The King, a Man of God, and a Liar

Some times we see things that are hard to explain; they so catch our attention that we can’t wait to tell someone else about it. One day some travelers came across a corpse alongside the road. Next to the corpse (as though watching over it was a donkey; possibly the man had been riding it); next to the donkey and alongside the corpse was a lion. The lion had obviously killed the man, but had not eaten him, nor did he seem interested in the harming the donkey. What could this mean? 

  • 1 Kings 13:23-25 – 23 When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him.  24 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.  25 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.  (NIV)
  • Read the events of I Kings 13; this is a lengthy reading but we want to get the whole story.
  • There are 3 major characters in this story. The King, the man of God, and the liar. They are very different people, but they share in one thing: They each exhibit a lack of respect for God’s message. In the end they are all sinners.


I.  Jeroboam and His Idolatry:  Do you remember Jeroboam? It is often said of him that he made Israel to sin. He established a renegade priesthood and himself offered sacrifices at Bethel. Jeroboam is infamous for his lack of respect for God’s law. His disobedience was so great that God decreed to exterminate his house from the face of the earth (13:34-35)


II.  A Man of God and His Message: In response to this evil God sends His own man , a nameless man of God appears. He travels for his home in Judah to deliver a message to Jeroboam.  He makes a remarkable prediction about Josiah that wasn’t to be fulfilled for 360 years. 1 Kings 13:2-3  2 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.'” 3 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.”

A.  This man is very courageous and dedicated. Jeroboam stretches out his hand to do harm to the young prophet and God sends an immediate sign of the truth of his message –  Jeroboam’s withered arm. Jeroboam pleads for the young prophet to pray for the restoration of his hand, and God restores it. Jeroboam must have realized a need to get this young man on his good side, so he invites him back to the palace. 

B. In conjunction with the prophetic message to Jeroboam, God had also given this young prophet explicit instructions (designed to add force to his stand against the practices of Jeroboam.) 1 Kings 13:7-10 7 Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” 8 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. 9 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.'” 10 So he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel.

C. God had told him to make the long journey and not to rest or eat in that place. Why? Probably to demonstrate God’s abhorrence of the defilement of the Israelites. (We ought to feel that kind of abhorrence as well, rather than send a mixed signal)  He was faithful to these instructions and we would honor his name if we knew it; but for some reason God withholds it. Perhaps because the story is not yet all told.


III. An Old Prophet and His Lie: There is in Israel an older prophet who hears of these events from his sons. Who is this man? Was he a prophet who had compromised his faith in God and was silent when he should have spoken out? Was he a coward or had he been bought off by Jeroboam.

A. He is intrigued by the young prophet’s courage and prophecy and goes to request the young prophet to eat with him. Maybe he wanted to help. Maybe he was just curious about what else God had revealed.  He is a strange mixture of apathy and enthusiasm, desire for good and cowardice.

B. He is so adamant that this young prophet come to his home that he lied. He said an angel had spoken to him. 1 Kings 13:18 18 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. .  Again we marvel and wonder at his motivation Why did he lie? Maybe he didn’t see it as such a big deal. He allowed his seemingly good purpose and intention to justify disrespect for God’s word. Didn’t see any consequences.

C. The outcome? As they eat a real message is delivered to the old prophet. 1 Kings 13:21-22  21 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,  22 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.'”   Can you imagine his fear – He knew more than anyone that God keeps His promises.

D.  Soon travelers returned with the story of a dead man, a donkey and a lion. Many wondered about this strange event, but one man immediately put it together. The sad old prophet recovered his body, buried it in his own tomb and lamented the young man’s death with the words Alas my brother.

1.  He requested that he be buried with him. What a sad grave. The liar and his victim. What if God buried us with the victims of our sin? We might feel the lion ate the wrong man but God’s ways are not ours. There are lessons to be learned here.


IV.  Lessons from the King, the Man of God, and the Liar

A. Temptation is Persistent. The young prophet resisted personal threat, flattery by the king, the king’s bribe and first invitation by the old prophet. In spite of all that resistance, Satan still persisted, and the prophet was finally captured.

1.   Luke 4:1313 And when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him for a season. (ASV) Some translation say “until an opportune time” Satan had not given up. He would be back.   1 Cor 10:12 – 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

2.  We may resist the stronger temptation and yield to the weaker.  The young prophet may have thought himself successful as he sat by the roadside on first trip home but journey was not yet over. He was still vulnerable.  

  • A man may go to war and evade the fatal weapons intended to kill and then come home and slip in his tub and die.
  • A man may flee youthful lust and be brought down by the worldliness of middle age.
  • He may resist the greed of middle age and succumb to the discouragement of old age.
  • He may resist false doctrine and yet be lost to pride and self righteousness.
  • David refused to take vengeance on King Saul, but fell to the temptation to revenge himself on that fool of a man, Nabob.  Phil 3:13-14Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  We must never reach the point of being satisfied of being secure. We can never retire in the service of the Lord.

B.  It is possible to believe a lie and be lost. In fact, believing a lie and disrespecting God’s truth lies at the root of all condemnation. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 – and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. {11} And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, {12} that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. That is why we must search the scriptures. It does matter what we believe.

1. Appearances and intentions are deceptive: The old prophet seemed hospitable but he was the enemy in disguise. Just because someone is your friend does mean they are right. They may be leading you in the wrong direction.

2. We are responsible for what we believe. The old prophet lied but the young prophet knew what God had said.  Paul would have said If we or an angel preach to any other Gospel than that which we have preached let him be accursed. Gal 1:8. Does this passage apply here? Proverbs 14:12 – 12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

3.  It is a temptation to substitute what we want to believe for what has actually been revealed. The old man’s lie was he product of his own desires. The Biblical Illustrator says…   “There is a modification of the old prophet’s sin, into which we may sometimes fall, without at all going to its full extent. We are apt to be enamoured of our own particular views of what we are pleased to think is truth; to cherish these, and to propagate these, without sufficient warranty for their sound and solid foundation in what is right.”

C.  The end is what counts. We can start well and yet fail. Blessed are those who persevere to the end.  Judas sat at the feet of Jesus and Demas traveled alongside the apostle, but where did they end up? Paul said of the Galatians.. You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? (Gal. 5:7)  2 Peter 2:20-22 – 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”


Conclusion (take out your songbooks)  Well might we say with the old prophet ” Alas my brother.”  In this matter we are all brothers. We are brothers in our fight against sin and in our vulnerability to be deceived. God has told us the truth and called us to obey His will. Don’t be deceived.


(From a sermon by Thaxter Dickey)

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