Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Lion, The Old Prophet and The Man of God

When I first heard this story I found it difficult to think any such thing existed in scripture.  It went against everything I had been taught but yet there it was, staring me in the face.  Everyone knows the dangers of following false prophets… but what about the dangers of following true prophets?  Stick with me for a few moments as I share the astonishing tale of The Lion, The Old Prophet and the Man of God. 
 
The Man of God

1 Kings 13  The Man of God was sent to the king of Beth-el to deliver a message and, as you might expect, it was rejected by the king.  As if that wasn't bad enough the king put forth his hand to seize the Man of God and when he did his arm ‘dried up’ so that it became useless.  Immediately the alter was rent in twain and ashes spilled upon the ground from it.  These events came as a surprise to the king notwithstanding the Man of God had told him what would happen if he rejected the message. After these signs were given the king became a believer.

With his arm all dried up, the king then asked the Man of God to seek the face of the Lord that his arm may be restored.  The Man of God asked the Lord for that very thing and another miracle was performed and the king’s arm was healed.  He was very impressed with this and asked the Man of God to be his guest and come home with him and refresh himself.  And, oh by the way, he wanted to give the Man of God a reward; you know… as token of his appreciation.

The Man of God refused everything the king offered, even to half of his kingdom… and for good reason.  He had been instructed by God not to eat or drink anything while in Beth-el and when the job was done, he was not to take the same path back to Judea. 

The Old Prophet

Word had gotten out about the great miracle that had happened involving the Man of God and the king.  The Old Prophet’s sons came to him and told him all that had happened.  The Old Prophet had his donkey saddled up and he pursued the Man of God.  He met him along the road while the Man of God rested beneath a tree.

The Old Prophet asked, “Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I am.  Then [the Old Prophet] said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread.”

The Man of God said, “I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place:  For it was said to me by the word of the Lord, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.”

Here is where things get really interesting.  The Old Prophet said to the Man of God, “I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.”

It appears the Man of God was being deceived by the Old Prophet.  However, when you take the Joseph Smith translation into consideration it changes everything.  It says:  “I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water, that I may prove him; and he lied not unto him.” JST 1 Kings. 13:18  footnote "b"(emphasis added). With this new perspective the Old Prophet suddenly becomes the Old True Prophet.

Here we have one prophet, the Man of God, who was told not to eat or drink in Beth-el and the Old True Prophet telling him that an angel of the Lord sent him to bring him to his house to eat and drink!  What a choice! What a pickle the Man of God was in!  What should he do?  Should he obey the word of the Lord as it was given him or follow a True Prophet?  What would you have done?  What have you been taught to do?

Can you guess what happened next?  Yep – the Man of God went home with the Old True Prophet and ate bread and drank water.  While they were yet eating the word of the Lord came to the Old True  Prophet saying, “Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as [the Man of God] hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded [him], but camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to [him], eat no bread, and drink no water; [his] carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of [his] fathers.”   Wow.  Man of God…, you’re going to die before you get home.  The Man of God failed the test.

The Lion

As the Man of God was riding towards home he was killed by a lion.  His body left for dead in the street.  To the amazement of the passersby, The Lion stood by the remains of the Man of God and did not eat him; neither did the Lion destroy the donkey but they both stood side by side over the carcass of the Man of God.  There they remained until the Old True Prophet carried off the body of the Man of God.  With the bitterness of this ordeal the Old True Prophet lamented, “Alas, my brother!”, then the Old True Prophet had his sons bury the Man of God in his own grave.  The Old True Prophet charged his sons, saying, “When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones.”  A very tragic story.  

The Test

This passage of scripture is astonishing to me.  It illustrates the dangers of following true prophets.  The Man of God was given the option of following the Lord, as he was instructed or following the Old True Prophet.  He chose to follow the prophet and was killed as a result.  It would seem there are just as many dangers in following true prophets as there are in following false prophets… and for the same reason:  The Lord alone is to be followed, never a prophet be they true or false.   Never follow the arm of flesh.  Never follow man.  Cursed are those who put their trust in the arm of flesh.   It is well within the realm of possibility for prophets to lead you astray for the purpose of testing you.  The test continues today.  

I hope you will take the time to read and study this story in its entirety: 1 Kings 13 

Latter-day Lion?

There are prophecies yet to be fulfilled regarding a Lion that will go through the "beasts of the forest" and the "flocks of sheep" and shall tear them in pieces and none can deliver.  I wonder if their demise will be for the same reason as the Man of God?  I wonder if his fate was a type and shadow of things to come...?  I wonder…


Conclusion 

Have you received the Voice of the Lord or been instructed by Him to do a certain thing?  Is that action in opposition to the prophet?  Perhaps you are being tested to see if you will follow the prophet or the Lord.  

Those who follow the prophet will not understand the actions of those who follow the Lord.  It will seem foreign to them.  They may mock, ridicule and even scorn those who choose to follow the Lord all the while thinking they are superior because they follow a prophet.  This is as is should be.  It’s all part of the test.  Remember, The Man of God failed his test by following a true prophet.  Let us learn from him and follow the Lord Jesus Christ instead.   

17 comments:

  1. Truly profound, Son. May we always seek to know the will of the Lord for us and have the courage to go and do it once we have the answer. I'm off to read 1 Kings 13.
    Thanks, Mom

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  2. I have loved this story for some time. Thank you for your commentary on it.

    Your brother, Steve

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  3. Nicely done! I had not read that before! Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Milo. I first heard this story October 2104. It has been a favorite ever since.

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    2. Wow a time traveler! LOL.

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  4. Yes. When the smoke clears and the dust settles there will indeed be very few left standing who have actually followed the Prototype of the saved man, and not merely followed saved men.

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    1. That is right, Lynne! Follow the Lord. He knows the way!

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  5. I remember reading this for one of the Sunday School lessons last year and pulled out the same things as you did. I love the pictures that you put with it. Very powerful lesson to learn. I am glad we have these stories from the scriptures recorded so that we can learn from them, to be wiser then they were. Such an easy trap to fall into. Many are doing it now. In the past I have been guilty of following man instead of God.

    Our home teacher came over last night and gave this month's HT lesson on Courage. I brought up the point that we are to be courageous in following the Voice of the Lord. He trumps all. It takes courage and integrity to stand up and follow the Lord especially when it around your own group of people. I made mention of Alma and Amulek, and Abinidi. I said there are many religious people, even us (LDS) but how many of us are actually Righteous? I stated sometimes I feel like I am a Salmon going upstream. You are right, it's all a test.

    Sorry for my ramblings. Thanks again for this wonderful reminder. God trumps and we are to follow him and him alone. -Your sister in Christ, Sally Ann

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    1. Thank you, Sally Ann!

      I have been guilty of the same thing: following men. It takes time to identify the difference between truth and tradition. Then we swim upstream against the current and other obstacles. And as you so aptly pointed out, it takes courage to do so. Thank you for your courage and you great comments!

      Your Brother in Christ ~ Sean

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  6. Forum AnimeNice Post ,I Like This Post ,thanks for sharing

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  7. Having read the entire standard works with my husband, I know I've read this story before... and many of the stories he was gifted with amazing inspiration, and the scriptures were opened to us... but this story, I don't remember and don't think it was one where we received deep clarifications. Probably because NOW is the time, having come to fully understand it and being prepared.

    Thank you for the "wow" moment - great post. This one is likely to have a ripple effect.

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    1. It was a "wow" moment for me too! One of the many gems in the Old Testament.

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  8. Sean, I just re-read 1 Kings 13 again and thought of your post. I learn 5 lessons from this story. One is that we must always put God over man, even a true prophet.

    However, still doing what a true prophet says to do (when he utters something by the Spirit) is a good thing where blessings of God follow, PROVIDED that the Lord hasn't already commanded something contrary to the true prophet.

    What's unique about 1 Kings 13 is that the true prophet is ALIVE and interacting with the person being proved. In the 2 other examples I can think of (Abraham and Nephi), the true prophet is Moses but he is dead. Moses recorded in Scripture "thou shalt not kill." So Abraham and Nephi has a choice: obey a true prophet's command to not kill, or to obey the voice of the Lord.

    A key, secondary lesson from 1 Kings 13, is that God tests us with incredibly difficult tests. Perhaps this was the man of God's Abrahamic test? Perhaps he would have received his calling and election IF he passed this test. He was SOOOOOO close. All he had to say to the old, true prophet was, "thanks but no thanks, and continue on his journey. And perhaps a short time later the scripture would have recorded that God covenanted with him to grant him eternal life?

    The JST teaches us from verse 18: "He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water, THAT I MAY PROVE HIM; and he lied not unto him."

    The 3rd lesson is that a true prophet can be sent TO LEAD US ASTRAY!!

    4th lesson: this story proves that the utter falsehood of OD 1 (the part added in 1981) which states, "The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God."

    This one O.T. story conclusively smashes ANY argument in defense of this anti Christ teaching in OD 1. Not only will the Lord not only permit a "prophet" to lead you astray, the Lord may actually COMMAND him to attempt to lead you astray! In other words, trying to lead you astray from God by a true prophet may be "the mind of the God"!

    This brings to mind what Paul said about God in the last days, that He would "send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" in 2 Thess 2:11.

    5th lesson: This is to the Man of God's credit. He actually OBTAINED the word of the Lord. How many of us do this much? He was hearing the word of the Lord. He was also bold in declaring it to the king. How many of us do that? The Man of God was very spiritually advanced and courageous! At the end though, he failed the test the Lord gave him. But at least he was "in the arena", he was able to discern the word of God. He could hear His voice, and thus was His sheep, but sadly he failed at the end. But we must honor his good example and value the lesson he taught us. The old prophet had compassion on him, and gathered up his body and respected and loved him so much that he told his sons he wanted to be buried next to the Man of God when he died!

    Great story! Thank you, Sean!

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    1. Underdog2, These are great insights. Well said!

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