I’m a seminary-trained former Christian turned atheist. That being said, I deeply love the Abrahamic religions and continue to study theology. I wanted to ask your opinion about a strange chapter in the Tanakh.
In 1 Kings 13, you have a prophet deceiving another prophet. The younger of the two was told by God to not return to the city of Bethel. Then a few verses later, an older prophet from Bethel says, “C’mon over and have a drink with me, God said it’s chill.”
In the middle of the dinner, the old prophet halts the dinner and tells the younger prophet that he has disobeyed God’s command to not enter the city, and that he will be struck dead for his disobedience. The younger prophet was eaten by a lion for listening to the older prophet and entering into Bethel.
There’s a lot of uncertainty here, and none of the commentaries have had any clue how to interpret this passage.
Was the older prophet commanded by God to deceive the younger prophet? If so, why? And how could the younger prophet be morally culpable for listening to a true prophet of God? If the older prophet deceived the younger prophet by his own volition, then was the moral of the story to only listen to test and authenticate every prophecy? If that’s the case, it would seem like the moral of the story is, “Take everything the prophets say with a grain of salt, and make sure it sits well with your spirit.” But if that’s the case, then it would raise the question, why does the nation of Israel need prophets at all? Doesn’t God send prophets to challenge faulty, deeply-held beliefs about God and what is right?
Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Hugs, friends.