Reading through the Bible together
Here we see again the disastrous consequences of idolatry, not only by the king, but also by the people! Jeroboam built a temple in Bethel and was now officiating as a priest. His motivation was dubious and astute. He wanted to impress the people and at the same time get their respect and support. The Lord could not allow this apostasy and defiance to continue and sent His prophet to talk to Jeroboam. He boldly told the king that this altar would be split apart and turned into ashes! And it did! It is incredible that this act by the prophet, led by God, did not convince Jeroboam and he tried to restrain the messenger by stretching his arm, pointing at him, and ordered him arrested. Wrong thing to do against God! His arm dried up and withered. He could not retrieve it! Horrified by his stupid action he now pleads with the prophet to restore his arm. Isn't it sad that people make mistakes, suffer the consequences, and then plead to the Lord for help.
Miracle of miracles! Jeroboam's arm is completely restored and one would think that the king would humble himself and return to God. However, his heart was hardened and he continued in his wicked ways. To appease his conscience and to show the people that he was grateful to the prophet, he invites him home and offers to give him a reward. This would make him look good before the people. But the prophet declines the offer for the Lord had told him not to accept the invitation, so his answer firm and final.
Another prophet comes into the picture. He was an old prophet, not really a prophet of God, but a false prophet and a messenger of Satan. If the enemy cannot get his way and control the lives of people he has many other techniques to carry out his wicked plans. The old prophet lies and invites the prophet from Judah to come to his house. He says, "I am also a prophet and the Lord told me to invite you home." This would be a paradoxical situation to say the least. How can the Lord give two conflicting messages? We can see from the beginning that Satan is a master of lies! He is a great deceiver of the people and has done through the ages with great success. He can even transform himself in an angel of light (see 2 Cor. 11:14,15). This story is quite significant for all human beings. When we receive a message from God we cannot turn back. By disobeying the clear instructions of God, the prophet from Judah paid for it with his life. He was killed by a lion on his way home. We know that Daniel being faithful to God was not eaten by lions! But the tragedy of all these events was the Jeroboam continued to follow his evil ways and did not repent! The apostasy that he introduced resulted in the destruction of his reign and later of the nation of Northern Israel.
Retired GC Vice-President