This is a story about which my mother used to wonder. She found it “strange” and “mysterious” and “hard to understand” but she never questioned its veracity, for it was written in the infallible and flawless “Word of God” (the Bible). It is found in 1 Kings 13:1-32
In short, a man of God, a prophet, made a prophecy to an altar upon which King Jeroboam was making offerings to other gods. He prophesied that the altar would be destroyed. Jereboam, stretched out his hand toward the prophet, and said to one of his servants, “Seize him!” His hand immediately became withered or paralyzed so that he couldn’t move it. He then asked the man of God to pray to Yahweh to restore his hand. The prophet did so, and it was immediately restored. Jereboam was so grateful (or perhaps it was the thought he’d better not mess with a prophet whose prayers God answered) that he invited him to his home to eat and drink, with a promise of a reward. But the prophet said, “Even if you give me half of your possessions, I will not go. For Yahweh commanded me not to eat or drink while away, or return by the same route.”
But an old prophet from Bethel learned from his sons what the man of God had done. So he rode and met the man of God and invited him to his house for a meal. Again the man of God refused on the basis of Yahweh’s commands. But the old prophet said, "I, too, am a prophet. An angel told me the word of Yahweh, that I was to bring you to my house for a meal. But the old prophet lied. No such angel had appeared to him at all. But the man of God did not know this. He knew that Yahweh sometimes changed his mind, and probably thought that He had done so on this occasion. So he went to the lying prophet’s house and ate with him. Then Yahweh spoke to the man of God through the lying old prophet, “Because you’ve disobeyed my instruction to you, your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.” So after the man of God had eaten and drunk, he rode away on his donkey, and encountered a lion that killed him. The lion and the donkey stood beside his body. People who saw it told the old prophet. The old prophet said, “That is the man who disobeyed the word of Yahweh. So Yahweh gave him to the lion.” Then the old prophet rode to the body, laid it on his donkey, and brought it back to the city. Then he laid the body in his own tomb, and mourned his death, crying, “Alas! my brother!” After that he requested his sons that when he died, they would lay him in the same tomb—lay him beside the man of God, “For,” he said, “The word of Yahweh against the altar in Bethel and against all the houses of the high places in Samaria shall surely come to pass.”
Why did the prophet lie to the man of God? Did he WANT God to kill him? Yet he seemed to truly respect the man of God since he wished to be buried with him, and declared that the man’s prophecy from Yahweh, would surely come to pass. Was the lying prophet punished, or even rebuked for his deception? There is nothing in the record that suggests so. And does that fact indicate that Yahweh APPROVED of the prophet’s deception? Is obeying minor commands such as He gave the man of God, more important to Yahweh than refraining from lying or deception?
These are questions for which I have no answers. Any thoughts?