If God has given you a task, asking you to speak His word, instructing you with the Do’s and Don’ts details, the best response is to obey, completely. I mean, God does know best, and has his reasons. Why then do we often balk at what we know to do, or believe in what someone else thinks or says we should do?

I read a story in 1 Kings 13. The entire chapter is about a ‘man of God’, and what the Lord had instructed him to do. Now if you’re known as a ‘Man of God’, that means you are walking with the Lord and doing His work. That carries a certain amount of responsibility with it. If God entrusts someone with carrying out a mission, it is expected that a ‘man of God’ would do just that.

For some reason, this story has deeply impacted me. I’ve spent 2 mornings rereading it and studying the text. Here it is:

“And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’ ” And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign that the Lord has spoken: ‘Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.’ ”
And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him.” And his hand, which he stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the word of the Lord.
And the king said to the man of God, “Entreat now the favor of the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” And the man of God entreated the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored to him and became as it was before. And the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” And the man of God said to the king, “If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, for so was it commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.’ ” So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel. 

“Now an old prophet lived in Bethel. And his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. They also told to their father the words that he had spoken to the king. And their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him the way that the man of God who came from Judah had gone. And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him and he mounted it.
And he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak. And 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 may not return with you, or go in with you, neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, for it was said to me by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.’ ” And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into 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. 

“And as they sat at the table, the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back. And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord and have not kept the command that the Lord your God commanded you, but have come back and have 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 tomb of your fathers.’ ”
And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. And as he went away, a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body. And behold, men passed by and saw the body thrown in the road and the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the city where the old prophet lived. 

“And when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of the Lord; therefore the Lord has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word that the Lord spoke to him.” And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And they saddled it.
And he went and found his body thrown in the road, and the donkey and the lion standing beside the body. The lion had not eaten the body or torn the donkey. And the prophet took up the body of the man of God and laid it on the donkey and brought it back to the city to mourn and to bury him. And he laid the body in his own grave. And they mourned over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!” And after he had buried him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. For the saying that he called out by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel and against all the houses of the high places that are in the cities of Samaria shall surely come to pass.”

As I have prayed and wept over this passage, I have gleaned some wisdom…


He is not introduced as another prophet, but as a man of God.

He was instructed by God himself to go to Bethel and speak against the unGodly altar made by the king, and pronounce a prophecy of a future king.

He was instructed to not eat or drink anything in that area, and to leave going another route (sound familiar with the Wise Men?).

God heard his prayer to restore and heal the evil king’s hand. (Yes, the Lord sometimes will heal those who don’t follow Him if a person of God believes it and prays earnestly for them)

He obeyed the Lord: he spoke God’s word, and did not eat or drink anything so far in that area during his journey, and he left going a different route.

But, he must have gotten tired and weak from no food or water, so he rested under a tree, stopping before he finished the task put before him. He was at this point vulnerable to suggestion and the offer of food, drink, and fellowship with a presumably like-minded prophet.

He listened to the old prophet’s voice, trusting that this guy had heard from an angel with a new message from God. His misplaced trust led to naively disobeying God’s direct command and instruction.

He disobeyed both of God’s commands – he ate bread and drank water, but also went into the old prophet’s house (in that place/area)

His subsequent death soon after he left the prophet’s house and was returning home was sudden and violent. Therefore the man of God was not buried with his fathers, as was the custom of families.

My take: I feel terrible for this man of God. He had done everything that God had asked of him – leaving home and traveling to another city, boldly speaking to the evil king, he even prayed an intercessory prayer for the king’s hand to be restored, and on his way home, took a needed personal break to regain his strength. But, as a result of his stopping, he was too vulnerable, and trusted in the voice and words of another. He did not entreat the Lord about this, and as a result, was killed. This seems harsh, but as the man of God had direct communication with God, why would he then listen to someone else? He should have known to pray again and seek the Lord if He had changed His plan and command. To know that something seemingly so simple as listening to the word of a fellow believer, who you thought was serving and speaking the truth, would end in such tragedy, reminds me to always seek God first. Oh, and don’t get so easily led astray from God’s word. Another’s understanding or interpretation of God’s word may not be the truth of God’s word at all.


With the title ‘old prophet’, this implies he is old in age, bit might also mean he was a former prophet whom God no longer uses.

He lived in the town of Bethel, where this altar was erected. He did not speak against it. This leads me to believe that God no longer spoke through him.

He LIED to the man of God! Why in the world would he do this? What could his purpose have been? His sons had told him what the man of God had said, about not eating or drinking in that place. Maybe this guy wanted to be included in the works of God again, or he thought he would be blessed for sharing food and drink and opening up his home to the man. Either way, his lying mystifies me.

Oddly, the Lord DID use this old prophet one last time to pronounce judgment on the man of God. WOW. The irony! He surely felt guilty and bad about his falsely speaking to the man, because it was because of his lies that the man of God will now die!

He never confessed his guilt. When he heard about the man of God’s death and body on the road, he implied that the man had simply disobeyed the word of the Lord, and that resulted in his demise. How callous, how hardened was his heart that he refused to speak of any involvement or part in the role he played.

My take: I despise this man! He intentionally lied to the man, even though he knew what could possibly happen if the man listened! Maybe he wanted to be in the presence of someone else who was carrying out the will and works of the Lord, because he no longer was. His age, which should have shown some wisdom, was lacking. His focus was on himself, and not the things of God. This makes me cautious about what some ‘christian leaders’ might say. I will do my own studying and listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice, rather than an christian icon who God has chosen not to use anymore.


God used this animal to carry out His judgment. As he had used the man, now He used a creature, to completely do His will.

It did not eat the man, nor harm the donkey. It simply did as it was commanded. No more, no less.

Overall thoughts:

Do not listen to the voices of those whom God is no longer with, who will distract you, lie and twist the truth for your fellowship and attention.

Do not stop…keep going, in total obedience, until you have completed His instruction and mission for you. THEN you can rest, be refreshed.

Obey God’s commands. This is what makes us ‘men and women of God’!

A PRAYER: Lord God, I do not want to EVER disobey you again. If you say, “Write”, I will write. If you say, “Speak”, I will speak. If you say, “Go another way”, I will change direction and go another way. If you say, “Do not eat or drink (get comfortable and rest) in this place”, then I won’t. Please help me to listen, to obey, and to act according to Your Word. Thank you for choosing to use even me. AMEN.

Food for thought: God IS rich in mercy, but desires and expects obedience to his direct, specific instructions to each of us. If you screw up, immediately repent, and continue on your mission, until He calls you home.

Fun facts: The truth about lying is: lies can be believable, lies are not little, your conscience becomes convicted, lies are harmful to you, and too many told are like a web – you will get caught in them.

Photo by: Kari Wiseman – A Walk through the Valley