The nameless prophet

King Jeroboam’s pagan practices did not go unnoticed by God, in fact, God sent a prophet to deliver a personal message of judgment (1 Kings 13:1). Strangely though, the judgment would not come for another three hundred years (2 Kings 23:15-20). Instead, God wanted to get Jeroboam’s attention  and see if he would repent.

God’s messenger remains nameless and is referred to only as “a man of God” (1 Kings 13:1). The term “man of God” is a common way of referring to a prophet, but I think it is interesting that in this particular situation the prophet’s name is withheld. After delivering his message to Jeroboam, the man reveals that he is not allowed to go home with Jeroboam. “So he went another way, and returned not by the way he came to Beth-el” (1 Kings 13:10).

The Hebrew word translated returned is shûwb (shoob). “The basic meaning of the verb is movement back to the point of departure” (7725), so it is clear that God did not want the prophet to go back to anyone’s home after delivering his message to king Jeroboam. It is possible that the prophet’s life might have been in danger, but more than likely, God was trying to prevent him from compromising his integrity with the people of Israel.

It says in 1 Kings 13:11 that an old prophet dwelt in Beth-el. The reason God did not use this man to deliver his message to Jeroboam was that he had become untrustworthy. The old prophet intercepted the man of God on his way out of Beth-el and invited him back to his home. “He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him” (1 Kings 13:18).

False prophets had probably become common place in Israel due to their pagan worship. The man of God’s message might have been ignored because of his disobedience, so God punished him for going to the old prophet’s house.  “And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way and slew him: and his carcass was cast in the way” (1 Kings 13:24).

No Secrets

I’m very glad that God doesn’t keep secrets from us about what he intends to do in our lives. The gift of prophecy is his way of letting us know what he knows about the future that is of concern to us. More than 20 years ago, I had a dream, I believe a prophetic dream, about my future. Although I didn’t understand everything the dream was communicating to me, I knew it was intended to be a guide that I could follow to assure me that God’s will was being carried out.

It is clear that Solomon was familiar with the books of Moses because most of the content of his prayer of dedication of the temple can be found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. In particular, Solomon focused on prophecies that were given to Moses about Israel after they had settled in the Promised Land. The key issue in Solomon’s intercessory prayer was Israel’s repentance. He prayed to the LORD God of Israel:

If they sin against thee,  (for there is no man that sinneth not) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near; yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; and so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive…Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people that have sinned against thee. (I Kings 8:46-50)

It was no secret that the Israelites would go into captivity, therefore, Solomon prayed as if it had already happened and asked the LORD in advance to forgive them.

Going God’s way

“I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart” (Psalm 119:32). God’s commandments are meant to by signposts or directions that guide us on our journey through life. Going the way of God’s commandments means that you are following his directions, traveling along the course that has been laid out for you. When the psalmist said, “I will run the way of thy commandments,” he meant that he would travel quickly or charge ahead when God enlarged his heart.

The phrase “enlarge my heart” (Psalm 119:32) refers to the condition of the inner man. The Hebrew word translated heart, lêb (labe) includes not only the motives, feelings, affections, and desires, but also the will, the aims, the principles, the thoughts, and the intellect of man. In fact, it embraces the whole inner man” (3820). Basically, to enlarge the heart, means to make it grow, not necessarily in size, but in its capacity to think and initiate action.

In order for something to grow, it first has to be alive and then, it has to receive some type of nourishment. The psalmist said, “quicken thou me according to thy word” (Psalm 119:25) and “strengthen thou me according to thy word” (Psalm 119:28). The word translated quicken means to live or to cause to revive (2421) and the word translated strengthen means to arise or to stand up (6965). The reference to these terms in the context of God’s communication with man indicates that growth occurs when we hear God’s word.

The Hebrew word dâbâr (daw – baw´) in most cases “is a technical phrase referring expressly to prophetic revelation (1697). When the psalmist said, “according to thy word” (psalm 119:25, 28), he was most likely referring to a prophetic revelation that he had received from the LORD. The Bible contains numerous prophesies including the entire book of Revelation which covers some events that are still in the future. It is clear that God wants us to know what is going to happen ahead of time and uses prophetic revelations to encourage us in our walk with him.

The Hebrew word translated strengthen in Psalm 119:28 signifies empowering or strengthening, but “it is also used to denote the inevitable occurrence of something predicted or prearranged” (6965). One of the ways that I believe we can gain strength is by asking God to show us his way, to reveal to us the destiny he has planned for us. If you want to go God’s way, then it makes sense to ask him, Where am I going?