Be Careful What You Ask For

For any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel, who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to consult me through him, I the LORD will answer him myself. And I will set my face against that man; I will make him a sign and a byword and cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the LORD. And if the prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the LORD, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.                                                                                       Ezekiel 14:7-9 ESV

The passage above is a very frightening one. In a nutshell what it says is that God will give us what we ask for. The same point is made in narrative form in 1 Kings 22:19-23. There Ahab wanted to go to war against Syria, so his prophets gave him the message he wanted, believing and claiming they had gotten it from God. But Micaiah, the true prophet said, the reason God gave it was to entice Ahab to his death.

Here the elders of the second exile to Babylon (the one that occurred in 598 bc before the third and final one in 586 bc) have come to Ezekiel wanting a good promise about Jerusalem’s continuing survival. But they were not devoted to God; they were devoted to their own secret sins.

So God responded, “Oh, I’ll give you a message alright, but it won’t be the one you want. If it should be the one you want, it will only be because some prophet desperately wanted to please you (maybe for cash money?), and I let him have the message he wanted.”

So what’s the point? Before you go asking God for some sweet promise of blessing, examine your own heart! Do you want God’s way or your way? Beware! If it is your way that you want, God may give you the message you are asking for, so that the disaster you are trying to avoid will come upon you and either shock you back to him or, if you are unrecoverable like Ahab, destroy you. Be careful what you ask for!

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