Like all the best stories, the strange account of the disobedient prophet in 1 Kings 13 says so much more because of what it does not explicitly say. But what is it actually saying?
The prophecies in the final chapters of Zechariah, taken in isolation, are extremely confusing. They seem to describe, very darkly, some events which took place in the first century. Yet they also describe some things which clearly did not take place. Or did they?
The key to interpreting the prophecy is its structure. It follows a formula which is second nature to Jewish people: the process of Israel’s annual feasts. If they had their wits about them, the Jews would hear these words and be able to say, “I see what you did there.” Once they are recognised as literary art, these words are not only completely intelligible, they are also brilliant and beautiful. And terrifyingly ironic.
Like the books of Samuel and Chronicles, the book of Kings is so long and detailed that it was divided into two scrolls. But it is clearly a single book, one which begins with the construction of Solomon’s Temple and ends with its destruction. When its major events are taken into account, its internal symmetry becomes more evident.