1 Kings 13:18-19 (NIV) 18 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.) 19 So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.
On verses 11-19: In these verses the man of God from Judah is on his way home when he is met by a “certain old prophet living in Bethel” (v11). Having heard from his sons about the impressive feats this younger prophet from Judah was involved in, the old prophet finds this younger prophet and invites him to come to his house and eat. Initially the younger prophet refuses, saying that God has told him not to eat or drink (v16-17). But when the old prophet says that he too is a prophet and that an angel told him to bring the younger prophet back with him to eat and drink, the man from Judah goes with the old prophet and eats and drinks with him. Little did the man from Judah know that the old prophet was lying.
(By the way, why did this old prophet lie? Did the old prophet just really want the younger prophet to eat and was willing to go to any lengths to do so? Did he genuinely care for this younger prophet or was he trying to destroy him out of jealousy? It’s not clear. What is clear is that this old prophet’s character was questionable. Even if he did have a genuine gift of hearing from God (which he did as we will see later), his lying ways meant that he should not be trusted.)
It’s a little strange to me that the younger prophet would so quickly believe someone whom he has just met and whom he knows nothing about. Even if the old prophet is indeed a prophet and is older than him, it is strange to me that the younger prophet would trust this stranger to the point that he would even disregard and disobey the word God had previously given him in order to follow the word that this alleged old prophet was now claiming to have for him. This would turn out to be a fatal mistake.
What can we learn from this? When someone says they have a word from God for you, ask yourself the following:
1. Is this message I am now hearing consistent with the words God has spoken to me in the past?
2. Is the character of the person giving this message trustworthy? You see, a person may be gifted, but if that person’s character is questionable (for example, they have a history of being untrustworthy or you simply don’t know this person), then do not fall headlong for whatever that person is saying. Test the alleged word you have received through prayer, checking it against Scripture and getting a second opinion from people whose character you definitely trust.
Unfortunately, the younger prophet from Judah did not do that. Perhaps he was hungry and was looking for any spiritual excuse to break his fast. Or perhaps he was simply too naive and gullible. Either way, this mistake of trusting in a message and in a messenger that should not have been trusted would be his downfall, as we will see in the verses that follow.
God is not in the business of trying to confuse you. When you hear two conflicting and contradictory messages, both claiming to be the word of God, you need to ask God for discernment so that you can weigh the two messages and decipher which one is from God and which one is not.
1 Kings 13:20-22 (NIV) 20 While they were sitting at the table, the word of the LORD came to the old prophet who had brought him back. 21 He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, “This is what the LORD says: ‘You have defied the word of the LORD and have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. 22 You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your fathers.'”
On verses 20-22: Strangely and ironically, the way that the younger prophet found out that the older prophet had lied to him was when the older prophet later receives a genuine word from the Lord while they were eating. This word from God that the older prophet receives confirms that God had instructed the younger prophet not to eat or drink, and that the younger prophet violated God’s command by eating and drinking. As a result, this younger prophet would “not be buried in the tomb of your fathers”, meaning his life would end in dishonour.
What can we learn from this? A person may have a gift from God, but the gift does not exempt them from making mistakes and does not excuse them from behaving badly. Both the younger prophet and the older prophet were gifted, but they both clearly also made mistakes which would end up tainting their legacies. Being gifted will only take you so far. It’s the quality of your character, not the quantity of your gifts, that will determine the legacy you leave.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I would not make the same mistake that the younger prophet from Judah made. When someone claims to have a word from God for me, may I be careful to test it and to make sure that the messenger is trustworthy before I believe and act on that word. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!