11 February 2010

A Tale of Two Prophets

The story begins with an old, nameless prophet from Bethel who found another nameless prophet, the "man of God" from Judah, sitting under an oak tree.
Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel ... And he ... went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak. 1 Kings 13.11-14
The old prophet invited the man of God to come over to his house to eat, but the man of God said that he couldn't, since God told him not to eat or drink anything.
Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread. 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: For it was said to me by the word of the LORD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there. 13.15-17
But the old prophet told the man of God that he was also a prophet and that an angel told him to go find the man of God, bring him back to his house, and give him some food and water.
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. 13.18a
Too bad for the man of God, but the old prophet was lying. (If you can't trust an old prophet, who can you trust?)
But he lied unto him. 13.18b
So the man of God went to eat at the lying, old prophet's house.
So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water. 13.19
Then God told the man of God (through the mouth of his lying prophet) that God was pissed at him for...I don't know what. Eating and drinking when God told him not to (even though a prophet of God told him that God said that he should)? Believing a lying prophet of God? What?

I don't know. But here's what the God's lying prophet said:
The word of the LORD came unto the prophet ... saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD ... But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water ... thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers. 13.20-22
After the meal, the man of God went on his way. And then a lion met him on the road and killed him.
And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass ... And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him. 13.23-24a
The lion hung around the dead man of God for quite a while. Lots of people came to see the carcass and the ass and the lion by the side of the road.
And his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase. And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcase cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcase. 13.24b-25


God's next killing: Jeroboam’s son: God kills another child

11 comments:

Daniel said...

God's message here is for prophets only (or for anyone who should happen to become a prophet in the future): Take your orders *only* from me, or I'll fuck you up.

However, I am sure there are other examples where orders are given to prophets through other prophets, and expected to be followed, in which case the message would be: If I'm in a bad mood, I just might fuck you up.

skanksta said...

You must only trust TRUE prophets of THE LORD of course !

This is a message from God showing what will happen to us if we disobey him and listen to false prophets.

Steve Wells said...

But the lying prophet was a TRUE prophet or THE LORD, skanksta -- even though he lied to the "man of God". So that can't be the message.

joshua said...

I think the moral is: never believe anything anyone else tells you about God. And if you don't hear anything directly from him, carry on whatever you're doing.

The Good News for skeptics!

teavee said...

It seems to be a test of faith, but unfair with the unrevealed consequences that maybe had not been determined yet. But then consequences should not matter when it comes to faith. "Do as I say in a completely arbitrary matter going against what you, and many other people, would normally do". It's odd how the man instantly caves in without considering the possibility the old prophet is a false prophet. Given the arbitrariness of the command, it seems it should be so obvious to the man that it is a test, or at least it seems it should be obvious to him that he can play it safe by not going back and eating, even if he sensed the old prophet was a true prophet. Going back and eating was not demanded of him. All he has to say is "No, thank you." It's almost as if God had said "Don't go back to or eat or drink in this particular place no matter what, and by the way, you might be tested specifically on that point".

This seems to be setup as a very easy test to pass. He was tested first by the king and passed. He was tested again by the old prophet (before his claim to be a prophet) and passed. Maybe he thought that was good enough. Why could he not share a meal with a fellow true prophet if he was hungry? But it could have been a very tricky test. Was the test to see if he would, not correctly, but properly assume the old prophet to be a false prophet if it was not revealed to him otherwise? (Don't take any prophet's word, even if they might be true, look for the signs first.) Maybe the real test was the third test and the first two were dummy tests. Psychologists like to play this type of game when they study human behavior. They set up a phony test and tell you about it, misleading you to what the real test is. The Milgram experiment is a classic example.

Perhaps the message to believers is "Don't blow an easy, obvious test of faith, even if it comes around multiple times. The first tests might be misleading or prepping pre-tests for the final real test."

This reminds me of a time when I was at college of a case where a prof said (maybe being too generous) "These next two math problems that I will work out for you in detail will be on the final exam exactly as I will state the problems now." Some disinterested students did not bother to take notes, and did poorly. Of course they knew the consequences did not include death.

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busterggi said...

The moral of the story is don't walk around at night where there are lions.

Oh, and don't trust Yahweh - that sucker is a real mindfucker.

Steve Wells said...

teavee: Perhaps the message to believers is "Don't blow an easy, obvious test of faith, even if it comes around multiple times. The first tests might be misleading or prepping pre-tests for the final real test."

Don't blow an easy, obvious test of faith or God will send a lion to rip you apart (even though the test was neither easy or obvious).

teavee said...

Steve Wells: "even though the test was neither easy or obvious"

I agree the test might not have been obvious. I admit I probably over-analyzed the story. It's crazy that God is so harsh with the man but the old prophet considers the man worthy of being mourned and plans to share his grave with him.

I am guessing the lion was given a similar commandment. "Go kill this guy but don't eat any of him or of anyone or of any asses that come nearby."

busterggi said...

Heck teavee, the lion was Aslan.

Matthew Blanchette said...

I remember reading this and thinking, "Who the hell would write this shit? Prophet of Bethel? Jeez, were there entire crowds of prophets walking around Israel, like in Life of Brian?"

Hey, makes you wonder...