Sunday, December 10, 2006

kings & prophets VI: the Nameless Prophet

At a time of spiritual and political decline, the nation of Israel divides into Northern and Southern Kingdoms, named Israel and Judah, respectively.

King Jeroboam becomes the first king over the divided kingdom of Israel and quickly commits a grave sin by creating two major "worship centers" at Bethel and Dan causing a great spiritual apostasy among the people of the Northern Kingdom.

A Prophet, whose name is never revealed, comes to Jeroboam and prophecies against the idol altar upon which Jeroboam was instituting idol worship; in effect foretelling of the downfall of idol worship.

Through three consecutive miracles (demonstration of God's effective power in the nameless prophets words), Jeroboam finally acknowledges the prophet's legitimacy and message, and when he invites the prophets to his dine with him, the Prophet tells him:

Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. For I was commanded by the word of the LORD : 'You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.'

The nameless prophet goes on his way in obedience to God's specific command.

Enter an Old Prophet living in Bethel, one of the major centers of idol worship in Israel. His sons, having apparently had participated and witnessed the events at Jeroboam's altar, tells their father of the Nameless Prophet from Judah.

The Old Prophet urges the presumably younger Nameless Prophet to join him as Jeroboam has asked.

The Nameless Prophet gives him the same response he gave to King Jeroboam earlier (1 Kings 13:16-17)

But this young prophet's destiny changes completely because of the next few verses:

The old prophet answered, "I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD : 'Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.' " (But he was lying to him.)

The Bible tells us plainly that the Old Prophet was lying. He deceived the Nameless Prophet.

The Nameless Prophet heeds the Old Prophet's lies and eats, forsaking God's direct command, and he pays for his disobedience with his life.

Here is a man of God who could have become famous and respected like Prophet Elijah who in fact did not even taste death but was taken up to heaven directly.

Where did he fail?

Was he not in fact deceived? Isn't the Old Prophet at fault?

The Great Wall of China stretching over 4,000 miles was built 2,000 years ago in order to protect themselves from Hun invasion. It appeared impregnable. But the enemy still breached it. Not by breaking through the walls or climbing it or going around it: They did it by bribing the gatekeepers.

Many times, we find that we fall into temptation not because we did not "fortify" ourselves correctly, but because of the most unexpected shortcoming we had carelessly overlooked.

This Nameless Prophet had just experienced great power of God working in and through him before an idol-worshiping King of Israel. But his "prior success" was not enough to keep him faithful to God's direct command.

Understandably, he must have been tired after the long trip, not having had eaten or drunk anything, to deliver a message to Jeroboam. It says in verse 14 that the Nameless Prophet was resting under an oak tree. He was on his way home, but he was too weary and needed rest.

He was emotionally and physically drained.

He was weak.

And the Enemy seized that opportunity.

A prophet in the Old Testament times lived under very specific and defined lifestyle as they served as God's mouthpiece and medium through which God would present His message to His people.

It was a lifestyle that gave no leeway for disobedience or mistakes, their lives often an allegory fo what God wanted to reveal to the kings or the people.

The Nameless Prophet was deceived. But deception is no excuse for disobedience of a direct command from God, and when all things are said and done, it is not someone else's responsibility that we obey God and follow His instructions.

He was a man who knew the voice of God and carried an important message for an apostate king and his people, a message backed up with incredible demonstration of the power of the living God.

And yet in his moment of weakness, he decided to yield to temptation.

How do you fall into temptation?

It is sad yet true that we often make provision for sin.

We know this thing to be something that does not please God, but we keep making it available to us.

Remember the story about the father and the son.

"Didn't I tell you not to swim in that river?" the father asked.

"Yes, sir" the son answered.

"Why did you?"

"Well, Dad, I had my bathing suit with me and I couldn't resist the temptation."

"Why did you take your bathing suit with you?"

"So I'd be prepared to swim in case I was tempted."

Paul exhorts us to "clothe" ourselves "with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (Romans 13:14)

Do you make provision for sin; something you know you need to let go?

After you have crossed that bridge that led to that place you know draws you away from the presence of God, burn it, and don't look back.

We are all called to be living messages of the Living God. Your life is a message. You can choose to live a life like that of the Nameless Prophet who never really amounted to anything - just someone who met a tragic end.

Or you can count the cost and step up in faith and obedience to God's call on your life and make it count toward Eternity.

Don't make the mistake the Nameless Prophet made: don't look back and don't depend on others as an excuse for the easier way out.

--from Nakwon EM December 10th Sunday Worship Service

2 comments:

tobi said...

i guess we're skipping kings and prophets VI.

Anonymous said...

Oops!

It's supposed to be Kings & Prophets VI not VII.

Fixed.

Thanks.