The more I study Scripture, the more amazed I become by Scripture. I have been reading through the Bible each year for many years, but invariably I come across stories I had somehow missed.
Such was my experience this week with an unnamed prophet who made an astounding declaration that changed the course of history.
A prophecy 300 years in the making
In 1 Kings 12, around the year 920 BC, we read about the division of the nation of Israel in response to King Rehoboam’s folly: the ten northern tribes united under King Jeroboam, while the two southern tribes remained under Rehoboam’s rule. Tragically, Jeroboam immediately led the people into idolatry, building “two calves of gold” for them to worship, one in Bethel (in the southern part of the nation) and the other in Dan (to the north). The writer notes that “this thing became a sin” for the people (v. 30).
Chapter 13 then opens, “And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lᴏʀᴅ to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the Lᴏʀᴅ and said, ‘O altar, altar, thus says the Lᴏʀᴅ: “Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you”’” (vv. 1–2).
Fast forward to 2 Kings 23, approximately three hundred years later. The very king named by the unnamed prophet has led the nation in astounding repentance and reforms. He commanded that the altars built so many years earlier by Jeroboam be destroyed. All of this was “according to the word of the Lᴏʀᴅ that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things” (v. 16).
Josiah then noticed a monument and asked whose it was. He was told, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel” (v. 17). Josiah replied, “Let him be; let no man move his bones” (v. 18).
Think of it: three centuries before Josiah rose to power and led the nation in repentance and spiritual awakening, an unnamed prophet named him and predicted his rule.
Two empowering facts
Two principles follow for us today.
One: God is the king of time and eternity, no matter what circumstances seem to indicate.
As with ancient Israel, our culture is clearly sliding further and further into immorality and decadence. It is more popular and customary to reject biblical morality than ever before.
But our Lord is still “the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God” (1 Timothy 1:17). He is still divinely omniscient: “The eyes of the Lᴏʀᴅ are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). And “whatever the Lᴏʀᴅ pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps” (Psalm 135:6).
It is important to remember how the story ends. When we see ourselves as servants of the king of the universe, we are empowered with confidence in his Spirit and emboldened to stand for his word and will. We are encouraged to seek his prophetic word for our people in the confidence that his word “shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
We will say with Paul, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). There is no greater honor.
Two: God uses “anonymous” people for his eternal purposes.
History did not record the name of the prophet who named one of Israel’s greatest kings, but this anonymous prophet’s ministry nonetheless changed history. Our secularized culture may not know or value your daily ministry to those you serve, but your faithfulness in this world echoes in the next.
When I was working on my doctoral dissertation, I wrote this verse on a card where I could see it every day: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). This promise is just as powerful today as when it was first inspired.
Oswald Chambers noted, “If you are rightly devoted to the Lord Jesus, you have reached the sublime height where no one ever thinks of noticing you, all that is noticed is that the power of God comes through you all the time.”
You cannot measure the eternal significance of present faithfulness.