1 Kings 13:20-22
20 And as they sat at the table, the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back. 21 And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord and have not kept the command that the Lord your God commanded you, 22 but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’ ”
1 Kings 13 tells a fascinating story. A prophet of God came from Judah to denounce the idolatry of the newly formed northern kingdom. This prophet spoke the word of God and demonstrated the power of God.
Yet, when the prophet headed home, he encountered another spiritual person. The prophet from the south met a prophet from the north. The man from the north lied to the prophet from the south, convinced him to ignore a clear command given to him by God, and eventually cost the southern prophet his life.
As I read this story today, I find myself thinking about it in a way that I do not think would have ever occurred to me in times past. What is evident to me is that the clear word of God is something we must obey. Regardless of how many people claim to also have a new word or new way from God, we need to be careful not to be fooled. God’s word is steady. It does not change. God’s ways are always right. His commands are always perfect. They do not change with culture.
Today, we live in the midst of one of the most dramatic and rapid culture shifts in history. We are watching people, even believers, looking at the word of God and redefining its clear meaning. On certain popular moral issues, Christians are debating whether or not the clear command of God is still applicable. And this leads me to wonder just how much of 1 Kings 13 is in play.
How clearly did God speak about what is right and wrong? Honestly, God spoke very clearly in his word. Now people would argue that we should back off that word and exchange the clear command of God for a more socially acceptable stance. But God has not changed. And I wonder if we ought not recognize that to move from God’s clear command would be to bring about the death of the church as clearly and decidedly as the prophet of the south who met a lion on his way home.
Now, I know that God’s church will not die. Nor will she fail. Yet, I also know that, many individual churches and denominations have turned so far from the word of God that there is no longer spiritual life to be found in their ministries. We are called by God to be loving. We are called to be kind. And we are called to be faithful to his commands, living in a way that the world may find strange or even that the world will hate. Yet, as we do so, we will find that God honors his word and he will be pleased with his people who humbly and lovingly keep his commands for his glory.