Editor’s Note: The AMI devotionals from July 6-12 are provided by Cami King, who serves on the church staff of JCC, Raleigh.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
1 Kings 13:26-34
26 And when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of the Lord; therefore the Lord has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word that the Lord spoke to him.” 27 And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And they saddled it.28 And he went and found his body thrown in the road, and the donkey and the lion standing beside the body. The lion had not eaten the body or torn the donkey. 29 And the prophet took up the body of the man of God and laid it on the donkey and brought it back to the city to mourn and to bury him. 30 And he laid the body in his own grave. And they mourned over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!” 31 And after he had buried him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. 32 For the saying that he called out by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel and against all the houses of the high places that are in the cities of Samaria shall surely come to pass.” 33 After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people. Any who would, he ordained to be priests of the high places. 34 And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth.
If I’m honest, passages like this always make me uncomfortable because of how harsh God seems. The man of God who we’ve read about for a few days now was disobedient to the strict command God gave him (to eat and drink nothing while on his journey). As a result God judged him and took his life. So accustomed to God’s grace, I often lose touch with His justice and am alarmed when I read about it. However, it is good to be reminded of the consequences of rebellion of any kind against God. This story serves as an object-lesson to us all of the destruction that sin inevitably accomplishes in our lives.
With that said, let us turn again to King Jeroboam. The man of God came to the king to warn him about his wicked deeds (building idols for God’s people to worship) and the judgment of the Lord that would come upon him as a result. Jeroboam refused to listen to the man, and so God supernaturally destroyed the altar Jeroboam had constructed right before his eyes. God also miraculously struck Jeroboam’s hand so that it withered when it was stretched out against the man of God. Two miraculous signs God had already done before the king to get him to listen—but he refused. Finally, the news of this prophet’s disobedience to God (to what seems like a much smaller degree than the king’s disobedience) and the punishment for his disobedience spread. But even after this, we find that King Jeroboam still refused to listen to the Lord.
From the outside looking in, it’s easy to grow frustrated with King Jeroboam. It is clear to us what he should do – turn away from the idols and worship the Lord properly. But the way that we should go, especially when our judgment is clouded by sinful desires, is often much more clear to others than to us. But God gives grace – in these moments He will often send warnings (through friends, through circumstances, through Scripture, even through signs and wonders) to help us choose His way. When this happens, may we have eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to respond to the Lord, lest we find ourselves devoured by our sinful ways.
Prayer: Lord, help me to have eyes to see You at work, ears to hear Your words, and a heart to respond to Your prompting. I believe that You, through Your Holy Spirit, are leading me and guiding me daily. Help me to listen and obey. May I not harden my heart and insist upon my own way and so suffer the consequences for disobedience.
Bible Reading for Today: Hosea 4
Lunch Break Study
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
Questions to Consider:
- What is the psalmist calling God’s people to do and why?
- What is the warning the psalmist gives to those who hear God’s voice.
- What example does he use to illustrate his point? Why do you think he makes this reference?
- The psalmist calls the people of God to worship Him and acknowledge who He is (kneel down before Him). We do this precisely because of who God is. The Bible tells us that once we see God and truly understand who He is, our only reasonable response is to bow down and worship Him – not just in songs or prayers on Sunday morning, but with our whole lives.
- When God speaks, the people of God have to be careful to listen. The psalmist says not to “harden your hearts” – this is a warning not to be callous to God and His instructions. We want to have soft hearts that are convicted by the words of God, so moved internally by His voice that we act accordingly.
- The psalmist uses an example from their own history to illustrate his point. In the wilderness, God’s people demanded that He provide for them on His own terms (see Exodus 17) – they did things their own way and did not trust God enough to soften their hearts toward Him. The psalmist mentions this to remind them just how prone they are to this kind of behavior. This should be a warning to us as well, for we are equally as prone to harden our hearts to God’s voice.
Are you a person who struggles with a hardness of heart? Think back to the last time you heard God speak – as your read Scripture, spent time in prayer, listened to a sermon on Sunday, sang a worship song, received instruction or correction from a brother or sister in Christ. How did you respond? Was your heart moved with conviction? Or did you feel apathetic? Did you walk in obedience or did you continue in the same paths as before? Pray and ask God to give you a softened heart that is responsive to His voice.