The Lying and Disobedient Prophets
September 24th, 1961 @ 7:30 PM
1 Kings 12:25-33
THE LYING AND DISOBEDIENT PROPHETS
DR. W. A. CRISWELL
1 Kings 12:25-33
9-24-61 7:30 p.m.
Now, in our Bibles, 1 Kings chapter 12, verse 25, reading to the end of the chapter: 1 Kings chapter 12, verse 25, and reading to the end of the chapter. We all have it? We are going to read about Jeroboam, Jeroboam, 1 Kings chapter 12, verse 25, to the end. Let us everybody share his Bible with any neighbor that does not have it and we all read together. You ready? First Kings chapter 12, verse 25, together:
Then Jeroboam built Shechem in Mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel.
And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:
If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.
[1 Kings 12:25-33]
That is the middle passage of the chapters 11, 12, and 13 that comprise the message tonight on the lying prophet. When Solomon turned in the love of his heart to strange women and to idolatry [1 Kings 11:1-8], he forfeited the favor of heaven, he forfeited his own kingdom both for himself and for his posterity [1 Kings 11:9-11], and he left behind a worthless son, who divided and dismembered the kingdom and who disgraced his name [1 Kings 14:21-24], and he left behind a bitter enemy [1 Kings 11:26-40], and he left behind a prophet who prophesied the division of his kingdom [1 Kings 11:29].
This man Rehoboam, who was the son of Solomon [Revelation 11:43], had grown up in the court, was empty-headed, vain, ostentatious, devoid of understanding, and he counseled with the young men who had grown up with him in the court who themselves were as empty-headed and ostentatious and vain as their compeer, Rehoboam [1 Kings 12:8].
All of us like counsel that pleases ourselves. So when Rehoboam asked them, “What shall I do?” they said, “You tell the people that your little finger will be thicker than your father’s loins, and if Solomon whips them with scourge, you will drive them with scorpions” [1 Kings 11:9-14]. That is Rehoboam!
The bitter enemy that Solomon left behind was named Jeroboam [1 Kings 11:26-40]. Jeroboam was a man of tremendous personal ability. He was a man of parts. So gifted was Jeroboam as a young fellow, that Solomon made him overseer of all of his public works [1 Kings 11:28], but he had a weakness, a trait of character. When he was exalted, his exaltation turned his head. You find it at the beginning when Ahijah the Shilonite, the prophet from Israel—when Ahijah said that God had chosen Jeroboam to head the ten tribes that God would wrest away from the house of David [1 Kings 11:29-39]. But instead of waiting for the time of God to crown him as prince, Jeroboam instigated a rebellion against Solomon [1 Kings 11:26]. And when Solomon sought to slay him [1 Kings 11:40], Jeroboam fled for his life down into the land of Egypt [1 Kings 11:40]. And down there in Egypt, there was a new pharaoh who had supplanted the pharaoh whose daughter Solomon had married and with whom Solomon had made affinity and treaty. And that new pharaoh, by the name of Shishak, was happy to see one of Solomon’s enemies come to his court, for Shishak had it in his mind to destroy all the treasures of Solomon, which he did in the fifth [year of the] reign of King Rehoboam [1 Kings 14:25].
So Shishak nurtured Jeroboam and when Solomon died [1 Kings 11:43], Jeroboam left Egypt [1 Kings 12:2], returned up to Ephraim and to the northern tribes, gathered them all together, and was the leader in that question they asked Rehoboam [1 Kings 12:3-4], the answer of which would determine whether they divided the kingdom or not. So when Rehoboam answered foolishly and vainly [1 Kings 12:12-15], Jeroboam said, “Israel, to your tent! What have we in the house of David?” And he split the kingdom in two [1 Kings 12:16-17].
Now, this man Jeroboam, a man of tremendous ability and the gift and favor of God upon him; the Lord made a promise to Jeroboam, and the Lord God said, “Jeroboam, if you will follow in My way, if you will obey My statutes and if you will keep My commandments, I will found your house, as certainly as I founded the house of David [1 Kings 11:38]. And your kingdom shall abide and shall last throughout their generation” [1 Kings 11:38].
Now, Jeroboam had that trait of taking things in his own foolish hands. When he was a boy, and when he was a youth, and when he was a young man, he was humble—the son of a widow of Ephraim [1 Kings 11:26]. But when he was exalted to the throne, he forgot God and forgot his humility and was lifted up and proud and followed his own devious counsel. And this is what Jeroboam said in his head, “You know, if these people return up to Jerusalem to worship God, they will forsake me, and they will turn back to Rehoboam, and they will kill me, and let Rehoboam reign over them.” ”So,” said Jeroboam in his heart, “I better make me gods of my own and tell my people to worship in their own land, lest they go up to Jerusalem where Rehoboam is king and they put the kingdom back together” [1 Kings 12:26-27].
Now Jeroboam looked upon religion as a tool of the state, not as a strength and the pleasure and the glory of the life of his people. He was like Constantine: it was a political maneuver. So Jeroboam made two golden calves; one of them he set up before a great altar at Bethel, which was the king’s palace and the king’s house, and the king’s chapel, and the other he placed way up there beyond the Sea of Galilee in the land of Dan at the headwaters of the Jordan River [1 Kings 12:28-29].
And, he said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, that brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” [1 Kings 12:28]. Now there are two things about that. One is this: it shows the deep, basic unbelief of King Jeroboam, for God had said to him, “You walk in My commandments, and I will establish your house forever” [1 Kings 11:38]. He did not have to fear or to worry about that dread, that the people might return back to Jerusalem and to Rehoboam, for God had promised him, “You obey My commandments and walk in My laws, and I will establish your house forever” [1 Kings 11:38]. But, Jeroboam didn’t believe the Word of God. So he turned to political expediency instead; he turned to those very same idols that had destroyed the house of Solomon, seeking to save his own throne [1 Kings 12:28].
The second thing about that is this. You would have thought that when Jeroboam established those gods, those golden calves in the land of Israel [1 Kings 12:28-29], that there would have been such a repercussion and such a revulsion as to shake the very foundations of his throne. Nothing of the thing happened! Everybody accepted those golden calves as the gods that brought them up out of the land of Egypt, and we don’t hear of a single remonstrance in the length and the breadth of the land. That is an astonishing thing and is a terrible commentary on the indifference of people as they enmeshed their lives in the world [1 Kings 12:30-33].
For example, I read of a commentator talking about Russia, and he said, “The great tragedy of Russia is this, that when the communists closed down the churches and closed down the seminaries and closed down the religious schools and when they taught atheism to the people, there is seemingly no part on the part of the Russian people to miss their churches, their worship of God. They go on indifferently just the same.”
Spiritual indifference eats out the very heart and life of a people. I stood one time in a great and famous Baptist church, whose pastor was world- renowned as a pulpit orator, as a man of God, and as the author of many wonderful books. I stood in that church speaking one time, not on Sunday, but at a convocation of preachers, and that church had turned aside from its prayer meetings on Wednesday night, and they had dances instead. And they locked the thing up on Sunday night and in a thousand other ways had turned the thing into a country club. If you were to do that to this church now, you would have a revolution on your hands. But you let spiritual indifference and worldly compromise eat out the hearts of our people, and you can do anything, and there will be no remonstrance whatsoever. That’s the thing that happened in the life of Israel under King Jeroboam [1 Kings 12:28-33].
So in the passage that you read, on the eighth month and on the fifteenth day of that eighth month [1 Kings 12:32], Jeroboam the king gathered all of his people together in order—in a great national holiday, holy day—to dedicate the beautiful altar that he had constructed to the golden calf who had brought Israel out of bondage and out of the land of Egypt [1 Kings 12:28].
That was an awe-inspiring sight. There is the temple with its golden calf. Here is the great altar with its vast incline up to the sacrificial table, and all around stand the people of Israel by the thousands and by the thousands. And in that high and awe-inspiring moment, King Jeroboam himself walks stately and gorgeously and kingly and princely up that long incline to the elevation of the height of the altar. And there with the coals burning and there with the sacrifices laid out, and there with the golden calf beyond, Jeroboam extends his hand to burn incense on the coals of fire to the god that brought Israel out of the land of Egypt [1 Kings 12:28, 32-33].
And in the hush of that moment and in the awe of that occasion and in the kingly stateliness of Jeroboam as he lifted up his hand to burn the incense to the golden calf [1 Kings 12:33], suddenly, suddenly the hearts of the people were turned into stone in the terror of what happened. Suddenly, without announcement, there came out of the crowd a man of God, a prophet from Judah [1 Kings 13:1]. And striding into the center of the great area around the altar, he turned to Jeroboam, and he made this terrible prophecy. He said, “On this very altar shall these heathen priests be sacrificed, and on these very coals shall their bones be burned. And this is the sign that God shall do it: this altar shall be rent in twain and its ashes, and its sacrifice, and its coals be poured out on the ground” [1 Kings 13:2-3].
When the man of God from Judah stood up and announced that terrible prophecy, instead of humbling Jeroboam and instead of bringing him to his knees, it turned him to a rage! And that hand that was extended to burn incense to the altar gripped—Jeroboam turned and pointing to the man of God from Judah, said to his soldiers, “Seize him. Lay hands upon him.” Before a soldier could move, the finger and the hand that pointed to the man of God withered away, and the arm stood out rigid and extended, and Jeroboam could not draw it back [1 Kings 13:4]. And then, the king stood on the height of the incline before the burning altar with his hand withered and with his arm rigid, extended toward the man of God from Judah. Jeroboam came down the incline, and he fell prostrate at the feet of the man of God and cried to him, “Implore Jehovah, that He restore to me my hand and my arm!” And the man of God from Judah bowed before the great Lord of heaven and prayed God Jehovah to restore the withered hand and to make useful Jeroboam’s arm. And God answered prayer, and the hand was healed, and the arm once more useful [1 Kings 13:6].
When that happened, Jeroboam arose and said to the man of God, “Come home with me. Come home with me. And anything that I can give, that shall I bestow upon you” [1 Kings 13:7]. And the man of God said:
Not so, for the Lord God who sent me to deliver the message said, Thou shalt not eat, neither shalt thou drink, neither shalt thou return by the way that thou camest, but after the message is delivered, you are to go home hurriedly and immediately, and I may not tarry. So the man of God turned and went away, refusing the rewards and the emoluments of the king.
[1 Kings 13:8-10]
The news of that thing spread like wildfire over the kingdom. There was an old prophet in Bethel, whose sons had stood there and watched the man of God interdict King Jeroboam and saw his hand withered and his arm rigidly extended and saw the miracle that had happened. And those sons hurried home and told the old prophet what had happened [1 Kings 13:11]. The old man said, “Saddle me my beast.” And, those boys said, “We saw the way that the man of God returned back to Judah” [1 Kings 13:12-13]. And the old prophet on his beast made haste, and he overtook the man of God and found him sitting under a great oak tree. And the old prophet said to the man of God, “Come home with me and break bread with me” [1 Kings 13:14-15]. And the man of God said, “Not so, for the Lord said to me, I must not return by the way that I came, and while I am there, I must not eat bread nor must I drink water, but I must hasten back, having delivered my commission” [1 Kings 13:16-17]. And the old prophet said, “I also am a prophet like unto thee, and an angel spake unto me, saying by the word of the Lord, ‘Bring him back unto thee, into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’” But, he lied unto him! [1 Kings 13:18]. And the man of God, listening to the old prophet, turned back, and in the house of the lying prophet, he broke bread, and drank water and rested and refreshed himself [1 Kings 13:19].
And the word of the Lord came and said, Man of Judah, man of God, because thou hast transgressed the great commandment of the Lord, thou shalt never see home again. Thou shalt die violently on the road to Judah. And strangers shall bury thee in a strange land because thou hast been disobedient to the commandment of God.
[1 Kings 13:20-22]
The man of God from Judah hastily arose from the table, saddled his beast and started down the road to Judah. And on the way, a lion met him and slew him, and strange hands buried him in a borrowed grave in Bethel [1 Kings 20:23-30]. You see, a prophet of God not only had a message by word to deliver, but what he did in the commandment of the Lord was as meaningful and as great and as serious as the word that he spake.
For example, Jeremiah went around the streets of Jerusalem with a galling yoke around his neck, signifying the word that he preached that Judah would go into bondage and into captivity [Jeremiah 27:2]. Hosea, you remember, was commanded to the Lord to marry a harlot, and a woman who remained a harlot, that he might demonstrate to Israel that God had an evil and an adulterous and a wicked people for His own [Hosea 1:2]. What the prophet did was as meaningful as what the prophet said. And the prophet was to obey God’s injunctions both in what he did and in what he said.
And the reason the Lord God said to this prophet from Judah, “Go up there, but you are not to eat with them, and you are not to drink with them, and you are to deliver your message in haste” [1 Kings 13:8-10], that was God’s way of emphasizing the fact that he was to have no communion and no fellowship with the sons of Belial and with those idolatrous people. And his message was to be delivered hastily. And to show the grievousness of God’s charge against those idolatrous Israelites, he was not to go back the way that he came, lest somebody had watched him when he came back and waited for him to return, and enticed him to stay. That man of God was fearless and true to the word of the Lord [1 Kings 13:1].
I can imagine his being down there in the land of Egypt when the word the Lord came to him to go up there and to stand in interdiction of Jeroboam and to put him in the dread of Almighty God. Man, that took your life in your hand!
And I can watch that man of God from Judah, as he trudges that long dusty road upland from his home in Judah, up there to Bethel. Ah, the foreboding and the dread of what might happen as he comes face-to-face with King Jeroboam and denounces him for his idolatry. But he was faithful, but he was true, and he delivered his message [1 Kings 13:2-3].
And think of the fearlessness when he stood there in the crowd and pointed to Jeroboam and said, “On this very altar shall your priests be sacrificed and their bones burned in this very fire!” [1 Kings 13:2]. Think of the courage it took for the man of God to deliver his message!
And think of the devotion of that prophet of God when he refused the emolument of the king’s favor [1 Kings 13:7-8]. He could have been chaplain to the king’s court. He could have had anything that he asked: reward and wealth, fame, honor, anything. But he turned aside. God who sent me, said “Nay. I may not even fellowship here, I may not even break bread here, but I must hastily return after the delivery of my message” [1 Kings 13:7-10]. He was true to God, until he was led into disobedience and into death by a lying prophet! [1 Kings 13:13-24].
Why, I can imagine that; I can see it; I can visualize it, this man of God from Judah, young in years, delivering his first message from the Lord, and there appears before him this aged prophet in the prophet’s garb and dress, his white hair and his years of experience and learning and study, and the lying prophet says to the young man, “An angel appeared unto me. And that angel said to me to tell you to come with me, and fellowship with me, and break bread with me, and tarry in my house” [1 Kings 13:18].
My, how modern that sounds! Here is the young preacher and the young prophet of God, and he is courageous, and he is dedicated, and he is fearless, and he stands up to deliver God’s message. And then, there comes along the lying prophet, and he takes the young man and he lies to him concerning the truth of the revelation and the word of Almighty God, and he leads the young fellow into disobedience and disbelief and the destruction of his witness and of his ministry. And he does it in the name of the social message, “Come with me. Come with me. These old myths and these old tales and these old medieval theological baggages, drop them overboard and come with me.” And the young prophet listens to the aged teacher, respecting his white hair and his priestly garb and his years of experience. And the young man is destroyed by the false lying of the false prophet.
How modern that sounds; and how everyday do I read it and look upon it. Day before yesterday, day before yesterday, in our daily newspaper, there is an interview with a professor in one of the theological seminaries in our great city. And he says, “Biblical mythology has lost its meaning to modern man. The New Testament taken at face value does not make sense to the modern man, educated in modern science and technology. We ought,” he says, “to throw out the things in the New Testament that don’t fit with our advanced knowledge of today. And,” he says, “the belief that only in Jesus Christ can man find salvation is mythological!” So he throws out the message of the New Testament and the unique deity and saviorhood of the Son of God. And being an older prophet and learned in the way and taught in the school, he takes the young man of God, and he destroys his testimony, and he ruins his great witness to the saving power of Jesus Christ.
And I notice here in the paper, the man is a graduate of the University of Chicago. It was of the University of Chicago, and its atheistic, infidel, modernistic, liberal school of divinity that an editorial in one of the great daily newspapers of Chicago said, quote:
We are struck with the hypocrisy and treachery of these attacks on Christianity. This is a free country and a free age, and men can say what they choose about religion, but this is not what we arraign these divinity professors for. Is there no place in which to assail Christianity but a divinity school? Is there no one to write infidel books except professors of Christian theology? Is a theological seminary an appropriate place for a general massacre of Christian doctrine? We are not championing either Christianity or infidelity, but only condemning infidels, masquerading as men of God and Christian teachers.
End quote, from the Chicago daily newspaper.
God said to the man of God: “Deliver your message and return and have no fellowship and no communion with idolatry” [1 Kings 13:16-17]. But the old prophet said: “I am a prophet also, even as thou, and an angel spake unto me by the mouth of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back into thine house,’” but he lied unto him [1 Kings 13:18], and he destroyed the man of God [1 Kings 13:19-24].
Up and down this land, by the uncounted thousands and the thousands, there are noble and courageous and dedicated young men who set their faces to preaching the gospel of the Son of God, and when the infidel professor gets through with him, he never preaches a sermon. He has lost his message. He’s lost his soul. He’s lost his gospel, and the great institutions of these days, founded by our forefathers for the purpose of educating ministers, now have nobody going from their portals to declare the unsearchable riches of the grace of the gospel of the Son of God.
Did you know, for years, and for years, and for years, and for years, half of the graduates of Harvard College were preachers of the Word of God? Did you ever in your life see any living man today who preaches the gospel of the Son of God who’s a graduate of that great institution, founded for the purpose of educating ministers to win lost people to Jesus? The infidel professor has turned it into an affront to the living God.
What you find in Harvard you find in practically all of the older schools and institutions of our nation. And the prophet lied unto him, and in the lies the man of God lost his life, and his message, and his witness, and his testimony. O Lord, O Lord! [1 Kings 13:18-24].
Now, I have one comment to make about the young prophet. God said to him, “Do not you tarry. Do not you tarry. Deliver your message, fearlessly, courageously, openly. Do not you tarry, and return immediately, in a different way from whence you came. No fellowship, no breaking of bread, no communion, but deliver the interdiction of God then return immediately” [1 Kings 13:9-10]—the sign of the grievous heart of God against idolatry and iniquity.
Did he go back? No. While he was in danger of his life, and while he stood in the presence of King Jeroboam himself, and while that great throne around looked upon him standing alone, he was courageous and fearless [1 Kings 13:1-3]. Then when the great message was delivered and the great occasion was over and the great task was finished [1 Kings 13:1-10], he sat down under a big oak tree, at ease. And that is where the old prophet found him [1 Kings 13:14].
Did you ever think about that? As long as we are pressing in the work of Christ, there we are faithful. Then as long as we are in times of great need or danger, there do we stand! Then when the task is done, we quiesce and we lose our lives in it. Did you ever notice that? Noah did that: one hundred twenty years Noah stood alone, fearlessly preaching the gospel of righteousness to an ungodly generation, never deviated; one hundred twenty years he did it [Genesis 6:3, 8; 2 Peter 2:5]. Then, when the battle was over and the thing was done, Noah sat down at ease in his vineyard and got drunk [Genesis 9:21], to the destruction of his house and the shame of his nakedness; Noah, isn’t that amazing?
Lot, his soul vexed with the filthy conversation of Sodom, was nevertheless faithful to God in that terribly wicked city. But when the city was destroyed and Lot was by himself with his little family, with his two daughters, he fell into awful incest: Lot [Genesis 19:30-38].
That is the way with this prophet. There, delivering God’s message in the power and strength of the Almighty, fearless and courageous, then, when the great task was over, falling into ease and into rest, and in the ease and the rest, he was destroyed.
My soul, what a message for us: to press, press, thrust, march in the work and service of the Almighty, and there’s never any place to quit and never any time to let down, and never any hour to resign: fortune, working, faithful, pressing, thrusting forward, until the Lord says it is enough: Come up higher and be with Me. That’s our assignment. That’s our assignment.
Young and old, male and female, staying with it in the day, in the night, Sunday morning, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and all in-between, serving God, not resting under the big oak tree, come along, come along, come along. March with us. Get a job. Do something for Jesus. Take a responsibility. Find one for yourself. Work, work. Try, pray, give, come, visit, thrust, march for God! And if you will do it, you will never fall into those terrible and calamitous things that overtake men who have known the Lord and have lost their souls in the hour and in the day of ease [2 Peter 2:21]. Oh, what a call God has for us in this day, this hour, and in our generation!
Now we are going to sing a song. And while we sing it, somebody you, come down that aisle and give your life and your heart to Jesus. Make it tonight. Somebody you, put your life with us in the fellowship of the church. A family you, “Pastor, this is my wife, and these are our children, all of us are coming.” A child, a youth: as God shall say the word and make the appeal, make it tonight. Make it tonight. “Here I come and here I am, preacher. I give you my hand. I give my heart to God, and here I stand.” Will you do it? If the Lord whispers to your soul and if God bid you come, make it now. Make it tonight, while we stand and while we sing.