Ever heard the story in 2 Kings 13 about a man of God who had bravely prophesied to King Jeroboam using miraculous signs? God commanded him not to go back the way he came, and not to eat or drink anything until he had arrived home. He obediently set off on the road, and all who had seen and heard what God had done through him were talking.
A local prophet heard news of what had happened, and was intent on finding him. He tracked him down and offered to bring him home for some food and drink. The man of God refused, saying that God had given him orders to eat and drink nothing along the journey. But this “prophet” was very convincing. “I also am a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’ ” The Bible says that it was a lie. But instead of doing what he knew was God’s command, the man of God caved in to doubts and most likely the hunger and thirst he was feeling. He went home with the guy, ate, and continued on his way. Then a lion killed him and threw his body on the road but wouldn’t eat him or even harm his donkey, because the protection of God was no longer on this man.
At first glance this seems unfair. How was he supposed to know that God hadn’t changed His mind and given him new orders through this other prophet? How was he supposed to know that the prophet was lying? Obviously he was supposed to know. It’s easy to sense the presence of false spirits when you’ve just been in God’s presence, but it seems like he turned off that sense in favor of a hot meal. He was in a situation that many of us find ourselves, of wanting to believe that God is telling us to take the easy road. It’s as if the man of God wanted to be lied to. He tossed aside God’s command in exchange for a more pleasant choice. If he had just stopped to ask God, wouldn’t He have made it clear? God had just finished performing signs and wonders and speaking through his mouth, of course He would have answered him. But the man of God didn’t take the time to ask, because the prophet gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
How many Christians want to be lied to? How many automatically respond to God’s word by looking for loopholes? We think we can pull the wool over God’s eyes with lame excuses of “but that prophet told me so,” when we clearly know that the word of God tells us something totally different. There are plenty of prophets and teachers around who twist and bend and distort the word of God to make it more palatable, to fill their churches, to make their congregations happier, to get themselves off the hook from having to really live a life of sacrifice like Jesus commands… And there are plenty of church people who lap it all up and want more. But just as that man of God lost his protection, so do all of those who choose lies over truth.
We want prayers answered and miracles to happen. We want God’s power to rescue us when evil attacks us and our families. But our only hope is to be in line with the word of God, in close obedience to whatever He calls us to do. We can’t afford to tamper with His commands and principles and expect victory too. We can’t be lured into smooth-talking “prophets” who present salvation with no sacrifice and no denial of our flesh, because that just doesn’t exist. The only way we can discern the truth from the lies is to always be immersed in His word, reading, meditating and proving it’s truth through the way we live. The closer you are to His presence, the more desirable His truth is and the more obvious the lies are as well.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:3-5 NASB)