1 Kings 13 is one of the more interesting and instructive accounts of the Old Testament. I always enjoy coming to this spot as I’m making my way through God’s word.
Let me briefly point out a number of the many lessons we can take from this chapter.
1. God doesn’t appreciate those who dishonor His messengers.
1 Kings 13:4 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.
The hand Jeroboam lifted up against God’s prophet was withered in that very instant. God warns the wicked in Psalm 105:15, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” The New Testament believer is instructed in Hebrews 13 to remember and follow them which have the rule over us (v. 7); to obey and submit to them (v. 17); and to salute them (v. 24).
2. On the flip side of that, always stick with God’s word, even when it’s contradicted by those who claim to speak for the Lord.
1 Kings 13:18 He said unto him, 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. But he lied unto him.
Mark it down, whenever a man or woman claims that an angel spoke to Him or that God told Him something (that’s not in the Bible), he’s probably lying. Run these references on lying prophets – Jeremiah 14:14; Jeremiah 23:25-32; Jeremiah 27:14-16; Zechariah 13:3; 2 Corinthians 11:15; Galatians 1:8.
3. Partial obedience is disobedience.
1 Kings 13:21 And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee,
1 Kings 13:26 And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the LORD: therefore the LORD hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake unto him.
This man is to be commended for standing up to the king and speaking out against his idolatrous worship. That took some courage. That took some guts. But that was only part of what God had commanded. Obeying one part didn’t give him license to disregard the other part, and sadly, he paid the consequences.
4. The failures of God’s messengers do not negate the truth of God’s words.
1 Kings 13:32 For the saying which he cried by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.
By his disobedience, the man of God discredited himself as a messenger. But what he said still came to pass (2 Kings 23:16-17) because it was God’s word, not his. Many attempt to excuse their disregard for God’s word by pointing to the failures of those who deliver it, but it just doesn’t work. God uses weak, fallen men to deliver his word. And we’ll not answer for them. We’ll give account of ourselves for what we did with the light (Psalm 119:105) we were given.