Saturday, July 30, 2011

Killed by Lion

1 Kings 13 is one of the more baffling sections in the history of the Kings of Judah and Israel. A nameless prophet suddenly appears at Bethel to give a word of warning against the evil king Jereboam, survives the temptation to join sides with the crown, but then falls to the temptation of joining with the false prophets. 
As a result a lion comes and kills him.

It brings to mind the severe punishment Moses was given when he could not enter the promised land for his failure to obey God.
In Exodus 17:6 Moses had been given the great honor of acting out the nature of the Father striking the Son and causing living water to pour out to heal the people (1 Cor 10:4).  Just as Nehushtan was lifted up on a pole and healed those who looked at him, thus prefiguring Christ, Moses was given the duty of prefiguring the punishment God would inflict on Jesus.
You can see that in the second instance it would not do to strike Christ again, as the cross was a once for all time event, so God had Moses speak the second time (Num 20:8).  When an adopted, justified, child of the covenant sins the Father speaks to His Son, asking Him to intercede for the fallen people who have broken fellowship with Him. He does not strike His Son twice with crucifixion.  Moses had therefore not merely disobeyed God when he struck the rock twice, he had ruined God's example, and portrayed an inaccurate message of Christ to every subsequent generation. When we understand this we are less inclined to think the punishment does not fit the crime, instead we think are tempted to think that God let him off light for compromising our ability to understand Christ better.  

I think the nameless prophet was in the same situation.

Like Christ he was a prophet, who comes on the scene of history as a nobody (Matt 2:23), with almost no back explanation. Like Christ he pronounced doom upon the ungodly v2 (Matt 23) as a warning to repent, and demonstrated his message with signs and wonders v4 (Acts 2:22), including healing the crippled hand of a man v6 (Luke 6:10).  He cast down the ungodly ruler of the age v1 (John 12:31), was enticed to throw in his lot with the king v7 (John 6:15) but knowing their hearts and how unstable men are he remains steadfast to obey God v9 (John 2:24-25).
Unfortunately that's where his story ends because that's where the similarities to Christ end. He was to be a picture of Christ, a prophet come into the world to warn and heal, to have no intercourse with the ruler of this world, but to accomplish his mission and return to the glorious land. He was not to become enamored with the sinful world, nor was he to join it, nor live in it, nor linger in it, for Christ did not come to live in our world but to call us out of it and into a better one. This man was a foreshadow of Christ Himself. A tremendous, amazing, honor afforded to very few people in the pages of history, and instead of being pure and steadfast this prophet folded up and fell in with sin.
So God sent a lion to show His displeasure. That's not how His Son was to be represented, as some prophet that gets half way to the goal and then gives up and decides to disobey. His Son is too pure to be represented in such an ugly manner, so God had to pull the plug on the analogy in an obviously divine fashion.
Christ is not to be looked upon as merely a good prophet, or wonderful teacher who brought kind words and did nice things and we weep to think that here was love Himself come to show us love. We should not have apostates mourn for Him as if they had a share in His inheritance.   

So yes, God is holy, and just, and to be obeyed, and deserves our respect. But more then that I think that God was trying to help us understand His Son by analogy, and lest we be tempted to overdraw the analogy He cuts it off.  Nehushtan was designed to show people how if we look upon it lifted up we may be healed (John 3:14), but when the worship became idolatrous it was destroyed (2 Kings 18:4). Moses was to prefigure the healing Christ brought, but when he misled them to the nature of Christ he was barred from the promised land. And when this prophet did more harm to us than good God stepped in.

1 comment:

THEOparadox said...

Great point.

Recently in considering some of these examples (along with that of Uzzah, who tried to stabilize the Ark of the Covenant), I was struck with just how greatly we offend God by our pride and negligence. It's not that He's touchy, but we are so blind to the depth of our sinfulness and the way it is manifested in the seemingly small details. I'm sure I could justly receive a disciplinary death any day of the week! The only safeguard is to be always repenting and trusting in the Lord's great mercy.