Bible Readings for October 10th
In the first part of 1 Kings 13, Yahweh sends a prophet to condemn Jeroboam’s worship. Speaking to the illicit altar on which Jeroboam was offering unauthorized sacrifices, the man of God (a name given to prophets during those days) foretells the day when a son of David named Josiah will “sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you” (1 Kgs. 13:2). The fulfillment for this prophecy comes much later in Israel’s history, in 2 Kings 23:15–20. From the beginning, the days of Jeroboam’s false worship were numbered.
Now, if that were the only part of this story, we would be reading a fairly straightforward account of prophecy, judgment, and Yahweh’s insistence upon the true worship he had commanded in the law of Moses. Once the man of God delivers his message, however, Yahweh gives him additional instructions, saying, “You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came” (1 Kgs. 13:9). At first, the man of God obeys (1 Kgs. 13:9), but when an older prophet lies to him, enticing him to return with him to eat and drink in Bethel (1 Kgs. 13:18), the man of God disobeys God’s instructions and a lion kills him as he leaves Bethel a second time.
From the prophet’s story, we learn two principles about obeying God. First, obedience for you may not look the same as obedience for another, since God governs us not only by his law but by our consciences. Paul writes, “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23), meaning that when God impresses something clearly upon our consciences, we sin by overriding that. This man of God receives a clear prophetic word, but he disobeys anyway, acting contrary to his faith.
Second, this means we ought never to cause another to stumble. The broader context of Romans 14, for example, relates to whether Christians could eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul explains that there was nothing wrong with eating such food in itself, but if someone believes the activity to be sinful, that person would sin by eating it, since that action would not proceed from faith. Therefore, Paul also writes that “it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats” (Rom. 14:20). The older prophet wickedly causes this man of God to sin by lying to him and encouraging him to act in ways that specifically violate the word God has spoken to him.
Are there areas where you are behaving in ways contrary to your conscience? Or, are there areas where you are leading someone else to violate their conscience? In either case, repent—repent from whatever does not proceed from faith or repent from leading another to stumble.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.