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It is rare that the Bible has a story of a significant character and never identifies the man's name.  In the Old Testament story from I Kings 13:1-10, such an event is however recorded.  To remind you of that setting, in case you are not an authority on the Old Testament, this takes place during the split up of the country of Israel.  You may recall that the people demanded a king to lead them, and for the first 100 years of the presence of a king, Saul, David, and Solomon were able to keep the country together.  But after Solomon, there began a period of great strife among the many tribes and factions that saw several men ascend to the throne, who then were quickly toppled by the same warring factions that caused the country to split up in the first place.

The first sign of trouble was almost always a king who decided to get rid of the Temple traditions that had been handed down from Moses during their flight from Egypt.  One of the kings who did this was named Jeroboam.  His idea was to construct his own temple and create alters of convenience so that his subjects wouldn't be tempted to go back to Jerusalem to worship at the ordained Temple.  He further decided to create his own gods and priests who were outside of the Levitical tradition that God had also authored thru Moses.  Jeroboam would go to these "convenient" alters himself to try to convince the people this was a good idea by his own example.  The largest of these alters was at Bethel and as he was preparing to make a big show in front of all the people, a MAN OF GOD appeared and challenged what he was doing!

Mr. Anonymous told Jeroboam to stop violating God's laws or else terrible things were going to happen to him. Suddenly the very alter he was standing on started to crumble in pieces validating the accusations of the king's disobedience.  Calling out the king in front of all the people was bad enough but while he was offering a sacrifice to the gods was as confrontational as it gets!  Jeroboam pointed this man out and told his soldiers to seize him and shut him up.  But before they could do that, the king's arm was paralyzed and the entire alter further decomposed right in front of them.  Suddenly Jeroboam was impressed with this Biblical whistle blower and asked him for a favor. 

The king was humbled enough to ask for help even if it was for himself.  The king wanted this man's help to restore his arm.  Mr. "A" did just that!  He prayed that God would restore the king's arm and it was!  Next the king asked him to come and work with him in the palace!  That's where the man drew a line in the sand and said NO!  The king's policies were against God's laws and that corruption trumped all else!

The man of God said absolutely not because he could not disobey God's command to deliver his message of truth and then get out of there.  This also meant that he was to not to become part of Jeroboam's kingdom in any way.  Even if the king offered him half of everything he owned, Mr. "A" would not compromise.  So this man took off and started home by going in a different direction from Bethel. 

Do you have a difficult message to deliver to a powerful person?  This reminds me of the same kind of kingdoms that have become fortressed in the corporate world today.  Say the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person, and you may be out of a job.  Worse yet, the idealism that you may have brought to a position has been transcended by the pragmatic day to day grind of "doing business" or not making waves because it is easier that way.  Is it possible that we have sold our souls for the corner office, some stock options, or a little job security?  It may also be that the powerful person in your life could be another family member.  You may not have anyone as outrageous as Jeroboam to deal with, but there are some corners of your being that you know you haven't quite brought the light of day to bear on truth and fairness. I'm praying today that you find the courage to deal with those issues and follow your heart on what God is leading you to do as a "man or woman of God"! 

This is such a great story and it starts out so well but even this man of God was deceived and gave in to temptation.  His fate was to die because he was disobedient just like the king he had called out.  The other great lesson of this story is to be consistent.  Having one great confrontation is not the complete plan of God, but living consistently in an exemplary fashion does please God.  Start well ...finish well... and stay focused in between!


Sent July 2, 2007

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