1 Kings 13 God working, superintending both the good with bad and bad with good

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1 Kings 13, 22 God working, superintending both the good with bad and bad with good for His glory and our good

A tale of two kingdoms...

"You are making excellent progress, memorizing your Psalm, young King Josiah", said the priest.

"My favorite part so far is 'Ooooooooh how I love Thy law'", Young Josiah replied. Josiah had become a king in a troubled time when he was eight years old. "It's sad there is no long a copy of the law, we have some pieces of writings. But we have the temple. Tell me a story of the temple before I sleep," said the King, the priest not knowing if this was a command or request. "A story. Very well then", began the priest, meaning to turn the story into a lesson.

"A great army or workers, 150,000 in the hills, free, living at home, persevered till the task the master set would be done. Another 30,000 drafted, forced labor, working in Jerusalem in shifts of 10,000 on location in Jerusalem.

“That was 300 years ago now.” The priest, now storyteller added

The storyteller continued, "King Solomon drafted forced labor out of all Israel. Solomon also had 70,000 burden-bearers and 80,000 stonecutters in the hill country, besides Solomon's 3,300 chief officers who were over the work, who had charge of the people who carried on the work. There would be worship on earth, the likes of which was never openly displayed before.”

Young Josiah wide eyed looked up, “That is the temple here in Jerusalem."

The storyteller continued. "One exceptionally gifted man put in charge of foced labor for construction of the Temple of Soloman Solomon to carry out God’s good pleasure on earth., it would take years and his name? Jeroboam. "

Young Josiah, now startled. “Jeroboam? But….didn't he lead Israel astray?”

“Yes Jeroboam. The wisest of wise kings would not be the one ‘who the government shall rest upon’ that is to come. His heart was divided making a worship place both to the true God and to false. God weighs the heart. A divided heart would leave a divided kingdom. One part more devoted to God ruled by Rehoboam and one not so and ruled by…. Jeroboam And perhaps he would also help build the homes of Soloman's wives, making places of worship for them to their foreign gods. Perhaps he even helped build the homes and worship places of Solomon's foreign wives. I don't know. A peculiar sory with unusual details has been handed down through the sons of the prophets in Bethel.”

Josiah interrupted, “Jeroboam was afraid the people would worship in Jerusalem so to steal their hearts be made worship centers of his own. The head of forced labor would lead the northern tribes of Israel in to forced labor to false gods."

Solomon, not the only one with heart divided, though Jeroboam made the temple of God in Jerusalem, he did the work for reasons of duty, prestige and honor but not out of love of God leave an idol in one's heart. Jeroboam would outdo Aarn brother of Moses, making not one, but two golden calves, perhaps a plan for golden bulls was downsized due to insufficient revenues.

“Sadly”, continued the priest. “The person chief in building Solomon’s temple would build two temples of his own. One in Dan to the north. One in Bethel, to the south. One broken part of Solomon's kingdom would worship the true God publicly. One broken part of Solomon’s kingdom would worship false gods publicly.Jeroboam making both true and false worship centers. He appointed priests not from the tribe of Aaron, but anyone of his choosing and picked a day for a feast day not from the heart of God but from his own”

Josiah’s face now confused, brow wrinkled.

The priest said slowly, “Isaiah spoke of a hardening of hearts and God is as serious as a heart attack and hearts were hardened.
Jeroboam made two centers for idols, one in his Kingdom’s north and one in his kingdom’s south in Bethel and this story is about something that happens in Bethel.

Josiah remembered something, interrupting again, “Abraham built an altar in Bethel.”

“That’s right Josiah, that made this all the more shocking and showed the hearts were all the more hard. Abraham built an altar and it was for the worship of Yahweh, making an idol there Shocking to the sons of the prophets who lived in Bethel. Though shocked their hearts were not unaffected.”

“As the king went to offer incense himself before the golden calf in Bethel and on his altar. A prophet of Judah was told by God and boldly faced the King, the most powerful in the land. A wake up call came to the prophets one day, to an old prophet of Israel with a heart made more dull than he realized.”

The prophet of Judah cried before the altar. Such a thing was not done, even before the king. Such a thing was not done. He cried and he cried loudly, ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, he even named a name, (the storyteller not giving Josiah the name just yet) , and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’” “This is the sign that the LORD has spoken: ‘Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.’”

“’Kill him’, ordered the king” the storyteller sternly said sticking out his arm.

“Did he die?” Josiah asked wide eyed.

The king pointed to the man who must be killed. But the alter broke, the room filled with the dust of ashes and when the ashes settled the king still pointing only with a look fearful on his face. His guards now stunned and staring waiting ordered, fearful themselves.

“The king’s face fearful look, his arm frozen in position like the idols, unable to move. He tried to move it but his fear turned to horror and could not”, the storyteller continued.

“Did he finally believe?” Young Josiah asked. He stood up pointing at things in the room, pretending he could not move his arm, like Jeroboam, making a frightened face.

“He believed but not with the kind of faith that saves. He did remember the name of the one to come who would destroy his alter. The name meaning ‘Yahweh heals’ and he desperately wanted to be healed’

“Yahweh heals? The one to come to destroy the false worship was named Josiah? My name”,
Josiah with a surprised look on his face. “My name means ‘God heals’”

“Yes, the King remembered ‘God heals’ and did he beg his idols for healing? No. The king begged the prophet. Entreat now the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” And the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king's hand was restored to him and became as it was before.”

“the King had built the altars saying ‘behold your God’ but now had a different story asking for prayer not to ‘our God’ but ‘your God’ to the prophet of Israel.

Josiah with a head filled with question upon question, sat wondering how someone to come will. Destroy idols yet bring healing. And someone with Josiah's own name.

“The king tried to honor the prophet, inviting him to his home but God told the prophet to return home, fast, neither eat or drink and with boldness and great resolve had done that and would not go to the palace. Ten times in the story the word of the Lord referred to”

Josiah had found a scroll and reading it… “here it is!!”

Josiah read, “Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” 8 And the man of God said to the king, “If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, for so was it commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.’” So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel.

That’s right Josiah, now read what happened to the prophet next”

Josiah, looked perplexed, and said “The prophet of Israel had sat resting by a tree, not breaking his fast and an old prophet of Bethel, part of Israel lied to him. Is that even possible?”

The priest replied, “It did indeed happen. He was a prophet of Israel but with a heart made more dull than he realized” And paused, then continuing.

“The prophet of Judah who had done nothing but good so far, faithful to God went home not to the king but to the home of the lying prophet, but while eating the old and lying prophet of Israel said ‘’ “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD and have not kept the command that the LORD your God commanded you, but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’” And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body.”

The storyteller continued, “The prophets dead body became a memorial to his prophesy. God was sovereign not only over stone alters but over animals, both lion and donkey.”

Josiah read from his scroll, “ And behold, men passed by and saw the body thrown in the road and the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the city where the old prophet lived.

“The storyteller went on, “The old prophet, would tell his son’s to place the prophet of Judah’s bones in his tomb. And when the old man,, the prophets of Israel would died his bones would lie side by side in the tomb saying the words would come surely true.’

The storyteller concluded, “The bones of the prophets would cry out against the idol altars
God had made a memorial that would stand in the very city of Bethel
A memorial against the false worship in that very place.
A wake up call for the prophets and people who’s heart were becoming dull in Israel
God had worked through Judah, the prophet of Judah not completely right, Judah not completely right God had worked through Israel, the prophet of Israel not completely wrong, Judah not completely wrong. God is sovereign over men, even prophets in the good and bad and will do all His good pleasure.

“Did Jeroboam learn anything from all this,” Josiah asked.

"Both the irreverent kings, Rehoboam of Judah and Jeroboam of Israel would tussle over bragging rights or God naming their son's Abijah, my father is God!!! But for reasons political than from the heart.He did not name his son 'Josiah' for sure. No king of Israel ever did." The storyteller said. Josiah smiled and nodded .

“"He repaired his altars. False worship a part of life even until now , the king a believing unbeliever. And for three hundred years no king dared to name their child Josiah, being believing unbelievers as well. Until you were born and your father Amon a King of Judah longing for healing in the land named you Josiah, God heals’ and what are the lessons?” Josiah smiled as the storyteller tucked Josiah in.

Josiah answered “There are lessons of right worship and warnings against temptations.”

And getting up to leave the room, the priest storyteller said “and God is in heaven and does whatever he pleases.
He worked in the good and the bad. He commanded men, stone and animal. He made his memorial to the fame of his name and will accomplish all his purpose. Bethel would have the bones of the prophets as memorial and would be a reminder to the sons of the prophets who would be there for many centuries to come.”, Lowering lights out and leaving the room

“And how do I fit in””, Josiah thought resting his head on his pillow thinking to himself before nodding off, “If only there was a place people could go to here to worship the true God.” The sons of the prophets in Gilgal often thought the same.

The day did come when a discovery was made. A copy of the law of Moses, found by the High Priest, in the temple. It broke Josiah's heart
to realize they like Israel had moved farther away from God than he imagined, but 'A broken heart you will not despise' proved very true. Hard hearts would break and broken hearts healed. Josiah's name, after all meant God heals.

Josiah became King of Jerusalem when he was eight years old, seeking God at sixteen and after rediscovering the law at twenty six he would bring many reforms including destroying the altars of Jeroboam. The tomb of the prophet of Judah would remain even in Josiah's day. One more thing about Josiah.... when Aaron made a golden calf, Moses ground it to dust and made some people drink it... there were two calves made by Jeroboam, Josiah ground them to dust... no one knows if he made anyone drink the water the dust went into.

Two kingdoms falling away
Two responses
One heart stayed hard
One heart broken

The sons of the prophets would be in Bethel even in the days of Elijah and beyond and would ask the same. False altars would be broken by miracle, false altars would be rebuilt and broken again by a broken hearted young king Josiah. False altars would be rebuilt again and publicly challenged again by the God of Elijah.

God had already sent Israel into exile, the kingdom of forced labor serving time in Assyria
God will send Judah into exile to Babylon, free men in free fall
Restrained, for a time shown mercy through Josiah

God working, superintending both the good with bad and bad with good for His glory and our good
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