How do we know the Word of the Lord?
27th March 2023, hej
1) How do we know the Word of the Lord?
We were asked how do we know that the Bible is complete and there is no missing books, or books in the Bible that should not be there? Fundamentally this question is how can we know the word of God from human writing?
Let us look at some examples: Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah's son had married the daughter of Ahab king of Israel. As a result Jehoshaphat is drawn into Ahab's battle with Syria. Before the battle Jehoshaphat seeks the direction of God.
Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day. Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. (1Kings 22:5-6)
This sounds great: all 400 in agreement that they will win. But Listen:
Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him? And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. (1Kings 22:7-8)
What was it about the other prophets that caused Jehoshaphat to doubt them, and ask for another? Think on it, how did he know? Fundamentally that is our question, when we read the Bible how do we know for sure it is the Word of the Creator? How did Jehoshaphat know?
Listen to what Ahab said, “he never says good”. Fundamentally the Word of God won't be pleasing to us, and won't make us think ourselves wonderful. We won't like it. Listen to the words of the false prophet.
Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the LORD, “With these shall you push the Syrians, until you have consumed them.” (1Kings 22:11)
Agreeable, Nice -hey? The other 399 agree.
Here the Chronicles record adds an intriguing political statement about diplomacy and political correctness, and the deceptive pleasing message.
The messenger that went to call Micaiah spake to him, saying, Behold, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one assent; let thy word therefore, I pray thee, be like one of theirs, and speak thou good. And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak. (2Ch 18:12-13)
Then it turns out Ahab also knows.. Micaiah turns up
So he 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. And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD? (1Kings 22:15-16)
How did Ahab know Micaiah wasn't speaking the word of God? Let us listen and hear the authentic voice of the God of the Bible! Micaiah said,
I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace. (1Kings 22:17)
Let us hear the response, for all who were there understood this message could not have come from a man, nobody could predict that precise outcome!
The king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil? (1Kings 22:18)
But let us look further, Once Micaiah gets going he explains the whole situation, in a most remarkable way,
Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so. Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee. (1Kings 22:19-23)
There is nothing left out, we can see the whole situation: even the reason for the enmity of Syria to Ahab. It is likely Ahab king of Israel really does know it is the word of the Lord, but he hopes it's not true. Many people know the Bible is true, but hope it isn't. It gets in the way of their path in life. Ahab was going to fight anyway. It was Jehoshaphat who wanted to know.
The king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son; And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace.
Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the LORD hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people, every one of you. (1Kings 22:26-28)
We know that Ahab knows it is true in his heart as he tries to outwit the prediction,
The king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and enter into the battle; but put thou on thy robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle. (1King 22:30)
As things played out, it seemed to be working fine..until..
it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him. And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded. (1Kings 22:33-34)
Ahab hangs in the battle not accepting the prophecy for the rest of the day, but at the end of the day Ahab dies and the prophecy is fulfilled by an unknown person.
And there went a proclamation throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his own country. (1Kings 22:36)
So they scatter with no leader. It is not Jehoshaphat leading! How weird is it that Jehoshaphat robed as the king of Israel, having sat beside him in the gate as ruler has no authority? Is it that in the battle he is isolated and forced out by the Syrians who work out who he is, and having no battle with Judah send him home in peace? We are not told why, we are only told,
Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem. (2 Chron. 19:1)
Back in Jerusalem Jehoshaphat is told off by a prophet, which the Chronicler knows was the Word of God.
Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Should thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD. (2 Chron. 19:2)
Jehoshaphat accepts the rebuke and tries harder to serve as a Godly leader of Judah. From this we may gather he knew this was the word of Yahweh. So how do we know that word? will it say good of us? No. Will it be smooth words of blessing? No. Will it show pictures? Yes. Will it seem likely? No.
Later Jehoram king of Israel, son of Ahab has a dispute with the Moabites. The Moabites call on all their allies to assemble as mighty host. Jehoram calls on Jehoshaphat king of Judah. They are about to go into battle against the Moabites and they find they have no water for the soldiers. Jehoshaphat seeks help from God:
But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may enquire of the LORD by him? And one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah. And Jehoshaphat said, The word of the LORD is with him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him. (2Kings 3:11-12)
How did Jehoshaphat know beyond doubt that “the Word of Yahweh” was with Elisha? Elisha's word was with miracles, but there is something remarkable in his words,
Elisha said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee. But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him. And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Make this valley full of ditches. For thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts. And this is but a light thing in the sight of the LORD: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand. And ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones. (2Kings 3:14-19)
Do we see the pattern here? First there is fearless rebuke, then a statement of a set events which are impossible. We also see totally different outcome predicted to that of Ahab. This is likely because Jehoram has put away Baal, and is not yet to be destroyed, he is to see miracles. It was impossible that they could win against Moab. In the previous battle where Ahab fought Syria it was likely that in the normal course Israel should have won over Syria. Ahab was confident. How do we know the Word of Yahweh Elohim: it predicts impossible things.
How do we know crystal from glass? How do we know water will be cold before touching it? How is it that those who find out that they are adopted, or their father wasn't their biological father knew in some way they were already? How do we know Justice when we see it? How can we make judgement in matters of a court case? How can we understand objectively whether we have been treated fairly or not by others? How can we know right from wrong? There is a right-ness that is beyond human, that we recognise when we see it. All the world of that age recognised Solomon's judgement in the matter in rightly determining which of the two harlots was the mother of the living child.
The king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof. And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgement. (1Kings 3:24-28)
What was it about this that showed people this was the wisdom of God and not mere man? Was the method of dividing the child disagreeable? Yes. Was the outcome right and sure? yes.
For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loves righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. (Psalm 33:4-5)
Though we could expand this theme to fill all the books in the world, we will conclude with one point. The word of the Lord, he who Will be Mighty Ones will always be in accord with his purpose and covenants with the Fathers of Israel. We have many pages of words given regarding the fate of the people of Israel. When we look to those words in the Bible – we can be sure we have seen the word of the Lord – because thought it was impossible, and though it has never been seen in any other nation, a nation 'as dried bones' is resurrected and all the evil predicted of the exile came to pass – and it was exceedingly and remarkably evil.
When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:22)
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