A prophet sent in testimony and judgment from Judah
But the testimony and the
judgment of God tarried not according to the mercy of God
towards His people. Prophecy immediately re-appears; for
the faithful love of God to His people never grows weary.
His mercy endureth for ever. The testimony of His wordprophecythat
is to say, the intervention of God in testimony, when the
people go astray and the ordinary connections between God
and His people are broken, does not fail. Rehoboam
himself is forbidden, by prophecy, to carry out his
intention of fighting against Israel, to bring them again
under his dominion; but, in the case of Jeroboam, Jehovah
vindicates the rights of His glory against the king
himself and against his altar. The altar is rent, the
ashes poured out, the king's armput forth against
the prophetis dried up, and only restored through
the prophet's intercession.
Here too Jehovah makes
known that He has not forgotten the house of David in the
midst of all this evil. From his house shall proceed the
repairer of the breach, and the judge of that iniquity
which caused the breach; for Judah is still recognised as
the place of His throne.
judgment on disobedience shown in the prophet himself
The prophet, charged with
such a testimony as this, is forbidden even to drink
water among a people who call themselves Israel, but who
are rebellious and defiled. No participation in such
guilty confusion is allowed; and the prophet himself
suffers the consequences of God's just judgment upon his
disobedience. Such was the severity of God with respect
to an action that countenanced a state of unfaithfulness,
which the light He had given was sufficient to judge.
The details of this case
deserve some notice.
By the word of God the
prophet had knowledge of the judgment of God. His heart
should have recognised, morally as well as prophetically,
the dreadful evil of Israel's position; and the moral
sense of this evil should have given the prophetic
testimony its full power over his own heart. At any rate
the word of God was imperative: he was neither to eat nor
to drink there. He knew it, and he remembered it; but
there was in appearance another testimony, a motive for
neglecting the Lord's command. The old prophet (and he
was a prophet) told him that Jehovah had said unto him,
"Bring him back into thine house that he may eat
bread"; so the prophet from Judah went back with him.
It was very desirable for the unfaithful old prophet,
that a man whom God was using for testimony (and whose
testimony he himself also believed) should sanction his
unfaithfulness by association with it. Outwardly he
appeared to honour the testimony of God, and the man who
bore it. In fact the prophet from Judah, by returning
with the old prophet, destroyed the power of his own
testimony. The old prophetalthough truly suchbore
with the evil around him. The testimony of God, on the
contrary, declared that the evil was not to be borne with.
It was with this testimony that the other prophet was
charged; and the refusal to eat or drink in the place was
the moral and personal testimony of his own faithfulness,
of his conviction, and of his obedience. This refusal was
the testimony that, in this matter, he took God's part.
But, by returning with the old prophet, he nullified his
testimony, and countenanced the old prophet in his
unfaithfulness. God did not reverse His word, if the
prophet was disobedient to it. The old prophet was
punished, in that God made use of his mouth to announce
the consequences of his fault to the prophet from Judah.
It is also a lesson which teaches us, that, whenever God
has made His will known to us, we are not to allow any
after influence whatever to call it in question, even
although the latter may take the form of the word of God.
If we were morally nearer to the Lord, we should feel
that the only true and right position is to follow that
which He told us at first.
Obedience to God's
In every case our part is
to obey what He has said. His word will put us in a true
positionin position apart from evil, and from the
power of evil, even when we have not spiritual
intelligence to appreciate it. If we fail in this
obedience, we lose our sense of the falseness of our
position, because the moral sentiment is weakened. At
best there is uneasiness, but no liberty. Where the
Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Unfaithfulness
to the simple and primary testimony of God's word never
sets us at liberty, whatever may be the reasons which
apparently justify our putting it aside.