If you didn’t catch last week’s blog, please go back and read it. This is a continuation.
We’re diving inside an obscure little story found in 1 Kings 13.
The two main characters we’re looking at are simply known as “the true prophet of God” and “the old prophet.”
You’ll remember from last week that God instructed the true prophet to enter the idol-infested city of Bethel and warn King Jeroboam of his sin. God told the true prophet not to eat or drink while there and to return a different way than he’d come.
An old prophet who lived in Bethel (the city of idols) invited the true prophet to come home and eat with him. “Oh no, I can’t do that,” the true prophet explained. “God has given me specific instructions.”
But the old prophet said, “I, too, am a prophet and God told me through an angel that it’s OK if you come home with me.”
So the true prophet went.
During dinner, however, the old prophet said, “This is what the Lord says: You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command He gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where He told you not to eat or drink. Therefore you’re going to die far from home.”
We can learn several things from this story through the red flags that are given.
• First Red Flag:
The true prophet of God stopped to rest under a tree (1 Kings 13:14). He was actually doing much more than resting. He had built a temporary home and had made himself comfortable right outside the city of idols instead of fleeing. Bad move!
• Second Red Flag:
This young prophet was deceived by the old prophet. When the old prophet said, “God spoke to me through an angel,” the young prophet accepted it as God’s word and went with him.
But God had already specifically spoken to the young prophet. So when does the voice of an angel trump the voice of God Himself?
The old prophet was actually lying to the young prophet, but the younger one failed to discern.
If God wanted the young prophet to accompany the old prophet, God Himself would have told him.
Simply because someone says he has heard from God, doesn’t always mean he actually has, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s a message for YOU.
Paul told Timothy that in the last days it would be easy to be deceived by people in the church who have stopped listening to the Truth.
• Third Red Flag:
The old prophet was living in Bethel. This tells us a lot!
Maybe at one time He was obediently prophesying in God’s name, but the fact that he had chosen to live in the forbidden city of idols shows us he wasn’t living in God’s will.
I wish the young prophet had recognized this. When the old prophet said, “I, too, am a prophet of the Lord,” why didn’t the young prophet question his actions. “Really? Then why are you living where God has forbidden us to live?” would have been a great question!
And when the old prophet said, “God spoke to me through an angel,” I wish the young prophet had questioned that as well. “Really? That’s interesting, because God doesn’t need to use an angel to speak to us. He speaks directly to us. I’ve already been given specific instructions from Him, and they’re the exact opposite of what you’re telling me.”
I’ll conclude this next week, but meanwhile, here are a few questions to chew on:
—Do you find yourself easily deceived?
—Oftentimes we simply accept what we hear as truth if it comes from one who claims to be a Christian. But God never contradicts Himself. So if His Word can’t back up what you’re hearing, it’s not truth. Do you struggle with this?
—Like the old prophet, do you sometimes find yourself living in a place where God has instructed you to leave?
—Is it easier for you to believe that God speaks to other Christians more than He speaks to you?