The first heading in my Bible in 1 Kings 13 is; “The Message of the Man of God.” And what a message it was! One that Jeroboam wasn’t very happy to hear. The Man of God said; “O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you’” (1 Kings 13:2). King Jeroboam wanted the Man of God arrested and when he stretches out his hand against him, it withered and he could not pull it back to himself. He asks the Man of God to; “‘please entreat the favor of the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.’ So the man of God entreated the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored to him, and became as before. Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place. For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.’” So he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel” (1 Kings 13:6-10). Please notice that the Man of God spoke; “it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying,” don’t forget that part, please, as we continue with another important aspect to this story.
If you continue reading on you will discover that an Old Prophet lived in Bethel and heard all about what happened that day when his sons came to tell him. So, he went after the Man of God and invited him to come home with him and eat bread. But, the Man of God said again; “I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. For I have been told by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came’” (1 Kings 13:16-17). Then the Old Prophet does something that left me amazed. He tells the Man of God this; ““I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water’” (He was lying to him.) (1 Kings 13:18). So, the Man of God went back with him. Get your bible out and read the story, you will discover that the Man of God lost his life over his disobedience to the word of the Lord. And it happened very quickly that a lion meets him on the road and kills him. I just feel I have to share why I am so convicted by this story. There are several reasons actually, and here they are.
Reason One: I was convicted over the Old Prophets ability to lie to the Man of God with no regard for the Man of God. He had his own motive and agenda on his mind. I’m not sure what that was, but, he was living in a very sinful place and I assume he hadn’t heard much from the Lord because of it. Regardless, he lied. It did not matter to him that the Man of God was in obedience to what the Lord had spoken to him. He lied to persuade the Man of God to do what he wanted rather than what the Lord had instructed. I had to stop and ask myself, how many times have I told someone what I might have thought was a word of the Lord for them, when it really was just coming from my own heart? I don’t believe I have ever intentionally lied to someone but I remember many years ago walking up to our Pastor and saying, quite confidently, “The Lord told me that you had a word for Me.” to which he replied with a chuckle; “Oh really? Well, I guess He forgot to tell me what it was.” Ahhh…. We must be ever so careful that we aren’t trying to move others by our own agendas and desires. It can be pretty tempting to tell someone that we have heard the Lord for them, but we always must first check our motives and realize that He can speak to them too. Motives matter. I like Proverbs 14:15 - “A true witness delivers souls, but a deceitful witness speaks lies.”
Reason Two: I was convicted by the fact that the Man of God told Jeroboam and the Old Prophet what the Lord had commanded him to do. Yet, he gave in to the invitation of the Old Prophet, even though it was the same invitation Jeroboam had given him and it was exactly what the Lord told him not to do. Had he stood by his convictions and had a discerning heart he would not have disobeyed God and paid such a price for his disobedience in the end. I have convictions too, but how many times have I given in to the voice of a good friend or a respected leader telling me I should do something that I knew I was not to do? How many times have I disobeyed the Lord because I wasn’t discerning of His truth? Too many times, I am sure. Proverbs 14:15 says; “The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.” I, just like the Man of God, can say; “I have been told by the word of the Lord…” because I have His Word with me. He tells me through it what I am to do and what I am not to do. That’s why it is so important to know the Word of God. First John 4:1 teaches us that we are not to just believe every thing we hear. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” If I am told by the word of the Lord not to do something when someone comes to tell me otherwise, I must live by my convictions to His Word. Even if it might ruffle a few feathers.
Reason Three: I was convicted over ruffled feathers. (Oh, ouch this one really hurts). I had to repent to the Lord for times that I had allowed myself to get angry, hurt and upset because someone did not follow my advice and did not do as I thought they should. And I had to repent for times when I allowed myself to be persuaded by others because I feared making them mad. I am so convinced that many of us are doing things God never intended for us to do because we don’t want to hurt feelings, or make others mad. That is no way to live and it is wrong to use anger as a tool of manipulation to move others to do what we want them to do. All week I have had memories flood my mind of times when I struggled trying to be obedient to the Lord and walk in my convictions while friends may not understand them. One time in particular was when a friend became involved in a Home Based Business. We were presented with it and made an emotional decision to participate. Not long after signing the papers the Lord began to press on me that this was not for us. It really began to feel wrong for us to do so we needed to back out. That made things pretty awkward with my friend and I. She couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t join in this opportunity and I didn’t really understand why we couldn’t join. I just knew that the Lord was telling me no. It kind of became an issue between us and that is never God. I don’t think God is out to make us mad and resentful towards one another. I’ve made some pretty emotional decisions and have learned, the costly, hard way, to make sure I take time to pray now first! I never want to be the Old Prophet who lies for the sake of my own selfishness and I don’t want to become the Man of God who loses in the end because of partial obedience.
Reason Four: Partial obedience. The Man of God obeyed the Lord by not going to King Jeroboams, but he went back to the Old Prophets. Kay Arthur writes; “Partial obedience is still disobedience.” (The New Inductive Study Series; Walking Faithfully with God.” How about that? Partial obedience is still disobedience. I was really convicted by that statement. The Man of God would lose his life over his partial obedience. I wonder what I have lost over mine? What have you lost? We may still enjoy life, but is there something dead inside? Did we lose time with friends because we did not obey the still small voice that whispered; “take the time and give them a call?” Did we lose valuable time with our children because we weren’t able to discern God’s voice of instruction on how to best parent them? Have we lost in our marriages because we failed to meet the needs of a spouse? Partial obedience in our finances can surely lead to bankruptcy. You get it, right? I do too and I don’t want to lose any more than I may have already lost. It is time to ask the Lord to show me where I give only partial obedience and fully surrender to total obedience.
So please, lets allow one another to pray and seek the Lord if you feel you have heard Him speak for someone. Accountability is always a good thing, I know respect and I appreciate it. If we see someone about to fall…let’s reach out and catch them. But let’s be careful that we aren’t manipulating one another with the phrase “the Lord told me…” for our own desires and motives.
And thanks for taking the time to read this and allowing me to blog … I feel so much better now!