After King David passed on, his son Solomon, by Bathsheba, became the next King of Israel. The Lord appeared to Solomon twice and told him that if he walked in all the Lord's ways, he would always have an heir on the throne. But Solomon's seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines led his heart astray towards the end of his life, and he began pursuing his wife's gods instead.
(1 Kings 11:6–8 NKJV) Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not fully follow the LORD, as did his father David. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, on the hill that is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon. And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.
(1 Kings 11:9–13 NKJV) So the LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the LORD had commanded. Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, "Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of my servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen."
David, with all of his faults, loved the Lord - and the Lord loved and remembered him generations later. That is so beautiful. Even though his son Solomon had turned away from the Lord, He wouldn't take the kingdom from him because of his father, David. The prayers of a righteous man availeth much, and the way you live will affect your children.
Solomon had a young servant named Jeroboam, who was a "mighty man of valor," and he had put him over the labor force. Until the Lord sent the prophet Ahijah to Jeroboam and told him that He would give him ten tribes and he would become King of Israel. So Solomon sought to kill him, and Jeroboam fled to Egypt for a season.
When Solomon passed away, his son Rehoboam became the next King of Israel, and Jeroboam returned from exile in Egypt. Solomon had undertaken vast building projects over his life, and these required lots of resources, so the taxes and labor required were intensive. So Jeroboam and the northern leaders came to ask for him for lower taxes and less strenuous labor requirements.
Solomon's son, Rehoboam, made the young friends he had grown up with his counselors, and when the northern leaders came to ask for lower taxes and less strenuous labor, they advised him to increase their load even more. So Rehoboam ignored the wisdom of the elders and took his young friend's advice.
Jeroboam and the Northern tribes revolted, and Israel became divided as the Lord had told Solomon. Ten tribes left and became known as the Northern Kingdom, often referred to as Israel, with its capital in Samaria united under Jeroboam.
One tribe remained loyal to the line of David, Judah, whose capital city was Jerusalem. The small tribe of Benjamin was sandwiched between the two kingdoms and mostly with Judah, and many Levites who were Priests migrated to Judah and joined Rehoboam as well.
Rehoboam boldly sent out a tax collector named Adoram to collect the revenue as usual, but the northern kingdom stoned him to death. So, Rehoboam fled to Jerusalem and gathered an army of 180,000 men. He prepared to take back the northern kingdom with force and reunite Israel, but the Lord spoke through the prophet Shemaiah and warned them:
(1 Kings 12:24 NKJV) 'Thus says the LORD: "You shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel. Let every man return to his house, for this thing is from Me." ' Therefore they obeyed the word of the LORD, and turned back, according to the word of the LORD.
This thing is from Me. You may think it is bad, but this is My will at this time. So don't fight it. The Lord had given Jeroboam a wonderful promise, just as he had with Solomon:
(1 Kings 11:38 NKJV) Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you.
The Lord wanted to bring Israel back to Him under righteous leadership. All of this had begun because Solomon was pursuing the foreign gods of his wives. The Lord wanted faithful leaders who would listen to Him. Sadly, with Jeroboam, he found the opposite.
The "authorized" temple was still in Jerusalem, and all the people would travel there for the feasts and sacrifices. So Jeroboam became fearful the people would kill him and reunite with Judah because of the Lord, so he came up with a plan. He created two golden calves to replace the Lord:
(1 Kings 12:28–29 NKJV) Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!" And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.
Horrible. The Lord had chosen this leader to replace an unfaithful one, but as soon as he came to power, his heart turned away. The bull was a symbol of strength and fertility in the surrounding cultures of Egypt and Canaan. So perhaps this is why Aaron and Jeroboam both created them when crafting idols. Israel began to worship and pray to these golden cows Jeroboam had made. He ordained priests who were not Levites and even duplicated the feasts that were in Jerusalem but in different months. Jeroboam basically created a new religion for Israel.
(1 Kings 12:31–32 NKJV) He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi. Jeroboam ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the feast that was in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did at Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And at Bethel he installed the priests of the high places which he had made.
Obviously, this new religion didn't go unnoticed by the Lord, so He sent a prophet from Judah, simply called "The Man of God." We know so little about him. He isn't even named in Scripture, but he has an important lesson we need to learn.
(1 Kings 13:1–2 NKJV) And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, "O altar, altar! Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men's bones shall be burned on you.' "
This prophecy was fulfilled three hundred years later in 2 Kings 23:15 when Josiah destroyed it all. The Man of God continued:
(1 Kings 13:3 NKJV) And he gave a sign the same day, saying, "This is the sign which the LORD has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be poured out."
Jeroboam became furious, pointed at the Man of God, and said, "Arrest him!" But his hand shriveled up, and the altar beside him split into, and the ashes poured out just as the prophet had said. This changed Jeroboam's attitude quickly, and now he sought the prophet's favor and asked him to pray for his hand. He didn't bother to ask the gold cows he had made to heal him. He sought the Lord God Almighty. So the prophet prayed for Jeroboam, and his hand was restored.
(1 Kings 13:7–10 NKJV) Then the king said to the man of God, "Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward." But the man of God said to the king, "If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place. For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.' " So he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel.
So here we have an anointed Man of God who hears the Lord clearly, and his words have power. He has clear instructions from the Lord to deliver the message, not even drink the water there, and to return a different way. So he did as instructed, but an old prophet who lived in the city of Bethel heard from his sons what had happened, so he set out to meet him.
(1 Kings 13:13–17 NKJV) Then he said to his sons, "Saddle the donkey for me." So they saddled the donkey for him; and he rode on it, and went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak. Then he said to him, "Are you the man of God who came from Judah?" And he said, "I am." Then he said to him, "Come home with me and eat bread." And he said, "I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. For I have been told by the word of the LORD, 'You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.' "
This Man of God was on a mission with clear instructions on what he should focus on. There was no confusion here about his work. He had delivered the message. Now, he should return home and not be resting under an oak, but the old prophet continued:
(1 Kings 13:18–19 NASB) He said to him, "I also am a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.' " But he lied to him. So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house and drank water.
For whatever reason, the old prophet lied to him, and while they were sitting at his table, a new word of the Lord came to him for the young prophet:
(1 Kings 13:21–22 NASB) and he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, "Thus says the LORD, 'Because you have disobeyed the command of the LORD, and have not observed the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you, but have returned and eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which He said to you, "Eat no bread and drink no water"; your body shall not come to the grave of your fathers.' "
They finished eating, and the Man of God left to return home, but he was attacked by a lion on the road and killed. The lions mentioned in the Bible are Asiatic lions, about 9 feet long and weighing about 400 pounds. They are big cats and not something you want to encounter on the road alone.
This miracle-walking Man of God came to an abrupt ending because he allowed an older prophet to manipulate him and change his course. He knew what he was supposed to do! Letting someone else convince him to do what they wanted instead of following the clear instructions of the Lord cost this Man of God his life and destiny.
There have been many times when people have tried to get us to "do something else" they felt was very important. Some would even prophesy over us and tell Sylvia they saw her working in the nursery, but that was not what the Lord was telling us at all. So don't let someone replace your dream with theirs and steal away your destiny. We need to be more like Nehemiah: I am doing a great work and I cannot come down (Nehemiah 6:3).
You can pray this with me if you like:
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you so much for another day. Please give me a clear vision and protect me from deception and from those who would try to use me for their benefit. I want what You want. Please make Your desires become mine. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen!Read more at: www.refreshinghope.org