This study looks at the practice of inquiring of the Lord, as it has been practiced throughout history. It reveals the importance of inquiring of the Lord, the dangers of inquiring of the Lord insincerely, as well as inquiring of false gods or mediums.
The Israelite people inquired of the LORD
We find numerous examples of the Israelites inquiring of the Lord:
- Isaac and Rebekah inquired of the Lord about the twins struggling with each other in her once barren womb, and He answered her that two nations were inside her: But the children struggled together within her; and she said, "If it is so, why then am I this way?" So she went to inquire of the LORD. (Gen 25:22)
- Now it came about after the death of Joshua that the sons of Israel inquired of the LORD, saying, "Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?" (Jdg 1:1)
- Now the sons of Israel arose, went up to Bethel, and inquired of God and said, "Who shall go up first for us to battle against the sons of Benjamin?" Then the LORD said, "Judah shall go up first." (Jdg 20:18)
- The sons of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall we again draw near for battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin?" And the LORD said, "Go up against him." (Jdg 20:23)
- The sons of Israel inquired of the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, (Jdg 20:27)
- The people inquired of the Lord in order to determine who should be their king: Therefore they inquired further of the LORD, "Has the man come here yet?" So the LORD said, "Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage." (1Sa 10:22)
At one time, long ago in Israel, people would go to a prophet to inquire of the Lord. "Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he used to say, 'Come, and let us go to the seer'; for he who is called a prophet now was formerly called a seer." (1Sa 9:9). In fact, they went to Moses to inquire of the Lord, which is why he needed to delegate responsibilities to other leaders. Moses said to his father-in-law, "Because the people come to me to inquire of God. (Exo 18:15)
Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, once advised the king of Israel to inquire of the LORD through a prophet of the Lord. He wanted to know if they should go up together in battle against a common enemy. Moreover, Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, "Please inquire first for the word of the LORD." (1Ki 22:5). In response to this, the king of Israel gathered four hundred prophets and inquired of them. But Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not yet a prophet of the LORD here that we may inquire of him?" (1Ki 22:7).
The problem was that the king of Israel did not like the only true prophet who still knew how to inquire of the Lord. The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. He is Micaiah son of Imlah." But Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the king say so." (1Ki 22:8).
Another example is when Ben-hadad, king of Aram, was sick, and he inquired of the Lord through the prophet Elisha: The king said to Hazael, "Take a gift in your hand and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the LORD by him, saying, 'Will I recover from this sickness?'" (2Ki 8:8)
So it was very common to go to a prophet to inquire of the Lord in those days.
Priests inquired of the Lord
One of the roles of the priest was to inquire of the Lord. For example, Eleazar the priest inquired of the Lord for Joshua: "Moreover, he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the LORD. At his command they shall go out and at his command they shall come in, both he and the sons of Israel with him, even all the congregation." (Num 27:21)
Likewise, Ahimelech the priest inquired of the LORD for David:
- "He inquired of the LORD for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine." (1Sa 22:10)
- Saul then said to him, "Why have you and the son of Jesse conspired against me, in that you have given him bread and a sword and have inquired of God for him, so that he would rise up against me by lying in ambush as it is this day?" (1Sa 22:13)
- "Did I just begin to inquire of God for him today? Far be it from me! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant or to any of the household of my father, for your servant knows nothing at all of this whole affair." (1Sa 22:15)
- He told them, "Go, inquire of the LORD for me and the people and all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the LORD that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us." (2Ki 22:13)
- "Go, inquire of the LORD for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book which has been found; for great is the wrath of the LORD which is poured out on us because our fathers have not observed the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this book." (2Ch 34:21)
King David was known as a man after God's own heart. He always wanted to know what the Lord wanted, and once he discovered that, He sought to do it with God's help.
- So David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I go and attack these Philistines?" And the LORD said to David, "Go and attack the Philistines and deliver Keilah." (1Sa 23:2)
- Then David inquired of the LORD once more. And the LORD answered him and said, "Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand." (1Sa 23:4)
- David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?" And He said to him, "Pursue, for you will surely overtake them, and you will surely rescue all." (1Sa 30:8)
- Then it came about afterwards that David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I go up to one of the cities of Judah?" And the LORD said to him, "Go up." So David said, "Where shall I go up?" And He said, "To Hebron." (2Sa 2:1)
- Then David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You give them into my hand?" And the LORD said to David, "Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand." (2Sa 5:19)
- When David inquired of the LORD, He said, "You shall not go directly up; circle around behind them and come at them in front of the balsam trees. (2Sa 5:23)
- David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground. (2Sa 12:16)
- David inquired of God, saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? And will You give them into my hand?" Then the LORD said to him, "Go up, for I will give them into your hand." (1Ch 14:10)
- David inquired again of God, and God said to him, "You shall not go up after them; circle around behind them and come at them in front of the balsam trees. (1Ch 14:14)
- Then David built an altar to the LORD there and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And he called to the LORD and He answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. The LORD commanded the angel, and he put his sword back in its sheath. At that time, when David saw that the LORD had answered him on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he offered sacrifice there. For the tabernacle of the LORD, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were in the high place at Gibeon at that time. But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was terrified by the sword of the angel of the LORD. (1Ch 21:26-30)
Inquiring of False Gods
People who inquire of false gods rather than the Lord do so to their own detriment. One example of this foolish practice and it's consequences was when Ahaziah, king of Samaria was injured in an accident at home. He inquired of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, in order to find out whether he would recover.
And Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber which was in Samaria, and became ill. So he sent messengers and said to them, "Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I will recover from this sickness." (2 Ki 1:2)
The Lord was so displeased with this that He sent Elijah to the king's messengers to ask the king why he was doing such a foolish thing. The angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, "Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and say to them, 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?' (2Ki 1:2-3)
The messengers returned to the king and reported back to him. They said to him, "A man came up to meet us and said to us, 'Go, return to the king who sent you and say to him, "Thus says the LORD, 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but shall surely die.'"'" (2Ki 1:6)
The king went directly to Elijah the prophet to find out about this word. So Elijah reiterated it directly to the king. Then he said to him, "Thus says the LORD, 'Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron--is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of His word?--therefore you shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but shall surely die.'" So Ahaziah died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken. (2Ki 1:16-17a)
Some things never change. There are still people today, including some of the Lord's people, who inquire of false gods. But they often find clever ways to explain it away. I need to tell you that this is still sin, and it comes with dire consequences, so please beware and avoid inquiring of false gods.
Dangers of Disobedience
Did you know that Jerusalem was burned with fire because of King Zedekiah's disobedience? The problem was not that he failed to inquire of the Lord, because he did inquire of the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah. The point of disobedience was that neither he nor the people listened to the words of the Lord:
- "Please inquire of the LORD on our behalf, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is warring against us; perhaps the LORD will deal with us according to all His wonderful acts, so that the enemy will withdraw from us." (Jer 21:2)
- But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land listened to the words of the LORD which He spoke through Jeremiah the prophet. Yet King Zedekiah sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "Please pray to the LORD our God on our behalf." (Jer 37:2-3)
- Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel, 'Thus you are to say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: "Behold, Pharaoh's army which has come out for your assistance is going to return to its own land of Egypt. "The Chaldeans will also return and fight against this city, and they will capture it and burn it with fire."' (Jer 37:6-8)
Warning Against Idolatry
Idolaters should not think they could inquire of the Lord with impunity. There are many warnings in Scripture about the consequences for idolatry. Consider these:
- "For anyone of the house of Israel or of the immigrants who stay in Israel who separates himself from Me, sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet to inquire of Me for himself, I the LORD will be brought to answer him in My own person. (Eze 14:7)
- "They will bear the punishment of their iniquity; as the iniquity of the inquirer is, so the iniquity of the prophet will be, (Eze 14:10)
- Now in the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth of the month, certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me. (Eze 20:1)
- The Lord told Ezekiel, "Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Do you come to inquire of Me? As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "I will not be inquired of by you."' (Eze 20:3)
- Here's the Word of the Lord that Ezekiel spoke to the elders: "When you offer your gifts, when you cause your sons to pass through the fire, you are defiling yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "I will not be inquired of by you. (Eze 20:31)
People still commit idolatry today. For some people, their idol is a statue, and for others it's their vehicle. Some people make an idol out of money or another person. Whatever it is you idolize, it separates you from the Lord. So you need to ask the Lord if you have set up any idols in your life, and if you have, you need to get rid of them completely.
King Saul's Failed Attempt to Inquire of the Lord
When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him: Saul inquired of God, "Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You give them into the hand of Israel?" But He did not answer him on that day. (1Sa 14:37). This happened again later. When Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. (1Sa 28:6)
So Saul asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it, rather than inquire of the Lord: Then Saul said to his servants, "Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her." And his servants said to him, "Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor." (1Sa 28:7)
In doing so, Saul sinned against the Lord, since the Scripture prohibited anyone from consulting mediums. Saul committed other sins besides this, including not keeping the Word of the Lord that He had been given. In the end, it cost him his life. "So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the LORD, because of the word of the LORD which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it." (1Ch 10:13) He "did not inquire of the LORD. Therefore He killed him and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse." (1Ch 10:14)
There are people today who consult mediums. It may be a spirit guide, a palm reader, a card reader, a horoscope, or some other medium. It could even be a departed loved one or deceased saint. Consulting mediums is a sin against the Lord, so if you've done this you should repent. Change your mind about it, agree with God's Word and ask the Lord to cleanse and forgive you. He is merciful and forgiving.
The Role of the Holy Spirit
Under the New Covenant, the Lord's people do not need to go to a priest or prophet to inquire of the Lord. Neither do we need to use the sacred stones. Instead, the Holy Spirit has now been sent to live in our hearts and speak to us. The Scripture teaches us that we have an anointing from the Holy Spirit.
The apostle John wrote: "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth." (1Jo 2:20-21).
This anointing remains within you and teaches you about everything. John wrote, "As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him." (1Jo 2:27)
Jesus said the Holy Spirit would reveal to us everything we need:
- "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. (Mar 11:24)
- "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (Joh 14:26)
- "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. (Joh 15:15)
- "All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you. (Joh 16:15)
- For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. (1Co 2:10)
You see, under the new covenant, all the disciples of Christ are priests of God Most High. So we can go directly to the Father through Jesus without the need for any mediators. Peter wrote, "But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1Pe 2:9)
And since we have the mind of Christ, we don't need to go to someone else, such as a priest or prophet, in order to know what the Lord wants for our lives. The apostle Paul wrote, "For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ." (1Co 2:16)
Putting it All Together
The Israelites began to inquire of the Lord many thousands of years ago, and the Lord answered through the Urim and the prophets, as well as through visions or dreams.
Those who did so insincerely were either not answered or in some cases punished. When Saul did not receive answers after inquiring of the Lord, he inquired of a medium, and it cost him his life. We should avoid consulting any kind of medium, even a seemingly harmless one or one that a has been "Christianized."
Under the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit has been sent to live in our hearts and speak to us when we call upon the Lord. We no longer need to inquire of the Lord through stones or other people. Every believer can inquire of the Lord directly, because we have all become priests. Through Jesus Christ, we have access to the Father in heaven. And the anointing of the Holy Spirit teaches us all things. We have the mind of Christ.
So if you already know the Lord Jesus Christ and inquire of Him, let me encourage you to keep doing so. He will answer you. If you aren't inquiring of Him to know His will for each area of your life, then I want to urge you to do so. You should seek to know his will concerning employment, marriage, child raising, money matters, and virtually every part of your life.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.
Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home Page, especially "Hearing the Lord's Voice," "The Priesthood of All Believers," and "Clergy-Laity Distinction unbiblical." You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.