God spoke to a man named Shemaiah who was an ordinary man of no particular report, but who was
sensitive enough to hear when God spoke. He was so ordinary that soon enough no one could remember
his name. His one distinction was that he was willing to be obedient to God’s instructions. Most people don’t
follow through with that second part - they understand just fine even without the benefit of an audible voice
from on high, but they run for the hills when it’s time to commit. Shemaiah lived a long time ago (550 BC)
when the known world was having it’s share of turmoil and people were prone to stray to other gods,
alternate philosophies, and watered down theologies. Some things never change. Have you noticed?
Shemaiah was asked to deliver a message to Solomon’s son Rehoboam, which he did successfully.
Rehoboam who had done his share of running from God got the message big time and turned back to
worshipping God. Shemaiah had proved himself and became known as The Man of God. Nice title,
well earned, and it replaced his name.
Meanwhile the Israeli leader Jeroboam had built himself quite a fortress up the in hills of Ephraim. He and
Rehoboam were definitely not friends. He figured that because Rehoboam saw the error of his ways and
turned back to God that the general population would follow Rehoboam’s leadership and not his. He would
have been right of course, because ultimately the one who obeys God wins. Jeroboam could see that
coming and he wasn’t too happy about it. In his attempt at one-upmanship he had a couple of golden calves
built in different locations making them accessible to the greatest number of people. Again, some things
never change. What an idiot.
But, you can fool some of the people some of the time and once a year the golden quadrupeds got plenty of
sacrifices and offerings. It was an all out festival. So, at this one particular festival Jeroboam just happened
to be standing at the absurd alter with his own offering. He was even dumber than his people because he
was believing his own garbage. He’d made it up and then believed it himself. Sounds like some of today’s
politicians, much less a healthy chunk of the clergy.
Once again The Man of God showed up while Jeroboam was doing his silliness before the pure waste of gold
in the form of a calf. A couple of dramatic things happened like Jeroboam’s hand shriveling up and being
restored again when the Man of God made the call, and the golden calf splitting in two like it was made of
papier-mâché instead of the real stuff. After this, Jeroboam, who was king by now, invited the Man of God to
his home to eat and drink and receive a gift bag whose contents probably included a miniature calf made of
fake gold along with other nonsense which would turn up at the next yard sale.
No can do, said the Man of God. Don’t need any more throw-aways. He made it very clear that God
instructed him to eat and drink nothing and to return to his home by a different route. So they parted ways
and The Man of God was on his merry way. Another mission accomplished because he stepped out on
faith. (James 1:22, “be ye doers of the word and not hearers only.”)
An older man who lived in Bethel where one of the two golden calves had been erected got word about this
extraordinary exchange between Jeroboam and The Man of God. He was quite intrigued. Who wouldn’t be?
So he took off on a donkey to catch up with The Man of God. Apparently the donkey could get along a little
faster than a man on foot, although we’re not talking a 10K race or anything. Finally he caught up with him
and for the second time The Man of God is asked to go to a stranger’s home to eat and drink. Let’s face it,
by now our guy must be starving and there was no MacDonald’s in sight.
For the second time The Man of God said that God told him otherwise, but this older man said that he, too,
was a prophet, so who better to trust than one of your brothers in the Lord? In a moment of weakness the
now nameless man probably wasn’t thinking straight because the hunger pains were kicking in and he was
parched. He gave in, went back with the old prophet and when the meal was over the prophet admitted he’d
lied and he pointed out that The Man of God had just disobeyed God’s specific instructions. He must have
been devastated. He was so faithful for so long, and then just one slip up,
one misstep*and his world fell apart.
The prophet then saddled up a donkey for the Man of God and sent him home. But he never got there. A
lion attacked him and killed him on the way. The lion wasn’t hungry, however, and didn’t eat our guy, neither
did he have an appetite for the donkey. The two animals just stood there basically guarding our guy until the
old prophet came and retrieved the body. There’s nothing far fetched here. The animals will get along quite
nicely in Heaven too. And the old prophet got his donkey back which he knew he would all along, so we’d
have to call it a loan rather than a gift.
The final outcome was that the old prophet laid The Man of God’s body o rest in his own personal tomb. Of
course he did. He felt guilty. And when he himself died of old age he was laid along side of him. Brothers to
the end. Sort of.....maybe at arm’s length. Both of them had followed God’s instructions as best they could
and in both cases it was tough. Not for beginners.
As far as King Jeroboam is concerned, he welcomed all people into his kingdom regardless of their
theological views or lifestyles, even if questionable ones. He gave them key positions in God’s temple.
Compromise was the name of his game. “It’s all good,” he might have said. Really?
In no time he was toast.
All God wanted was for The Man of God to do what he was asked and see it all the way through
to the end, plain and simple. Let’s face it, we can even count the number of times we’ve quit something
before its completion. He did what so many would do today when some “brother in Christ” comes along and
who claims to hear from God better than us. Guess what - there’s no such thing. Nobody’s any better at
hearing from God than anyone else if they seek God in earnest. You’ve got to know who you are in Christ
and stand firm. God tested our Man of God to see if he was able to move up to the next level. He made it far
and long, but failed just before the end. God took him home.
*misstep is one of today’s media words for sin - the other is misspoke which replaces lie
|Man with No Name
(I Kings chapter 13)