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1 Kings 13:2

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

He cried against the altar - He denounced the destruction of this idolatrous system.

A child shall be born - Josiah by name - This is one of the most remarkable and most singular prophecies in the Old Testament. It here most circumstantially foretells a fact which took place three hundred and forty years after the prediction; a fact which was attested by the two nations. The Jews, in whose behalf this prophecy was delivered, would guard it most sacredly; and it was the interest of the Israelites, against whom it was levelled, to impugn its authenticity and expose its falsehood, had this been possible. This prediction not only showed the knowledge of God, but his power. He gave, as it were, this warning to idolatry, that it might be on its guard, and defend itself against this Josiah whenever a person of that name should be found sitting on the throne of David; and no doubt it was on the alert, and took all prudent measures for its own defense; but all in vain, for Josiah, in the eighteenth year of his reign, literally accomplished this prophecy, as we may read, 2 Kings 23:15-20. And from this latter place we find that the prophecy had three permanent testimonials of its truth.

  1. The house of Israel;
  • The house of Judah; and,
  • 3. The tomb of the prophet who delivered this prophecy, who, being slain by a lion, was brought back and buried at Beth-el, the superscription on whose tomb remained till the day on which Josiah destroyed that altar, and burnt dead men's bones upon it. See above, 2 Kings 23:16-18.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    A child shall be born … Josiah by name - Divine predictions so seldom descend to such particularity as this, that doubts are entertained, even by orthodox theologians, with respect to the actual mention of Josiah‘s name by a prophet living in the time of Jeroboam. Only one other instance that can be considered parallel occurs in the whole of Scripture - the mention of Cyrus by Isaiah. Of course no one who believes in the divine foreknowledge can doubt that God could, if He chose, cause events to be foretold minutely by his prophets; but certainly the general law of his Providence is, that He does not do so. If this law is to be at any time broken through, it will not be capriciously. Here it certainly does not appear what great effect was to be produced by the mention of Josiah‘s name so long before his birth; and hence, a doubt arises whether we have in our present copies the true original text. The sense is complete without the words “Josiah by name;” and these words, if originally a marginal note, may easily have crept into the text by the mistake of a copyist. It is remarkable that, where this narrative is again referred to in Kings (marginal reference), there is no allusion to the fact that the man of God had prophesied of Josiah “by name.”

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    In threatening the altar, the prophet threatens the founder and worshippers. Idolatrous worship will not continue, but the word of the Lord will endure for ever. The prediction plainly declared that the family of David would continue, and support true religion, when the ten tribes would not be able to resist them. If God, in justice, harden the hearts of sinners, so that the hand they have stretched out in sin they cannot pull in again by repentance, that is a spiritual judgment, represented by this, and much more dreadful. Jeroboam looked for help, not from his calves, but from God only, from his power, and his favour. The time may come when those that hate the preaching, would be glad of the prayers of faithful ministers. Jeroboam does not desire the prophet to pray that his sin might be pardoned, and his heart changed, but only that his hand might be restored. He seemed affected for the present with both the judgment and the mercy, but the impression wore off. God forbade his messenger to eat or drink in Bethel, to show his detestation of their idolatry and apostacy from God, and to teach us not to have fellowship with the works of darkness. Those have not learned self-denial, who cannot forbear one forbidden meal.
    Ellen G. White
    Prophets and Kings, 401-2

    In the reformation that followed, the king turned his attention to the destruction of every vestige of idolatry that remained. So long had the inhabitants of the land followed the customs of the surrounding nations in bowing down to images of wood and stone, that it seemed almost beyond the power of man to remove every trace of these evils. But Josiah persevered in his effort to cleanse the land. Sternly he met idolatry by slaying “all the priests of the high places;” “moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord.” Verses 20, 24. PK 401.1

    In the days of the rending of the kingdom, centuries before, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, in bold defiance of the God whom Israel had served, was endeavoring to turn the hearts of the people away from the services of the temple in Jerusalem to new forms of worship, he had set up an unconsecrated altar at Bethel. During the dedication of this altar, where many in years to come were to be seduced into idolatrous practices, there had suddenly appeared a man of God from Judea, with words of condemnation for the sacrilegious proceedings. He had “cried against the altar,” declaring: PK 401.2

    “O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.” 1 Kings 13:2. This announcement had been accompanied by a sign that the word spoken was of the Lord. PK 402.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Prophets and Kings, 101-2

    The king tried to persuade the Levites, some of whom were living within his realm, to serve as priests in the newly erected shrines at Bethel and Dan; but in this effort he met with failure. He was therefore compelled to elevate to the priesthood men from “the lowest of the people.” Verse 31. Alarmed over the prospect, many of the faithful, including a great number of the Levites, fled to Jerusalem, where they might worship in harmony with the divine requirements. PK 101.1

    “Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.” Verse 32. PK 101.2

    The king's bold defiance of God in thus setting aside divinely appointed institutions was not allowed to pass unrebuked. Even while he was officiating and burning incense during the dedication of the strange altar he had set up at Bethel, there appeared before him a man of God from the kingdom of Judah, sent to denounce him for presuming to introduce new forms of worship. The prophet “cried against the altar, ... and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee. PK 101.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Prophets and Kings, 107

    The penalty that overtook the unfaithful messenger was a still further evidence of the truth of the prophecy uttered over the altar. If, after disobeying the word of the Lord, the prophet had been permitted to go on in safety, the king would have used this fact in an attempt to vindicate his own disobedience. In the rent altar, in the palsied arm, and in the terrible fate of the one who dared disobey an express command of Jehovah, Jeroboam should have discerned the swift displeasure of an offended God, and these judgments should have warned him not to persist in wrongdoing. But, far from repenting, Jeroboam “made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places.” Thus he not only sinned greatly himself, but “made Israel to sin;” and “this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.” Verses 33, 34; 14:16. PK 107.1

    Toward the close of a troubled reign of twenty-two years, Jeroboam met with a disastrous defeat in a war with Abijah, the successor of Rehoboam. “Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah: and the Lord struck him, and he died.” 2 Chronicles 13:20. PK 107.2

    The apostasy introduced during Jeroboam's reign became more and more marked, until finally it resulted in the utter ruin of the kingdom of Israel. Even before the death of Jeroboam, Ahijah, the aged prophet at Shiloh who many years before had predicted the elevation of Jeroboam to the throne, declared: “The Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and He shall root up Israel out of this good land, which He gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the Lord to anger. And He shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.” 1 Kings 14:15, 16. PK 107.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Selected Messages Book 2, 81

    Your position is such a jumble of inconsistencies that but few will be deceived.... 2SM 81.1

    You have taken the history of the disobedient prophet, as given in the Old Testament, and applied it to Sister White. You say she is perfectly honest, but the deceived prophet. For this reason the testimonies of the Spirit of God can have no effect on you. Has the Lord opened to you or your daughter, your wife or your children, the disobedience of Sister White? If she has walked contrary to God, will you show in what? My duty is to make plain statements of my position; for you misinterpret my testimony, wrench it from its true meaning, and ring in my name whenever you think it will enforce whatever you have to say. But when the testimonies do not harmonize with your theories, I am excused, because I am the false prophet! There are many ways of evading the truth. 2SM 81.2

    You seem to have special bitterness against Elder [Uriah] Smith, and some others of our brethren, and you have talked out these feelings in your family, thus leavening them. The Lord has seen fit to counsel Elder Smith, to give him words of reproof because he had erred; but is this an evidence that God has forsaken him?—No. “As many as I love I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19). The Lord reproves wrongs in His people, but is this an evidence that He has rejected them?—No. There are errors in the church, and the Lord points them out by His own ordained agencies, not always through the testimonies. Now shall we seize these reproofs and make capital of them, and say that God is not imparting to them His light and love?—No. The very work that God is trying to do for them shows that He loves them, and wants to draw them away from paths of danger. 2SM 81.3

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