along the Way
Since that day Satan has had almost 3000 years of experience in turning the hearts of followers of the Lord away from the straight and narrow path. He is just as clever today as he was in the days of Jeroboam in overtaking people of God; he is just as subtle in persuading them to sit down under an oak tree for a rest. It will pay us well to make sure that we always listen to the still, small voice of the Spirit, and never listen to the call of the world or Satan. A boy or girl may say, “Come, go to the theatre with me.” You may reply, “I am a Christian, and do not attend such places.” “But,” he will argue, “I am a Christian, and I go all the time.” However, if your heart is “in tune” with Heaven, something will tell you that a theatre is no place for a real Christian.
The old devil laughs, and mocks the child of God who turns back, just as the old prophet mocked the man of God. What a disaster overtook him who was once led of God and had once been obedient to God’s voice. His grave was surely a monument to disobedience and defeat. Many a marker along the way tells a story of disobedience, failure, and departure from the Lord. A flaming sword at the east of the Garden of Eden marked the place of the first disobedience in the world (Genesis 3:24). A pillar of salt marked the spot where a woman turned from following the Lord (Genesis 19:26). A heap of stones outside the city marked the spot where Achan met premature death because of his sin (Joshua 7:26).
We are thankful that there are also monuments of success along the path, which leads from earth to Glory. God’s Word is filled with accounts of men and women who turned neither to the right hand, nor to the left, nor back, and have made a successful journey “Home.” Read the 11th chapter of Hebrews, which tells briefly the account of those who triumphed through faith. Read also the story of the life of each of these heroes. It will increase your faith to know of those who have endured unto the end.
If we today will purpose in our heart to keep our eyes on the True Guide and obey not only a part but the complete instructions given us, we, too, may someday be among those who fought for and kept the faith.
“Then fight, brave, against all evil;
Never run, nor even lag behind.
If you’d win for God and right,
Keep on the Firing Line.”
1. What sign was given to show that the prophecy of the man of God was true?
2. To whom did Jeroboam look for healing of his hand?
3. What do you think was the reason Jeroboam asked the man of God to go home with him?
4. Why did he refuse to go?
5. What was the first mistake made by the man of God?
6. What did the old prophet give as a reason for taking him home with him?
7. Tell of the sad death of the man of God.
Why is it such a terrible thing to disobey the voice of God?