Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hearing the Voice of God

Got your attention, didn't I?  The title of my latest free read from Bethany House got my attention too.  A Woman's Guide to Hearing God's Voice by Leighann McCoy seemed to be just what I needed right now.  While it was a very good read, and I enjoyed the author's voice very much, the book should have had a different title.  It wasn't exactly a guide to hearing God's voice, but it did have some timely words for my life when I read it.  It put some things I was struggling with in perspective, and reminded me of some truths that were being clouded by life.  I am also looking forward to reading other books by this author that were mentioned in this book.
Fast forward to this morning.  I was reading a most interesting and weird story in 1 Kings 13.  The Old Testament is full of such stories, in case you are under the assumption that it's all laws and genealogies. Anyway, this particular story I've read before, and I still don't quite get it.  The section is titled "The Man of God from Judah" and it's about this guy who is only referred to as "the man of God" or "the man of God from Judah."  He prophesies against King Jeroboam, who was a particularly wicked king, and then gives a sign to testify that what he said will happen.  The king's hand becomes shriveled, and while he doesn't repent, he asks the man to pray for him, which he does, and God restores Jeroboam's hand.  At which point, instead of repenting or even thanking God, the king offers the man of God a meal and a gift.  Clearly this was the wrong response, and the man of God refused, saying that the Lord had told him not to eat or drink anything while he was there, and to go home by a different road than he had come.  The man of God left the king and headed home on a different road, just like he was supposed to.  Now here is where the story gets interesting.  Another guy, simply called "an old prophet" heard what the man of God had done and went after him.  He also offered the man of God a meal, but the man responded the same way he had to the king.  Only this time, the old prophet was not persuaded as easily as the king, and he made up a story about an angel telling him to bring the man of God to his house and feed him.  And the man of God believes him and goes to his house!  Here's where I want to yell at the man of God, and say, "Hello?  McFly!!  Aren't you even going to question this guy?  Or maybe inquire of the Lord yourself to see if this guy is legit??"  But he doesn't.  He just goes.  The man of God who should know better, who should know that he should just do what he was told, did otherwise.  It bothers me a great deal to think that someone whom one would assume is close to the Lord and hears his voice clearly could so easily be led astray.  If he had not been described as a man of God, and was just some guy God chose to use that day, then maybe I could understand. 
So they go to the prophet's house, and they eat and drink.  And before they're even finished, the real word of the Lord came to the old prophet, and he rebukes the man of God for his disobedience and foretells his death!!  Again, here's where I would interject.  Where is the rebuke from the Lord for the lying prophet??  Why isn't he the one being killed for lying in the name of the Lord??  And why in the world did he lie in the first place?  There's no motive that I can see, except that he really wanted to have lunch with this guy.  Sometimes I just can't understand why people make the poor choices they do, when they clearly know better.  Ok, everyday I can't understand why I make the poor choices I do when I clearly know better!  But this guy was a prophet, again, someone from whom we should expect a higher standard.  I guess it just goes to show that no one is immune to temptation.  Now the word says that "when the man of God had finished eating and drinking...he went on his way."  What?!?!?!  No repentance, no pleading with the Lord for mercy?!?!  Is this guy daft?  Or does he not take the old prophet's words seriously?  Surely if he had repented, God would have forgiven him and he would not have been mauled by a lion on his way home.  But he didn't, and he was.
Like I said, weird story!!  A few thoughts I have after all this.  One, if God has told you to do (or not do) something, don't let someone else talk you out of it (or into it!), even if they are someone you respect spiritually.  Two, no one is infallible.  Everyone can give in to temptation, and we must not put our leaders on pedestals, but recognize that they are every bit as human as those they lead.  And third, please, if you find yourself on the wrong road, repent!  Humble yourself, ask God for mercy, and he will give it.  After all, no one really wants to be lion food.
p.s.  The weirdest part of the story was that the lion just hung out by the body until the prophet heard what happened and came for the man of God to bury him, along with the donkey he was riding.  So strange.  No one who actually reads the Bible can even claim it's boring, that's for sure!!