Consequences of Disobedience
There is a story in 1 Kings 13:11-26 that illustrates so aptly the consequences of disobedience. If any lesson highlights Matthew 7:21, surely this is it. "Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." If any lesson illustrates the importance of Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 10:12 this is it. "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."
Let us notice several things about the story that should be significant to us, especially those of us who preach the gospel. Here was a true believer. Note 1 Kings 13:1, "And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense." He was not a simple peasant caught in the field by a lion. He was not a criminal, caught in the act of robbing who was killed by a policeman. He was a man of God with a message from God. "He came by the word of the Lord." He was not merely a commentator, but an ambassador of God, sent on a mission with a specific message.
He was a man with courage. 1 King 13:2, "And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD." King Jeroboam had built the altar, and the king was standing there listening. He was not merely hinting some general things from a distant pulpit.
He was a man of power. 1 King 13:3-4, "And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out. And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him."
He was a man of self-denial. When the king invited him to refresh himself and take a reward, he refused. He was no hireling. 1 King 13:7, "And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward."
One of the most significant things in the story is that he fell by listening to a man instead of to God. The man he listened to was an older man, for whom he had been taught to have respect. He was a prophet of God, which made him more trustworthy in the mind of the young prophet. We need constantly to be aware that one's being a prophet, priest or preacher, aged or otherwise is no guarantee that he will be speaking the word of God. Remember that Paul said in Galatians 1:8, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Remember 1 John 4:1, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
Surely a person cannot look at this story along with that of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Nadab and Abihu, Moses, Uzzah, Saul, Naaman and others without being impressed with the fact that things may seem trivial in our sight, but whatever God has said is important. It is true that God has revealed that some things are more important than others. Jesus said in Matthew 23:23, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." Note carefully that he did not say, "Do the weightier matters, and do not be concerned about the smaller things."
Regardless of who or what contributed to his apostasy, he had to face death and the judgment of God alone. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
We also need to realize that God's judgments are sure. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Sin may be forgiven, but someone always suffers the consequences of any sin. David is one of the most significant cases. He committed adultery and murder, and was forgiven, but he and his house suffered. 2 Samuel 12:10 says, "Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife."
There are other lessons in this story, but if we are impressed with the consequences of disobedience to any command of God, and so order our lives that we have respect for His word, His will and His way in all that we do or say, the purpose of this article will have been accomplished.
T. Pierce Brown
Published in The Old Paths Archive