Lesson 24: Elijah and the Wicked Priests of Baalim

Reading Preperation:
  • 1 Kings 12; 17-22
Lesson Notes:
1. The Division into Two Kingdoms
As noted in chapter 22, prior to the death of King Solomon, the Lord indicated that because Solomon had gone after other gods and not kept his commandments, his kingdom would be rent from him.
1 Kings 11:11
11 Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch, as this is done of thee [gone after other gods], and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.
Through his prophet Ahijah, the Lord called Jeroboam to serve as the new King over ten of the tribes upon Solomon’s death.
1 Kings 11:31
31 And he [Ahijah] said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee.
Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, would reign over the remaining southern tribes, namely Judah and Benjamin. When Solomon learned that the Lord had selected Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s twelve superintendents who had jurisdiction over all the taxes and labors extracted from the house of Joseph (1 Kings 11:28), he now sought to kill him (11:40). Jeroboam fled to Egypt.
1 Kings 11:40
40 Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. And Jeroboam arose, and fled to Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.
Upon the death of his father, Rehoboam goes to Sheckem.
1 Kings 12:1
1 And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.
Jeroboam, acting for spokesman for the ten Northern tribes, requests a meeting with Rehoboam. The leaders of the ten Northern tribes, through Jeroboam, asked Rehoboam, in exchange for their support as king, that he would reduce the severe financial and labor burdens that had been imposed upon them by his father.
1 Kings 12:4
4 Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of the of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us lighter, and we will serve thee.
Certainly the request seemed reasonable. Surely since Solomon’s death, the building project need not continue as it had under his reign. The Temple was completed. Israel was at peace.
Rehoboam requested three days in order to make his decision and to consult with his advisors.
1 Kings 12:6-8
6 And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?
7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.
8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men,…
Rehoboam now consulted with the young men “that were grown up with him” (1 Kings 12:10). They advised him opposite from the counsel he had received from the old men.
1 Kings 12:10-11
10 … thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins.
11 And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with ships, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
In other words, Rehoboam chose to follow the opinion of the young men and to increase the current severe financial and labor burdens beyond the demands of his father upon Israel. This was in direct opposition to their request. Rehoboam’s decision to ignore the counsel of the older men will have a major impact upon Israel’s development for many years to come.
1 Kings 12:16
16 So when all Israel [Ten Northern tribes] saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? Neither have we inheritance in son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel; now see to thing own house [Judah], David. So Israel [Ten Northern tribes] departed unto their tents.
True to their word, the ten Northern tribes will depart to the North and Jerobaom will become the king over the Northern tribes.
1 Kings 12:20
20 And it came to pass, when all Israel [Ten Northern tribes] heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel [Ten Northern tribes]: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.
It is important to understand that the line of demarcation between the Northern and Southern tribes was not as clear as it initially appears. We know that the majority of the members of the Southern kingdom consisted of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (see 1 Kings 12:23). We can generally assume that the Northern tribes consisted of a majority of the remaining ten tribes. We cannot assume however that there were not members of each of the tribes in both the Northern and Southern kingdoms. For example, any members of the tribe of Levi that would have originally gone to the North, most likely would have returned to the South when the Northern kingdom began it’s spiritual decline. Members of other tribes, who may have originally gone to the North, may have also returned to live in the Southern kingdom. [see 2 Chronicles 11:13-17, for example, as the Levites who had originally gone North, returned to Jerusalem “and after them out of all the tribes”]. When we speak of the Northern Ten tribes and the Southern two tribes we are probably only speaking in general terms. We will however follow the common differentiation as referenced in the scriptures with the Northern kingdom as “Israel” and the Southern kingdom as “Judah.”
When Rehoboam realized that the tribes of the Northern kingdom were going to secede from his kingdom, he declared war against them.
1 Kings 12:21
21 And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and four score thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel [Ten Northern tribes], to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.
The Lord now intervenes through his prophet, “Shemaiah, the man of God,” to speak to Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:22).
1 Kings 12:22-24
22 But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying,
23 Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people saying,
24 Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and return to depart, according to the word of the LORD.
It was ultimately the result of Solomon’s unrighteousness that led the Lord to rent [split off] his kingdom and Jeroboam to become the king of the ten Northern tribes and Rehoboam as the king of the remaining tribes of Judah and Benjamin. It was not the Lord’s will however that Rehoboam ignore the wisdom of the “old men” in favor of the counsel of the “young men,” nor that the division of Israel result in war. This was the sole decision of Rehoboam. Fortunately for Rehoboam and Judah, he did follow the counsel of “Shemaiah the man of God,” and did not go into battle against Jeroboam. Had he not done so, this would have been a serious mistake on his part.
The LDS Bible Dictionary states,
“Solonon’s kingdom is now divided. Jeroboam is the king of the Ten Northern tribes referred to as “Israel”. Rehoboam is the king of the Southern kingdom referred to as “Judah”. The year is 975 B.C. (Chronological Tables. LDS Bible Dictionary. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1979, 636).
2. Kings of the Northern Kingdom
Jeroboam, shortly after he becomes king, became concerned about the populace returning to offer sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem.
1 Kings 12:27
27 If the people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
Jeroboam will counsel with his advisors and made two grievous decisions in the eyes of the Lord that will eventually bring about the destruction of his kingdom.
1 Kings 12:28-30
28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
29 And he set the one in Beth-el, and other put he in Dan.
30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
His first serious sin was to return Israel again to idolatry through offering the construction of two golden calves for worship, an action reminiscent of the golden calf that Aaron build during Moses’ absence (see Exodus 32:4). This action was/is in direct conflict with the commandment the Lord had given “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” (Exodus 20:4).
1 Kings 12:31-32
31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
32 And 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 offered upon the altar. So did he in Beh-el, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Beth-el; the priests of the high places which he had made.
Jeroboam’s second transgression is to take upon himself the authority to act for the Lord, without having received His divine authority. He will appoint “priests… not of the sons of Levi,” and also he will present an “offered upon the altar… sacrificing unto the calves that he had made” (1 Kings 12:32). He will also change the dates of the feast days (see 1 Kings 12:33). The usurping of the Lord’s authority as part of his authority as king will bring himself and Israel under condemnation. As noted in 2 Chronicles, his rejection of the sons of Levi, will lead to their return to Jerusalem along with others of all the tribes.
2 Chronicles 11:13-17
13 And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of their coasts.
14 For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest’s office unto the LORD:
15 And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and the calves which he had made.
16 And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.
17 So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong,…
Jeroboam is given warning by the Lord through his prophets in Judah, however he does not heed their warning.
1 Kings 13:33-34
33 … Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places.
34 And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.
Approximately two hundred years before it occurs, the Lord, through the prophet Ahijah, tells King Jeroboam that because of their wickedness, the northern tribes will be scattered (see 1 Kings 14:15-16).
The Old Testament student manual states,
A succession of kings will follow Jeroboam’s pattern of unrighteousness, beginning with Nadab and Baasha. They are followed by ‘Elah [who] “was a drunkard [and] made Israel to sin,’ [then] ‘Zimri, who while reigning only seven days is remembered as both a murderer and idolater,” [then comes] ‘Omri. [He] “was a worse Idolater than all before him.’ followed by Ahab” (Old Testament student manual: 1 Kings–Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 50).
Andrew C. Skinner states,
“The worst of Israel’s kings was Ahab (869-850 B.C.): “And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him” (1 Kgs. 16:30)” (“Kings and Prophets in Divided Israel” in Studies in Scripture 4. Edited by Kent P. Jackson. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993, 25).
The LDS Bible Dictionary states,
“The marriage [of Ahab and Jezebel], more than any other single event, caused the downfall of the northern kingdom,… ” (Jezebel. LDS Bible Dictionary. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1979, 713).
While the Kingdom of Judah is only a little better off during the northern wickedness, as they also did evil in the sight of the Lord beyond anything that had been done by their fathers (see 1 Kings 14:22).
3. The Prophet Elijah
The LDS Bible Dictionary states,
Elijah is a prophet of the Lord who will administer to the Northern kingdom. During this time, “owing to the influence of Ahab and Jezebel, the people had almost entirely forsaken the worship of Jehovah, and had become worshippers of the Phoenician god Baal (1 Kings 16:32; 18:19)” (Elijah. LDS Bible Dictionary. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1979, 664).
3.1. Causes the Heavens to withhold Rain
We are introduced to Elijah as he appears in King Ahab’s court to offer a prophecy of the Lord due to the wickedness of the people and their king.
1 Kings 17:1
1 And Elijah… said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
Elijah’s first recorded act in the scriptures was to seal the heavens by the power of the priesthood from delivering its moisture. The authority given to Elijah is the same power given to Nephi, son of Helaman, on the American continent.
B/M, Heleman 10:6-7
6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God [Lord]…
7 Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among the people.
This priesthood authority, given to the Lord’s worthy servants, is the power that enables them to control the forces of nature as a means to bring a nation to repentance.
Elijah is also affected by the drought that occurs however the Lord provides for his care.
1 Kings 17:2-4
2 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
After a period of time, the brook at Cherith dries up and Elijah is directed by the Lord to a widow who lives in the village of Zarephath (see 1 Kings 17:7-9). Zarephath is on the coast of the Mediterranean between Tyre and Sidon.
3.2. A barrel of flour and a cruse of oil
When Elijah arrives as Zarephath, he meets a widow.
1 Kings 17:10-11
10 … and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
Elijah’s request for a drink of water is one thing, but then he also requests a morsel of bread. Under usual circumstances, the minimal request would silently be met, but these are not usual times for either her or her son.
1 Kings 17:12
12 And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.
Elijah’s request of the widow came just as she is gathering sticks so that she can prepare her last meal and then she and her son are prepared to die. They are on the verge of starvation!
Elijah’s request of her must at best seemed as if he hadn’t heard her; at worst, self-centered.
1 Kings 17:13
13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not, go and do as thou hast said; but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
His request is not out of selfishness. He is calling upon her to first exercise a particle of faith so that he may then pronounce a great blessing upon her home which will save her and her son from starvation.
1 Kings 17:14
14 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.
First the test, and then the promise. What does the widow do who if she meets his request will certainly die?
1 Kings 17:15
15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah:…
She passed the test. She exercised her faith and trusted that what this man said would come to pass. By that singular act, she serves as an example to each of us.
1 Kings 17:16
16 And the barrel of meal wasted not [did not run out], neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.
This widow of Zarephath may be poor in terms of worldly wealth, but she is rich in faith. Unbeknown to her, she entertains a prophet of the Lord in her house. His initial request seemed ordinary, but in her extremity was beyond her ability to fulfill. However, she continued to meet his request even when it meant certain death for her and for her son. She trusted that the promise he made regarding the source of her flour and oil would be fulfilled. She was obedient to his request. She exercised her faith that all would be well. She acted and she and her son were greatly blessed by this servant of God. Her name is not known, but her actions will be remembered forever as an example to each us, who have or may yet entertain angels unaware (see Hebrews 13:2).
3.3. Raises the Widow’s son
Elijah continues to live in the home of the widow and her son for some time. As time passes, an event occurs that is even greater for the widow than her continued source of flour and oil.
1 Kings 17:17-18
17 And it came to pass after these things, that he son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.
18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? Art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?
All is not well with this widow and her house guest. While she refers to him as a “man of God” she feels that his presence is not just to save the family from starvation, but has some ulterior motive that involves the death of her son! Her faith is obviously in doubt for she does not at this time recognize that one who has power to provide continual temporal nourishment also has the power of life over death. He speaks to her and she obeys his request. In spite of her doubt, she continues to act in faith at Elijah’s request.
1 Kings 17:19-22
19 And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.
20 And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.
22 And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
While Elijah initially gives brief credence to the cause of the death of the widow’s son, he immediately exercises both his faith and authority as he petitions the Lord on behalf of this child. Let her son live. The Lord hears the desire of his prophet and grants the child his life.
Elijah is pleased as he now returns the boy to his mother, alive.
1 Kings 17:23
23 … and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.
He may well have added, “there is no curse. The Lord has heard the petition of his servant and your son is now alive!”
Now the widow responds. Her faith has been strengthened.
1 Kings 17:24
24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.
Just as the father of the demonic child spoke to the Savior, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24), so might the widow said to Elijah, “I have tried to exercise faith in all that you have requested of me, but when my son died, it was more than I could bear. I had already lost my husband, and the thought of now losing my son felt that I was being punished by his death. Now I know differently. The Lord heard my request on behalf of my son and your faith was sufficient to make him live again. I thank the Lord for sending one of his prophets to my home for you have blessed my life more than I could ever express.”
Centuries later, the Savior himself would refer to the faith of the widow of Zarephath.
Luke 4:25-26
25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias [Elijah], when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
26 But unto none of them was Elias [Elijah] sent, save unto Sarepta [Zarephath], a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
How long did Elijah remain with the widow and her son? I believe he stayed until the drought was over which lasted in total three and one-half years.
3.4. Fire from Heaven
Elijah now “in the third year [of the drought]” (1 Kings 18:1) now goes to meet with king Ahab. At this meeting, King Ahab accuses Elijah for having brought the drought and the accompanying famine upon the Kingdom of Israel with seeming no awareness of the contribution of his wickedness.
1 Kings 18:17-18
17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
So that Ahab might come to see the foolishness of idol worship and the power of God, Elijah now invites Ahab to gather the prophet of Baal (450) to Mount Carmel to view an exhibition of the power of God over the power of the idols. Elijah spells out the purpose of the meeting.
1 Kings 18:21
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
Elijah issues a challenge to the wicked priests.
Each group, the priest of Baalim and Elijah, are to make the necessary preparation in order to offer a bullock as a sacrifice. The bullock is then to be placed upon the wood of the alter. Each are to call upon their God to provide the fire that will burn the wood. The god that provides the fire for the sacrifice will be the true God.
1 Kings 18:24
24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
The hours pass and it is now Noon. Baalim has not provided the necessary fire for the sacrifice of the priest.
1 Kings 18:27
27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awakened.
The prophets now whip themselves up into a frenzy, and crying louder and even cut themselves, and by evening, there is still no fire for their sacrifice (see 1 Kings 18:29).
It is now Elijah’s turn. He begins by placing twelve stones on his alter, and then makes a trench around the sacrifice which he requested to be filled with water. He repeats this request three times. With the wood completely drenched and the water flowing about the sacrifice, Elijah is now prepared to seek the Lord’s manifestation.
1 Kings 18:36-37
36 Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and of Israel, let Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
The Lord heard his prophet and vindicated his word.
Ellis T. Rasmussen states,
The Lord did send down “supernatural fire [that] consumed the offering, rocks, dust, and water, the people fell prostrate and confessed that the Lord is God. With public opinion on his temporarily on his side, Elijah had the idolatrous prophets executed… Elijah ran before the chariot of the king, as if to show that Elijah and the Lord were at last guiding Ahad. The drought was broken, as the rain indeed came” (A Latter-Day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993, 294).
As soon as Ahab returns to the palace, he meets with Jezebel. When she learned of Elijah had slain the false prophets, she was furious.
1 Kings 19:2
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
Elijah, in an effort to escape the grasp of Jezebel’s edict, he flees for his life, “a day’s journey into the wilderness… and requested for himself that he might die” (1 Kings 19:4). Why is Elijah so despondent feeling that his life has no meaning? He has seen miracle after miracle performed by the Lord’s hand. Does he doubt the Lord’s power to heal Israel? Sometimes prophets also get discouraged when changes in the people take longer to occur than they feel is necessary.
Ellis T. Rasmussen observes,
“Elijah was disappointed that Jezabel’s power over the king and the people was unbroken. He felt he had failed and was discouraged to the point of giving up his life because the people had gained no real conviction by the miraculous demonstration” (A Latter-Day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993, 294).
While Elijah may feel that he had failed, the Lord did not. He continued to have faith in his prophet and sought to demonstrate to him his continued confidence in him.
3.5. A still, small voice
Elijah now, in the process of fasting for forty days and nights (see 1 Kings 19:8), travels to Mount Horeb (Sini) on the Egyptian peninsula. The Lord asks, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9). Elijah replies.
1 Kings 19:10
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine alters, and slain thy prophets with they sword; and I, even I only am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
The Lord directs Elijah to go and “stand upon the mount before the Lord”… [The Lord now gives Elijah a demonstration of his power, first in] “a great and strong wind [that] rent the mountain, and brake in pieces the rocks; [next an earthquake, and then a fire, and lastly] “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11). What is the meaning of this demonstration by the Lord?
Andrew C. Skinner states,
The Lord now shows him, and each of us, that the “Lord is not [found] in earth shattering signs of power [the great and strong wind, an earthquake, or even in fire as had been exhibited in the contest with the Prophet of Baal], but in the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Those who listen carefully in our day will also hear and should heed the same still small voice” (“Kings and Prophets in Divided Israel” in Studies in the Scripture 4. Edited by Kent P. Jackson. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993, 27).
I believe that the Lord is also teaching Elijah an important truth regarding conversion. The unusual manifestation of priesthood power that had just occurred with Elijah in his contest with the prophets of Baal, while often eye-catching and note-worthy, do not have a lasting influence upon an individual. What does make a lasting impression upon the individual regarding spiritual truth is the whispering of the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.
Joseph Fielding Smith taught,
“The Spirit of God speaking to the spirit of man has power to impart truth with greater effect and understanding than the truth can be imparted by personal contact even with heavenly beings. Through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fiber and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten” (Doctrine of Salvation, Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith, vol.1. Compiled by Bruce R. McConkie. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954, 24th Printing, 1980, 47-48).
The whispering of the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost is that which brings lasting conviction, as this witness cannot be forgotten. The truth conveyed by the whispering of the “still small voice,” remains after the miracle or even heavenly visitation has become a distant memory.
M. Russell Ballard states,
“True conversion comes through the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed. When individuals,… feel the Spirit working with them, or when they see the evidence of the Lord’s love and mercy in their lives, they are edified and strengthened spiritually and their faith in Him increases. These experiences with Spirit follow naturally when a person is willing to experiment upon the word. This is how [one] comes to feel the gospel is true” (“Now is the Time” in Ensign, November, 2000, 75).
Having reminded Elijah of this important truth, the Lord now gives his prophet an assignment that he needs to fulfill. Having been taught and strengthened by the Lord, Elijah is now ready to go forth and fulfill the Lord’s request and complete his mission on earth.
1 Kings 19:15-17
15 And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
Elijah’s next assignment from the Lord is extremely important. He is to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria; Jehu to be king over Israel, and Elisha to be his successor as the Lord’s prophet! The Lord, in closing, tells Elijah there are yet others ready to be taught the gospel truths who have not succumb to idolatry.
1 Kings 19:18
18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
3.6. Elijah calls Elisha to be a Prophet
Elijah finds Elisha plowing a field with twelve oxen.
The Old Testament student manual states,
“Elisha must have been wealthy to have been plowing with twelve yokes of oxen, for each yoke pulled a plow and was driven by a servant” (Old Testament student manual: 1 Kings—Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 62).
Elijah approached Elisha and while he was plowing, “Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him” (1 Kings 19:19). What does it mean to have the current prophet place his mantle or coat upon you?
W. Cleon Skousen states,
“The astonished Elisha seemed to have known exactly what this emblematic gesture meant. He was being designated for the prophetic calling and being chosen as the understudy and future successor of Elijah. No lengthy discussion or art of persuasion was employed to induce Elisha to accept the call. It was not needed. He was one of the chosen 7,000 referred to by the Lord who had not bowed the knee to Baal but respected the Holy Priesthood of God and accepted with enthusiasm the discipline and obedience required by such a calling” (The Fourth Thousand Years. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, [Sixth Printing 1972], 359).
Having accepted the “mantle of the prophet,” Elisha now kills a yoke of oxen, burns their equipment, and then prepares the oxen to be eaten, then gives it to the people (see 1 Kings 19:21). What is the significance of this gesture?
The Old Testament student manual states,
“Eating the oxen and burning their equipment symbolically represents Elisha’s rejection of worldly wealth as Elisha prepared to follow Elijah and to make the considerable material sacrifice involved in responding to the prophetic call” (Old Testament student manual: 1 Kings–Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 62).
The Old Testament student manual continues,
“Out of this simple act, the phrase ‘mantle of the prophet’ has come to mean the calling and office of the prophet” (Old Testament student manual: 1 Kings—Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 62).
Elijah has fulfilled the assignment the Lord gave to him to call his successor, Elisha, to be Israel’s next prophet.
4. Ahab’s Death Pronounced
Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, sends a message to King Ahab that he is to send him a ransom in order to avoid war. His demands are great.
1 Kings 20:5-6
5 … Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children.
6 … and it shall be, that whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, they [you] shall put it in their hand [his servants], and take it away
It appears that initially king Ahab is willing to forfeit the required booty to avoid war with Syria. He consults with his advisors and their advise is “Hearken not unto him, nor consent” (1 Kings 20:7-8). When king Ben-hadad receives the message of denial by king Ahab, he is angered and ready for war.
An unnamed prophet of the Lord comes to Ahab and delivers to him a message.
1 Kings 20:13
13 And, behold, there came a prophet unto Ahab king of Israel, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thine hand this day: and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.
King Ahab is receptive to the prophet’s offer and engages the Syrians in battle.
1 Kings 20:20-21
20 And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Ben-hadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with the horseman.
21 And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horse and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.
The prophet then tells that king that the Syrians are going to come again in battle. The Syrians appear to be a formidable opponent.
1 Kings 20:27
27 … and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids [goats]; but the Syrians filled the country.
Given the size of the Syrian army, the odds must have been overwhelming to the king. The prophet gave him the following directive from the Lord.
1 Kings 20:28
28 And there came a man of God and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
The message from the prophet is that the Syrians will be defeated by the Lord for they doubt his power to save Israel from their superior army. They do not recognize that the power of the Lord is greater than the force of any army that man could rise. It is the Lord’s desire that the Syrians humble themselves before the Lord and not trust in the strength of man.
Contained in this directive of the Lord through his prophet was that king Ben-hadad was to be killed. Unfortunately, king Ahab chose, in a blatant act of disobedience, not to follow the Lord’s direction.
1 Kings 20:34
34 And Ben-hadad said unto him, The cities, which my father took from thy father, I will restore; and thou shall make streets for thee in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria. Then said Ahab, I will send thee away with this covenant. So he made a covenant with him, and sent him away.
The prophet initially came to king Ahab in disguise, however once king Ahab recognized him, he delivered a message from the Lord.
1 Kings 20:41-43
41 And he hasted, and took the ashes away from his face; and the king of Israel discerned him that he was of the prophets.
42 And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life and thy people for his people.
43 And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.
Ahab was to learn that when Israel was obedient to the Lord, as given by his prophet, then they were victorious. When however king Ahab failed to follow the precise instructions of the Lord, the price of his disobedience was the loss of his life.
5. Ahab and Naboth’s Vineyard
Why does Ahab want Naboth’s vineyard? What are we to learn from this experience?
The Old Testament student manual states,
“Ahab’s offer to buy Naboth’s vineyard may seem fair at first glance, but Naboth could not sell. His land had been inherited from his forefathers, and the law of Moses did not permit the sale of one’s inheritance, except in cases of extreme destitution, and then it could be sold or mortaged only until the time of jubilee when it would be reclaimed. Ahab wished to acquire the land permanently. Hence Naboth’s reply, ‘The LORD forbid it me’ [1 Kings 21:3]… The king owned ten-twelfths of the land of Israel already, but he was miserable because he could not get everything he wanted” (Old Testament student manual: 1 Kings—Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 62-63).
Has there been a time when you wanted something, but the answer was No? I doubt there are very few individuals who have not had this experience at some time in their lives. For some, the event was accompanied by disappointment, maybe with even a display of tears or anger, but we learned that we were not going to be able to have everything we wanted. It was not a pleasant lesson to learn, but one that most of us survived.
For some, the lesson is not learned and they then scheme in an effort to obtain the desired object or individual, regardless of the personal price. Ahab and Jezebel will now plot how they might obtain Naboth’s vineyard. Jezebel will put their plan into action.
1 Kings 21:8, 10
8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.
10 And set two men, sons of Balial, before him to bear witness against him [Naboth], saying, Thou did blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.
Their diabolical plan was successful. Naboth was put to death.
1 Kings 21:15-16
15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.
16 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
Ahab and Jezebel have now achieved the desired vineyard. They wanted something and when it was denied them, they sought means to obtain it. In this instance, the price was the death of an innocent man. Naboth’s only fault was that he was obedient to the teachings of His Lord and thereby denied the king from having everything that he wanted, even something he could not have.
I believe that there will always be the Naboth’s and Ahab’s in the world. There will always be those who will not have learned that simple but important lesson in life that one can’t have everything they want. Some will even be willing to go to the extreme and take an innocent life. In the final analysis, the achievement of their desired prize does not bring them the lasting happiness they sought. They will never be satisfied and will continue to desire what they cannot have. Their appetite is unfulfilled as is their unobtainable desire for happiness. The simple truth in life is that only the individual who learns to be happy with what they can have knows true joy.
The Lord now gives Elijah a message to deliver to king Ahab for he and his wife, Jezebel.
1 Kings 21:19-20, 23
19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shal dogs lick thy blood, even thine.
20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD
23 And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel
King Ahab reacted to the words of the Lord through Elijah in humility and with visible signs of repentance.
1 Kings 21:27
27 And it came to pass, when Abab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly [dejectedly].
The Lord, in recognition of Ahab’s humility, determines to defer the judgment upon Ahab and his wife, Jezebel.
1 Kings 21:29
29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? Because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.
The Lord is ever ready to modify or rescind any punishment that we may incur based upon the depths of our humility and repentance. The Lord is not vindictive nor desirous of exerting punishment greater than is absolutely necessary for us to obtain the forgiveness of our sins. In this instance, he observed the demonstration of the humility by king Ahab, and in his wisdom chose to defer the timing for Ahab and Jezebel’s punishment for taking an innocent life. He also knew by his foreknowledge that king Ahab’s son, Ahaziah, would choose to lead his people in unrighteousness and by his own actions, would merit the loss of his kingdom.
6. False vs. True Prophets
In 914 B.C., Jehoshaphat is king of Judah and Ahab is king of Israel. Jehoshaphat will approach Ahab regarding joining forces against their common enemy, Syria (see 1 Kings 22:2-3).
The Old Testament student manual notes,
“The friendship between Ahab, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, may have developed because Jehoram, Jehoshaphat’s son had married Ahab’s daughter Athaliah. This friendship did not please the Lord, and Jehoshaphat was severely rebuked for encouraging it (see 2 Chronicles 19:1-3)” (Old Testament student manual: 1 Kings–Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 63).
As part of their decision, it was determined that they would consult the prophets. Ahab calls his false prophets, approximately four hundred, and they tell him what they believe he wants to hear.
1 Kings 22:6
6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; or the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
Jehoshaphat, recognizing that the “prophets” appointed by the king, may not be speaking for the Lord, but instead only on approval of the king, asks a very important question of Ahab, a question that each of us should also ask.
1 Kings 22:7
7 And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him.
Among all the voices that offer their opinion in our world today, “is there not… a prophet of the LORD… that [we] might enquire of him?” (1 Kings 22:7) would be an important question for us to ask today. How valuable would it be for each of us if there was a prophet today who spoke for the Lord? Would we listen to his words of counsel and advice?, or would we react like king Ahab?
1 Kings 22:8
8 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him: for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.
Sometimes we do not want to truly hear the word of the Lord as it might disagree with what we want to hear or want to do. We want someone to agree with us and to support our own desires. A true prophet will always tell us, even if it is unpleasant, what we need to hear, instead of what we want to hear.
Spencer W. Kimball observes,
“Prophets have a way of jarring the carnal mind. Too often the holy prophets are wrongly perceived as harsh and as anxious to make a record in order to say, ‘I dold you so.’… It is [however] because of their love and integrity that they cannot modify the Lord’s message merely to make people feel comfortable. They are to kind to be so cruel. I am grateful that prophets do not crave popularity” (“Listen to the Prophets” in Ensign, November, 1978, 77).
King Ahab sends a messenger to summon Micaiah to his court. The messenger delivers a message to Micaiah.
1 Kings 22:13
13 And the messenger that was gone to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like of word of one of them, and speak that which is good.
The messenger is suggesting that for the good of all the “other prophets,” as well as it would be best for Micaiah, if he would agree with the decision the “other prophets” have already made. The word of Micaiah to the messenger is unmistakable.
1 Kings 22:14
14 And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak.
It is as if Micaiah is teaching the messenger that the difference between a “false prophet,” and a “true prophet,” is that a true prophet says what the Lord would say, even if it may be out of sync with the prevailing opinion.
Micaiah’s directive from the Lord is said in a scornful manner, “Go and prosper” (1 Kings 22:15).
The Old Testament student manual notes,
“Ahab’s false prophet, or counselors, said yes, but Micaiah a prophet of God, said no. The words of Micaiah… ‘Go and prosper,’ were said with great sarcasm. It is though Micaiah said, ‘All your false prophets have predicted success. You want me to do the same, so I will: ‘Go and prosper.’ This was said scornfully to let King Ahab know that it was contrary to Micaiah’ true advice” (The Old Testament student manual: 1 Kings—Micaiah. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 63).
Ahab’s response, may be similar to our response to a prophet amongst us.
1 Kings 22:18
18 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?
King Ahab, at the request of king Jehoshaphat, had agreed to consult a prophet of God named Micaiah, as opposed to relying on the advice of his “false prophets” who tell him only what he wants to hear. His motive for consulting Micaiah is lacking in sincerity. When the king is told the truth, he replies, “Did I not tell thee he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil.”
We now seem to have reached an interesting juncture in the discussion of “false and true prophets” and the source of their direction.
1 Kings 22:20-23 2 Chronicles 18:19-22
20 And the LORD said, who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. 19 And the LORD said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner.
21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. 20 Then there came out a spirit and stood before the LORD,and said, I will entice him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith?
22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so. 21 And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so.
23 Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee. 22 Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil against thee.
JST, 2 Chronicles 18:20-22
20 Then there came out a lying spirit, and stood before them, and said, I will entice him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith?
21 And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the Lord said Thou shall entice him, and thy shall also prevail; go out, and do even so; for all these have sinned against me.
22 Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath found a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil against thee.
From the Joseph Smith Translation of 2 Chronicles 18:20-22, we gaining further insight regarding 1 Kings 22:20-23 and 2 Chronicles 18:19-22. First, we learn that the “lying spirit” was already found in the mouth of all his [Ahab’s] prophets meaning that each had previously chosen to reject the truth, and to follow what they thought the king wanted to hear even if that meant lying to him. Second, the Lord did allow the “lying spirit… [to continue to] entice [all his prophets]” and they, like each of us, were free to choose not to continue to follow the evil enticement. Third, we learn that the Lord did not put the “lying spirit into the mouths of Ahab’s false prophets! It is a spiritual verity that when we choose to reject the spirit of the Lord in our lives, by default, we then choose to accept the promptings of the evil one.
The Old Testament student manual states,
Quoting Adam Clarke, “the Hebrew expression means that the Lord ‘hath permitted or suffered a lying spirit to influence thy prophets [just as he allows Satan to tempt each of us]… Is it requisite again to remind the reader that the Scriptures repeatedly represent God as doing what, in the course of his providence, he only permits or suffers to be done? Nothing can be done in heaven, in earth, or hell, but either by his immediate energy or permission. This is the reason why the Scripture speaks as above” (The Holy Bible… .with a Commentary and Critical Notes, vol. 2. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, n.d. 476), in Old Testament student manual: 1 Kings—Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 63).
The first law of heaven is free agency and therefore the Lord does not place a lying spirit in any of his spirit children. He also does not force individuals to act contrary to their own will. He does however allow Satan to tempts us so that we might choice for ourselves the course we will follow, in this instance to heed the “false prophets,” or to follow the “true prophet.”
King Ahab now has Micaiah placed in prison for disagreeing with him.
1 Kings 22:26-27
26 And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king’s son;
27 And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace.
Prior to the kings departure, Micaiah makes a final pronouncement unto king Ahab.
1 Kings 22:28
28 And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the LORD hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people, everyone of you.
A “true prophet,” is willing to go to prison rather than to not deliver the message the Lord had given him.
1 Kings 22:29
29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead.
It is during this battle with the Syrians that king Ahab is severely wounded.
1 Kings 22:34-35, 38
34 And a certain man drew a bow at the venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness [where the armor joined together]: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.
35 And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot.
38 And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armour; according unto the word of the LORD which he spake.
The life of one of Israel’s most wicked kings has ended. The dogs licked Ahab’s blood and will devoure Jezebel’s remains just as the Lord had stated (see 1 Kings 21:19,23).
Had king Ahab followed his initial step toward repentance and the directive of the Lord’s prophet, his legacy would surely have been different for him and for Israel. Unfortunately, like many of us, when we choose to follow the promptings of the evil one, to the point that we no longer are receptive to the spirit of the Lord, we also choose our final destiny.
Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat is now king of Judah and Ahaziah, the son of Ahab is king of Israel.
How did Ahaziah serve Israel?
1 Kings 22:51-52
51 Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel.
52 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
7. Conclusions
It is easy to look back and see how foolish Ahab, Jezebel, and the Israelites were as they halted between two positions. But what about today? Are men still inclined to vacillate between serving God and serving the Devil? Do we still want to hear only good things about our evil choices? Do we also place the blame for life’s reversals on someone else? Or are we willing to take responsibility for our choices, knowing that we must not fool ourselves for we must “Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
It is true that while evil may be rampant in the world today, righteousness also exists. Those who truly seek for the truth will never be left without a choice. They must however seek for the Lord’s “true prophets.”
In 1939, as part of a presentation to a member of the House of Commons, and previous a justice of the supreme court in England, Hugh B. Brown, a barrister and solicitor from Canada, prepared a brief entitled, “profile of a prophet.” He stated eleven characteristics which should distinguish a man who claims to be a prophet.
Hugh B. Brown submitted the following for considerations,
“(1) He will boldly claim that God has spoken to him.
“(2) Any man claiming would be dignified man with dignified message: no table-jumping, no whisperings from the dead, no clairvoyance, but an intelligent statement of truth.
“(3) Any man claiming to be a prophet of God would declare his message without fear, and without making any weak concessions to public opinion.
“(4) If he were speaking for God, he could not make concessions although what he taught would be new and contrary to the accepted teachings of the day. A prophet bears witness to what he has seen and heard and seldom tries to make a case by argument. His message, not he himself, is important.
“(5) Such a man would speak in the name of the Lord saying, “Thus saith the Lord,” as did Moses, Joshua, and others.
“(6) Such a man would predict future events in the name of the Lord and they would come to pass, as did Isaiah, Ezekiel and others.
“(7) He would have not only an important message for his time, but also often a message for all future time, such as had Daniel, Jeremiah, and others.
“(8) He would have courage and faith enough to endure persecution and to give his life, if need be, for the cause he espoused, i.e., Peter, James, Paul, et al.
“(9) Such a man would denounce wickedness fearlessly. He would generally be rejected and persecuted by the people of his time, but later generations, the descendants of his persecutors, would build monuments in his honor.
“(10) He would be able to do superhuman things, things that no man could do without God’s help. The consequence or result of his message and work would be convincing evidence of his prophetic calling… by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20).
“(11) His teaching would be in strict agreement with scripture, and his words and his writings would become scripture. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:21)”
(Eternal Quest. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956, 127, 130-131, numbers added to original).
If you honestly seek to identify a “true prophet,” these characteristics will, along with confirmation by the Holy Spirit, guide your investigation. It is however, not enough to be able to identify a “true prophet,” we must then be willing to heed his message.
Bruce R. McConkie reminded each of us,
“The great need in the world today is not for the Lord to send a prophet to reveal his mind and will. He has done that; we have a prophet; we are guided by many men who have the spirit of inspiration. The great need today is for men to have a listening ear and to give heed to the words that fall from the lips of those who wear the prophetic mantle” (“God Foreordains His Prophets and His People” in Ensign, May, 1974, 73).
The Lord will not leave us without guidance as we seek to identify his prophet, and then to follow his direction.