Many things seem uncertain at 18, but the summer I was that illustrious age, I was more certain of one thing than—barring the importance of commitment of Jesus Christ—I’d ever been in my life. It was God’s will for me to marry a young man I hardly knew.
My mother was incredulous—God had told her I’d marry another young man. Not only that, God had told him. But he hadn’t told me.
A week later, we were engaged (with my parent’s blessings). Three months later we were married. Thirty-three years, four children, a son-in-law, three grandchildren, and incredible ups and downs later, we’re still Mr. and Mrs. David Gillette.
All that to say…it’s important to hear the word of the Lord for yourself, and to act upon it.
In 1 Kings 13, we read about a man who should’ve known that. We’re told only that he was a “man of God”—and if you were going to be known for one thing, that’s a good one.
He went to King Jeroboam to deliver the word of the Lord, but it didn’t go well. When the king stretched out his hand, calling for the man’s arrest, his hand shriveled up. Amazing how a useless limb will grab your attention! The king asked the man of God to pray for him, and was healed.
“Come have dinner,” the king said. “I’ll give you a gift.”
“Not even if you offered half your kingdom.” Apparently the Lord had commanded him not to eat or drink until he arrived home by a different route.
Enter a prophet—one would assume another “man of God” with such a title, but even prophets get it wrong occasionally—who’d heard about the drama of the day. He chased the man down, inviting him to a meal. Perhaps he wanted to pick his brain about palace intrigue, or was going through a dry spell and wanted a fill-up for his spiritual tank. The man of God again refused, giving the same reason.
“But I’m a prophet too!” the old prophet said. “An angel told me to bring you home for bread and water!” The man of God let himself be dazzled by prophet’s apparent spiritual maturity, his advanced age, the smoothness and excitement of the lie. An angel…
Amazingly, as the two ate, the word of the Lord came, not to the man of God, but to the lying prophet: “The Lord says that because you defied his word to you, your body won’t be buried in the tomb of your fathers.”
Who worries about his burial place? He’d gotten a word from God to deliver to the king! So he messed up a little…what did it matter where he was buried?
As he traveled that very day, however, a lion killed him on the road. Didn’t eat him, just killed him, then stood there guarding the body. When the prophet heard what happened, he knew right away who the victim was. He retrieved the body, burying the man in his own tomb. “When I die,” he told his sons, “bury me with the man of God, for the words he spoke will come to pass.”
One would hope that he also repented for his part in the tragedy.
The point is that we can easily be swayed by people of position, title, influence, wealth, or academic superiority. The word of God, whether the written logos word in Bible form, or the personal rhema word the Holy Spirit speaks to the heart, is important. When we are certain of its application in our own lives, we need to honor it, regardless of popular opinion.