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a lion and a donkey...

In the midst of 1 Kings (Chapter 13), there is quite a terrifying story of 2 prophets. One prophet that was righteous but through deception became a sinner, and one who was a sinner who became righteous through his own sinful deed. It is a tale of humanness…a tale of brokenness…a tale of mercy… and a tale of redemption – a lot like ours.

The ”good” prophet, earlier in the chapter, had spoken a judgment against Jeroboam and his evil ways. In the midst of the decree he heals Jeroboam’s withered hand…to which Jeroboam entreaties him to come with him home so he can be refreshed and to get a reward. The prophet declines reciting the command of the Lord to not eat bread or drink water or go back the way he came. And just like that, he exited Jeroboams presence and began his way home. All was well and unhindered until an “old prophet” followed the man of God and likewise entreated him to come with him to refresh (with no reward – unlike the King). Again, the man recited the command of the Lord to which the old prophet (deceptively) told him that an angel of the Lord spoke to him and told him to bring him back. And just like that, the man of God followed him.

How quickly even the righteous are led astray – not just by the outside world, but more so by those who are “faithful”. It is so easy to listen to the words spoken on a Sunday and to trust every one of them – and it is so easy to give money to a cause that preaches “Jesus” giving hope to the hopeless. But do we yearn for discernment in those situations? As Charles Spurgeon once said, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.” Do we yearn for Jesus to lead us in word and deed? I don’t think this man of God did – he trusted too easily…had sinned…and judgement would come.

God didn’t hold back. In fact, in a turn of events, it is the “old prophet” who actually hears from the Lord this time…to tell the man of God his fate – death. This old prophet’s eyes were illuminated to the truth of the word of the Lord and upon hearing it (for the first time no doubt), cried out in agony about the man’s fate. God’s judgement would not pass over the righteous. Soon after, his corpse was lying in the street, with a donkey and lion standing beside it – the lion had killed it, but not eaten it. The corpse was left intact and I wondered why. I can only imagine it was the mercy of the Lion, that although the judgment of death had come, the everlasting protector of His own, was still protecting.

And the donkey. Donkey's were considered an unclean animal, symbolizing stubbornness and more importantly pride. The Lion was a symbol of Judah – power and truth. And here they were, both standing next to the corpse. The sinner, the sin, the judgement, and the mercy.

Upon hearing that his body was there, the “old prophet” went and picked it up, and placed it in his own grave beckoning his sons and pleading with them that when he died, he had to be by the man of God because he now knew how powerful this man was and how badly he had deceived the man of God. And burial was no joke. The prophets understood that death was not the end of life, but instead the holding place for the future kingdom that would come. This man wanted to go with him…he knew his faith. He knew that he did not want to be left behind. No doubt, fearful of God’s wrath at this point, I’d like to believe that he became a believer although he is never heard from again.

Though a good man had to die because of sin, a sinner was saved from death. Jesus…and the story of us as the sinner who was saved…it is a beautiful thing to believe that the Lion of Judah stands watch over me, until at last, I can be in His presence, serving Him, praising Him and giving Him all the glory. Our judgement is death, but our hope is eternal life.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” Romans 6:23


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