discussion · Knowing God · The Word of God

Testing, 1, 2, 3… [Coffee Chat #9]

coffee chat

I love a good discussion with a friend over a steaming cup of chai, but since I can’t gather all of you at a comfortable cafe, I’ll have to be content with this little corner of the Internet.

I want to thank each and every person who has come to these coffee chats and commented. I have thoroughly enjoyed your insights and inspiration! Thank you for your time.

Read previous coffee chats under the “discussion” category or click here.


On Monday evening, my spouse and I were engaged in discussion with two young men. They were teaching that they had “revelation from God” that gave more knowledge than the Bible. We had been having classes for a couple weeks and in each discussion, we were able to reasonably demonstrate to them that their “revelation” was full of holes.

Now, I want you to know that these discussions were quite amicable. There wasn’t shouting, fighting arguing or rudeness. It truly was a good setting for back and forth… definitely different from discussions I see on forums & comment sections that can get very acrimonious!

These young men had a minimal knowledge of the Bible. They knew the basic sketches of Bible accounts, but they were quite ignorant of the details. They liked to cherry-pick verses and base their doctrine on those out-of-context snippets. When they could no longer defend their position, the fall back answer was, “we just know, because God told us.”

After all our discussions, we told them that because their book contradicted the Bible, we would have no part in it. The “prophecies” contained in their book were short-term ones that could be easily brought to pass by the people who wrote them down. There were errors splattered everywhere.

It was nothing like the real thing.

We kept trying to gently show them the difference, but this was always the final answer:

“We’ve prayed about it. We just know these things are true. If you prayed about it, you’d know too. We just know.”

*sigh*

Ironically, the next morning, I was listening to the next few chapters in my daily reading of 1 Kings when I heard the account of a prophet who did not follow God’s instructions.

This prophet told Jeroboam, King of Israel that the altar he had built would be torn down. The king seized the prophet and his hand withered up. He begged the man of God to ask God for restoration. God granted the prophet’s request and Jeroboam’s hand was restored. Jeroboam, grateful to have two working hands again, asked the prophet to come home with him and get a reward.

This was the prophet’s answer:

And the man of God said to the king, “If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, for so was it commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.’”

1 Kings 13.8-9 ESV

It so happened that an old prophet heard about all this and set about to deceive this prophet. So while the man of God is on his way home, he runs into this old prophet.

And [the old prophet] said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’”

But he lied to him. 

So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water.

1 Kings 13.18-19

Now, as I read that, I asked myself: “Why in the world did this man of God, who had a direct line to God not check with God himself???”

What was he thinking?

If I could have back-and-forth dialogue with God, I would hope that if something contradicted His original instructions that I’d be saying to that old prophet, “Hang on a sec, I’ve got to check with the Lord Himself first…”

Why didn’t he ask God?

Why didn’t he test the word of this prophet?!?!?!

The result was his death.

And [the old prophet] 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, 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 13:21-22

I do not know if the old prophet lied to the man of God as a test or because he was seeking harm. Read the full account here.

Regardless, the lesson is plain: Just because someone says they have a message from God, doesn’t mean they are telling the truth.

Test their message.

Test them.

What litmus test do we use?

I read recently that the best way to recognize a forgery is to be intimately acquainted with the real thing. Bank tellers are taught the intricacies of real bills so that they can see the difference between a real dollar and a fake one.

What is the real thing? The Bible.

Now, riddle me this:

  1. Why didn’t the old prophet in 1 Kings get punished for lying?
  2. Why do you think the prophet didn’t ask God for confirmation?
  3. And finally, aside from my little anecdote, do you think that we can honestly distinguish between truth and lies by only using God’s Word?

I look forward to your answers while I sip some homemade iced chai!

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12 thoughts on “Testing, 1, 2, 3… [Coffee Chat #9]

  1. My answers to the questions will be brief since I didn’t have a ton of time to dig into it, but I love the questions you pose! So I wanted to give it a go.

    1. There are a few answers here, I think. If the old prophet was acting out of malice and was not punished, I suspect it was for the same reason that a lot of people aren’t now. People lie every day, get away with it, and the sun goes right on shining. We know that God moves in ways that seem slow to us, and that sometimes consequences are often delayed. So maybe the prophet would suffer a delayed consequence. Alternatively under that perspective, it could be that he was punished later and it is not mentioned. The other option, of course – and the one I lean to – is that God was using him to test the first prophet, which to me his later actions (burying the prophet and mourning him) seem to indicate. In which case it makes sense he wouldn’t be punished!

    2. I think sometimes people who are close to God are especially vulnerable to believing they know His voice. When you’re working on God’s behalf, it can be easy to convince yourself that your instincts and thoughts are aligned with God’s. And sometimes, tragically, we consult those instead of consulting God Himself. “Seems right, so okay!”

    3. I think that in most cases God’s word should suffice, but when it comes to particularly thorny dilemmas I cross-check in a three-point sort of way. I check God’s word, I check with older believers or esteemed believing friends who are deep in the Word and whom I trust, and I check my own heart. Generally – GENERALLY – when those three things align, I feel like I can “verify” something. But when in doubt or when there is discord my fallback is the Word and its principles alone.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your great comment, Samaritan song. I always love it when you share your insights here. 😀

      I was leaning toward your third idea on the old prophet’s lack of punishment. He did seem grieved over the fate of the man of God.

      I liked your comment on number 2; trusting our instincts and what we think we know can be shaky ground.

      I am not sure where the proverb is, but it reads, “in multitude of counsellors there is wisdom.” which is what I thought of when I read point 3; when we can’t figure it out or it’s hard to reach a conclusion, it’s ok to reach out to trusted sources, but if the answer isn’t quite right, we keep on digging (which is what you are indicating).

      It was pointed out to me that in the sermon on the mount, when Jesus says “ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened” the words “ask, seek, and knock” are in the “present active imperative” tense, so we are supposed to “keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking.” And it always comes back to home base—the Word of God.

      Thank you again for stimulating comment. I enjoyed reading it and mulling it over. God be with you!

      Like

  2. I can’t help but think about so many modern Christians who never take the time to read and study the Bible for themselves but always rely on sermons, teachings, and second hand accounts. Every believer needs to spend one-on-one time with God studying God’s Word.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pam! Thank you for the great comment! The best thing I can say is a hearty AMEN!

      What you mention is a trap I have caught myself falling into multiple times over the years. All those things are good thought-provoking stimuli, but they can’t compete with the source.

      Making daily study a priority is so critical to distinguishing truth from lies.

      Thank you again for joining the discussion and your encouraging comment!

      God be with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Perhaps the man of God accepted the old prophet’s statement because he wanted the reward the king had offered and was looking for a pretext to go back. When the prophet found him he was sitting under a tree rather than traveling home. It seems to me that he wasn’t in any hurry to get home.

    Liked by 1 person

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