“I cannot turn back…I have been told by the word of the Lord…” (1 Kings 13:16-17) NIV
Have you ever had a task to complete, one that required patience or attention to detail, when someone came along and offered a way out? “Hey, you wanna get a drink?” (grab a bite, catch a movie). Against better judgment you went because the offer was so tempting but, afterwards… regret. The job still needs to get done. Now, there’s just less time to do it. “Whyyy did I go?”
So many voices call for our attention: well-meaning family, fun-loving friends, even our own internal doubts and distractions. But only one voice, above all others, deserves swift and steadfast obedience. Sadly, we often learn this lesson the hard way, as in 1 Kings 13. There was a man of God, on a mission, who started out right. The man of God said, “I cannot turn back…I have been told by the word of the Lord…” (1 Kings 13:16-17). If only he wasn’t swayed by another voice…but he was, and the cost was high.
This “man of God”, as we know him, was from Judah. His life revolved around hearing and doing the work of the Lord (great!). He was on assignment to deliver a prophesy to King Jeroboam who, though the message was bad, invited him to stay and dine. The man of God declined, explaining the Lord’s specific instruction: “You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.” So, he left Bethel to return by another way.
(Enter the other voice) Meanwhile, a different “old” prophet heard there was a man of God in town and went out to find him. His purpose unclear – curiosity, perhaps a bit of jealousy? (local but not chosen for the job) The old prophet spotted this man of God sitting under a tree, probably hungry and tired, and extended yet another invitation, which was also declined: “I cannot…I have been told by the word of the Lord…” (so far, so good). But then the old prophet lied to the man of God, using brotherhood to persuade him: “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD…” So…he…went. (ugh!) Ironically, while the two men ate together, the old prophet actually did hear from the Lord and it wasn’t good for the man of God; due to disobedience, he would be disgraced in death. This is why it’s so important to know God as best we can. Studying The Word (His truth and very breath) makes opposition obvious. God does not contradict Himself; human “wisdom” does that.
We may not be prophets but, from Genesis to Revelation, we all have a message from the Lord, summed up by the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Of course, we’ll mess up, possibly disgracing ourselves, but in Christ there is grace. God won’t yell, “You had ONE job!”. However, He does say, in life and death we have One hope, our very core. Jesus is the only difference between “Well done, good and faithful servant.” and “I never knew you; depart from Me.” You see, relationship is firmly established through salvation in Christ while fellowship requires obedience. I want both!
Where’s your heart, friend? Do you follow the Master’s voice or are you making your own agenda? If you don’t know His voice, pray and read the Bible. God still speaks. Because much remains to be done, and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus, who summed it up perfectly in John 9:4: “All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, for there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end.” As for rest and pleasure, at the appointed time, there will be more than enough in heaven!