A False Christ and Falsehood

1912 127 God's detestation of idols, so early marked in His dealings with Israel long after the call of Abraham to be a witness to the one living and true God, is clearly in view of His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus. The injunction, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them: for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God" (Exodus 20:3-5), becomes luminous in the light of The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we have contemplated his glory, a glory as of an only begotten with a Father) full of grace and truth." "No one hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:14-15, 18).

In Deut. 13 the possibility of "a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams," giving "a sign or a wonder," and the same coming to pass, his object being to turn them to other gods which they had not known, to serve them, is brought before the people with the striking prohibition, "Thou shalt not hearken to the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, for Jehovah your God proveth you." Does not this clearly show that no pretended communication from God could ever set aside that memorable word with which the Lord Jesus vanquished Satan in the wilderness — "It is written." The children of Israel were told to put to death the seducer "because he hath spoken to turn you away from Jehovah your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage." Could there be a stronger claim than that of redemption, or one that more appeals to the heart? Then again, it might even be "thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend which is as thine own soul," who should secretly entice to the service of other gods! but so far from the nearness of the relationship, or friendship, being allowed as an excuse for yielding to the snare, there was to be no pitying, sparing, nor concealing, but "thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death," and the claim of God's redemption is again urged (ver. 10). Is the Christian's indebtedness to Him "who delivered us from so great a death" on a less plane than that of an obedient Israelite?

The judgment to be inflicted in the case of "one of thy cities," whence children of Belial have gone out with a similar seductive object, after due enquiry, diligent search, and the truth and certainty of "such abomination" being established (for God Himself never acts without sufficient evidence, as we may see in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, where He says, "I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know," Gen. 18:21), was to be even more drastic than that inflicted on some of the cities of the Canaanites; for not only were all the inhabitants and cattle to be utterly destroyed, but "all the spoil," "every whit" was to be gathered and burnt with fire in the city. The cattle and spoil of Ai, for instance, "Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of Jehovah" (Joshua 8:27).

In connection with the above, I would call attention to a solemn lesson we learn from 1 Kings 12, 13. We there read, "Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah … and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. So he offered upon the altar which he made in Bethel, the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart." The true altar was the means of approach to God. Believers now "have an altar whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle," and this altar — our altar — is clearly "Jesus," who, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate, and to whom we are called to go forth "without the camp bearing his reproach" (Heb. 13:10-16). Jeroboam had established a false altar; in other words had set up not the true, but a false, Christ.

Now the man of God out of Judah, as commissioned by Jehovah, when Jeroboam stood by the altar, and burnt incense, cried against it, and foretold that Josiah, of the house of David, should burn bones and offer upon it the priests of the high places; and he gave as a sign that Jehovah had spoken, a rent altar and ashes poured out. Jeroboam, indignant, put out his hand against the prophet of Judah, only to have that hand dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him. God vindicated His word and His servant, for the altar was rent and the ashes poured out. The king then intreats the man of God for his hand, and God hears the prayer of the prophet from Judah, and it is restored. But now comes the trial of the man of God. After all that he has done, will he stand (compare Eph. 6:13)? He refuses the king's offer to come home with him and refresh himself, and the reward, "For so it was charged me, by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest" (1 Kings 13:9). To be in association with those who in any way are in association with a false Christ, according to John's Second Epistle (ver. 11), is to be partaker of their evil deeds.

The man of God from Judah does turn to go back another way, but he lingers on the road "in this place "where he was neither to eat bread nor drink water. Alas, he falls an easy prey; and the words of the old prophet of Bethel, "I am a prophet also as thou art, and an angel spake unto me by the word of Jehovah saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water" — these words effected what the king's invitation had failed to do. How striking is the Spirit's commentary, "he lied unto him"! How truly awful.

May we not ask, Has this no counterpart, today? Is it in vain that it is written, "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father, but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also" (1 John 2:22-23). What must have been the feelings of the man of God from Judah, when, at the table of the old prophet, a veritable message from God comes through the latter, telling the man of God, "As thou hast disobeyed the mouth of Jehovah, and hast not kept the commandment which Jehovah thy God commanded thee … thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers!" The lion which met him as he rode on his way home, which slew him but touched not his ass, is an eloquent tribute to what the beasts can do when man fails in his obedience to God. But oh, what a lesson for us! If I have the word of God for myself, I am bound to obey it, whatever others say. No pleading can absolve me from its claim on me, for we are set apart from conversion to obedience. Cleaving to it and to the Lord, I shall have the protection of both Himself and His word. It is no question of another saying, "I am a prophet also as thou art." He may be a fellow saint, and a worthier one; but the word to the faithful heart is what our blessed Lord said to Peter, "Follow thou Me" (John 21:21). "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken, than the fat of rams." W.N.T.