"Deceived By A False Prophecy"
The child of G-d must constantly be both self-controlled and alert because of the devil's schemes (1 Pet 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:). This is especially true in our day. I say this with 2 Tim. 3:13 in mind. This verse reads:"... evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived." Great deception is characteristic of our day! Therefore, being alert is a must for the child of G-d.
To better understand the importance of not being deceived, I would like to draw your attention to 1 Ki. 13:1-32. Remember, what happened in Old Testament times was written down to teach us in New Testament times (Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.) In this Old Testament chapter, we learn of a man of G-d that had some exceptional traits, yet he got deceived and, though sincere, suffered greatly as a consequence! We can learn much from his downfall.
1 Ki 13:1 And, behold, there came a man of G-d out of Judah by the word of the L-RD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
1 Ki 13:2 And he cried against the altar in the word of the L-RD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the L-RD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.
1 Ki 13:3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the L-RD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.
1 Ki 13:4 And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of G-d, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.
1 Ki 13:5 The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of G-d had given by the word of the L-RD.
1 Ki 13:6 And the king answered and said unto the man of G-d, Entreat now the face of the L-RD thy G-d, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of G-d besought the L-RD, and the king's hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.
1 Ki 13:7 And the king said unto the man of G-d, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward.
1 Ki 13:8 And the man of G-d said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:
1 Ki 13:9 For so was it charged me by the word of the L-RD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.
1 Ki 13:10 So he went another way, and returned not by the way that he came to Bethel.
The prophet deceived
1 Ki 13:11 Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of G-d had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father.
1 Ki 13:12 And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of G-d went, which came from Judah.
1 Ki 13:13 And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon,
1 Ki 13:14 And went after the man of G-d, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of G-d that camest from Judah? And he said, I am.
1 Ki 13:15 Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread.
1 Ki 13:16 And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place:
1 Ki 13:17 For it was said to me by the word of the L-RD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.
1 Ki 13:18 He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the L-RD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.
1 Ki 13:19 So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water.
1 Ki 13:20 And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the L-RD came unto the prophet that brought him back:
1 Ki 13:21 And he cried unto the man of G-d that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the L-RD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the L-RD, and hast not kept the commandment which the L-RD thy G-d commanded thee,
1 Ki 13:22 But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the L-RD did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.
The disobedient prophet is slain, Jeroboam's obstinacy
1 Ki 13:23 And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back.
1 Ki 13:24 And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase.
1 Ki 13:25 And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcase cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcase: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.
1 Ki 13:26 And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, It is the man of G-d, who was disobedient unto the word of the L-RD: therefore the L-RD hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the L-RD, which he spake unto him.
1 Ki 13:27 And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled him.
1 Ki 13:28 And he went and found his carcase cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcase: the lion had not eaten the carcase, nor torn the ass.
1 Ki 13:29 And the prophet took up the carcase of the man of G-d, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him.
1 Ki 13:30 And he laid his carcase in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, my brother!
1 Ki 13:31 And it came to pass, after he had buried him, that he spake to his sons, saying, When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of G-d is buried; lay my bones beside his bones:
1 Ki 13:32 For the saying which he cried by the word of the L-RD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.
First, let's look at the kind of committed servant he was. Verse 1 reveals that he was obedient. (He willingly traveled from Judah to Bethel on the L-rd's mission. How different from Jonah!) Verse 2 shows his boldness and fearlessness to speak forth G-d's word, though he was alone and without anyone to back him up in the presence of gross sin and potential harm. He was also quick to forgive, as shown by his desire to see the king's hand restored. Furthermore, he had faith and knew how to pray and get answers, for G-d healed the wicked king's hand because of his prayer. Verses 8 through 10 show that he was sincere, fully committed and not a lover of money. In spite of this impressive description, he was not fully alert, though sincere, and it cost him his life! He did spot the potential danger of disobedience through following the advice of the king and he quickly refused.
However, a more subtle and dangerous form of this same kind of temptation to disobey came through one who professed to be a messenger of G-d Almighty and was lying. It was because of him that the man of G-d unwittingly lowered his guard and died because he was deceived.
Yeshua said that false prophets are ferocious wolves in sheep's clothing (Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.). Remember, the L-rd likened His servants to sheep. The natural enemy of a sheep is a wolf. But Yeshua didn't just say a false prophet was a wolf, He said a ferocious wolf. On top of all this, this deadly enemy of sheep won't appear dangerous because they will look innocent and harmless like Christians, for they are dressed in sheep's clothing! Things are not always as they first appear. We must be careful. It's part of our battle.
Where did the unnamed prophet from Judah go wrong, and how can we benefit from his mistake? These are two questions we should ask ourselves. It seems that he was deceived because he was too ready to believe a report that was allegedly from G-d. He especially should have been suspicious when that report conflicted with G-d's will for him. (G-d would never contradict Himself.) G-d's Word warns, "1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of G-d: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." This is what he should have done.
(This is what we better do!)
But how do we "test the spirits to see whether they are from G-d"? This is where 2 Tim. 3:16 comes in. 2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of G-d, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (That verse is so important!) There we see that G-d's Word is final authority for knowing G-d's will. If a message does come through an angel, which was the alleged case in 1 Kings 13, that message would have to agree with G-d's Word. We have a New Testament example of this with the Apostle Paul. In Acts 23:11 And the night following the L-rd stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. We see first that Yeshua Himself told Paul that he must testify in Rome. In Acts 27:24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, G-d hath given thee all them that sail with thee. In the midst of a terrible storm that seemed like it would claim the lives of all on the ship, an angel from G-d assured Paul that he must stand trial before Caesar. I believe that Paul knew this angel was bringing G-d's message because it agreed with Yeshua' earlier message. G-d knew there would be a tremendous storm at sea in Paul's future when He gave the message that is recorded in Acts 23:11! G-d also knew when He gave the unnamed prophet his orders, as recorded in 1 Ki. 13:9, if He would or would not send an angel afterwards, as the lying prophet declared.
Unfortunately, the true prophet from Judah believed when he should have tested! The danger of believing falsehood is clearly shown in this passage. I wondered for a long time why the old prophet from Bethel deliberately lied to the true prophet regarding the angel's message. The answer, I feel, is found in Matt. 27:18 & 27:1. Mat 27:18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. Mat 27:1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Yeshua to put him to death: There we see that envy is capable of murder. Since the old prophet lied, he must have been backslidden and therefore probably envious of what G-d did through the prophet from Judah in his own hometown. Could the old, lying prophet have sought to deliberately do harm to the committed prophet by lying to him, knowing that G-d would judge him if he disobeyed his orders as stated in 1 Ki. 13:9? We can only speculate this as being a definite possibility.
To conclude, let me tie up a few loose ends and emphasize a few points:
G-d does heal the unsaved. Jeroboam was certainly in this category as was Malchus, who also got healed (Lk. 22:50,51 & Jn. 18:10). Luke 22:50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. Luke 22:51 And Yeshua answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. John 18:10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.
In spite of the fact that Jeroboam was miraculously healed, he still didn't repent! In fact, neither threats, signs, judgment nor mercy moved Jeroboam's heart to repentance! Amazing!
G-d revealed His beautiful future plans for Jeroboam through prophecy, which were negated because of his sin.
Oh, how sin robs us of the best that G-d has for us!
Jeroboam never relied on the golden calves he sacrificed to when he needed a miracle in the form of a healing. Furthermore, this apostate identified the L-RD as the G-d of the true prophet from Judah, but not his own G-d.
1 Ki 12:32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
1 Ki 12:6 And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?
G-d used an unrepentant liar to speak forth a true prophecy (1 Ki. 13:20-22)!
In Jn. 11:49-52, G-d used an unsaved man to do this! This is certainly conclusive proof that we must never evaluate a person's spiritual condition by his gift or message alone!
John 11:49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
John 11:50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
John 11:51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Yeshua should die for that nation;
John 11:52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of G-d that were scattered abroad.
Furthermore, a young, immature babe in Messiah can have spiritual gifts!
1 Cor 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our L-rd Yeshua Messiah:
1 Cor 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Messiah.
1 Cor 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
1 Cor 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
1 Cor 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
G-d won't take back these gifts, Rom 11:29 For the gifts and calling of G-d are without repentance. That's why we must not test on this basis. Yeshua said that fruit was the criterion by which we must evaluate an individual. By fruit the Scriptures mean his behavior and doctrine.
1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
Eph 5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
(This truth is very important in our day!)
A true prophet knows only what G-d will reveal to him. If this wasn't so, the prophet from Judah would never have been deceived!
No servant of G-d is protected from the consequences of his disobedience by (a) the sanctity of his profession, (b) the dignity of his office, (c) his former nearness to G-d or any good service he has done in the past!
There was a point in time after the act of disobedience and before the prophecy, when the prophet from Judah was deceived, yet unjudged.
He was unaware of his dangerous condition for he was resting in a false security because he was deceived. Many people are like him at this point, resting in a false security thinking all is well when G-d's judgment is so close.
However, unlike the unnamed prophet these same people can repent before it's too late, if their deception is revealed. This is one of the reasons why we must continue to speak the truth in love.
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Messiah:
The unnamed prophet's only apparent flaw was that he believed a lying report. In other words, he was too quick to believe, without first testing. This single flaw was serious enough to cost him his physical life.
The lying prophet and wicked Jeroboam lived on, while the sincerely deceived man of G-d died!
The source of ruin for the unnamed prophet wasn't a wolf (Jeroboam), but instead a wolf in sheep's clothing (the religious, old, lying prophet)! A religious person, appearing as our friend and citing a false prophecy, can be our most dangerous enemy.
G-d used a wild lion to execute His judgment. (In the Book of Jonah, G-d used the great fish, a small cutworm and even the wind.)
With alleged angelic reports being somewhat common in this age of deception, we better carefully test from the Bible before we act on any kind of message.
To have a firm handle on the truth is something we must have, regardless how sincere we may be. Our potential safety increases proportionately with the amount of Scriptural truth that we possess.