10 Minute Read + Scripture readings

Today’s Bible Reading:

1 Kings 13
Philippians 4
Ezekiel 43
Psalms 95-96

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

1 Kings 13:18-19 (CSB): “He said to him, ‘I am also a prophet like you. An angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD: “Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat food and drink water.” ‘ The old prophet deceived him, and the man of God went back with him, ate food in his house, and drank water.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

(This article reposted and edited from June 14, 2019)

Can I step up onto a soapbox and share one of the things that really gets under my skin?

Thank you.

Red flags and red flares go up in my mind whenever someone says: “God told me …” or “God wants you to know that …”

Some people use such phrases so flippantly. They act as if it’s normal and they leave every other believer wondering why God hasn’t ever talked to them like that.

My wife once had a lady tell her something that was extremely tactless, vicious, and not based upon truth. (Pastor’s wives hear things like this more than you realize.) The lady looked right at Kim near the entrance to the church and said: “God told me to tell you that you’ve been such a disappointment.” Needless to say, I was furious when I found out that my wife had been so brutally beaten with words and God’s name had been maliciously brought into it. That is something that God would have never told my wife as she so selflessly and sacrificially served the church with me. That lady simply used God’s name in vain by including Him in a unjust rebuke upon my wife.

Let me give a few reasons why such phrases should raise red flags in all of us:

  • It is typically used by people who rarely cite Scripture in their comments (Scripture: the place where God actually speaks).
  • It is typically used to shut down debate. It is used by someone who is living their life as a maverick and not as someone who is open to correction and guidance by a pastor or a church body (as Jesus intended). Essentially, they see themselves as God’s gift to the world.
  • It is typically used by people who don’t have it all together, even though they want you to think they have it all together. Essentially, they are pretending to be closer to Jesus than they really are. A word Jesus often used of people who presented themselves to be something they aren’t is “hypocrite.” Those are people you don’t want to take too seriously.

I’ve observed many other instances where people have taken it upon themselves to speak for God. I’ve heard them speak on His behalf to express their disapproval with a church budget, or to get their agenda pushed through without debate, or to say something harsh and hurtful to someone for which they claim no responsibility.

Friend, I’m sick and tired of people who claim to speak on behalf of God but don’t have their finger on a passage of Scripture where God has actually spoken. Such spiritual arrogance is dangerous and destructive. It has more in common with the self-righteous Pharisees than a true follower of Jesus.

Which brings us to the verses that I have chosen as Today’s Bible Verses.

The story is told in 1 Kings 13 of an Old Testament prophet who was actually given instruction by God. He went to King Jeroboam and prophesied that God would bring judgment upon the northern tribes of Israel for rebelling against Him. Then, the prophet left as he made it clear that God had revealed to him that he was not to eat, drink, or go back the way he came.

As he left Jeroboam’s presence, another prophet in Bethel heard what had happened. He got on his donkey and went in search of the prophet and found him. Listen to what he told him…

1 Kings 13:18-19 (CSB): “He said to him, ‘I am also a prophet like you. An angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD: “Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat food and drink water.” ‘ The old prophet deceived him, and the man of God went back with him, ate food in his house, and drank water.”

The second prophet claimed that he had a word from the Lord. Essentially, he said: “God told me to tell you that He changed His mind. You are supposed to come back to Bethel to get some food and drink. You can trust me because God told me this.”

But, the previous verses state that the second prophet had said these things to deceive the original prophet. As you read the rest of the story in 1 King 13, you realize that God brought judgment on the original prophet and he was killed by a lion on his way back home.

Honestly, this story makes me angry at the second prophet. He claimed that God had spoken to him, he gave instructions to the first prophet who complied because he believed that God had spoken, and then he was eaten by a lion as a result of trusting someone who wrongly used God’s name.

Friend, if you insist on using the phrase, “God told me,” I would encourage you to only do so with the following stipulations:

  • You had better have a clear sense that God actually told you something (and you are absolutely clear on what He told you) before you make that claim.
  • You had better be careful in using the phrase, “God told me,” in public because it is often used by people who are spiritually arrogant and want to impress others.
  • You had better document what you publicly claim that God “told you” in order to see if it actually happens. If it doesn’t happen, or if you are shown in Scripture that you have said something unbiblical, then God is not speaking to you. So, keep quiet. Why? Because publicly speaking on behalf of God, when God hasn’t spoken, was a capital offense in the Old Testament (read Deuteronomy 13:1-5). It is also one of the reasons for a stricter judgment on Judgment Day (James 3:1).
  • You had better search the Scriptures to make sure that what you think God told you actually aligns with a passage, or precept, or the spirit of the Biblical text. God doesn’t change and He won’t reveal something to you that is contrary to His Word.
  • You had better be humble enough to receive correction or guidance on what you think God has told you. Jesus left us the church because we are to live out our faith in community. It is the maverick American culture that has infiltrated Christianity that makes us think we don’t need others to correct and help guide us.

Friend, the only time that we can absolutely say that “God told me” is when we have our finger on a Bible passage. If you ever want to actually hear God speak, just read your Bible out loud.

In fact, as others claim that God has spoken to them, or you make that claim, or your preacher claims to speak on behalf of God, I would heartily encourage you to be like the Jews in Berea. Even if the Apostle Paul and Silas were to show up and claim to give a message from the Lord, be like the Jesus-followers in Berea. There is a way that you can determine if God has actually spoken and the Christians in Berea engaged in it. Be like them!

Acts 17:10-11 (CSB): “As soon as it was night, the brothers and sisters sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. Upon arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. The people here were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, since they received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Lord Jesus, I want a vibrant relationship with You. I not only want to speak to You in prayer, I want to be able to “hear” You speak to me in Your Word, through circumstances, through my church, and in whatever other way You may desire to speak to me. But help me, Lord Jesus, to always measure what I think You are saying with what I know You have said in Your Word. I pray this in Your Name. Amen.

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash