The Man of God From Judah (13:1–34)
20–25 While they were eating, a true word from the Lord came to the old prophet. He told the man of God that because he had disobeyed the command not to eat or drink in Bethel he would not be buried in the tomb of his fathers (verse 22)—that is, he would die far from his family’s home.
And indeed, that is what happened: on his way home the man of God was killed by a lion. This was clearly a divine judgment and not a chance accident because the lion did not act normally. After killing the man of God, the lion just stood there without eating either the man or his donkey.63
26–32 When the old prophet heard what had happened to the man of God from Judah, he was filled with remorse—perhaps even true repentance. He went and brought the dead prophet’s body back to the city and buried it in his own tomb (verses 29–30). Then he instructed his sons that when he died he should be buried next to the man of God; he wanted to be identified with this true prophet and his message, which he knew now would most certainly come true64 (verse 32).
What are we to learn from this perplexing incident? First, it is sometimes difficult to discern the true word of God—even for a prophet,a man of God. SometimesweChristians are very sure we have received a “word from the Lord,” but the events of this chapter should serve to make us more humble. “Words from the Lord” need confirmation. Furthermore, the Lord never contradicts Himself. The man of God should not have believed the old prophet, because his message contradicted what the Lord had already told him. We must never allow other people to determine what God’s will is for our lives. Listen to their advice, yes; follow it against our conscience, no.
Thesecondthingweshouldlearnfromthis chapter is that disobedience to the Lord’s word always brings consequences, and the ultimate consequence is death (Romans 6:23). Thus even in death, the man of God provided one more warning to the people of Israel: their sins, too, would lead to death—the death of their entire nation.
33–34 Sadly, Jeroboam and his people did not heed the warnings of the man of God. Jeroboam did not change his evil ways (verse 33). Jeroboam committed the sin of establishing a false religion and a false priesthood, and this sin led to the downfall of his house and the destruction of his kingdom.