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certain point we have withstood temptation, and been steady in well-doing, we may slacken our care and watchfulness.
The man of God journeyed on his way from Bethel, satisfied perhaps, that now all his temptation to neglect his Master's bidding was over, and instead of pushing on as fast as he could, he sat down to rest beneath an oak tree. Meanwhile an old prophet who dwelt at Bethel heard what had happened, and as it would seem, from a good motive, hastened after the traveller. Most probably he was one of " the remnant left in Israel,” who mourned over the king's idolatry, and was rejoiced at the thought of seeing a true minister sent by God. Anyhow this old prophet made haste to mount his ass, and follow the man of God, whom he found sitting under the oak. Then the old prophet invited the stranger to return and eat bread at his house. But he received the same answer as Jeroboam did. In his anxiety to gain his point the old prophet now presumed to tell a lie. “I am a prophet as thou art,” he said, “and an Angel spake unto me by the Word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water.”
Simple duty would have led the man of God to keep to his direct orders, or at least to ask what his Master would have him do. But he trusted in his own strength, and probably wishing to enjoy the refreshment offered, and perhaps also his vanity being gratified at being so sought, he yielded, and went back to Bethel with the old prophet.
His sin was soon to find him out. Even as they sat at table together, the Word of the LORD came upon the old prophet, and forced him to denounce the guest, whom he himself had enticed into disobedience.
“ Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the Mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee, thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.”
It was too late now, the sin was committed, and doubtless with a heavy heart the man of God started again upon his journey, riding the old prophet's ass.
But before he had gone far, the Lord's sentence was fulfilled; for he met a lion, which slew him, and remained standing beside the carcase, without offering to devour its prey, or to kill the ass, which also stood by the dead body. Some travellers passed
by, who told in the city what they had seen. And the old prophet when he heard their tidings, said, “ It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the Word of the LORD, therefore the LORD hath delivered him unto the lion which hath devoured him.”
So he went forth, and found the body,--the lion and the ass still standing beside it, as witnesses to the Word of the LORD. The old prophet brought the body back to the city, and buried it in his own grave, mourning greatly. He also bade his sons carry him beside the man of God, when he should himself die, and he prophesied that all the sentence against Bethel and Jeroboam's other idol altars should indeed be fulfilled.
JEROBOAM would not be warned. He went on worse and worse, and God's anger waxed more fierce against him. At last it came to pass that his son Abijah fell sick, and though Jeroboam had forsaken his God, now in trouble, his heart told him that He alone held the issues of life and death in His Hand. Jeroboam remembered how Ahijah the prophet had foretold that he should become king of Israel ; and in his anxiety about Abijah, he wished to consult the prophet. But Jeroboam dared not openly appeal to the LORD Whom he had offended. So he bade his wife disguise herself
. so as not to be known, and taking with her a present of bread, cracknels and honey, go to Shiloh to Ahijah the prophet, and inquire how their child's sickness should end. Then Jeroboam's wife went forth upon this errand, and came to the house where the aged Ahijah lived. He was now very old, and quite blind. But the LORD gave him warning of what would happen, telling him who the woman who would shortly come to him, really was ; and bidding him what to answer her.
Accordingly so soon as Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps coming in, he spoke to her by name, saying, “Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam, why feignest thou thyself to be another? for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings.” Then Ahijah sent back a terrible message to her husband, reminding him how the LORD had exalted him to the kingdom of David, and how he had requited the Lord with disobedience and idolatry. Therefore the LORD would utterly destroy the house of Jeroboam. “ Him that dieth in the city shall the dogs eat, and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat, for the Lord hath spoken it." Moreover Ahijah bade the queen go back to her own house, telling her that as her feet entered the city, her son should die. For him, because he was pleasing in the Lord's sight, all Israel should mourn, and give him burial; but no other of Jeroboam's house should ever rest in a quiet grave. Ahijah went on to say that the LORD would punish Israel severely for their idolatry,--they should be rooted up out of the good land given to their fathers, and a new king over them should be raised up, who would cut off Jeroboam's family.
Then the queen returned home, and as she reached the threshold of her own door, her son died. He was decently buried, and mourned for by the people, as the Lord had promised. And in truth he might well be counted the happiest of his race.
After this Rehoboam died, and his son Abijah became king of Judah. Abijah raised a powerful army, and went to Mount Ephraim, reproaching Jeroboam and the men of Israel with their rebellion against his father, with their ido