A man of God came unto Samaria

Under strict orders received in Judah,

a judment to be given to the king,

to warn him of his ways, his backsliding.

The LORD’s command was explicit to him,

declare his word then come back running in

no explanation God has to offer,

all he has to do, stand and deliver.

So he went to Jeroboam’s altar,

there he found him, right beside the stone

the incense, he is about to offer

the people ready to worship that morn.

but before the king has done anything

a shrill cry broke the silence that morning,

the man of God pronounced Yahweh’s judgment

O altar, altar, hear thy banishment.

Josiah, David’s heir on Judah’s throne

will tear you down and pour out your ashes,

your priests and servants on it will be burned,

with bones of humans kept long in stashes.

now this oracle will surely come true

because a sign will be given to you

this altar will now be ripped apart, torn

ashes spilt, and will be left quite forlorn.

the king was enraged on hearing the words

he charged the army to take up their swords

protect their king and arrest the nuisance,

for causing this uncalled for disturbance.

but as he raised his arm it shriveled dry

his limb unable to move to nor fro

so the monarch froze shocked, can’t help but cry

o prophet pray for me, i need it so.

the prophet gripped by mercy and pity

prayed to the Lord for the king to be whole,

and at once the shriveled hand broke free

from rigidness to its functional role.

so glad and merry the king invited

the young prophet home to be rewarded

but lo he was definitely refused

for the prophet warned it to be obtuse.

he said, o king, though half-kingdom you grant

I would not stay here another moment

for you see I was sent on this errand

and expected that orders be not bent.

i need to leave and pass another way

i was ordered not to take food nor drink

but go immediately and not delay

and breaking them i dare not even think

And so the prophet left the king stunned

and trod another pathway homeward bound

the people watched as this stranger passed by

sent by the LORD there, but they don’t know why.

Another prophet lived in Ephraim

told by his sons about the morn’s duel

a young prophet, they said, spoke to the king

denounced his ways, the altar at Bethel.

The old prophet asked, to where did he go?

On that road, they said, pointing where he passed

Saddle the donkey, I need to follow

the sons obeyed, though they felt they were rushed.

The old man found the Judean prophet

sitting under an oak tree, their eyes met

Are you the man of God who smote the king?

Yes I am, he said without much thinking.

Then come home with me eat and be refreshed

for you look tired and certainly famished

from this morning’s job you executed

you need food and drink, that is expected.

Oh no, I have to decline such kindness

the Lord sent me to go and not delay

avoid food and drink though sounds like madness

and its for his sake that I must obey

The older man said, like you I am sent

a prophet to deliver God’s intent

an angel told me to bring you back home

serve you bread and water, before you roam.

Without further ado, the prophet stood

followed the old man back to his abode

he never realized he was deceived

God does change after all, his mind believed.

All of a sudden, while eating the food

the old prophet with eyes ablaze he stood

he just received a message from the Lord

and he can’t help but deliver God’s word.

He said, stiff-necked prophet you stand condemned,

you did not follow, orders you did bend

why did you eat and drink, which I forbid

am I insufficient to meet such need?

therefore you shall die and will be buried

not in your clan’s graveyard, and quite hurried

you will die in shame, and in much disgrace

surely this will come true, such is the case.

After they dined the young man bade goodbye

he tucked his clothes in and went on his way

never thought that on that day he would die

doubting the old man to his own dismay.

So on he went along the trodden path

never seen the lion that poured its wrath

when its fierce paw hit and caught him offguard

it cost him his life as he fell downward.

The lion stood guard beside the dead man

bothering the donkey was not the plan

it just made sure that no one disturbs him

lying dead on the road in Ephraim.

some men passed by and saw the dead body

isn’t that the prophet, they asked shockingly

how come he’s here and is dead already?

saw him used by God, what an anom’ly

they spread the word and soon the whole town knows

what befell the prophet in the meadows

killed by the lion, lying on the ground

no one has moved him yet for fears abound

when the older prophet heard what happened

to the younger one, once more he’s burdened

a young life’s lost for disobedience

what happened to him, the Lord’s ordinance.

so he saddled his donkey hurriedly

went to the place of this monstrosity

hoped against all odds to find the body

the lion, he prayed, not to go hungry.

and there behold, he saw the young man slain

beside his donkey and the lion’s mane

both just stood still, both understood their plight

to watch the body and keep it in sight

then the old man picked up the lifeless form

his face unkempt as if strucked by fierce storm

this young man, he thought, should have been alive

only if his will and the Lord’s had jived

So he headed back, taking home the dead

though disobedient to what God has said

for proper burial, and honor to give

he’s still God’s servant and thus, the reprieve.

He told his sons, when I die bury me

beside his bones, this man of infamy

for all he has said will surely come true

God’s wrath is coming, don’t you doubt it, too.

That altar in Bethel as well as Dan

will be torn to pieces, not one will stand

for God has decreed the sure coming wrath

no one can stop it, nor stay in its path.

Meanwhile back in the palace, lies the king

once restored, forgot about everything

he remained in sin, in his evil ways,

which caused the shortening of Israel’s days.

As we look back at this account we’ll see

that disobedience has a price, not free

and that it comes in two forms, and both count

only as one, this truth paramount.

First is that of king Jeroboam’s sin

a direct rebellion, a disregard

of his God, rejecting as only King

he led Ephraim to its slide downward.

He violated the first three commands

given to Moses, in the desert lands

A direct assault against the Lord’s face

he brought him nothing but only disgrace.

Because of his desire to be stable

as king of the North, he has enabled

priests to build two rival worship centers

so that the people’s needs will be catered.

No more need to go down South, he argued

Cause our two bulls here are also as good

to offer sacrifices, incenses

instead of one, we have two good places!

The truth however is that he had fear

his people holding Jerusalem dear

so instead of exposing them down South

he must provide, an alternative route.

And so even though he was forbidden

to build images the Lord detested

His mind was made up, already headed

to disobey and to be forsaken.

He ordered the construction of altars

before its too late, people straying far,

to allow for them an alternative

no matter the cost, even repulsive.

Jeroboam stood condemned a long time,

evil and wicked men reigned in his line;

from generation to generation,

each one rejected Yahweh’s redemption.

That is the price, the cost he has to pay

For deserting God and choosing his way

A kingdom lost, a heritage of sin

He will be remembered, curse to his kin.

There’s another form of disobedience

So subtle, indeed, comes from negligence

of failure to comply, giving up fast

healf-hearted obedience, it doesn’t last.

That’s what befell the infamous prophet

thinking that God’s command can be thwarted

change of plans was readily considered

when discomfort came, convictions wavered.

When confronted by a contradiction

he shouldve sought the Lord’s verification

he was a true prophet, too, was he not?

Because of extreme fatigue he forgot.

Surely in our minds, it doesn’t make much sense

killing the prophet for disobedience

can he not eat some food and take some rest?

Mission is accomplished: he passed the test.

However we look at it, analyze

the fault is his, that’s all we can surmise

had he taken the Lord’s word seriously

he wouldn’t be sitting under that tree.

For stopping would open a lot of way

to be distracted, to be led astray

so the Lord was insistent he hurry

to go back in haste to his own country.

Another bump we see in this story

is the great reversal, an irony

the king, though wicked, was healed, forgiven

while the prophet, the Lord’s servant, was slain.

I leave that paradox to your musings

as to why the Lord used diff’rent dealings

for that describes his righteous character

that we are all entitled to wonder.

Today my hope is that we all have learned

that half obeying is not in the plan

For the Lord desires full pledge allegiance

no space left even for small dissonance.

The message given to you this morning

is provocative and stimulating;

it’s meant to jog your mind and shift your feet

for here comes the prophet, also poet.