35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the LORD, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.
36 Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him.
37 Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, so that in smiting he wounded him.
38 So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face. 1 Kings 20:35-38
The lesson here is that we will not accomplish God’s plan in our lives without sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Hebrews 12:6 tells us that God chastens those He loves and scourges every son He receives. Hence the cross, where the sufferings and death of Christ are revealed in our hearts and where through this revelation we willingly give our lives to them, so that we may share in His resurrection life also.
The “neighbour” in this account is very much like today’s Christians. He could not understand why someone had to suffer. Thus rationalizing, he refused to beat the prophet of God as the man of God had requested him to do.
But notice it was “the voice of the Lord” that commanded him to beat up the prophet (v.36). And, apparently, the first man missed it. That’s the danger of the lack of revelation within the church.
Soon afterwards this man was killed by a lion.
If we lack revelation we cannot understand how the sufferings of Christ relate to our lives. And when we do not want to suffer with Christ, we die spiritually.
But imagine the second man! Can you imagine him hitting away at the man of God; in fact, he beat him so badly that he injured him.
We cannot try to reason or rationalize with God. We need to pray for a spiritual understanding of His ways. After all, it is His plans and purposes that really matter.
Probably the first man questioned, “But why? Why should I hit you?”
But the Bible says we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. Only through identifying our lives with the sufferings of Christ on the cross will we find ourselves doing that good and perfect will of God as Paul says in Romans 12:1.
I am sure this revelation was what the second man had. He therefore beat the prophet. He injured him. He made him to suffer!
What does that prophet suffering remind you of? Jesus, of course! It is so interesting how when God opens our eyes we see Christ in every scripture!
The Bible says in Isaiah 53:10 that “it pleased the LORD to bruise him”. The man who beat up the prophet was walking in this revelation.
Today’s generation has faith all right – but only for the blessings. You listen to contemporary Christian songs and they are (nearly) all talking of the goodness and provision of God. Today’s Christians have no faith for the suffering. They ask, “Why should I suffer? Christ died that I may live a comfortable life!”
They have a skewed ‘revelation’ of the cross. If suffering comes along they consider it to be of the devil. The hand of God is not revealed in their sufferings.
When we use human reasoning we will never arrive at an understanding of the Cross. Many Christians today know the cross only as a place where Jesus died for their sins. But they do not know it as a place where they, too, are supposed to suffer, die and resurrect with Christ.
But God has news for us. Even as we rejoice at what Christ accomplished for us at the cross, we will need to carry faith for something equally important – spiritual maturity. We will need to carry faith not even just for suffering, but for dying with Christ. Only when we have accomplished these will we be able to carry God’s plan in our hearts and lives.
The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:10: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
After this unnamed prophet had thus suffered, the Bible says he “departed, and waited for the king by the way”. Through suffering, God had prepared him to carry out His purpose.
[Below: Dar es Salaam coastline]