God Speaks To Us Individually

Getting to know God through a personal relationship is the most rewarding thing one can do. God offers his friendship freely to all, but many people reject it because they think it means “religion.”  God will always speak to us individually about His purpose and His will for our lives. Being His children He will always speak to us individually if we recognize His voice and act in His obedience.

Whatever God has spoken to us Individually let us guard it zealously; sometimes He may send His divine instrument( through our different circumstances – good or bad, what we treasure most, our loved ones, or even our enemies) to test our faith and obedience.

1 Kings 13:1–32The Message of the Man of God

13 And behold, aa man of God went from Judah to Bethel 1by the word of the Lord, band Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. Then he cried out against the altar 2by the word of the Lord, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a child, cJosiah 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 dburned on you.’ ” And he gave ea sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign which the Lord has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be poured out.”

So it came to pass when King Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, who cried out against the altar in Bethel, that he stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Arrest him!” Then his hand, which he stretched out toward him, withered, so that he could not pull it back to himself. The altar also was split apart, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord. Then the king answered and said to the man of God, “Please fentreat 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 gI will give you a reward.”

But the man of God said to the king, h“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, i‘You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.’ ” 10 So he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel.

Death of the Man of God

11 Now an jold prophet dwelt in Bethel, and his 3sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; they also told their father the words which he had spoken to the king. 12 And their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” For his sons 4had seen which way the man of God went who came from Judah. 13 Then he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him; and he rode on it, 14 and went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak. Then he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?”And he said, “I am.”15 Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.”16 And he said, k“I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. 17 For 5I have been told lby the word of the Lord, ‘You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.’ ”

18 He said to him, “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.)19 So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water.20 Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back; 21 and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord, and have not kept the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, 22 but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the mplace of which the Lord said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’ ”23 So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back. 24 When he was gone, na lion met him on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse. 25 And there, men passed by and saw the corpse thrown on the road, and the lion standing by the corpse. Then they went and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.26 Now when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard it, he said, “It is the man of God who was disobedient to the word of the Lord. Therefore the Lord has delivered him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke to him.” 27 And he spoke to his sons, saying, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled it28 Then he went and found his corpse thrown on the road, and the donkey and the lion standing by the corpse. The lion had not eaten the corpse nor torn the donkey. 29 And the prophet took up the corpse of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back. So the old prophet came to the city to mourn, and to bury him. 30 Then he laid the corpse in his own tomb; and they mourned over him, saying, o“Alas, my brother!” 31 So it was, after he had buried him, that he spoke to his sons, saying, “When I am dead, then bury me in the tomb where the man of God is buried; play my bones beside his bones. 32 qFor the 6saying which he cried out by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel, and against all the 7shrines on the high places which are in the cities of rSamaria, will surely come to pass.”

This passage has always puzzled many because of what appears to be contradictions of sorts in it. If we argue that the old prophet was a false prophet, how come God finally spoke through him and passed judgment on the young prophet? If the old prophet initially spoke his mind and not the will of God, why did he apparently lie to the young prophet who spoke the truth? Is this not a question of moral contradictions for a man of God?

The old prophet had obviously not spoken the mind of God when he initially claimed that an angel had spoken to him regarding the young prophet being permitted to eat food. However we learn from his second prophecy that he was now speaking the mind of God given the tragic consequences that follow.

Why was the old prophet not punished? We should appreciate that in the context of this passage, the young prophet is actually the subject and not the old prophet. The young prophet is the principal character of the narrator whose actions capture gist of the passage idea. The moral is simple; the young prophet who had been mightily used of God failed his obedience test when he trusted the voice of a man rather than the voice of God. God was his true master and not the old prophet or even an angel! How we often fail this test too! The old prophet was merely a divine instrument that God chose to test the young prophet and to achieve his higher purposes.

There are a number of spiritual lessons we can draw from this passage.

First, we should test every spirit or prophecy to see if it is from God (1 John 4:1-2. Not every person who claims to speak the mind of God is necessarily from God. Some are from Satan, intent on destroying our faith. Jesus rebuked Peter openly when he tried to stand in the way of the Cross(Matthew 16:23).  God's word must remain the radar and mast for our spiritual journey.

Secondly, we need to understand the moral nature of our God in that He does not change his will or purposes to suit our circumstances neither does He contradict Himself (James 1:17). God means what He says and says what He means. Scripture declares in Numbers 23:19 that "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" This is not to suggest that when we petition God regarding His judgment He will not change His mind and forgive. We know that He is full of compassion and mercy. He changed His mind on the destruction of Israel after Moses pleaded with Him(Exodus 33:17).  He showed mercy to King Hezekiah after declaring that he would not recover from his illness. Hezekiah made a passionate plea that touched the heart of God (Isaiah 38:1-4).

Thirdly, we need to distinguish God's voice from the din and clutter around us. Prophet Samuel learnt his hard lessons early in life. It took the experienced hands of Eli the Priest to help him clearly distinguish between the voice of God and the voice of man (1 Sam 3).  Understanding the mind of God is a lifelong experience. We should daily rely on His spirit and His word to discern His will.

Finally we learn that God punishes disobedience but has also offered a solution to the stain of sin (Romans 3:23; 6:23). If we disobey God and do not repent then the consequences are certainly tragic. There is no evidence from the passage that the young prophet repented of his sin.

 

Comforting thought for the month

Knowing God individually brings obedience which produces peace, purpose and power.

  • Peace shows itself by the ability to properly relate to God, other persons, ourselves and our world.
  • Purpose provides understanding of God's desires for our lives.
  • Power is the ability to do all we were put in this world to accomplish.