Monday, March 30, 2009

The Liar, The Prophet, and the Idolater (I Kings 13)

The fascinating thing about this story is that, presumably, God has called all three men. We know who Jeroboam was. He was anointed to be King of Israel at God’s orders and to punish Solomon for his sin. The other two men are both prophets, which is a professional vocational ministry position. In today’s terms, were talking about three men of God, three ministers!

Let’s take a look at the three sins committed in the story in reverse order:

First, the prophet from Judah sins by not doing what God wants Him to do. God has commanded the prophet to return home and not eat or drink before he arrives. He disobeys. Why? There are many possible reasons. He may trust the older man of God. He may have been swayed by the lie that God has sent this message through an angel. He may simply be exhausted. Ultimately, he ignores his orders from God and does not do as he was told.

Often we look at sin as being a commission of something wrong. Many times it is really a case of not doing the right thing. James 4:17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

What sins are we guilty of in this regard? Are there things we know we should be doing, but are not? Are we wasting the time God has given us in our own pursuits instead of the plans He has for us?

Second, we see the old prophet from Israel sins by lying to the young man of God. That is an easy one right? Don’t lie. I think, however, that there is a deeper sin here that applies to us as well. Here we have a prophet of God living in a sinful land. There’s no problem with that; sinful lands need prophets. The problem is that this man has become comfortable in the land he has been called to condemn. He knows God. He apparently hears from God. And yet his sons are at the condemned altar. He has given in to the sinful lifestyle around him. Even though he still knows God and is interested in things of God, he is willing to lie to persuade the fellow man of God to come with him.

As Christians in America, we are always in danger of committing the sin of becoming comfortable with the sinful culture we live in. We have even melded the Gospel with the American Dream. They are not the same thing and in fact they are in opposition with each other in many areas!

Are we guilty of becoming like the world around us? Are we Christians first, or Americans?

Finally, we see the sin that started this whole story. It is perhaps the worst sin in the Bible. The sin of Jeroboam. God chose jeroboam. Solomon’s sin had upset God and he decided to take away the nation from the house of David, leaving them just one tribe. Jeroboam was the man God chose to do this. Jeroboam loved God. Jeroboam worshiped God. His sin was that he worshiped God in the wrong way. The sin of Jeroboam is exactly the same sin that the children of Israel committed at mount Sinai. He set up idols representing Yahweh. Understand this. He did not cause Israel to worship other Gods! The calves were to represent the true God! He was promoting the worship of the true God! The problem was that God had forbidden anyone to worship Him that way!

We all know idolatry is wrong. We are careful to not worship other gods in our life. But… Are we committing idolatry in our worship of God? Do we worship Him, or our ideas of Him? Do we worship Him, or the songs and services we like? Do we worship Him, or idea of how church should be? Do we worship Him, or a false representation of Him we have created in or minds that doesn’t challenge us to change?

We need to worship Him for the fear inducing, all-powerful, demanding, change inducing, boss of our lives He should be. We need to stop playing at Christianity and be Christians.

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