Follow Along

Get new posts by email:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "The Word of the LORD"

“The Word of the LORD”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
June 19, 2016 :: 1 Kings 13:1-14:31 

Our sermons series is entitled, “The King of Kings in the Books of Kings,” and last week we turned a big corner. We went from reading about one main king, Solomon, and his one breathtaking kingdom of Israel to now learning about two kings reigning over two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, because the one kingdom had been torn in two.

Who is the king in the South, the kingdom of Judah, the son of David, the son of Solomon?

Rehoboam. We learned last week that Rehoboam wasn’t very wise. The kingdom tore apart on his first official day on the job!

Rehoboam was a thumbs-down king.

But God had promised the new king of the northern kingdom of Israel that if he would be like David, even though he wasn’t a son of David, God would bless him like He had blessed David.

What was his name? Who was the king in the north?

Jeroboam. And was Jeroboam a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down king?

Two thumbs down.

Jeroboam was terrible. He only had one job, but he was a royal failure at it. (Pun intended.)

He set up false worship.

Jeroboam set up golden calves and unauthorized altars to be used in worship in the north. One calf at Dan and the other calf at Bethel.

And he set up feast days on whatever day he felt like.

And he appointed people as priests who had absolutely no business being priests!

Now we had to stop last week at the end of chapter 12. Jeroboam had invented and set up this false worship to keep the people in the northern kingdom. He didn’t want them floating South to Jerusalem to worship, or he might lose their loyalty.

It was good marketing. Good politics. But it was terrible worship.

And now in chapter 13, we learn what God says about.

And I emphasize that words “says.”

In chapter 13, God speaks out against Jeroboam.

In fact, there is a key phrase that is repeated 11 times in chapter 13 alone. And I’m going to make it the title of today’s message:

“The Word of the LORD.”

The word of the LORD or the word of Yahweh was what God had said that people should do and what God had said that He would do. What God commanded and what God promised.

And that’s the theme that runs through today’s message.

What God has commanded and what God has promised. The word of the LORD.

And as we learn about the word of the LORD in the Word of the Lord, I think we’ll learn at least three valuable lessons to apply to our own hearts and lives this day.

Remember last week that I said it’s going to get complicated and a bit strange as we go along?

Well, last week it began to get complicated. This week, it’s going to get a little strange.

In fact, it’s quite bizarre.

Chapter 13 is full of some strange stories with surprising twists in them. And it even brings up a lot of questions that it doesn’t seem to want to answer.

Does that sound interesting?  I hope so because here we go. Chapter 13, verse 1.

It starts with our key phrase.

“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.”

Stop there. Do you see how this just flows out the last chapter?

Jeroboam is right there at Bethel, standing the by the altar, participating in false worship.

And God has something to say.

So he sends a prophet from the southern kingdom to the southern end of the northern kingdom to bring the word of the LORD to King Jeroboam. V.2

“He cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD: ‘O altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: 'A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you [the altar] he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.'’ [Yikes. That’s quite a confrontation isn’t it?]

Yikes! That’s quite a confrontation isn’t it?

And it’s quite a far-reaching prophecy. Anybody want to take a guess how many years are going to pass until this son of David named Josiah will be born?

Almost 300.

I never realized that until I studied for this week’s sermon.

This is an almost 300 year in advance prophecy.

It’s the word of the LORD.

But how does Jeroboam know that this is the word of the LORD? V.3

“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.”

What a confrontation!

It’s so dramatic, isn’t it? Like something from Moses and Pharaoh.

The sign is that altar will be split. It’s the same words in Hebrew for the tearing of the kingdom. This altar will be altered. This altar will be torn and all of your burnt offerings on it are going to spill to the ground.

And it happens right then and right there!

And Jeroboam who thinks he’s so powerful tries to stop the prophet, but it’s him who is stopped. And he immediately changes his tune. V.6

“Then the king said to the man of God, ‘Intercede with the LORD your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.’ So the man of God interceded with the LORD, and the king's hand was restored and became as it was before. [How gracious of Him!]

The king said to the man of God, ‘Come home with me and have something to eat, and I will give you a gift.’ [Probably trying to earn his good favor.]

But the man of God answered the king, ‘Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. For I was commanded by [guess what?] the word of the LORD: 'You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.'’ So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel.”

Now, here’s where it gets strange.

So far, it’s been pretty straightforward even though it’s been very dramatic.

But there are some twists to come in this story that none of us could predict. V.11

“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. They also told their father what he had said to the king. Their father asked them, ‘Which way did he go?’ And his sons showed him which road the man of God from Judah had taken. So he said to his sons, ‘Saddle the donkey for me.’ And when they had saddled the donkey for him, he mounted it and rode after the man of God.” [Stop there for just a second.]

Do you have it your mind?

There’s a second prophet, an older one. This is older prophet who lives in Bethel where there is a golden calf and an evil altar.

How come he hadn’t delivered the prophecy to Jeroboam?

And why were his sons present at the altar to hear what went down between Jeroboam and the man of God from Judah? We don’t know, but something doesn’t feel right here.

He’s heard all of this and has gone donkey-riding off to see if he can intercept the man of God from Judah.

He shouldn’t be able to because there is only 6 miles from Bethel to Judah.

However, the man of God from Judah has decided to take a pit stop and has pulled over to a rest area. V.14

“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.'’

[So far so good. V.18]

The old prophet answered, ‘I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: 'Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.'’ (But he was lying to him.)”

Oh boy.

This story has taken a turn, hasn’t it?

And it’s a turn for the worst. We’ve got here a rogue prophet.

A false prophet who is putting words into the LORD’s mouth.

Here’s point #1.

#1. THE WORD OF THE LORD SHOULD BE FAITHFULLY SHARED.

Not falsely.

If we shouldn’t bear false witness against our neighbor, how much more should we be careful what we say that God has said!

The man from Judah had shared the word of the LORD faithfully to Jeroboam.

But this guy was faking it.

And that’s a scary thing.

This Summer, I’m teaching a preaching class to Hunter and couple of other guys.

And every week, we are stressing that what we are doing when we preach is sharing the words of God. And that’s a very high privilege and responsibility!

Beware of people who put words into God’s mouth.

And they have Him say what they want Him to say.

As if they were ventriloquists.

Fathers, you have a responsibility to share the word of the LORD faithfully with your children.

Ephesians 6 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Dads, it’s part of your job to teach the word of the Lord to your kids. Just like we learned about on Mother's Day, we are to be mission-minded dads who make disciples of our kids.

Be faithful.

The word of the LORD should be faithfully shared.

This prophet was doing the exact opposite.

We don’t know why. Perhaps he wanted to keep the man from Judah so that he would somehow bless the northern kingdom. Like Jeroboam did. Maybe he was lonely. Or maybe he wanted to trip the other guy up.

But the surprising thing is that...he succeeds.

The guy buys his story. V.19

“So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house. While they were sitting at the table, the word of the LORD came to the old prophet who had brought him back. [Surprise!] 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 fathers.'’”

Wait, what?

Now the word of the LORD (the REAL word of the LORD) comes onto this old prophet and he proclaims judgment on the man from Judah who had just proclaimed judgment on the king of Israel.

Are you following this?

And what was his sin?

Was it being too trusting?  V.21 again.

“You have defied the word of the LORD and have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you.”

#2. THE WORD OF THE LORD SHOULD NOT BE DEFIED.

Here’s the point that the Lord is making through the old prophet:

He knew better.

This man knew what God had said.

The word of the LORD had been very clear. And God would have made it very clear again if He was changing His mind in some way.

God knows that this prophet was defying the word of the LORD.

Now, that doesn’t mean that he was a totally bad man.

He had been a good prophet [that day!], but he had let his guard down.

He hadn’t hurried home.
And he’d hadn’t thought.
And he’d allowed himself to be misled.

And he’d done on a small scale what Jeroboam was doing on a national scale.

He defied the word of the LORD.

And there are consequences for that. V.23

“When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was thrown down on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it. Some people who passed by saw the body thrown down there, with the lion standing beside the body, and they went and reported it in the city where the old prophet lived. [Crazy, isn’t it?!] When the prophet who had brought him back from his journey heard of it, he said, ‘It is the man of God who defied the word of the LORD. The LORD has given him over to the lion, which has mauled him and killed him, as the word of the LORD had warned him.’

The prophet said to his sons, ‘Saddle the donkey for me,’ and they did so. Then he went out and found the body thrown down on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. The lion had neither eaten the body nor mauled the donkey. So the prophet picked up the body of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back to his own city to mourn for him and bury him. Then he laid the body in his own tomb, and they mourned over him and said, ‘Oh, my brother!’” [Stop there.]

Crazy story, isn’t it?

I have so many questions, and the Bible doesn’t want to answer all of them.

Why did the lion just stand there?

My best guess is to show that this is a miracle. This death was a supernatural judgment, a fulfillment of prophecy, not just a fluke animal attack.

{By the way, this is not last the person to be eaten by a wild animal in the books of kings.  Hang on. There’s lots more to come.}

But what we’re supposed to really feel is those words in verse 26 when the old prophet describes the younger prophet as , “the man of God who defied the word of the LORD.”

That’s what stands out. That’s what should not be!

Just because you preach the word of God faithfully does not automatically make you holy or exempt from God’s discipline.

Preachers should beware.

Just because I might get the Word right this morning, doesn’t mean that my heart is automatically right. I still can fall.

And it doesn’t mean that I am exempt, either. Whatever the word says to you, it says to me.

I’m very afraid of preachers who say one thing and do another.

I’m afraid for those who enable them.

And I’m afraid to become one myself.

The same is true for Fathers. Dad’s, you’ve got practice what you preach.

Don’t tell your sons and daughters to do one thing and then go against that very thing yourself.

You’re unteaching whatever you’ve taught correctly, and you will live with the consequences.

He knew better.

He knew what he should have done. Jeroboam knew better, too.

How about you?

Are you defying the word of the Lord?

Are there things in your life that you know you should not be doing and yet you are?

I’m sure you have good excuses for them.

Maybe even religious ones.

Maybe even an angel told you it was okay.

Or a false prophet told you that it was okay.

But you know better.

What needs to change in your life?

What needs to become holy that is unholy right now?

What things are you doing, feeling, believing, saying, thinking that you know better and need to change?

It’s easy to point out the sins of others, maybe out in the culture.

It’s easy to point fingers at gays or Muslims.

But this passage demands that we ask ourselves what we might, ourselves, be doing that is defying the word of LORD.

I’d hate for the verdict over my life to be, “He knew better.”

I think that the old prophet shows some repentance here.

He realizes that he has done wrong and that God has done something holy here.

He recognizes that the word of the LORD had truly come and he recognizes a kindred spirit in his prophet brother. So he asks to be buried with him. V.31

“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.’”

The man of Judah never gets to be buried in Judah, but where he is buried, this other prophet will be, too.

File that away! This burial site will become important again after many many chapters go by in the books of Kings.

Because what the man of Judah had prophesied would surely come to pass.

#3. THE WORD OF THE LORD WILL CERTAINLY COME TRUE. V.32 again.

“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.’”

You can count on it.

None of His words fall to the ground.

None of them return to Him void.

Josiah is a long way off, but he is coming.

And Jeroboam is going down. And yet, verse 33, Jeroboam refuses to change. V.33

“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.”

God always keeps His promises. Including His threats. That’s what chapter 14 is all about. Let’s look at this next story. Verse 1.

“At that time [same time] Abijah son of Jeroboam became ill, 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. Now Ahijah could not see; his sight was gone because of his age.”

Do you get the picture? Jeroboam has a son. He’s named him Abijah. He loves him. And Abijah is sick. Looks like he’s going to die.

Jeroboam goes looking for some supernatural help from the prophet who had told him that he would be king.

That makes sense.

But he had also told him that Jeroboam should act like David and obey the LORD and not defy the word of LORD.

So he doesn’t think that Mrs. Jeroboam should go as Mrs. Jeroboam. She should disguise herself and Ahijah is blind anyway, so she might get away with it.

Do you think she will? V.5

“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.”

I love that. You can just imagine the blind guy meeting her at the door and knowing about it.

She thought she was sent, but in actuality, he was sent to her, and with really really bad news. V.7

“Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'I raised you up from among the people and made you a leader 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 provoked me to anger and thrust me behind your back.

'Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel–slave or free. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country. The LORD has spoken!'

As for you, go back home. When you set foot in your city, the boy will die. All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only one belonging to Jeroboam who will be buried, because he is the only one in the house of Jeroboam in whom the LORD, the God of Israel, has found anything good. [This is a tragic mercy!]

The LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who will cut off the family of Jeroboam. This is the day! What? Yes, even now.

And the LORD will strike Israel, so that it will be like a reed swaying in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave to their forefathers and scatter them beyond the River, because they provoked the LORD to anger by making Asherah poles.

And he will give Israel up because of the sins Jeroboam has committed and has caused Israel to commit.’”

The word of the LORD will certainly come true.

Including His threats.

Including His judgments.

Here we have the prediction, not just of the abortion of a dynasty but the exile of the entire northern kingdom.

It will be many years, but they will experience destruction and have their beloved land taken away from them.

“The LORD has spoken!”

That’s important. It’s important to realize that the end and exile of Israel had already been decided with king number one.

Jeroboam.

The word of the LORD should be shared faithfully.
The word of the LORD should not be defied.
Because the word of the LORD will certainly come true. V.17

“Then Jeroboam's wife got up and left and went to Tirzah. As soon as she stepped over the threshold of the house, the boy died. 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 fathers. And Nadab his son succeeded him as king.”

He might have done all kinds of great stuff.

He might have been a great dad who played with and taught his sons.

And fought wars and ruled well in other areas.

But the author of this book says that stuff doesn’t matter very much if he didn’t do his one job of believing and obeying the word of the LORD.

His son Nadab succeeds him as king, but you know it’s not going to be for very long.

Because the word of the LORD will certainly come true.

That’s what happened with Rehoboam. The rest of the chapter closes the story on his life. It shows that even though he was David’s son, he didn’t end well.

And he didn’t lead well. He was not just thumbs down for being unwise (like we saw last week). He was thumbs down for false worship, too. V.21

“Rehoboam son of Solomon was king in [the southern kingdom of] Judah. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his Name. His mother's name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite.

Judah [under the reign of Rehoboam] did evil in the eyes of the LORD. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than their fathers had done.

They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites [in the book of Joshua!].

In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. [So much for family ties and foreign alliances!] He carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. [Remember those? Daddy’s golden shields?]

So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace. Whenever the king went to the LORD's temple, the guards bore the shields, and afterward they returned them to the guardroom.”

[That’s saying that Judah is on the downward slide. Everything is less than it was and less than less.]

“As for the other events of Rehoboam's reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? There was continual warfare between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. And Rehoboam rested with his fathers and was buried with them in the City of David. His mother's name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite. And Abijah his son succeeded him as king.”

And we’ll pick up there next week.

We’ve already closed the books on the next generation after Solomon.

And the kingdom is clearly falling apart.

There will be moments. There will be moment of grace and glory.

But you can see already where this is headed.

Why?

Because these kings have defied the word of the LORD.

They have the word of LORD, but they are rejecting it.

It all comes down to that.

When these kings are at their best, they remind us of King Jesus.

Jesus loved the word of the LORD. He WAS the word of LORD!

King Jesus loved what God had said, trusted God’s promises perfectly, and obeyed God’s commands completely.

He was and is all that a King should be.

And then He died. He was crucified on the Cross because He took on Himself all of the defiant rebellion that we had committed.

And the punishment that we deserved for our defiance, fell on Him.

But He didn’t stay dead.

“Death could not hold Him. The grave could not keep Him from rising again.”

He came back to life just like He said He would do.

And He offers eternal life for all who will turn and trust in Him.

The Bible says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is KING,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’”

Because the word of the LORD will certainly come true.


***

Messages in this Series:

01. Who Will Be King?
02. The Wisdom of the King
03. The Temple of the King
04. The Incomparable King of the Temple
05. A Breathtaking King
06. The Turned King and the Torn Kingdom
07. The Two Kings and the Tearing of the Kingdom

0 comments: