1 Kings 13:18 – And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’” But he lied to him.
This is one of the stranger accounts in Old Testament scripture. A man of God (who is never named) travels from the southern kingdom to the land of Israel to prophesy against King Jeroboam and the idolatry that he is practicing. That prophet predicts the coming of King Josiah, a few hundred years in the future, who will destroy and defile that pagan altar. But, on the way home, the man of God meets a man claiming to be a prophet himself. This prophet from the north convinces the man of God to disobey God’s command not to eat in the north, and the man of God dies under the judgment of God.
While much is interesting in this account, what strikes me for today is the way in which the false prophet speaks to the man of God. He claims to have a word from God. His deception convinces the man of God to disobey God’s genuine command, and the man of God dies for this disobedience.
One thing that we can learn from this passage is a glorious truth about the scriptures and divine revelation. In the Old Testament time period, people did receive “words from the Lord.” God was speaking in a special way to his prophets. But, lest we begin to wish we were around in those days, we can see from this passage that this was not the best system under which to live. People could claim to have revelation from God, but actually have none. Sadly, the man of God only had what he “heard” from god himself, and so was easily mislead by someone else who claimed to have “heard” from God. Today, however, we need not fall for this kind of trick. Today is better, because we have God’s revelation in written form. God spoke with absolute finality in his word, and until Christ returns, we need not worry about hearing conflicting “words” from God. Instead, we can turn to his inspired, inerrant, all-sufficient word of truth to learn his commands.
How do you make important decisions about life? Do you seek new revelation from God? Do you claim to hear God’s voice in such a way as to have your own form of inspiration? Do you beat yourself up because you are not spiritual enough to have such an experience were God “speaks” to you. If you do, it is wise for you to learn that God has spoken to you. He did so in his written word. His commands for you are in there. Read God’s word, in context and with proper rules of interpretation, and you will see what God commands of you. Be very careful about claiming that God has “told” you to do something that is not a direct command in the scriptures. Be very careful about claiming that God has “revealed” to you that something will come to pass. In the Old Testament, God commanded that people be put to death for claiming to have heard something from God that did not come to pass. Be wary of those who come to you telling you that they have a “word” from God for you that is not found in the scriptures. Return to the Bible, seek God there, and trust it far more than you trust spiritual feelings.
I thank God that I live in a day where the canon of scripture is closed, and I need not worry about someone showing up with new revelation from God. Yes, I still pray. Yes, I ask for God to reveal to me his will. But I do not trust in mystical experiences to define for me what that will of God is. I seek God’s will in his word. I yield my life to a passionate pursuit of God and his glory. I trust that he will align my heart with his decreed will for my life so long as I am living within the bounds of his holy word.
Dear Lord, I thank you for your word. I thank you that I need not fear an experience like that of the “man of God” who had to be open to the idea of someone having a “new” word from you. I thank you that you have spoken with finality in your Son and through your written word. I most certainly long for you to lead my heart in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. I plead with you to lead me in the direction of your plan for me. I ask that you give to me your best for me, the best way that I can live to your glory. I especially ask for open eyes to see your truth as you have placed it in your holy word. Let me not be carried away by emotions or mysticism, but let me read your word, in its context, with proper interpretation. Grant me the wisdom to think along the lines of your revealed will, that I might best follow you.