1 Kings 13
This ranks right up there as one of the most scandalous stories of the Bible. A prophet who goes on a dangerous mission to relate the word of the Lord to Jeroboam and accomplishes his mission beautifully—only to be hoodwinked by a lying man who claimed he was also a prophet.
The fundamental message of this chapter has to be this: Be careful who you trust. Even when someone claims to be speaking for God, they might be lying. Just because someone says it doesn’t mean it’s true! But I think there is an even deeper message we can glean from this chapter: God speaks personally. What I mean is that God has a way of communicating with each and every one of us, and when we learn how to hear His voice as it speaks to us, we better not trust anything that doesn’t get confirmed by Him!
Let’s take a look at that from this chapter. First of all, the story begins by telling us that a man of God came from Judah to Bethel "by the word of the Lord." (vs 1) So, even though the Bible doesn’t explain how, it’s obvious that this young prophet had a line of open communication with God, and God convicted him to get up and travel to Judah.
Next, after the king had been properly put in his place by the prophet, the king invited the young man to dinner so he could give him some gifts. "But the man of God answered the king, '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."'" (vs 8-9)
Not only had the young prophet been commanded by the Lord to go to Judah and deliver a message to the king, but by the very same method of communication, he had been given direct instructions to go right there and come right back home—not even stopping to eat a meal or get a drink. The young man knew that. It was part of the conviction God had given him.
When the old prophet caught up with the young man and offered to take him home for a meal, the young prophet repeated the Lord’s instructions. And that’s when the old prophet lied: "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.'" (vs 18) And here’s where the young man made his big mistake. He didn’t check out this conflicting message with the Lord. He just got up and went with the old prophet.
It’s hard to believe that the young prophet could have made such a mistake. He had an established way of communicating with God, and anything that deviated from that should have been a huge red flag to him. When the old prophet came and told him that the Lord had given him a conflicting message, he should have thought, I wonder why God didn’t just tell me Himself?
One of the great things about God is that He is anxious to have a real relationship with us. And no two relationships are exactly alike. The way He communicates with me will, most likely, not be the same way He communicates with you! So, expect Him to speak to you personally. Spend time with Him. Learn to hear and discern His voice. And when you’re confused about something, instead of acting on impulse, go back to God and ask Him to confirm or deny it. He won’t let you down. He speaks personally!