1 Kings 12:20-13:34
20 Now when the entire community of Israel received word that Jeroboam had returned, they invited him to the assembly where they made him king over the entire Kingdom of Israel. Only the tribe of Judah was still devoted to David’s house.
21 When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he gathered together the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. There were 180,000 handpicked warriors gathered together in a plot to battle against Israel in order to get the kingdom back under the rule of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. 22 But the word of the True God visited Shemaiah, the man of God.
Eternal One: 23 Go talk to Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, who is now Judah’s king. Give Rehoboam, the house of Judah, the tribe of Benjamin, and all the people 24 this message of the Eternal: “Do not wage war against your brothers, the Israelites. Every warrior should put down his sword and spear without further delay and return to his home. This change in power is from Me.”
They honored the message of warning from the Eternal, returned to their homes, and did exactly as He had instructed them to do.
25 In Israel Jeroboam fortified Shechem in the hilly land of Ephraim. He lived there for a time, then he took on another project and fortified Penuel.
Jeroboam (in his heart): 26 It is possible that the kingdom might return to the house of David. 27 If these people make sacrifices in the Eternal’s temple in Jerusalem, then their hearts will go back to their lord, even to Rehoboam, Judah’s king. They will surely execute me and go back to Rehoboam, Judah’s king.
28 The king sought out advice and then cast two calves out of gold.
Jeroboam (to Israel): It’s too difficult for you to travel all the way to Jerusalem to make your sacrifices. These are your gods, Israel, who led you out of Egypt.
29 Jeroboam placed one of the golden calves in Bethel and the other in Dan. 30 This was a horribly wicked sin. People even traveled with the golden calf in a religious procession when it was placed in Dan. 31 Jeroboam constructed temples on high places, and he appointed men to be priests who were not descendants of Levi.
32 Jeroboam instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month. It was similar to the Feast of Booths that is celebrated in the seventh month in Judah.[a] He then approached the altar in Bethel and offered sacrifices to the golden calves he had crafted. While he was doing this, he instructed the priests of the country’s high places to serve in Bethel. 33 Jeroboam then approached the altar in Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month to make sacrifices according to a plan he had devised. There, he instituted this festival for all the Israelites. Then he approached the altar and burned incense.
In his zeal to solidify the worship of the Lord in the Northern Kingdom, Jeroboam inadvertently dooms the Israelites’ relationship with God by making changes to God’s laws. Instead of worshiping no idols, the Northern Kingdom has two golden calves. Instead of worshiping at the temple in Jerusalem, the Israelites worship at various shrines like the one at Bethel. Instead of relying on the Levites, others can become priests and approach the altar. Finally, instead of following God’s calendar, Jeroboam brings with him the Egyptian calendar from his time in exile, thus altering the observance date of every sacred festival in the Northern Kingdom. The unwillingness to conform to God’s worship requirements will devolve into outright rebellion on the part of Israel.
13 A man of God from Judah arrived in Bethel because the Eternal One had told him to go there for a divine purpose. He arrived in the city while Jeroboam was burning incense at the altar. 2 The prophet proclaimed the message of the Eternal against the altar.
Man of God: Altar, altar, listen closely! This is the message of the Eternal: “A boy named Josiah will be born of David’s royal bloodline, and he will sacrifice the priests of the high places upon your back. O what irony: the bones of the priests will burn at the very spot where, just the day before, the priests burned incense.”
3 The prophet offered a sign that day.
Man of God: The Eternal One has revealed what the sign will be: “The altar will split in two, and the countless ashes of fat will fall out.”
4 The king heard the threatening message that the man of God boldly proclaimed against the altar in Bethel.
Jeroboam (raising his hand): Grab hold of him! He’s dangerous!
When Jeroboam raised his hand from the altar, it shriveled up instantaneously, and he could not bring it back to his body. 5 The altar broke apart, and the ashes of fat fell out of the altar. This sign occurred exactly as the man of God said it would in the message he gave from the Eternal One.
Jeroboam (to the man of God): 6 I beg you to intercede quickly with the Eternal, your True God, and ask Him to make my hand normal again.
So the man of God called upon the Eternal, and Jeroboam’s hand became normal again, as if it had never changed.
Jeroboam: 7 Now accompany me to my house for refreshment, and I will give you something in return for the good you have done me.
Man of God: 8 Even if you offered to give me half of your estate, I would not accompany you. I would not eat a crumb or drink water from your table. 9 The Eternal gave me clear instructions. He said, “While you are there, do not eat a crumb or drink water. Do not travel back the way you came.”
Certainly God’s requirements seem to be unreasonable. In fact, they are! Only by requiring something so arbitrary can God test the man’s dedication to Him.
10 So the man of God took a different path from the one he had originally traveled to Bethel.
11 There was an old prophet who lived in Bethel. The old prophet’s sons heard about the sign the man of God had performed and about the words he spoke to the king, and they relayed these things to their father.
Prophet (to his sons): 12 Where did the man of God go? I would like to see him.
The old prophet’s sons had seen which way the man of God from Judah had gone, so they told their father which direction to take.
Prophet (to his sons): 13 Get the donkey ready. I’m going to find the man of God.
The old prophet’s sons saddled the donkey, and the father got on it and went to find the man of God. 14 Along his journey, he found the man of God resting beneath an oak tree.
Prophet (to the man of God): There’s been talk of a man of God from Judah who performed a sign for Jeroboam. Are you that man?
Man of God: Yes, I am.
Prophet: 15 Accompany me back to my house, and eat my bread. Surely you must be hungry.
Man of God: 16 I will not accompany you to your house, and I will not eat your bread or drink your water here. 17 The Eternal One gave me clear instructions when He said, “While you are there, do not eat a crumb or drink water. Do not travel back the way you came.”
Prophet: 18 But you see, I, too, am a prophet, just as you are. One of the Eternal’s heavenly messengers brought me this word of the Eternal: “Escort the man of God back to your house, feed him your bread, and let him drink your water.”
But the old prophet lied. 19 The man of God trusted the old prophet and accompanied him back to his house, where he ate bread and drank water.
20 While they were sitting at the prophet’s table, the Eternal gave a grim message to the prophet who brought the man of God to his house. 21 He spoke it to the man of God who was from Judah.
Prophet: This is the urgent message of the Eternal One: You have strayed from His strict instructions. You have not honored the command of the Eternal, your True God. 22 Instead, you have eaten bread and drunk water here, even after He gave you this instruction: “Do not eat a crumb or drink water while you are there.” Therefore you will not be buried in the place of your fathers.
To be buried away from one’s family is the ultimate curse. In ancient Israel, a connection is retained between the living and the dead. The ancestors are to be buried somewhere on the family land, legally securing forever the land for the living family members. The living family members, by taking care of that land, care for their ancestors in the afterlife. If someone is buried away from his ancestral home, then the quality of his afterlife is in question.
23 After having a sobering meal and some water, the prophet prepared his donkey for the man of God. 24 While the man of God was traveling on the donkey, he was killed by a lion and his body fell to the ground, right in the middle of the road. 25 It was the strangest sight, for the donkey and the lion both remained standing beside the man’s body. People walked by on the road and saw the body of the man of God with the lion standing beside it. The people brought word of this strange sight to the city of the old prophet.
Prophet (hearing the news): 26 The dead body is that of the man of God. He strayed from the Eternal’s strict directions so He has sent the lion to tear him to pieces and kill him, just as He said would happen.
27 (to his sons) Prepare the donkey so that I can ride it. I must go retrieve the body of the man of God.
And so his sons saddled the donkey for him. 28 The prophet traveled to the body of the man of God. The donkey and the lion remained standing beside it on the road. The strange thing is that the lion had not tried to eat any of the dead body or kill the donkey. 29 The prophet gathered up the lifeless body of the man of God and placed it on the donkey, then he led the donkey back to the old prophet’s city where he grieved for the man of God and gave him a proper burial. 30 The prophet buried the man of God in his own grave; and everyone grieved for him, crying out, “I’m so sorry, brother!” 31 After the prophet had buried the man of God, he spoke to his sons.
Prophet: When death takes me someday, I want you to bury me in the same grave as the man of God, so that my bones rest next to his bones. This will be an honor for me. 32 The words he cried out against the altar in Bethel and against the high places in the Samaritan towns will surely happen, for those words were the Eternal’s message.
33 Even after all of this, Jeroboam still did not repent from his wickedness. He continued to choose priests for the high places out of anyone and everyone. Any man who was willing to be a priest, Jeroboam ordained him so that the man could act as a priest of the high places. 34 This was wicked enough to annihilate Jeroboam’s entire house and reign from the history of the world.
26 and he returned to Jerusalem.
He tried to join the disciples there, but they didn’t think he was sincere.
27 Only one person accepted Saul as a genuine disciple, Barnabas, who became Saul’s advocate to the apostles. He told the whole story of what happened in Damascus, from Saul’s vision and message from the Lord to his transformation into a confident proclaimer of the name of Jesus. 28 Finally they accepted Saul and gave him access to their community, and he continued to speak confidently in the name of the Lord. 29 He dialogued—and argued—with a group of Greek-speaking Jews. That didn’t go well either, because soon they were plotting to kill him also. 30 His fellow believers helped him escape by bringing him to Caesarea and sending him to his hometown, Tarsus.
31 And so the church enjoyed a period of peace and growth throughout the regions of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. The disciples lived in deep reverence for the Lord, they experienced the strong comfort of the Holy Spirit, and their numbers increased.
32 Peter hadn’t been idle during all this time. He was having a number of amazing experiences of his own, traveling from group to group and visiting the various communities of believers. Once he came to a town called Lydda, a border town between Samaria and Judea, and met with God’s special people there. 33 He visited a man named Aeneas. This poor fellow had been paralyzed for eight years, unable to leave his bed.
Peter: 34 Aeneas, Jesus the Anointed heals you. Get up! Now you can make your own bed!
And immediately—he got up! 35 All the local residents—both of Lydda and nearby Sharon—saw Aeneas healthy and strong again, so they turned to the Lord.
36 In a nearby coastal city, Joppa, there lived a disciple whose Aramaic name was Tabitha, or Dorcas in Greek. She was a good woman—devotedly doing good and giving to the poor. 37 While Peter was in Lydda, she fell sick and died. Her fellow disciples washed her body and laid her in an upstairs room. 38 They had heard Peter was nearby, so two of them went with an urgent message, “Please come to Joppa as soon as possible.”
39 Peter went with them and immediately entered the room where the corpse had been placed. It was quite a scene—the widows of the community were crowded in the room, weeping, showing the various items of clothing that Dorcas had made for them.
40 Peter asked them to leave the room; then he got on his knees. He prayed for a while and then turned to her body.
Peter: Tabitha, get up!
She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. 41 Giving her his hand, Peter lifted her up. Then he called in the other disciples—including the widows—and reintroduced them to their beloved friend. 42 The news of this miracle spread throughout the city, and many believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time as the guest of Simon, a tanner by profession.
A song for those journeying to worship.
1 Eternal One, don’t let the suffering of our father David be forgotten—
for his sake, remember!
2 Remember the pledge he made, how he poured out his heart to the Eternal,
the promise he made to the Mighty One of Jacob:
3 He said, “I will not go inside my house
or lie down in my bed;
4 I will not even rest my eyes—
I will not take comfort in sleep—
5 Until I find a dwelling place for You, the Eternal,
a holy residence dedicated to the Mighty One of Jacob.”
7 Let us journey to His dwelling place;
let us worship at His footstool.
8 Eternal One, arise and go to Your new home—
You and the ark of Your strength.
9 Let every priest join the march wearing righteousness,
and let songs of joy erupt from the hearts and mouths of Your godly ones.
10 For the well-being of Your anointed servant,
do not turn Your back on David.
11 The Eternal made His own promise, sworn in truth to David,
an oath which He cannot, will not break:
“I will continue your dynasty, David;
one of your descendants will sit on your throne.
12 If your children obey My covenant
and follow the statutes which I shall teach them,
And if they remain faithful, their children will also
sit upon your throne—forever.”
13 For the Eternal selected Zion;
He desired it as His holy place of residence.
14 “This is My sanctuary, My resting place, forever and ever;
I will remain here, for this is what I have desired.
15 I will bless Zion with an endless supply of all she needs;
I will satisfy the bellies of her hungry with bread.
16 I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and songs of joy will erupt from the hearts and mouths of her godly people.
17 “From there I will make the strength of David’s kingdom grow
and prepare a lamp for My anointed one.
18 I will clothe his enemies with a garment of shame;
but as for David’s son, his crown will shine brightly like the sun.”
6 Grandchildren are the crowning glory and ultimate delight of old age,
and parents are the pride of their children.