Last week we looked at 1 Kings 13: 1-22. A “man of God” had obeyed God, prophesied against idol worship, and was invited to an older prophet’s home for dinner. The man of God explained that God had commanded him not to eat or drink, but the second prophet told a little white lie: an angel had assured him the rules were changed and this was acceptable.
Then the bomb falls. During the meal, God spoke to the lying prophet, clarifying that this disobedience would lead to the man of God’s death far from home. (Read last week’s article to get all the details. Better yet, read the scriptural passage.) Pretty harsh, don’t you think? I mean, how was he to know this was a lie?
Well, if we read between the lines, there were clues. The old prophet lived in one of Israel’s centers of idolatry. Legitimate prophets didn’t do that. Too, he allowed his children to attend Jeroboam’s idol worship when he had to know this violated God’s decree. At least he should have scolded them for betraying the one, true God. Had he been in good standing with the Lord, he himself would have protested King Jeroboam’s sacrifice to the golden calf instead of waiting for another prophet to do the dirty work. But the man of God wasn’t blameless. All he had to do was ask God if this vision was true or not, but, instead, he believed the lie and joined the old prophet in Idolaterville for a meal and a drink.
Of course, easy for me to criticize. I’m not the one who was hungry, thirsty and tired. Pick up the story in verse 23. The lying prophet offered one of his donkeys to the man of God who went on his way where he was met and killed by a lion. People passing by traveled to the old prophet’s city and reported seeing the dead man with a lion and donkey standing nearby. When the old prophet heard of it, he said to his sons, “‘Saddle the donkey for me,’ and they did so. Then he went out and found the body lying on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. The lion had neither eaten the body nor mauled the donkey. So, the prophet picked up the body of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back to his own city to mourn for him and bury him. Then he laid the body in his own tomb, and they mourned over him and said, ‘Alas, my brother!’ “After burying him, he said to his sons, ‘When I die, bury me in the grave where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones.
For the message he declared by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel and against all the shrines on the high places in the towns of Samaria will certainly come true.’” (Which, of course, it did.) In this case, a little lyin’ led to a bigger lion, one that attacked the man of God who was barely out of Dodge. Just hours earlier, he was God’s miraculous hand to deal with false worship at the Altar of Bethel, but then he was seduced into appeasing his temporal pleasures.
I imagine many of us would have done likewise. We forget there is an enemy roaming this planet whose job is to seduce. And he does it well. We ignore our Holy Spirit warnings and believe whatever satisfies our desires, justifying it all as “harmless.” “Just one more drink.” “A quick peek can’t hurt.” “R-rated movies mean nothing.” “Only a few more dollars on our credit card.” “The church can live without my tithe.” “What’s the big deal about a little white lie?” When we get to Heaven, we might want to ask the man of God about that one.