Saturday, September 7, 2013

Puzzling Lessons

I Kings 13

Jeroboam has sinned against God by building altars for idols and leading Israel in worshiping these false gods. So God sends a "man of God" to prophesy against him.  There is no name associated with this "man of God".  Perhaps it is the prophet Shemaiah, who was mentioned in chapter 12; he was called "the man of God".  However, I don't know.

This whole account in chapter 13 puzzles me.  This unnamed prophet obeyed God by warning Jeroboam.  However, on his way home he is approached by an "old prophet" who invites him to come eat with him.  The "man of God" had been told by God not to eat or drink anything, but the "old prophet" said that God (or rather an angel) had told him to invite the man of God to eat.  So the man of God believed the lie and went to eat with the old prophet.  While he was eating, the word of the LORD came to him and said that because he had disobeyed, he would not be buried in the tomb of his fathers.  In other words, "You're gonna die here!"

The puzzle:

Why did the "old prophet" lie to this man?
Why did the "man of God" so readily believe the old prophet?
Were both of these men unnamed because they had disobeyed God?  The old prophet by deceiving the man of God, and the man of God by trusting the old prophet?

I can sort of see how the man of God trusted the old prophet, because God sometimes does talk to us through other people.  After all, that is what a prophet did - talk on God's behalf.  But I don't understand why the old prophet wanted to deceive this man of God.  Was he referred to as an "old prophet" because he was an old false prophet?

Talking things through:

I'm the man of God walking home a different way - walking a path of obedience - when I'm approached by an old prophet.  This prophet invites me to dinner, but I tell him no because the word of the LORD had told me not to eat or drink.  This old prophet tells me that he, too, is a prophet.  He relates to me.  He says that an angel had told him that it was OK for me to eat. So, being tired and weak (vulnerable) I choose to believe the prophet over what God had told me personally.  God uses the old prophet to tell me that because I disobeyed, I'm going to die.

Well, I'm still puzzled.  I don't understand fully why this happened to the man of God except that it is simply what happens.  We are and will be tempted to believe other voices over the voice of God.  Compromising is so easy to do when it caters to our flesh.  We (I) rationalize so many things because it is easier.  Proverbs 3:5-6 comes to mind: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." 

There was no mention of this man of God inquiring of God before going with the old prophet.  Perhaps if he had the word of the LORD would have come to him sooner with a word of instruction not to go, instead of later with the word of rebuke.  I suppose this happened and was recorded as a lesson to us (me) on trust.  Just because I may presently be walking a path of obedience, it doesn't mean that I am immune to temptation.  The enemy is going to keep trying to trap me.  He will use people with whom I can relate and he will hit me when I am weak and vulnerable.  Giving in is not what I want to do.  I want to obey God's voice no matter what! When I am weak, He is strong!  When I am tempted, He is faithful and gives me a way out!  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

When I am hearing a message that contradicts what I KNOW God has told me personally, I need to trust God's voice.  Even though he does speak in different ways and at different times, I need to trust the word I received from Him myself. 

Father, please fill me with Your wisdom and discernment.  Enable me to know and trust You above all others.  Help me not to doubt You.  Help me to not be swayed by others who would knowingly or even unknowingly tempt me to disobey You. 
In Jesus' Name, amen.

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