I just read the story of “the disobedient man of God” in 1 Kings 13 and I really don’t understand it. In the story, king Jeroboam is offering sacrifices to golden calves he made at Bethel, and an unnamed “man of God from Judah” is sent by God to denounce him. The man of God does what he was told to do, and when invited to come and share a meal with the king, he refuses, saying that God told him not to eat or drink anything. All well and good so far.
As the man is going home, another “old prophet living in Bethel” hears about it, and goes after the unnamed man to talk to him about it. The old prophet invites the man to eat with him and the man refuses, saying God told him not to eat anything. The old prophet then lies to the man, saying “an angel gave me this command from the LORD: ‘Bring him home with you so he can have something to eat and drink.'”(NLT) At this, the man agrees and goes home to eat and drink with the old prophet. While they’re there eating, the LORD speaks to the old prophet and has him condemn the man for disobeying God. He prophecies that the man will be killed and his bones will not rest with those of his ancestors. On his way home, the man is eaten by a lion.
What’s the moral here? If I had been in that situation, I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the exact same. Based on the information given, I don’t see the reason why God would do this to what seems to be an unsuspecting victim. Furthermore, the old prophet seems to experience no consequences at all for his deception of God’s messenger. So… maybe there is more to the story that we aren’t told. Maybe the old prophet was actually secretly sent by the king to destroy the man. Perhaps the man had unwritten secret sins. Or maybe the moral is that if God tells you to do something, you’d better do it until God Himself tells you personally to stop. Can anyone give me a better explanation?