After Solomon died, the kingdom of Israel was divided. Two young men, Jeroboam and Rehoboam, became the rulers of the two divisions. The people had been instructed to worship in Jerusalem. But Jeroboam was afraid that if his people went up to Jerusalem to worship, as God had commanded, that they would return to the rule of King Rehoboam. To keep that from happening, he built altars at Dan and Bethel and told the people they could worship at those places. Should they obey God or man?
In I Kings 13, we find that God sent a young prophet to Bethel and warned Jeroboam that God would not accept worship there. This angered King Jeroboam, and he stretched out his hand and ordered his guards to arrest the young prophet. But the king’s arm withered up so that he could not pull it back. It is unwise to try to resist God!
Jeroboam asked the prophet to restore his arm, and he did. The king then told the prophet, “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” The young prophet informed the king that when God sent him there, He instructed him not to eat or drink anything, nor return by the same way he came. So, the young prophet said that he would decline even if the king were to offer him half of everything he owned. At this point, the young prophet had chosen to obey God rather than man.
So, according to God’s instructions, the prophet took another route home. But on the way, an older prophet found him sitting under an oak tree and invited him to go home with him to eat. The young prophet explained that God had commanded him not to eat or drink anything in that place. But the older man (who was lying) said, “I too, am a prophet, and an angel spoke to me and told me to bring you back home and give you food and drink.” The young prophet must again decide whether to obey God or man.
Believing the older man, the young prophet went home with him and ate and drank at his house. While they were sitting at the table, the Lord said, “Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord…your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.” And sure enough, on his way home, a lion killed the young prophet.
It is important for us to realize that Satan uses every available means to destroy us. Sometimes he even uses false teachers. We cannot blame God. God gives us the truth. Satan has been lying to man ever since the Garden of Eden. When someone claims to have a message from God, we had better do like the Bereans did in Acts 17:11. They searched the Scriptures daily to make sure it was God’s word.
Do you just accept whatever the preacher says, without checking the Bible to make sure it is God’s word? You may sincerely obey what he tells you, but if it is not God’s word, it is all in vain. Many religious people in the Bible were honest and sincere, but they were wrong. The book of Acts has many examples of religious people who still needed to be converted. They had done what they thought was right, but they had not obeyed the truth, God’s word (John 17:17). We must obey God, rather than man.
Throughout the Scriptures, God warns us to beware of false teachers. Only the truth can set us free from sin (John 8:32). God’s word cannot be changed. The gospel is God’s power to save everyone who believes (Romans 1:16), but it must be God’s word that is believed (Romans 10:17). Like the young prophet, we must obey God and not the lies of men. Jesus says in Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” Man says, “No, just repeat the ‘Sinner’s Prayer.’” But it cannot be found in the Bible. Will you obey God or man? Make sure what you believe is what God says!