In 1 Kings 11, we see that the kingdoms are now split as a result of Solomon’s disobedience to God. God advised Solomon that He will stay true to his word and not split it during his reign, but instead, his successor would have his kingdom split. We later see this in chapter 12, as Rehoboam took the southern kingdom – which consisted of Judah and Benjamin, while Jeroboam took control of the remaining 10 tribes. While Rehoboam walked in pride, rejecting wise advice from elders in exchange for younger men catering to what he wanted to hear, Jeroboam committed all kinds of idolatry, embracing pagan practices to please the people because he was afraid that they were going to leave him and head south.
In 1 Kings 13, a judgment was given over Jeroboam, which would be fulfilled in 2 Kings 23:
The man of God cried out against the altar by the word of the Lord: “Altar, altar, this is what the Lord says, ‘A son will be born to the house of David, named Josiah, and he will sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who are burning incense on you. Human bones will be burned on you.'” He gave a sign that day. He said, “This is the sign that the Lord has spoken: ‘The altar will now be ripped apart, and the ashes that are on it will be poured out.'” — 1 Kings 13:2
He even tore down the altar at Bethel and the high place that had been made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. He burned the high place, crushed it to dust, and burned the Asherah. As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mountain. He sent someone to take the bones out of the tombs, and he burned them on the altar. He defiled it according to the word of the Lord proclaimed by the man of God who proclaimed these things. Then he said, “What is this monument I see?” The men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things that you have done to the altar at Bethel.” — 2 Kings 23:15-17
Jeroboam stretched out his hand to arrest him, but it was withered. Do not disturb a prophecy given from God, no matter what your role is. Jeroboam would “repent,” of his decision, and ask for his hand to be restored. It was granted. Was this repentance genuine? It could have temporarily been, but his past, present, and future actions show that it was not lasting. Asking for God for repentance from a wrongdoing means that one must genuinely repent. Otherwise, it is not true repentance, but rather using God to get through a troubling situation or a moment of guilt.
Verses 11-33 can be difficult to process, but must be viewed from the lens of how important it is to trust the word of God, no matter what anyone else tells you to do — even if he is a prophet.
After being told not to partake of eating and drinking (v. 9 — “for this is what I was commanded by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat food or drink water or go back the way you came.'”), the man of God (who was sent out to witness against the wickedness of Jeroboam) was approached by the old man prophet, who offered him meat and drink. However, the man of God stated, “I cannot go back with you or accompany you; I will not eat food or drink water with you in this place. For a message came to me by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat food or drink water there or go back by the way you came'” (vv. 16-17).
For some reason, the old prophet thought that his “prophesy” overrode that which was clearly stated from the Lord. In fact, he even said, “an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat food and drink water’” (v. 18). Wow. Absolute deception.
1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit [speaking through a self-proclaimed prophet]; instead test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets and teachers have gone out into the world.” In this particular case, this old man was certainly one of them. Now could he have been a prophet? Perhaps. But, this showed that either he was a false prophet, or he was clearly outside of the voice of God, even to the point of deceiving the man of God. This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to read your Bibles in order to know what God says, and what He does not.
Oftentimes, the only relationship that people have with God is through their pastor at church. Come Sunday afternoon, the Christian is filled and energized. However, due to a lack of maturity as a result of not prioritizing God’s Word, they become “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine” (cf. Ephesians 4:14). Seek a relationship with God for yourself. Being led by false prophecy can be deadly. Unfortunately, as we see later in 1 Kings 13, this is literal, not figurative.
Because of the disobedience, the Lord even used this false prophet to advise the man of God of his fate. After seeing the results of his false prophecy the old man grabbed the corpse of the now-dead man of God, mourning over what has occurred. However, now it was too late — the damage was done, and his false prophecy deceived the man of God to the point of death.
Understand that hearkening the false prophets has grim consequences. This is why hearing from God yourself, and more importantly, LISTENING AND OBEYING what the Lord says is the best protection that anyone can ever have. Sadly, we see accounts of people who have hearkened to false prophets lead to leaving the faith, and even suicide. No matter what title someone gives him or herself when they approach you — if it is contrary to what the Lord has told you, RUN FROM IT!!!