Man of God
24th April 2015
What is a "man of God"? A good place to start answering that question is to look at the biblical examples. I can find eight people whom the Bible describe as "man of God". We might guess the first five:
These five led such extraordinary lives that we can easily see that they were men of God. Moses was the greatest prophet of the Old Testament. He led God's chosen people out of Egypt, and parted the Red Sea. He was the one through whom God gave the Law. Samuel was the great prophet and judge who led God's people before the days of the monarchy. King David established the Israelite monarchy after the death of Saul, defeated its enemies, extended its borders, brought the Ark of the Covenant home, and greatly developed the ministry of worship to God. He's described as a man after God's own heart in 1 Samuel 13v14 and Acts 13v22. Elijah was also a great prophet. His prayers stopped the rain for three and a half years. He won the great contest against the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, and performed several other miracles. Elisha, too, performed many miracles.
The sixth, seventh and eight men of God are less obvious, however. One is Timothy, to whom Paul wrote:
1 Timothy 6v9-14
Paul described Timothy as a man of God while feeling the need to warn him to resist the temptation of money and to "pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness". To be a man of God is not to be perfect. But we know this already, because Moses and David were murderers. Samuel unwisely appointed his corrupt sons as judges, which led directly to the rejection of theocracy in Israel. David was an adulterer. Elijah seems to have had a breakdown when he laid down in the desert and prayed for death.
Our seventh man of God named in the Bible is Shemaiah:
2 Chronicles 11:2-4
Shemaiah also prophesied in 2 Chronicles 12v5 and is mentioned as having (or writing) a Chronicle in 2 Chronicles 12v15. Why is he described as a man of God and not merely as a prophet? We're not told.
And the remaining man of God is Igdaliah. All we know about him is recorded in this passage:
Shemaiah, and particularly Igdaliah, prove there is no link between being a man of God and being famous. Shemaiah prophesied three times, and his chronicle is mentioned once. Igdaliah did nothing that God chose to record in the Bible. And there are other men of God in the Old Testament who are not even named (1 Samuel 2v27, 1 Kings 13, 2 Chronicles 25v7).
What distinguishes a man of God from a prophet? There are many prophets mentioned in the Bible but only a few are called man of God. Some men of God were prophets but, so far as we know, some of them weren't.
A prophet, I suppose, is someone with a profound gift of prophesying - speaking out a message given by God.
I think a man - or woman - of God is someone who has dedicated his life to God, who has rejected worldly living and worldly thinking, who recognises he's wholly dependent on God, only interested in the will of God, dedicated to the service of God, listening for the word of God.
Some of these people are in the Bible. Most are not. Some are well-known. Most are not. I believe there are many men - and women - of God today like Shemaiah and Igdaliah, who quietly do the will of God, without ever becoming well-known. Some might be recognised by their brothers and sisters in Christ. Some may not. Some may be in your local church.
Thank God for every one of them.