2:30 p.m. Friday September 23, 2022. 75F/24C.
Potent. Clouds passed over the hollow in the heat of the day. Nothing disturbs the peace here. Oh yes, the buzzing insects are annoying. They do not allow an old person to wander too far from the path. They serve their purpose. The lush green canopy above is finally turning a myriad of tones. A brush stroke of leaves that are half orange and half green adorn the branches. Whenever a wind reaches the cabin, it brings with it floating brown leaves and clattering green acorns. The sweet everlasting plant has burst into bloom somewhere. The fragrance of the bush can be noticed everywhere. The love of God is so obvious in autumn. Potent.
Heaven’s Animals: Lions
Heavenly Father, I ask for your guidance as we read about lions in your word, the Bible. In the name of your word Yeshua, I ask. Amen.
First Kings 13 holds a story that gave me the shivers. In it, a lion killed a prophet of God. I’m not going to sugar coat it. He was killed and he was honored and buried properly, but he was killed. I’ve spent three days asking, “Why?”
After Solomon’s death, Jeroboam led the northern kingdom away, and the people divided the nation. King Jeroboam took an active part in worship. It was a part that belonged to priests. That was in a temple to God in Bethel. However, the Bethel temple was manned by priests that the king chose, not ones that God chose. At first, the temple operated in a similar manner as the Jerusalem temple. Except they brought idols into God’s temple in Bethel, and the priests were not Levites.
A prophet that lived in Judah, the southern kingdom, traveled to Bethel to give to the northern king a word from God. He first gave his voice to God’s Spirit and went into the temple in Bethel. Through him the Spirit spoke against the altar where Jeroboam had just offered incense.
And he cried against the altar in the word of the Lord, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.
King Jeroboam, who had just acted as priest and offered incense there, heard about the prophecy. No prophet was going to kill his priests or him, so he ordered the death of the prophet. It was a death sentence that very likely included holding out a scepter as he spoke. When he did so, the hand he used to offer incense and to hold out the scepter, became stuck in that position, shriveled, and could not be pulled back to himself.
In the temple, the alter split in two and ashes, fat, meat, and blood spilled out everywhere.
King Jeroboam, found the prophet and asked the prophet to call out to God on his behalf. The prophet did so. The king’s arm was healed.
So far, so good. Why did the prophet die?
And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward.
And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:
For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.
No, sir, that prophet would not eat with the king. He would not accept gifts from the king. In fact, he was charged by God to not eat, or drink, or travel a road twice, until he got back home. The Judaean prophet left there to walk home.
But then a prophet of Bethel was told every word of the exchange and rode out on a donkey to catch up with the man of God. He told the man of God that he was a prophet as well. He prepared dinner for him.
The old prophet refused the invitation, but the man of Bethel had an answer.
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.
No problem! The Bethel prophet already had thought over his deceitful invitation to the Judaean prophet. He would just say that an angel told him that it would be okay.
Doesn’t our enemy always have the best excuses to disobey God? The old prophet went back and ate with the Bethel prophet. During dinner, the Spirit of God took over the voice of the Bethel prophet and he told of the Judaean prophet’s disobedience. He said the old prophet would not be buried with his fathers because of the disobedience. They finished dinner. He accepted the gift of a donkey to ride back to Judah. On his way down the same road a second time, a lion killed him.
And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase.
There, as if guarding the prophet’s body, the lion and the donkey stood waiting for someone to find him. When the Bethel prophet heard that such an oddity among animals had been seen, he knew immediately that the old prophet was dead. He knew whose body that was. He rode out. When he found the old prophet’s body, the lion stood back. He put the old man’s body back up on the donkey and led it back to Bethel. There he buried the old prophet in his own grave.
The Bethel prophet turned his life around. He no longer believed that a prophet was a man who spoke deceit skillfully. He knew there was a God. He knew that he deceived a real man of God. He knew and he watched as king Jeroboam became more evil and the prophecy against the king came to pass. He mourned for the man of God and told the account in Bethel.
I took several personal lessons from the story, but I’m writing about lions. The lion in this story may have been earth’s lion doing God’s will. But then again, it MIGHT have been heaven’s lion doing God’s will. No man killed or captured it. It is hard to say.
Either way, God’s will was done.
Life in the hollow, Friday
You know, I read that chapter several times before finally catching the point that the Bethel prophet deceived the Judaean prophet knowingly. I was so shocked that God let his prophet be killed, that I missed all other points. Why didn’t God rescue the man from his own folly?
Death is not the end of our lives. Our spirits live on. And, only God knows if the old prophet felt much of any pain at having died in a lion’s jaws.
You know, sometimes I just look up to God and say, “Abba Father, I don’t want to fail by my own folly, by my own lack of judgment. Please let me always follow you. In the name of Yeshua, I ask and I plead. Amen.”
Dear reader, do you ever ask God that sort of thing? Am I alone in this concern?
Either way, God’s purpose, God’s destiny, God’s plans, will be done.