On November 3, 2009

Thus Saith the Lord

This weekend I went with a friend to Abilene, making a trip that I have made a hundred times over the past few years. It’s not the best drive. Between the town of Ranger’s cops, and the constant construction, I-20W can wear you down. But the thing that has consistently gotten on my nerves are the billboards.

Chances are you’ve seen these on the side of the interstate before. Sometimes they’re slightly funny, and other times they make you want to commit vandalism. For example, the one that says, “You think it’s Hot here? -God.” or “What Part of “Thou Shalt Not,” Didn’t You Understand?- God”
I know the heart behind these signs is probably good. Somebody, somewhere had access to money, and thought it would be good to get people to think about God. It’s noble that they don’t seem to attempt to get God to endorse a particular ministry or agenda. But…

There’s a story in 1st Kings that has always disturbed me. It’s a story about this young prophet who God sends to the King of Israel to basically condemn him for worshipping idols. The whole scene goes as intended. King gets indignant, King gets owned, Prophet goes home.

But here’s where things take a left turn.

Another prophet, an older guy, hears about the young prophet and goes to bring him home for lunch. The young prophet says that the LORD has told him that he is to go straight home and not eat with anyone. And the older prophet says something to the effect of “Yeah God told me He told you that, but now he wants you to come eat with me. He told me so.”

And the prophet does it.

And the prophet dies.

It’s kind of bizarre actually. The LORD sends a lion to come eat the young prophet and then the lion just sits there. Doesn’t eat the body, just sits there. The older prophet hears what happens and comes and gets the body, buries it, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Does this bother anyone else?

I remember hearing that story as a kid and thinking God sent the lion to the wrong guy. Clearly the lion was confused but the old guy was the one who lied, he’s the one who should be some predatory animal’s appetizer.

I saw a video earlier this year where the Westboro Baptist church had showed up somewhere with their usual signs of God hates everybody. I’ve gotten past the point where I get angry with them, but I was especially disturbed this time, because they were yelling at one guy in particular, (a guy was none of the things that they typically label and hate). He asked them can I ever do anything to make God love me? Which is a pretty weighty question, he had let them get to him, and he wanted an answer.

Their answer was no.

They told the guy that no matter what God will never love him. Thus saith the Lord/Westboro Baptist church.

The 3rd of the Ten Commandments is probably the most misunderstood one. It’s where God tells the Israelites not to take His name in vain. As a kid, I always took that to mean that I couldn’t say Gosh, Golly, Gee, or anything remotely close to God’s name. The Jewish people took special care not to spell out the name of God, they used a special pen when writing just to write the resemblance of his name.

But that’s not what this command is about.

God knows the tendency of people to slap His name on their own agenda. To say Thus saith the Lord whenever they want something, or don’t want something. He knows how easy it is for us to reduce Him to some Grand Rubber Stamp of Approval.

The third commandment is a caution against using “Thus Saith the Lord” lightly.

It’s a word of judgement against those who would say that God feels or thinks exactly the same way that they do.

So be careful with your billboards.

Because God can send a lion when you least expect it.

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  • http://blog.floydius.com/ Lloyd

    Wow…great comments, and a great reminder to us not to assume lightly what God commands.

    Incidentally, I always wondered whether prophet number 2 actually head a word from anyone, and whether that anyone could have been Satan, or even more confusing, it could have been God himself.

    Prophet #1 obviously should have at least asked God for guidance if, indeed, he thought prophet #2 was telling the truth. I’ve always taken the lesson to be double edged.

    First, don’t assume that because God uses you, He will approve of every decision you make. I think Uzzah may have suffered a blow on that account.

    Second, trut what you hear from God over all other sources.

  • Maynard

    Wow, that’s exactly the position I was looking for but didn’t know it a few days before Halloween I first my first Christmas song on the radio. I was talking with a friend about it. The talk turned to how business, eps in the Bible Belt, become ultra-saved and spiritual when it is financially to their advantage. My friend thought it was harmless because it gets people’s minds on Jesus. I can see that point but it bothers me see Christianity cheapened. I had never associated this with #3, though.

    Thanks for the words.

  • Brother Greg

    Thanks Brother! I believe that we should set up a confessional like Donald Miller talks about in “Blue Like Jazz” and tell everyone how wrong and judgemental we’ve been. I witnessed abusive “christians” chanting God’s torment on the gay pride parade in Fort Worth last month and had to take time to let a few people know that God doesn’t hate them or give them AIDS as punishment…You know the drill

  • http://www.stormented.com Jonathan Storment

    Thanks Lloyd, I never thought about that, thanks for throwing that bombshell in there. But you’re right, the lesson is double edged.

    Maynard, Acts 19 comes to mind. Read that story about the Riot started in Ephesus and see if you know what I mean by that.

    Hey Bro. Greg, glad to hear from you on here. I’m glad that there are Christians like you in Fort Worth.

  • DecaturJeff

    I think I get where you are headed with this…we need to be careful we are not attaching God to our bandwagon but, instead, need to be careful that we are doing the will of God. That said, I’m also careful to remember Mark 9 when I see something I don’t fully agree with.