Lession 10: The Man of God
The higher they are, the harder they fall.
Amidst secession and civil war, a king tries to shore up his political support be tweaking religion in his favor. But one man, who the Bible does not even name, is courageous enough to stand up to the king and all his supporters and declare that their violation of God’s law cannot be tolerated. No doubt for doing this, the “man of God” could have been seized, arrested, humiliated, tortured, and killed. Indeed, this is what the King probably intended to do (1 Kings 13:4), but for the hand of God intervening for the man of God. The King, not learning his lesson evidently, then attempts to dissuade the man of God from his mission by trying to bribe him (v. 7). But this prophet was no Balaam (see Numbers 23–24). His conscience could not be bought. Neither threat nor bribe, carrot nor stick could induce the man of God from obeying the Word of God.
And yet, despite ascending these spiritual heights, like Elijah after the confrontation at Carmel (see 1 Kings 18–19), at the moment of greatest victory he was at his weakest. How does this happen? I think I know — because I’ve been there too many times. It seems that, after the closest moments with God, the highest moments of spiritual victory, or the most powerful moments of ministry, people tend to grow weary, discouraged, and weak. Maybe it’s because we tend to rest on our laurels and become complacent; maybe it’s because we become prideful of our own abilities and stop relying on God; maybe it’s simply because our energy is strapped. But whatever the reason, the higher you are in your spiritual life, the more easy it is to fall — hard. It’s said that the day pastors are most likely to commit adultery is the day after they preach. It seems that Paul’s greatest moment of discouragement did not come after shipwrecks and shackles, but after many baptisms (see Acts 18:8–10). The man of God, for his part, was found lazing under a tree instead of walking ten minutes home to spiritual and physical safety (1 Kings 13:14). This led to him believing the word of man instead of the word of God — after all that he had just been through! — and eventually, his death (vv. 15–24).
So what can we do instead? Who is the counterexample that we want to emulate? Jesus, of course. Picture it: it’s the Sabbath, Jesus is at the synagogue, teaching all morning. Then, a demon possessed man rushes in to interrupt Him and Jesus heals Him. After He’s done teaching, Jesus heads over to Peter’s mother-in-law’s house and heals her of her severe fever. After this long day, the sun sets and he spends the entire evening healing many people and casting out many demons (Mark 1:21-34). That’s a full day of ministry if I’ve ever seen one! If that was me, I’d probably sleep in on Sunday, relaxing for the rest of the day, thinking that I’ve certainly gotten my fill of God and standing firm on the Rock.
But not Jesus. He knows better. He knows that this is the time of Satan’s attack, a time of greatest weakness. No matter that Jesus was probably exhausted, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35). Imagine that! He got up before sunrise to go pray. Jesus knew that these times of greatest spiritual victory were the exact times He needed to commune with and receive strength from His Father. He knew that pride and weariness left might leave us vulnerable, so He gave us the example of rushing to spend time with God and rest in His love. He didn’t pray because He was already good with God; He prayed because He needed God all the more.
Remember this the next time you’re riding the spiritual heights. “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.” (Luke 22:31). Turn to the Lord, lest you fall hard. Remember your complete dependence on Him.