VIGILANCE THE PRICE OF PEACE (PART 1) – GOD’S SERVANT MUST BE COURAGEOUS IN THE FACE OF UNGODLINESS (1 KINGS 13: 1-32)
Dear Members in Christ,
Vigilance the price of peace (Part 1) – God’s servant must be courageous in the face of ungodliness (1 Kings 13: 1-32)
How often are we challenged to speak the truth and are afraid to speak up? Sometimes the fear of man can grip the heart of a servant of God. The account of an unnamed prophet simply referred to as “a man of God” in the book of 1 Kings chapter 13 speaks of troublous times when Israel was going through a difficult period in their history. Yet at a time when it is most necessary, this servant of God spoke the truth plainly and clearly. He did all this despite the possibility of him losing his life by offending Jeroboam the king.
The backdrop of this incident was the chastisement of Israel after the death of Solomon. There was an arrogant king, Rehoboam the son of Solomon, who took the poor counsel of his friends and caused the people to rebel. Thus was the kingdom of Israel split into two according to the Word of God. The Word of God tells us that Solomon transgressed against the Lord because he loved many strange women, therefore the Lord God Almighty pronounced this punishment upon him and his kingdom,
“Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant…. Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen.” 1 Kings 11:11, 13
God had revealed His punishment for Solomon’s transgressions. How this was going to be carried out was quite unexpected. God raised a man, a very competent and capable man, a man of valor by the name of Jeroboam. When it was revealed by the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite that God will give ten tribes of the nation to Jeroboam, Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam. He had to flee for his life to Egypt and “lie low” so to speak. But God has sovereignty over the choice of time and place for every event in the history of man, especially in the history of His people. Rehoboam’s unwise decision to oppress the people caused a serious backlash. The people rebelled and the kingdom was rent as God’s servant had prophesied.
A. God’s chastisement upon the nation and the depravity that followed
When the time was ripe, God caused Jeroboam to return from Egypt where he was taking refuge as an exile. So, when the people heard of it, they welcomed his return, the Bible records the Northern Kingdom’s approval of the kingship of Jeroboam.
“And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.” 1 Kings 12:20
But Jeroboam was not a godly king, he immediately instituted certain works which were in open violation of God’s laws. He thought that these were pragmatic measures because he surmised that if the people worshipped in Jerusalem (the place where God had ordained His temple to be built), there is a possibility of conspiracy to rebel against Jeroboam’s Northern kingdom. Therefore, he brought about idolatry in the form of golden calf worship, setting up idols in Bethel and Dan. He changed the days of worship, he made Shechem the political capital of his Northern kingdom. Amongst all his terrible acts, the one that had the greatest long term effect was the fact that he destroyed the ministry of the priesthood.
“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.” 1 Kings 12:31
So anyone could be a priest, and the teaching of God’s Word was no longer in the hands of God’s ordained custodians, the Levites. The kingdom would slip deeper and deeper into depravity.
Brothers and sisters, let us be warned in the reading and understanding of this account in the history of God’s people. Remember, vigilance is the price of peace! If we are slack in our study of God’s Word, or we take lightly the teaching handed to us in Scriptures to teach “faithful men who will, in turn, teach others”, we could easily slip into the spiritual depravity brought about by Jeroboam the son of Nebat. I hope that we will take seriously the call to study God’s Word and equip ourselves with Scriptural knowledge to stand and defend the truth.
B. God’s servant must be watchful and courageous at all times
In these worst of times, God did not leave His people without a witness and a watchman. This is the aforementioned “man of God”, a man unnamed. Yet for his courage, he is notable amongst God’s servants. He was unafraid to declare God’s judgment upon the kingdom for Jeroboam’s transgressions.
“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. And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee. 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. 1 Kings 13:1-3
The man of God prophesied the desecration of the graves of the profane priests that Jeroboam had put in place to run his version of the Israelite “religion”. This was a miraculous event that will signal the curse of God upon Jeroboam’s act of instituting a false priesthood. It was a prophecy that was both offensive and insulting to King Jeroboam. One that is surely worthy of death.
Dearly beloved, the price of spiritual peace is wisdom and vigilance. When it was necessary, God raised a prophet, a man of God to declare His truth against the transgressions of King Jeroboam. Let us not slumber, but let us be vigilant, ever watchful, alert against sin and transgressions against God. Let us be watchful against falsehood. False doctrines such as evolution, false miracles, and false holy spirit revivals are rampant in these last days. Let us be well-schooled in the Word of God, and therefore be a good watchmen for the Lord. May His name be glorified. Amen.
In His Service,
Rev. Lim Seh Beng, Pastor