Shabbat shalom all,
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
This proverbs is repeated in Mishlĕ/Proverbs 16:25, and is a very sobering reality of much of our life’s journey. How many times have you clearly thought that what you were doing, or had done, was good and right only to discover later on that the result of actions that you had thought to be good and beneficial, were not and you found that the resulting circumstances were crippling, and killed your joy so to speak? As we sojourn in faith we are to constantly be on our guard against sidestepping from the truth, even when it seems or feels so right!
Tonight I would like us to look at some history and some events that are able to teach us to be sober and vigilant along the way, as we consider the journey of a man of Elohim who had begun his journey with success, yet for a moment of weakness had his life taken in judgement, for failure to walk in total obedience. In a message called, ‘A KING, 2 PROPHETS, A LION AND A DONKEY!’, let us look at what transpired from the events recorded in Melaḵim Aleph/1 Kings 13 (Read).
Here we see in this very eventful chapter an account of a ‘man of Elohim’ who went from Yehuḏah to go and speak against the abominable practices and worship that Yaroḇ’am had set up. He did so with boldness and while he had angered the wicked king, he stood his ground and prophesied as commanded. What started out as a very prosperous and productive journey, soon turned out to be a deadly one – all because he did not stay on the path! As we run through the events of this chapter and outline the setting of the times, we are able to learn very valuable lessons for today; lessons on making sure that we are a hearing, guarding and doing people of Elohim at all times!
So what is the setting here? Well, after the death of Shelomoh, Reḥaḇ’am, Shelomoh’s son began to reign and was very wicked. While Shelomoh was still alive, we are told that Yaroḇ’am was a brave man who Shelomoh had made officer over the compulsory labour of the house of Yosĕph. During this time when Yaroḇ’am went out of Yerushalayim, the prophet Aḥiyah met him on the way, wearing a new garment, and when the two of them were alone the prophet tore his new garment into 12 pieces and told Yaroḇ’am to take 10 of the pieces, for יהוה was tearing the reign out of Shelomoh’s hand and would give Yaroḇ’am 10 tribes, and leave Yehuḏah for Shelomoh, for the sake of Dawiḏ and Yerushalayim. Yehuḏah would be given to Shelomoh’s son, Reḥaḇ’am, while the 10 tribes of Yisra’ĕl would be given to Yaroḇ’am. Shelomoh tried to kill Yaroḇ’am, so he fled to Mitsrayim and after Shelomoh’s death all of Yisra’ĕl had called for him to come back; and he and all the assembly tried to speak to Reḥaḇ’am, in order to get him to lighten the hard service that Shelomoh had imposed on them. He refused to listen to them and ignored the counsel of the elders, but listened to his young friends who told him to impose harsher service on them. This is when the split then happened as Yisra’ĕl revolted against Reḥaḇ’am and set Yaroḇ’am up as sovereign over them.
This was the beginning of Yaroḇ’am’s downfall; and so in an attempt to keep the 10 northern tribes under his authority, and ensure that none would go back to Yerushalayim, he set up 2 major worship sites in Dan and Bĕyth Ĕl – Dan was on the northern border and Bĕyth Ĕl on the southern border of the House of Yisra’ĕl which bordered on the territory of Yehuḏah! At these two sites he set up 2 golden calves and commanded that these be worshipped – this was a repeat of Aharon’s sin in the Wilderness, only know it was double trouble! He not only set up false worship sites and abominable images, he also made priests of anyone who wanted to be one and did not take priests from the tribe of Lĕwi. After setting up these two sites he performed a festival on the 15th of the 8th month at Bĕyth Ĕl, where he slaughtered to the golden calves that he had made and set up the false priesthood. We are told in chapter 12 that he performed a festival like the festival in Yehuḏah – in other words he was having his own form of ‘Sukkot’ – a pseudo sukkot is you will – looks like the real but is not; and this is how he set up and established his false worship system and reign of the House of Yisra’ĕl, as he had pretty much invented his own feast time and attributed it to being like the feast of Yehuḏah – in other words he made up new feasts and made it appear as if it was unto יהוה – exactly what Aharon had done when he built the golden calf in the Wilderness and said ‘Tomorrow is a festival to יהוה’ – this was abominable in the eyes of יהוה then, and so too was this – yet we notice that Yaroḇ’am never said it was a festival to יהוה, he made a slaughtering to the calves he had made! He then took it a step further and assumed the position or role of high priest as he himself offered on the slaughter place and burnt incense.
And so here we come to this Chapter 13 where יהוה sends a man of Elohim from Yehuḏah to Bĕyth Ĕl, who for the sake of these historical events I will refer to as either the man of Elohim or young prophet, as we are told that the other prophet in the story is old, and so I will refer to him as the ‘old prophet’. This man of Elohim comes at the Word of יהוה and clearly interrupts proceedings!!! While Yaroḇ’am is standing by the slaughter place to burn incense this young prophet cried out against this abominable slaughter-place. He prophesies that this slaughter place will be used to burn the false priests who were burning incense on it, and men’s bones would be burnt on it, and he said that Yoshiyahu, who later would be born to the house of Dawiḏ, would do this – in other words, a future king would clean up the mess of false worship.
Let me tie up historical events and fulfilment of these words for you, as we read in:
Melaḵim Bet/2 Kings 23:17-15-20 “And also the altar that was at Bĕyth Ěl, and the high place which Yaroḇ’am son of Neḇat made, by which he made Yisra’ĕl sin, both that altar and the high place he broke down. And he burned the high place and ground it to dust, and burned the Ashĕrah. 16 Then Yoshiyahu turned, and saw the tombs that were there on the mountain. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the word of יהוה which the man of Elohim proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. 17 And he said, “What tombstone is this that I see?” And the men of the city said to him, “It is the tomb of the man of Elohim who came from Yehuḏah and proclaimed these matters which you have done against the altar of Bĕyth Ěl.” 18 And he said, “Let him alone, let no one move his bones.” So they left his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came from Shomeron. 19 And Yoshiyahu also took away all the houses of the high places that were in the cities of Shomeron, which the sovereigns of Yisra’ĕl had made to provoke. And he did to them according to all the deeds he did in Bĕyth Ěl. 20 And he slaughtered all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned men’s bones on them, and went back to Yerushalayim.”
What we can see from this is that no Word of יהוה returns empty:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 55:11 “so is My Word that goes forth from My mouth – it does not return to Me empty, but shall do what I please, and shall certainly accomplish what I sent it for.”
In the fulfillment of these words we also see how both prophets were buried together, as requested by the old prophet in verse 31 in Melaḵim Aleph/1 Kings 13.
This prophetic word also came with the promise of a sign – a sign that happened that very day – the slaughter place was split apart and its ashes were poured out. When the man of Elohim first spoke these words and declared what the sign would be, Yaroḇ’am was angered and stretched his hand out against the young prophet, and his hand dried up. Then when the sign came true he asked the prophet to appease the face of יהוה, which the man of Elohim did and Yaroḇ’am’s hand was restored. Here there was a clear opportunity for repentance, which we are able to see by the events that end this chapter, did not happen! Yaroḇ’am did not seek repentance, he had another agenda, as he invited this young prophet into eat and drink with him. The man of Elohim refused and stuck to the command of יהוה. In a manner of speaking we can see from these events how the man of Elohim was sent with a stern word of prophetic warning for the corruption in their worship and was told not to partake at the table of the wicked! With Bĕyth Ĕl being the southern border to the Northern tribes, we have a picture here of this man of Elohim being told to go to the ‘front door’ so to speak, and not to fully enter the house. Having a meal and sitting down to have bread and water is symbolic of entering the house and partaking in total agreement with the practices of that house, and with this falsified feast that Yaroḇ’am had instituted we are able to recognise that this young prophet, at this stage understood that he cannot partake of two different tables!
Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 10:21 “You are not able to drink the cup of the Master and the cup of demons, you are not able to partake of the table of the Master and of the table of demons.”
So far so good, this man of Elohim was being strong and courageous and he refused to fall for the invitation of the wicked and corrupt king, and through proper submission to the truth he was able to resist the temptation of the wicked and get away:
Ya’aqoḇ/James 4:7 “So then subject yourselves to Elohim. Resist the devil and he shall flee from you.”
In verse 10 we are told that he went another way and did not return the same way he came. This is very similar language used in terms of the wise men who came to Messiah and gave gifts:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 2:12 “And having been warned in a dream that they should not return to Herodes, they departed for their own country by another way.”
We can learn a great lesson from this in how we are able to endure under any trial we may face, and will always have a way of escape:
Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 10:13 “No trial has overtaken you except such as is common to man, and Elohim is trustworthy, who shall not allow you to be tried beyond what you are able, but with the trial shall also make the way of escape, enabling you to bear it.”
After having victory and a way of escape, this young prophet was on his way home – mission accomplished and now just the journey home – and here is where things got messy! We need to understand that we have an enemy who will not stop trying to trip us up and he is like a roaring lion always looking to devour us:
Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober, watch, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Staying sober, alert and watchful is critical, as we cannot allow past victories to secure our victory over today or tomorrows trials! Sometimes the greatest victory can have a drunken effect on us where we drop our guard in boastful confidence, only to find out we slipped up!
Falling by the wayside is a very real and present danger for us all:
Luqas/Luke 8:12 “And those by the wayside are the ones who hear, then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, lest having believed, they should be saved.”
The wayside is filled with the carcasses of the has-beens and wanna-be believers who do not follow through to completion. It is not how you start that determines your success but how you finish. This young prophet started well, and by all accounts completed his task, yet the trials of life are never completed as total obedience is constantly expected!
This young prophet, who had great potential amidst a very wicked generation, threw it all away in one slip away from the True Way of Life – and when he should not have turned to the left or to the right, he turned – and this led to death!!
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 5:32 “And you shall guard to do as יהוה your Elohim has commanded you – do not turn aside, to the right or to the left.”
He turned back, and the Hebrew root word for ‘turn back’ is שׁוּב shuḇ – Strong’s H7725 which means, ‘to turn back, return, repent, restore’, and is a word that is often used to describe a turning back to יהוה, yet is also used in describing apostasy as many turn back to wicked paths of destruction as the stray from the path of Truth, and this is what this young prophet had done.
The old prophet had lied to the young prophet! What we are to bear in mind here is that this old prophet was living in Bĕyth Ĕl, and so he would have been as corrupt as the rest of the Northern House of Yisra’ĕl and the fact that he had lied proves this! He was not at the feast of Yaroḇ’am (perhaps because he was old), yet his sons were, and when they came back and told him what had happened, he quickly rose up and had new energy and desire to have this man of Elohim come to his house as he certainly may have yearned for fellowship with a true man of Elohim – something that was certainly rare in Yisra’ĕl. This old prophet may have thought that it would be ok for the young man of Elohim to come and eat with him, and even when the man of Elohim told him that he could not, the old prophet resorted to scheming and lies to get the man of Elohim to turn aside. His desire to turn this man aside from the truth revealed a lack of integrity, as he falsely said that he had also received a ‘word from Elohim’. This is a clear lesson for us to be warned against the false words of many, and in Yeḥezqěl we see the clear rebuke of Elohim against false prophets:
Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 13:7 “Have you not seen a false vision, and have you not spoken a divination of lies? You say, ‘יהוה declares,’ when I have not spoken.”
There are many today who say that they have ‘a word from Elohim’ while they do not, and we must be careful not be caught by these subtle words, and test the words against the plumb line of the Truth. Listen up – false prophets lie, as they lack integrity in handling the Word of Truth, and listening to those who lie may cause us to sell our birthright and squander our inheritance for one last meal, so to speak!
This was a test that this young prophet failed in!
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 13:1-4 “When there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he shall give you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder shall come true, of which he has spoken to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other mighty ones – which you have not known – and serve them,’ 3 do not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for יהוה your Elohim is trying you to know whether you love יהוה your Elohim with all your heart and with all your being. 4 “Walk after יהוה your Elohim and fear Him, and guard His commands and obey His voice, and serve Him and cling to Him.”
This young man of Elohim had fallen for a lie, as he must have assumed that יהוה had possibly changed His mind and was providing him a meal on the way, after all he was possibly very hungry, thirsty and tired – as he was found sitting under a terebinth tree taking a rest on his way home.
This account of a severe detour can teach us many vital lessons – and one of those is that we be careful who we listen to, as there are many so called ‘Torah teachers’ out there today that have very nice sounding teachings that tend to ‘invite us in for a meal’ do to speak, and we need to learn to exercise clear discernment, so that we are able to rightly divide the set-apart from the profane and the clean from the unclean. While there may be many ‘sincere’ teachers and leaders out there, some may in fact be sincerely wrong and if we are not careful we may find ourselves being fed with deathly plates of corrupted food and wormwood, as many have been influenced greatly by Rabbinic sources and Kabbalistic mysticism that can have a very severe poisoning effect on our souls. The warning is clear – discernment is critical, and ardent or zealous sincerity cannot be a substitute for spiritual discernment! Messiah warns us:
Mattithyahu/Matthew 7:15 “But beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are savage wolves.”
I have great concern over many who have come out of the church system and begun to embrace the Torah walk or Hebrew Roots teachings, think that they have escaped all the wolves, yet the truth is that the most dangerous wolves lie ahead, just as this young prophet had found out – yet it was too late!
The young man of Elohim should have never entertained the deceptive words of this old prophet, yet he was obviously caught up in the influence this old prophet had and by his smooth words that sounded sincere and correct, the young prophet failed to exercise true discernment, as he assumed that this prophet was a true one!
He had not known this old prophet and had never seen his life, yet he followed his deceptive words; and we too must be on guard against who we are listening to. Those that you may be listening to or those that you think may be influencing you for the good, how well do you know them? Have you witnessed their personal lives and walked with them personally or are you simply going on what others say and what sincere looking truths they present? I believe that most Torah walkers today have been influenced in some way or another by people or teachers that they have not even known nor met, and while I am not saying that all are wrong, what I am saying is that we must beware the savage wolves who come in sheep’s clothing!
Another lesson we can take from these events here is that we must not think that human confidence will deter judgment for ignorant error! The old prophet was confident that there would be nothing wrong with this man coming in for a meal, while the young prophet was confident in thinking that it was ok to follow.
Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 10:11-12 “And all these came upon them as examples, and they were written as a warning to us, on whom the ends of the ages have come, 12 so that he who thinks he stands, let him take heed lest he fall.”
Kěpha Bět/2 Peter 3:17 “You, then, beloved ones, being forewarned, watch, lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the delusion of the lawless”
How many times have you felt that something was ok to do, and were so confident of your actions, only to find out later that you were wrong and messed up by not seeing the warnings signs, because you neglected to exercise proper discernment? One’s self confidence and self-assurance cannot let you escape punishment or consequences for disobedience! We have many examples of this fact in Scripture, yet two worth mentioning are:
1 – Uzzah – he was confident that he was doing the right thing when he stretched out his hand to stop the Ark of the Covenant from falling off of the wagon that they had built for it, and as a result of ‘touching the Ark’ he was struck down dead! While this seems a harsh judgment, we recognize that his confidence in seemingly doing what was right did not help him. The Ark should never have been on a wagon in the first place, as it should have been on the shoulders of the Lěwites!!! So confidence in doing what looks to be the right thing, while walking in a wrong path will not save you from severe punishment that is coming on the lawless. 2 wrongs do not make a right!
Confidently doing what he believed to be a good thing got him killed! (Shemuʼěl Aleph/2 Samuel 6:6)
2 – Ḥananyah and Shappirah – These two were very confident in their outward appearance of giving, while their inward intentions were examined and judged, and they were struck down dead! They were arrogantly confident and they fell! (Ma’asei/Acts 5). So many today are very confident in their lack of giving as they should, and stand in danger of being exposed for being false and deceitful!
In speaking of partaking in the Pěsaḥ meal, Sha’ul teaches us that each one should examine themselves, so as to not eat or drink in an unworthy manner – and this can apply to our everyday lives as we are to not find ourselves turning aside to the table of lies and falsehood:
Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 11:30 “Because of this many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.”
Over confidence or lack of discernment can cause many to become drowsy and be led astray, when we are to be awake and watchful, sober and alert at all times. We are to remain steadfast and faithful to the Word of Elohim, no matter what circumstances or people may come across our path of righteousness, that we are to walk each and every day! Here in this account 2 profits fell by the wayside, as the old prophet had certainly shown evidence of the influence of the deception of lies as he lied himself – and by implication of his actions rendered himself a son of the devil:
Yoḥanan/John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you wish to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
What is sad to see is that after the death of the young man of Elohim, the old prophet laments over him and in verse 30 calls him ‘brother’. Once this young prophet had disobeyed and was among the dead, they were indeed now brothers – and this is a very sobering wake up call for us all – one act of disobedience can cost you your life – for you do not know when your life shall be taken from you!
In verse 31, as mentioned earlier, we see that the fulfilment of this request to be buried with the man of Elohim, was granted.
Going back in this story, while they were eating, the true word of Elohim came to the old prophet and judgement was decreed over the young prophets life… and as he went a lion met him and killed him. The lion and donkey stood by the body and the lion had not mauled or eaten the body. The lion was sent for judgement, not for a meal! This in many ways has an interesting picture for us as we may find it hard to imagine a lion and donkey standing next to each other watching over a dead body. This man of Elohim was from Yehuḏah and we know that Messiah is prophesised as being the Lion of the tribe of Yehuḏah – well this lion had exercised true judgement. The donkey and the lion can collectively represent the 2 comings of Messiah and the fulfilment therefore in judgement being passed on the disobedient. The first time Messiah came, he entered Yerushalayim riding on a donkey and when he comes again, He is coming as a Lion – to bring fierce judgement to those who have turned aside from the Way!
Partial obedience is not obedience – and this we can learn from the fate of these 2 prophets. At the end of this chapter we see that Yaroḇ’am clearly did not repent of his corrupt worship practices, but became worse as he ordained whoever wished to be ordained as a priest, and this sin of corruption got Yisra’ĕl cut off and scattered and destroyed.
We, today, are coming out of the effects of this deep rooted corruption and have been called out of darkness into the Marvellous Light of Messiah, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And as we recognise that this path, that leads to life, is indeed narrow and hard pressed, let us be encouraged to walk in it and not turn to the left or to the right – but walk steadfast in complete set-apartness unto our Elohim. He has redeemed us from corruption, so that we can walk in Truth and keep His True Appointed Times, never to turn aside to falsehood and lies, but exercise great discernment as we walk in the Truth. Let us therefore be careful to not walk in the ‘many ways that seem right’ to us, but walk in the Way that is right – that is to walk in His Torah of Truth, and be careful not be overconfident in yesterday’s victories as we face today’s battles, aměn!
I close with the words of Kěpha:
Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 5:6-11 “Humble yourselves, then, under the mighty hand of Elohim, so that He exalts you in due time, 7 casting all your worry upon Him, for He is concerned about you. 8 Be sober, watch, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in the belief, knowing that the same hardships are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 And the Elohim of all favour, who called you to His everlasting esteem by Messiah יהושע, after you have suffered a while, Himself perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the esteem and the might forever and ever. Aměn.”
יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show favour to you; יהוה lift up His face upon you and give you shalom!