1 Kings 13:6 Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.
It is interesting that the man of God in this very dramatic encounter remains anonymous. His words were confirmed on the spot, which satisfied the Mosaic standard for a true prophet. (Deuteronomy 18:22) Of course, Josiah had not yet been born, but that was obviously a future event, and the sign the prophet specified of the altar splitting indeed happened on the spot. Even so, Jeroboam didn’t fear God until he experienced instant paralysis in his own arm, and then we have this verse. You would think that such a dramatic experience would be enough to bring about genuine repentance, but it obviously wasn’t. It’s possible that Jeroboam’s paralysis shocked even the man of God and he feared retribution, prompting him to pray as the king asked. I can’t help but wonder if the results might have been better had he not prayed, letting Jeroboam taste the power of God in his own body a little longer, but we’ll never know the answer to that. In any case, this is a demonstration that external events are often ineffective in bringing about repentance; that is internal, a change of heart that causes a change of action. That’s why you can’t force anyone to repent; they have to do it themselves, under the ministry of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:8-11) We are to speak the truth in love, allowing the Spirit to use our words in our hearers’ hearts, but the results are ultimately up to them.
This issue is very central to my life, because I am dedicated to sharing the good news of salvation in Christ Jesus. I have encountered many who have liked what they heard, but they never followed through with repentance and faith. (Mark 1:15) That’s tragic, but it’s not my responsibility. Like the man of God in this story, I am to be personally obedient, but leave the results up to God. (I also need to take warning from the rest of that man’s story and not let others dupe me into direct disobedience to God!) I am to seek to recognize the opportunities God gives me to sow seed, water, and harvest. Sometimes all I’m doing is preparing the soil! Be that as it may, if I am faithful, the results are God’s business, and I’m to be at peace with that. After all, I can’t see what might happen with those seeds many years down the line!
Father, thank You for the various opportunities You’ve been giving me recently. Help me make full use indeed of each one, so that as many as will may repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!