Ten pieces of a new garment was to signal the start of a “new work” of God. Jeroboam however let “Egypt” in and let a powerful promise fall to the floor. 1 Kings 13 is a story of God’s love and a call to repent that was ignored by a “chosen vessel.” The promise to Abraham was still in effect; the prophecy to Judah and the selection of David had not been forgotten but Father God needed revival. Solomon had broken faith with Jehovah so He went to the other tribe of leaders – Ephraim (the second-born of Joseph and chosen of God – Genesis 48:20).
Jeroboam, instead of believing God, reacted in fear and took bad advice (12:26 – 28). One creative idea he had was to start his own festival for god and make religion easy for the people. So 1 Kings 13 finds him by his new altar on the 15th day of the 8th month making sacrifices to a golden goat and cow. This whole chapter is a layered look into the failures of Judah, Jeroboam, and the “old system.” But it is meant to show Jeroboam that he should change; which he did not (13:33). There are four main characters in this story that we need to look at: the man of God, Jeroboam, the old prophet, and the lion.
The Man of God – was not a prophet, priest, apostle, pastor, or teacher just a MAN. He got a Word from God, now we are not told how or from whom but he knew what he had to do and was serious about doing. I normally would have added my own adjective to this man but no where is he called anything else, including the final mention of this tale in 2 Kings 23:19, but a man of God. He spoke against the altar and predicted what would happen in 2 Kings, he prayed for Jeroboam’s hand, and even refused a meal and a gift. The mistake he made was to STOP (vs. 14). Who knows, possible he was the next prophet that would have been used to call Judah/Israel to repentance instead he symbolizes Judah and their stopping.
Jeroboam – the talented child of a single parent home who had all the potential but looked the wrong way. He was a challenge to the established system (Solomon) so it tried to kill him. To this point in the story he could be a shadow of Jesus but by 1 Kings 12:26 he becomes an “antichrist.” Remember Jehovah is trying to call him back to obedience but in 1 Kings 13:6 he uses the chilling phrase, “ the Lord YOUR God.” Egypt won. Verse 34 finishes the tale even though it took many years; he was destroyed from the face of the earth. NOTE. In 2 Kings 15:8 another Jeroboam is mentioned but he is not related to the first one. The Books of Kings tell the story of both Israel and Judah while Chronicles tells the story of David’s family and only mentions the kings of Israel when needed.
The Old Prophet – had not moved with God and was jealous. This character I like the least, feel sorry for the most, and never want to become. (He could be the lukewarm ones in the Book of Revelations 3: 16.) If he had gotten the word about the altar he did not act on it and he had not left his old way and moved to Judah like many other had done (2 Chronicles 11: 13 – 17). He recognized the move of God and instead of helping the “man of God” finish his mission he condemned him to death. Jehovah even gave him a chance to repent; he could have gone with the man instead of grabbing a final moment of glory. His final wish to be buried with the man of God was so his bones would not be burned in 2 Kings 23.
The Lion – was the only one who did as God had instructed him. He killed the man of God did not eat him but stood guard over his body. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah comes to mind. Whatever symbolism you want to put with this lion he definitely stopped “a problem” from going back to Judah.