1 Kings 13:16 – 19     16 The man of God said, “I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. 17 I have been told by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.’” 18 The old prophet answered, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (But he was lying to him.) 19 So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.

     Sometimes prophets lie.   This incident described in 1 Kings is very interesting because it involves two prophets.  The ‘innocent’ prophet had to bear the terrible consequence of believing the lying prophet.  Also both prophets spoke the word of God at some point in the story so you can’t say the lying prophet was incapable of hearing and speaking God’s message.  This incident underscores a crucial spiritual responsibility every person has when it comes to assessing the claims of anyone who says they’re a prophet.  Every Christian must do more than know the Word of God.  Every Christian must live it out daily.

     The story starts out with the man of God confronting King Jeroboam’s idolatry and false religion.  King Jeroboam pointed to the man of God and ordered him seized.  The King’s hand was immediately withered.  The King commanded the man of God to intercede with God on his behalf to restore his hand.  The prophet did and the king’s hand was restored.  The King invited the prophet to eat with him and promised to give the prophet a gift.  The prophet refused, resolutely obeying God’s instructions to him.

     As the man of God was heading home by a different route he was stopped by an old prophet.  The old prophet enticed the man with an outright lie to go home with him and eat.  During the meal the old prophet heard and proclaimed a message from God; “This is what the LORD says: ‘You have defied the word of the LORD and have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you.  You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your ancestors.’” (1 Kings 13:21)  When they had finished their meal the prophet left to return to his home.  On the way, he was killed by a lion and his body was left by the side of the road.

     Several points stand out in this passage: 1)  prophets are not exempt from duly appointed authority in this world  – the man of God did as King Jeroboam ordered him to do and interceeded on the king’s  behalf with God. 2)  prophets are not ‘super men’ – all seeing and all knowing.  They can be lied to and they can be persuaded to go against what they know to be right.  Prophets are subject to ‘peer pressure’.   3) prophets can be carried by the inertia of their situation.  Even though the old prophet called out God’s dire consequences to the man of God in the middle of their meal – they both finished their meal! And finally 4)  the consequences for failing to pay attention to God’s Word and disobedience falls squarely on the individual.  The old prophet didn’t pay the price for his lies.  The man of God did for believing the lies and not sticking to what he knew the Word of God to be!

     This last point is especially important for us today.  The Bible tells us plainly; “God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds …” (Hebrews 1:1,2)  It is every Christian person’s responsibility to know the scriptures as best he or she can by study, discussion, instruction and devotion. It is so easy to be lazy and let others do our thinking and interpreting for us.  Yet God calls each one of us to become intimate with His Word by reading, studying and living it out on a daily basis.

     The Bible also tells us that many will be enticed to follow false prophets;  “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evilly spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you …” (2 Peter 2:1-3)  These false prophets will lie to you and use you.

     How do you spot a false prophet?  Jesus tells us;  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?”  (Matthew 7: 15,16)  The one constant in all of history – past, present and future – is His Word;  “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Words shall not pass away.”  (Matthew 24:35)

     False prophets can be spotted.  They tend to encourage rebellion against legitimate authority.  False prophets twist or lie about God’s Word (read and live His Word on a daily basis).  False prophets present themselves as perfect.  No matter what a false prophet may claim about his/her intentions – the outcome (or fruits) of their actions show them for what they are.  What do you do when you discover a false prophet?  Ignore him/her, have nothing to do with them and follow His Way.