Originally posted on August 31, 2023 @ 9:11 pm

The Bible contains many stories that explain the thoughts of God to us his children. One such story is the story of the young prophet and the old prophet. This event is one of the stories that resonate with me as a young believer. In this article, I share lessons we can learn from the story of the young and old prophets and how young believers can stand firm in the face of challenges.

Short Story of the Young Prophet and Old Prophet (1 Kings 13 )

God sent a young prophet to King Jeroboam as he was approaching the altar to burn incense on the altar. He prophesied about Josiah’s birth, how he will rule Israel, and the things he will do. He gave the prophecies and the signs that prove the prophecy will come to pass. The news got to an old prophet who lived in Bethel; the old prophet went out to meet him.

The old prophet invited him to a dinner in his home, he refused because God has commanded him not to eat or drink while on this mission. The old prophet lied to him that God told him that the young prophet should eat and drink at his home. The young prophet obliged, and the old prophet arranged a feast for him.

During the feast God spoke through the old prophet about the young prophet’s disobedience; his punishment was death.

The young prophet is regarded as the prophet who disobeyed God and was killed by a lion.

Sequence of Events

Let us study the sequence of events in the story

  • The young prophet was blessed and God was communing with him. (1 Kings 13:6)
  • His prophecies came to pass exactly the way he prophesied them. (1 kings 13:5, 2 Kings 21:26)
  • The Lord’s protection was definitely upon him ( 1 Kings 13:4)
  • He followed the instruction of God not to eat and he was bold to reject the king’s offer for food. (1 Kings 13:7-9)
  • He became famous because of what God did through him and he became known to the whole town. (1 Kings 13:11)
  • The old prophet went to meet him to be acquainted with him. (1 Kings 13:14)
  • The old prophet lied to him probably because of his ego and selfishness. The old prophet deceived the young prophet. (1 Kings 13:16)
  • The young prophet was fooled and he followed the old prophet to his house for a banquet. (1 Kings 13:19)
  • He was punished for his disobedience to God. (1 Kings 13:24)

11 Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father.

12 And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah.

13 And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon,

14 And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I am.

15 Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread.

16 And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place:

17 For it was said to me by the word of the Lord, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.

18 He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.

19 So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water.

20 And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back:

21 And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee,

22 But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.

23 And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back.

24 And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase.

1 Kings 13:11-24 KJV

Lessons from the story of the young prophet and the old prophet

the young prophet and the old prophet
Photo by Joël Super

This story has lessons that have become a personal mantra for me since I read the story years ago and I will be sharing some of those lessons in this section of the article.

  • When God gives you an assignment he is willing to protect you and help you while you fulfil the assignment. This is the same for the young prophet; the lord caused King Jeroboam’s hand to wither when he pointed to the prophet and wanted to arrest him. We should have it at the back of our minds that God is willing to protect us as long as we stay in his will.
  • God is not a respecter of age when choosing his mouthpiece. There was an old prophet who lived in that city but God sent a young prophet from outside town to deliver the message to the king. We must always understand that God is not age-driven but heart-driven. This was the same in the case of Samuel and Eli.
  • God speaks through anyone willing to take up the responsibility without fear. We are all unique and special to God but God will only use whoever is willing to work for him and walk with him.
  • God is more interested in our relationship than our cooperative fellowship. Our corporate fellowship with other believers is important but our quiet time and fellowship with God is very important to him. We must make it a habit to relate with God personally and allow him to guide us in our walk with him.
  • The instructions God gives to us are personal and we have a responsibility to obey them. God’s instructions should be seen as a guide for our lives and we should understand that his instructions are primary; any other contradicting opinion is falsehood.
  • God can use anyone whenever he pleases regardless of our human reasoning. I usually wonder why God still used the old prophet who led another into error but then I remembered that God has reserved the right to use whoever he pleases.
  • The things God reveals to you are for you. Do not let anyone receive God’s mission and vision for your life; seek God yourself for him to reveal his mind to you.

Final thoughts

I am from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria, in my culture we value respect for older people. You are expected to respect anyone older than you even if it’s less than a year; our culture of respect is so strong that we don’t call older people by their names. The tradition is adopted in the church and it can sometimes be challenging to defy older believers so that you can obey God’s instructions.  

Young believers must first work on their ability to recognise God’s voice so that they can be sure they are following God’s instructions. Each of us has the responsibility to train ourselves to hear from God.

It is also important that older believers should never be the reason young believers fall. We are to be an example of faith not an obstacle of faith. The work of God should be done in sincerity and humility irrespective of age, class or stature.

I believe you have learnt something from the young prophet and the old prophet. If there are lessons you learnt that I didn’t mention, kindly write them in the comments.

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