A photo of a beach in Israel during the sunset.


Imagine I asked you, “What’s the weirdest novel or film you’ve ever come across?” Your answers would likely differ. Now, consider this: what if I told you that the Holy Bible documents some of the most bizarre events in history? Today, let’s explore one such incident found in 1 Kings 13:1-34. In a nutshell, a man of God predicts judgment on King Jeroboam. God instructs him not to eat or drink in the area, but an older prophet deceives him.

The man disobeys and gets killed by a lion. The older prophet then finds and buries him, acknowledging the truth of the man’s message. It’s a tale even seasoned scholars find perplexing. So, why did God include such a strange story in His Word? I can think of four reasons. (Every sentence in the Bible serves a specific purpose after all.) By the way, I’ve titled today’s message “A Prophet Who Lied and a Prophet Who Died.”

1. An Insignificant Man with a Significant Message

Let’s consider the prophet who died. The author of 1 Kings doesn’t identify him by name. He rather introduces him as a “Man of God from Judah” who came to Bethel. That’s it! An insignificant “nobody” but with a significant message because the NIV says “By the word of the Lord a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. By the word of the Lord, he cried out against the altar:” The messenger may be insignificant but the message was significant because both the messenger and the message were sent by the God almighty!

Someone said, “Without God man cannot, and without man God doesn’t” This anonymous prophet demonstrates that one does not need to be somebody to be significantly used by God. Do you believe that you are nobody as well? When we look at the scriptures it is evident that God is looking for men and women who are nobodies. Why is the Lord looking for insignificant men and women like us? It’s because he always handpicks insignificant people to be the bearers of his significant message to people who don’t know the Lord.

This prophet without a name lived at a time when the Kingdom of Israel was divided as the southern and the northern kingdom. There were no qualified messengers within the northern kingdom of Israel. It’s a sad remark on the spiritual climate of Jeroboam’s kingdom. It sounds a lot like our modern-day society, isn’t it? He reminds me of God’s words to the prophet Isaiah. “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Will you say, “Here am I; send me!’ Will you go unto the utmost of parts of the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

This prophet experienced two divine phenomena when he left his home in Judah to deliver God’s message to King Jeroboam in Bethel. First, the Lord gave an immediate sign by splitting the altar to confirm the prophecy to people who were around. Second, Jeroboam’s hand was withered when he ordered the prophet’s arrest. When we leave our comfort zone we also will be followed by signs and wonders as Jesus promised, (John 14:12). We shall face persecution also, (Matthew 10:16). However, our sufferings are nothing compared to the reward awaiting us in heaven, (Matthew 5:12).

2. A Deceptive Man with a Disastrous Message

Let’s consider the prophet who lied. He was anonymous, older, and deceptive. Although the Bible doesn’t reveal much about this man, judging by the fact he possessed the genuine gift of prophecy and his deceptive behavior we can easily conclude he was once a prophet of the Lord, who had fallen from his steadfastness. Otherwise, why would God bring another prophet from the Southern Kingdom to confront Jeroboam? The modern Christendom is not short of ministers like him but I want to interpret his behavior from a different angle.

Ironically, men of God often tend to give into temptation on account of food ever since the creation, (Genesis 3:6) although Daniel and his friends were wiser. Food isn’t inherently evil but represents our vulnerabilities in general. The young prophet was smart to decline the king’s invitation to dine with him (Proverbs 23:1-3) but not smart enough to resist the old prophet’s urges. Perhaps the apostle Paul thought of this deceptive man when he said even an angel who preaches a false gospel must be condemned, (Galatians 1:8).

There are a few important life applications we can draw from the character of this deceptive prophet. First, deception walks in parallel with the truth making discernment tricky (…I too am a prophet…). Secondly, the devil seeks to deceive not the unbelievers but believers because unbelievers are already deceived (…and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord…). Thirdly charisma and physical maturity can’t substitute God’s Word. The old age and the charisma that the old prophet exhibited are some of the reasons the young prophet failed to exercise discernment.

The young prophet suffered dire consequences for disobedience. How do we protect ourselves in an age when deception is prevailing? By knowing God’s word by heart. The Bible has been translated into 10,000+ languages already. Hence we don’t have an excuse. Did you know that in the US Treasury officers are told to rub their fingers over currency notes? The idea is to familiarize them with the tactile experience of handling a real currency note to the extent that they can easily distinguish counterfeit ones by touch. Likewise when we know God’s word by heart discerning deception is easy.

3. Judgement of the world starts in the Church

As a teenager, when I first heard the story of the prophet who confronted the wicked king Jeroboam and was killed by a lion, I found it unjust that God allowed such a fate. Later on, the Holy Spirit drew my attention to Matthew 7:21, making me realize that both Jesus and the author of 1 Kings stress the importance of genuine obedience and a sincere heart in establishing a relationship with God. This revelation highlighted that mere professions of faith or knowledge of God’s will are insufficient. It also highlights that judgment begins within the Church as in 1 Peter 4:17.

Commentators prefer to interpret the word “Judgement” here as disciplining but the Greek word “krima” primarily conveys the idea of judgment. The verse discusses a time of judgment within the Christian community, emphasizing the scrutiny and evaluation of believers. The focus is on the consequences or outcomes of this divine judgment. While the concept of discipline can be related to judgment, the primary emphasis in this passage is on the broader idea of divine judgment rather than specific disciplinary actions.

We should not find divine judgment to be an unfamiliar occurrence. In Acts 5:1-11 Ananias and Saphira were struck down by God for lying to the Holy Spirit. In Acts 12:23 God struck down Herod Agrippa. Further in Matthew 12:32, Jesus warned blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. In John 15:2 Jesus warned the Father will cut off every branch that doesn’t bear fruit. These occurrences of divine judgment in the New Testament should serve as a warning to all of us. Our eternal salvation depends on whether or not we heed these warnings.

As we walk through life let us not forget God is a loving Father but he is also the supreme Judge. This is why Paul the apostle said we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling, (Philippians 2:12-13). Now, one might argue salvation is by faith not by works. Remember, Paul, did not tell us to work on our salvation. He said to “…work out…” our salvation which means to exercise the faith that produces our salvation, (James 2:26) for we are not saved by works of righteousness but we are saved by faith for works of righteousness.

4. The Word of God is Alive, Active & Powerful

Intriguingly, God chose to use a deceptive prophet to deliver a message of judgment to another prophet. This might not be surprising, considering that in the past, God has employed even animals to communicate with people who were not attentive, (Numbers 22:28). Now you need to understand that the word of God is alive, active, and powerful. At the start of the story, we observed the altar being broken, just as the young prophet had foretold, demonstrating the living nature of God’s Word.

Towards the end of the story, we see the old prophet has a change of heart. Upon hearing about the death of the man of God, he acknowledges the truth in the dead prophet’s words. He brings the body to his place, mourns, and buries him in his own tomb. He instructs his sons to bury him in the same grave, confident that the message he declared against the altar in Bethel and the shrines in Samaria will come to fruition. This significant transformation indicates that the word of God is active because God himself is alive.

The most fascinating aspect of the story is what happened to the original prophecy. The prediction made by the prophet who died was fulfilled in 2 Kings 21:26, 22:1-20, and 23:1-10, as the words spoken by the Lord through him came true. It took about 300 years, roughly spanning 12 generations, for the prophecy to be realized. The prophecy was not fulfilled by chance after three centuries; rather, it happened at the time God had predetermined. God, knowing the ideal moment for the change, ensured that the prophecy was realized according to His plan.

The Word of God is inherently powerful, as stated in Isaiah 55:11. God’s promises don’t require constant follow-up because they have the inherent ability to fulfill themselves. If you have a promise from God, you don’t need to continually check in with Him; His Word carries the power to bring about its own fulfillment. Even if you’ve waited for a long time without seeing the promise materialize, it’s crucial to recall that forgotten promise and let the Holy Spirit renew your faith. Regardless of the duration of the wait, God’s promise will eventually come to fruition in your life.


This story of a prophet who lied and a prophet who died is indeed a weird and twisted tale. It raises numerous unanswered questions. Perhaps one day, when we meet our Lord and Savior in person, we’ll have the opportunity to ask these questions and he will explain the answers to us. For now, we have to live with the fact, that despite its oddity, God has incorporated it into the Bible as a lesson for generations to come.

Most of the time, our finite minds struggle to comprehend the complete purposes of God. My prayer is that, in the years ahead, God will impart wisdom to you through this story. I believe it will empower you to faithfully serve Him, shield you from the impact of false teachings, motivate you to lead a righteous life, and encourage you to steadfastly hold onto God’s word, regardless of the circumstances.

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