Obedience to God Requires Wisdom and Discretion

Dear Friends:

There’s an account in the Old Testament of a young prophet going to warn King Jeroboam of the punishment coming his way if he does not change, etc. Without going into all the details, Jeroboam recognizes that the young man is a prophet and asks him to come to his home for a meal and drink. The prophet refuses and states that God has prohibited him from eating or drinking anything there. So the prophet departs, but an older prophet hears the conversation and later convinces the young prophet that an angel of God has appeared to him (the older prophet) and has told him to disregard God’s command about not eating or drinking in Israel, and to come home with the old prophet and eat with him. I have no idea why the old prophet lied to the younger prophet, but the young man was fooled, ate with him, and later, on the road back to Judah was killed by a lion. It’s clear in this narrative that God sent the lion and that the young man suffered death because of disobedience.

I am sure that many people would want to explain away this story, but there it is, black and white, as to what happened! This young prophet, a good man by all accounts, was killed because an older man fooled him into believing that God had changed His mind in regard to a command—“DO NOT EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING IN ISRAEL”.

Again, I am no expert in these things, but as one that has read the Bible more than a few times, and one that has observed, first hand, the dangers of “hearing what you want to hear”, let me suggest the following:

When God tells us to do something, and we know it is from God, the worst thing you can do is ask someone else for their opinion on what God has said! God was clear to this young man — do not eat or drink anything there. Yet, for whatever reason, he allowed an older man’s opinion in the matter to sway him.

We disobey God at our own peril. As a nation, family, or individual the blood is upon our own heads if we deliberately do something that we know He does not want us to do. It’s called a “sin of commission”, i.e. we know exactly what we are doing is wrong and we do it anyway. God is patient, but eventually there will be a reckoning if we don’t humble ourselves and confess our arrogant actions.

Just because someone is a man (or woman) of God does not necessarily mean that they are right in their counsel! They might be dead-wrong and leading us in the wrong direction! The bible says to “test the spirits” — be sure that the counsel you are receiving from the priest, pastor, or spiritual mentor is consistent with the Word of God and the reasoning God gives to each of us.

Good as the young man was, he did not think carefully about what he was doing and it cost him his life. The story was recorded here for a purpose: God expects obedience from us, not excuses.

Dean Barley

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