“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The old prophet's lie

This true account, providentially directed and recorded, gives another evidence of the heavenly origin of the Bible. Lying is wrong. It is not ordinarily in God’s plan to lie. Normally a liar lies to save himself from shame and punishment for his sins and mistakes. But, here we see a prophet who bears all the fruit of the Spirit, purportedly speaking an untruth in God’s stead. How can this be of God?

It wasn’t a lie. As Moses made a representation of Christ in the form of a serpent, so the older man wielded testing truth that took the form of a lie. The veiled communication should have been enough to scare the backsliding young man. It would prove his great blessing had he the least communion with heaven and had detected the veiled warning, or his ruin, if he were sitting there totally overcome by unbelief.

But the scripture says he lied. “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.” (1Ki. 13:18). The scripture also says that Saul spoke to Samuel when the witch of Endor called into her magic ball. “And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.
And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.” (1Sam. 28:12-14). But we know the scriptures say the dead sleep until the resurrection.

To some the old prophet’s apparently dishonest method looks like bald-faced lying. To others it looks like playing the devil’s advocate approach. Would God really use this method?

Maybe it sounded untrue, but the elderly man’s serious look meant business; and testing truth cloaked in untruth should have convicted and shattered the youth’s dreamy thoughts. This shows how far God will go to save us. If He has to He will even use an apparent lie to alert us to danger, and scare us half to death. He will bring an aged, tired representative out of retirement to meet those who are hell-bent on losing their salvation.

Our God is a God of love, but He is also a man of war. Ex. 15:3. We must never forget that. He wounds to heal; He plays rough for our sakes. Like a she-bear possessed with the fear of losing her cubs, the Lord can be very dangerous to sin in all its destructive forms. “He beareth not the sword in vain.” (Rom. 13:4). You have committed your heart and life to Him; “if thou do that which is evil, be afraid;” “do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” (Rom. 13: 4,3). “Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4). All in all, know that He will do anything to lead us to repentance and save us. But He must bring us to repentance, if we will accept shame and sorrow for sin. This is one of the lessons from this sad tale.

God is wrestling not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, and because we so easily ally ourselves with Satan, the divine wrath on Satan feels like God pours His judgments on us. The wrath is aimed at Satan and his character which we have inculcated; and removing Satan’s character from our mind can feel like open heart surgery without sedation. But mixed into the Lord’s attack on sin and Satan He communicates love; and if His love is what we hunger for, then we will patiently endure His exorcism of sin and self.

Would God really use the bold testing method of the old prophet? The Law was made for God and not God for the Law. He interprets it; not it Him; and He interprets and uses it correctly. He made the Law; the Law is His will. Cannot He do what He will with His own? “O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” (Rom. 9:20).

Satan, though, desires to bind the Lord down to an inflexible, legalistic code of his own devising. He does this in order to limit God in His ability to judge sin. This way the devil can destroy the righteous and save his rebellion. But God says, “Who would set the briers and thorns against Me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.” (Is. 27:4).

Grace, which is the righteousness of God outside the Law, allows us to see the deeper aspects of the Law for each situation. Then instead of becoming guilty of destroying the Law by exaggerating the things that are small and diminishing its weightier matters, we can divine its principles as its Author originally intended them. The anointing of the Holy Spirit teaches us as we receive more of Christ, His grace and truth. Divine wisdom has often surprised, astounded His creatures’ limited understanding of right and wrong, and even offended their sensibilities.

“Then came His disciples, and said unto Him, Knowest Thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?” (Matt. 15:12).

“And when He was come into His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?... And they were offended in Him.” (Matt. 13:54,57)

“And the king [Solomon] said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.” (1Ki. 3:25).

“Then said [David’s] servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.” (2Sam. 12:21).

“And they said unto Him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.” (Lk. 19:25).

God's decisions aren't always our obvious choice of judgment-calls.

Another story from the same book as the old prophet might explain the mystery of his apparent lie.

“So [Micaiah] came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.” Was this the truth? No, Micaiah was being sarcastic to a disobedient and wicked king. What was going on? Later, Micaiah did what God doesn’t always do—he explained himself—God doesn’t always explain His actions. “The Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets.” (1Ki. 22:15,23).

We should not be surprised that the old prophet’s lie should not be taken at face value. The Spirit of God has written His book for all age groups, all levels of intellect, and all spiritual discernments. Parts of the Bible take more thought and experience than others to decipher God’s purposes. He doesn’t always explain everything that He does in the context of His actions. He requires us to draw on knowledge learned and remembered from other of His actions. Thus He makes the Bible student wise.

“Thou through Thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers: for Thy testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Thy precepts.” (Ps. 119:98-100).

“Who can understand His errors? cleanse Thou me from secret faults.” (Ps. 19:12).


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