Exodus 32; 1 Kings 13:1-34; Daniel 5:13-17; Luke 16:31; John 15:24; 2 Timothy 4:3
God’s call to complete obedience is not sidetracked by compromise or variation from a clear message given.
Bibles, paper, pencils
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
- “It doesn’t matter” sometimes defuses a trivial conflict. But sometimes the issue at hand does matter to you or to others involved. Describe a time when you said (or someone said to you) “It doesn’t matter”—but it did matter!
- As you listen to others share their experiences, ask yourself, “What principle can I learn from these stories about how to determine what does matter?”
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
- In this lesson we will study a strange story about obedience. Before looking at the chapter, think about your own personal view of “obedience” in relation to your religious beliefs. Take a piece of paper and draw lines, dividing the paper horizontally and vertically into four parts. In each of the four boxes, write one concept about obedience that you believe to be true.
- Thought Questions
Read 1 Kings 13:1-5. The northern kingdom of Israel broke away from the southern kingdom of Judah. A “man of God” comes to the northern kingdom from the southern kingdom to prophesy against King Jeroboam. If you read 1 Kings 12:28-33, you discover compromises in worship. What were those compromises?
- Making two golden calves (reminiscent of Exodus 32)
- Building shrines on high places like the pagans
- Appointing priests who were not Levites
- Choosing a new place of sacrificial worship (Bethel)
- Jeroboam, a king, also served as a priest, which overstepped his role.
After the prophet speaks against Jeroboam, the king stretches out his hand in accusation, but his hand shrivels. Read 1 Kings 13:6-10. The king appeals to the prophet to intercede with God and then invites the prophet home for a meal. The prophet refuses. Is his refusal reasonable?
- No. It was rude to refuse this act of kindness.
- Yes. God told him to go straight home and not even stop to eat or drink.
- Maybe. He could have spent some time with the king and then left for home.
- The king wasn’t genuine; he wasn’t trying to be kind.
- It seems that offering a prophet a meal and a gift would reveal a repentant heart, wouldn’t it?
A new person shows up in the story—an old prophet from northern Israel. Read this part of the story in 1 Kings 13:11-22. He apparently lies to the “man of God” from the south but then speaks a true “word of the Lord” to him. How can a prophet lie and then tell the truth?
- He can’t. The story got lost in translation. The old prophet didn’t really “lie” but was testing the other prophet.
- He sure did; the Bible says he was lying. Isn’t it amazing that God uses imperfect people?
- The old prophet’s prediction certainly came true, so he must have still had some connection with God.
- The old prophet must already have known the other one wasn’t supposed to go home and eat with anyone.
- It’s not worth the time to figure out how a prophet could lie and tell the truth.
This strange story concludes when the “man of God” heads home, is attacked by a lion along the way, and is killed. Read 1 Kings 13:23-34. What can we possibly learn from this odd chapter in the Bible?
- Compromise in worship leads to disastrous results.
- When God clearly lays out expectations, we should seek to perfectly obey the Lord’s directions.
- God is willing to use sinful people in messy circumstances to communicate truth—even if it happens in imperfect ways.
- Leaders, more than persons in the pew, are to obey God’s commands without compromise.
- You cannot trust all “religious” people—even if they are old. Test everything against God’s Word.
Applying the Message of the Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. After several minutes, report back to the larger group with your findings.
- Option 1: Summarize four things you’ve learned in this lesson by outlining your thoughts with the acronym O.B.E.Y. Let each letter of this word stand for one principle you learned in this lesson.
- Option 2: King Jeroboam clearly compromised God’s instructions on temple worship. Using his compromises as a springboard, list some guidelines that you believe would be helpful to follow in worship.
- Option 3: A guest from a different denomination says to your class, “I believe an overemphasis on obedience leads to a dead religion, fear of God, and a belittling of Christ’s compassion for sinners. That is the downfall of your religion.” How would you respond to this statement?
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
- Pretend you are King Jeroboam and a “man of God” speaks to you. What message do you think God might want you to hear in your own heart? Reflect quietly on this for a few minutes.
- Gather in groups of two or three and pray for Spirit-filled hearts that seek to follow after God’s ways.
Next Week’s Scripture Focus:
1 Kings 17; Job 38; 42:5, 6; Luke 4:24-28; Hebrews 11:1; Revelation 1:17