John MacArthur tells us that Luke uses the phrase ‘set His face’ to show Jesus’ determination to complete His mission.
This raises the question: How determined am I to complete my mission?
1 Kings 13 shares an account of a prophet from the divided kingdom of Judah approaching the King of Israel regarding false worship being practiced in Bethel. The interaction is fascinating as we see God’s wrath and mercy towards King Jeroboam and God’s abhorrence of the altar at Bethel. The Holy Spirit gives us insight into multiple missions here: King Jeroboam, an old prophet, and the prophet from Judah.
Jeroboam: God gave him a mission and a kingdom. He quickly abdicates his mission in pursuit of his kingdom ( 1 Kings 12:25-33).
The old prophet is living in Bethel. This indicates he forsook his mission long ago otherwise he would have been in an uproar regarding the altar at Bethel. Proof of this is given as we are told he lied to the prophet of Judah; contradicting specifically what God told him and lured him back to Bethel. Motivation is revealed as he later calls him “brother.” His intent to draw the other prophet away from his mission was accomplished.
The prophet from Judah is called a man of God. He heard the Word of the LORD and boldly went before Jeroboam. He saw God’s power of protection as Jeroboam’s hand shriveled when he stretched it out against him. He witnessed God’s immediate destruction of the altar. All that God told him occurred. However in his mission God gave him some guidelines. He was not permitted to eat bread or drink water in that place. No fellowship allowed. This prophet stays strong and refuses Jeroboam’s offer of hospitality, but then the old prophet comes to him. He overrides what the LORD said, telling the prophet an angel spoke to him. The prophet of Judah aborts his mission and returns to Bethel. Why, Oh Why? Death and his destroyed testimony result: After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way…
The prophet from Judah when presented with a conflicting directive abandoned what he heard from the LORD and followed another’s instruction. How could he have doubted God’s words so easily? How do we preserve the integrity of our mission against similar attacks?
The Psalmist offers: How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word. With my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from Your commandments! I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You. (Ps 119:9-11)
In ‘Setting Our Face’ we must know His word to stay on mission.
One amazing way to know His word is to memorize scripture. Some of you are shaking your heads yes, others have already comprised a plethora of “valid” reasons why this is impossible. To these I say: All things are possible WITH God… Mark 10:27b. When I first began memorizing scripture, I chose Psalm 16. It’s 11 verses. I wrote 2 verses on a note card and carried it with me, adding another verse every few days. I recited it to my family often to have them check my accuracy and hold me accountable. Besides the abundant blessings I discovered in this discipline, a side benefit was that my family got to hear it over and over again!
Jesus reveals the difference between the one who knows His words and the prophet from Judah when He says,
“My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” Jn 10:27-28
The Word will guide and protect us as we Set Our Face.