Monday, December 21, 2009

107: Prophet vs. Lion (Spoiler: Lion Wins)

1 Kings 12-14
As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was thrown down on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it. - 1 Kings 13:24

[***Holiday Message*** For the next week I will be on a family vacation and my access to the internet will be questionable at times. So I'll be writing my blog posts ahead of time. If everything goes as planned you'll have no idea this is even happening, but I've used blogger's "scheduled posting" feature only a few times and I don't know how reliable it is. So if it seems like I've missed a day, rest assured that the blog is already written and I will post it as soon as I possibly can. This also means that the news sections will probably have less relevant things in them (but hopefully still interesting). Keep reading and commenting and have a happy holidays!]

Rehoboam, Solomon's son is taken to Shechem to be appointed king. All the people of Israel come to Rehoboam and ask him to lighten their work load because Solomon worked them too hard. This is his response:
My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.
Oh boy, can Israel not find a nice king for once? This response causes Israel to rebel against Rehoboam. Only the people of Judah remain loyal to him. Rehoboam is pissed and goes back to Jerusalem to gather an army to retake his kingdom. This plan is thwarted by a prophet that says God doesn't want Rehoboam to fight the rest of the Israelites. Rehoboam apparently listens to everyone who says they talk to God and calls off the attack.

Rehoboam then breaks the first rule of not pissing off God; he makes golden calves. You'd think if this guy was willing to turn around his armies because a prophet said that God didn't want him to, that he'd be willing to not break the whole "false idols" rule. Another thing, why are these Israelites so gullible? All Rehoboam has to say is "here are your Gods, O Israel" and they come from miles around.

Chapter 13 is all about a prophet from Judah. This prophet tells Jeroboam that all of his altars are going to fall. As soon as the prophet says this, the altar splits in half. Jeroboam reaches out his hand and tells his guards to seize the prophet, but his hand shrivels up when he extends it. God gave him the dreaded shrively hand? Oh no! This is a step down from the death punishment that he usually inflicts.

Jeroboam tells the prophet to pray that his hand will become unshriveled. Praying seems to do the trick. Jeroboam is so pleased that his hand is no longer shriveled that he invites the prophet back to his place to eat. The prophet tells him that he can't eat because God told him not to.

An old prophet (not to be confused with the other unnamed prophet) in Bethel hears what the prophet said to Jeroboam and goes after him. The old prophet catches up to him and says that an angel of God told him to come eat with him (this is a lie). The young prophet thinks he is telling the truth and goes back to have dinner with him. In the middle of their dinner the old prophet blurts this out:
You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your fathers.
Uh, ok. I wonder what this old prophet's motive was in luring the young prophet back to his place.

On the young prophet's way back home he is killed by a lion. This is, of course, all God's doing. I'm not sure why the old prophet isn't punished if it is, in fact, God's doing. The young prophet obviously intended to obey God. Or you could go with the reasonable explanation: A guy got randomly attacked and killed by a lion, because lions randomly attack and kill people.

Chapter 14 explains how God is mad at Judah for their false idols (shocker there). Egypt attacks Jerusalem and carries off all of Solomon's gold. Did God momentarily side with the Egyptians and their false gods?

We end with another cryptic sentence:
As for the other events of Rehoboam's reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?
I don't know bible! Aren't you supposed to be telling me?

*News*
Shoplifting can be a big problem this time of year, but I would have never guessed that the bible is among the most shoplifted items.

Apparently the people shoplifting don't understand the irony of stealing a book that is supposed to be a moral code. Really, I didn't realize that stealing books was even a problem. Is it really that much trouble to get a library card?

I hope these people stealing realize that the bible isn't the only law they have to follow. Otherwise we're going to have a bunch of shoplifters out stoning people for adultery.

(via The New York Times)

4 comments:

  1. Is the title of this blog post a reference to this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGe6GP4lALU

    ReplyDelete
  2. No, I've actually never seen that video.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You may also be interested in this article about a Priest encouraging shoplifting:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/north_yorkshire/8425420.stm

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bryan,

    The 1 Kings 13 story about the young prophet from Judah is fascinating. While on the surface it appears somewhat obtuse and perplexing, it is a rich work of literature that has allusions, word play, and repetition, to communicate its meaning.

    The bottom line “spoiler” is this. The lion “on the way” that devours the young prophet for “eating and drinking” against the “word of the Lord,” is an intended picture of what would happen to the northern kingdom of Israel as it proceeds along the “way” Jeroboam has chosen. The old prophet in Bethel gets the message in the end. Jeroboam does not. About 150 years later the Northern Kingdom gets “devoured by a Lion” (Amos 1:2; 3:8; 2 Kings 17). The overarching contribution of this passage is that there is only ONE way to approach God according to His Word. This theme will be picked up in later Scripture as well…also in the NT…anyone want to guess who?

    Whoever reads this story should note the following:
    1) Repetition of “the way” phrasing
    2) Repetition of “eating and drinking”
    3) Repetition of “according to the Word of the Lord”
    4) Allusion to the Golden Calf incident with Aaron/Moses—Jeroboam repeats the exact same event and utters the same words of Aaron (Exodus 32:1-10)
    5) Allusion to Exodus 34:28—Moses did not eat bread or drink water, He lived by the word of God
    6) Allusion to straying from “the way” Ex 32:8

    Just as Aaron in Exodus 32 had set up a counterfeit worship system and departed from the “way” God had prescribed for worship, Jeroboam does as well to consolidate his power/kingdom upon the division of the . Jeroboam even sets up an alternative priestly system and an alternative holiday feast (eating and drinking) which was to be precisely one month later than God had prescribed (1 Kings 12:32).

    The seemingly OCD God has with not “eating and drinking” in THAT place (i.e. Bethel, the location of the alternative worship and feast) is meant to be a prohibition against engaging in that counterfeit worship system. The young prophet who was deceived ended up “eating and drinking” there, participating in the worship system of the northern kingdom. Thus, God judges him as a warning sign as to what would meet the Northern Kingdom "on their way" as they depart from God's way/Word. God also “used” His deceived servant as a vivid picture for the population of the Northern Kingdom that they might turn from their ways.

    ***Note the irony that the only entity not “eating and drinking” THERE is the dumb animal—the lion.

    ReplyDelete

 

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