Pentecost 16, Tuesday, Year B

Inspired by 1 Kings 13:11-25

“Then the other said to him, ‘I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD: Bring him back with you into your house so that he may eat food and drink water.’ But he was deceiving him.” 1 Kings 13:18 (NRSV)

The man of God had been sent to proclaim against King Jeroboam, and God had given him specific instructions: he was to eat no food and drink no water in that place, and he was to return home by a different route than the one by which he had come. The man of God was obeying those instructions. He’d prophesized as instructed, he’d declined an offer of food and drink from the king, and he was returning home by a different path.

But a prophet in the land heard of what the man of God had done and went to meet him. He is never identified as a ‘false’ prophet, and his actions at the end of this story suggest that had nothing but respect for the man of God. But for his own reasons he lied to the man of God. Perhaps he just wanted to show him hospitality, and didn’t think the prohibitions against eating and drinking really mattered. In any case, his deception had dire consequences for the man of God.

Those who claim to speak for the Lord have terrific influence and authority. They are also human, and liable to substitute their own opinions and desires for God’s. Sometimes they fail to identify the difference, and even believe that their own thoughts, interpretations, and expectations come from God himself.

If you are in such a position of authority, take care that you differentiate between God’s will and your own. If you hear a person with such authority proclaim something that has no support in the biblical witness and contradicts something you know is true, test that person’s claims carefully before you accept them as truth. God’s word is true, but those who claim to speak for God may not be.

Let us pray. God of all authority, you proclaim your will through your Word, your Spirit, and your people. Grant us the humility and the discernment to hear your truth in the midst of all the falsehood and deception that surround us, that we may remain faithful to your will. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.