October 15, 2010

Nameless But Notable I: A Dead Prophet, A Passive Lion & A Dopey Ass


This will be the first post in a series on nameless but notable characters throughout the Bible that we do not know the names of or do know the names of and know little about. Hence the name, Nameless But Notable. They enter the narrative of the Bible and then duck back out never to be heard from again. Some of them are genuine enigmas others less so but they all have something in common. They are in the Bible for a reason and that reason I will try to exegete or draw from the text. Some of them are downright quirky in their inclusion in the Christian's Holy Book but that quirkiness is the exact reason I am drawn to their stories. So lets see what we can learn from them, shall we?

"And when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, "It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of the LORD; therefore the LORD has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word that the LORD spoke to him." And he said to his sons, "Saddle the donkey for me." And they saddled it. And he went and found his body thrown in the road, and the donkey and the lion standing beside the body. The lion had not eaten the body or torn the donkey." ~1 Kings 13:26-28

So who was this unnamed prophet. A prophet lying in the middle of the road while his "ride" stands idly by staring mindlessly over the body as if nothing has happened. Next to the vapid donkey a lion also standing beside the body of our quite deceased friend "the nameless prophet". A mystery indeed!

Having read the surrounding text it turns out God had sent this prophet to Jeroboam to warn him of his political strategy, the doom of the altar he had built and his bogus priests. To add urgency to the situation God has instructed the nameless prophet to return immediately to Judah and not to stick around for even food or drink.

The prophet delivered his designated message and started home. He was detoured by another prophet of Israel (different from the first) and invited to dinner. When the first prophet declined, the second prophet claimed he had a much later message from an angel (a dubious excuse) that he was to invite the first prophet to his home. In this culture, to have turned the second prophet down would've nearly appeared as sacrilege from a human standpoint...and here is where we begin to see the crux of the problem. Confusion of whom to please and what takes priority. During the meal the second prophet that had duped the first informs the first that he had deceived him and also prophesied that on his way home a lion would kill him.

So...we are again at this scene and even after the back story we still have one dead prophet, a passive lion and a dopey ass. So...why? I really don't see this narrative as being rocket science in terms of its complexity and what it is trying to teach us. There is no hidden message here and it is quite simple. God is not to be trifled with. What He says, goes. His commands at the time of Moses had been carved in stone. Why stone? Because God expected them to be around for a while. A long while in the exact state that they had been etched into the stone by the finger of God. God does not change. God is immutable. If anything has been commanded by God it still stands in some shape or form (i.e. ceremonical law = Christ). It will be obeyed at some point or justice will be served for disobedience.

Often we we sit in the middle of roads of our own making and ask,"What happened, I had no warning?!?!" In reality we did have warnings, plenty of them and they were ignored or unrecognized. These are times we need to be especially attentive and use discernment. Just like children we need to stop, look & listen...and obey before it is too late. The other side is the willful ignorance or neglect and the thought that, "it couldn't possibly happened to me". In this instance we would be well advised to learn from misfortune of our nameless and lifeless friend. We should seek to avoid lions sent to punish us for our presumptuousness and or defiant sinful human will by paying attention to what is often obviously the Lord's will smacking us upside the head. Whack!!!

As for the dopey ass...well, its just a dopey ass too lazy to run from a lion that just "bumped off" its owner and it should consider itself lucky to be alive (all things considered).

5 comments:

Don and Shelly said...

Andy, we love this kind of stuff. Keep these coming!

Andy Pierson said...

Glad you enjoyed it. I'll do my best.

Pete Armstrong said...

Sweet!

Anonymous said...

I just wondered where you got this picture from as have found a painting of this exact image in my grandmas attic but she has no idea who its by or if it would be worth anything.

Andy Pierson said...

Unknown Anon. It is a license free image floating around the internet that suited the purposes of my post. Sorry :L

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