Dinosaurs in Crisis: The Exoprimal Bait and Switch (1 Kings 22)

Dino Crisis fans, it looks like our looooooong wait is finally over and Capcom is finally giving us the sequel we have been asking for… wait. WAIT. Ummmm… that’s not a new Dino Crisis. What is this… EXOPRIMAL? What is an Exoprimal? Or to quote Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy, WHY is an Exoprimal? How is it that Capcom finally pulled the lever marked “make a dinosaur video game” and something other than a new Dino Crisis is being made? It kind of feels like a cruel bait and switch, as I along with my fellow long-suffering fans of Dino Crisis kind of feel a bit misled. I know that it is unfair to think that every dinosaur-based video game has to be a new Dino Crisis, but COME ON. This is from Capcom, the studio behind the Dino Crisis games, it has random dinosaurs appearing for no real good reason, it features a red-headed protagonist with a hair cut that bears at least a little resemblance to the main character from Dino Crisis… there is even a former producer from Dino Crisis on the Exoprimal team. I can’t help but feel that this new game is willing to give me a few of the pieces of what I am looking for from a Dino Crisis sequel/reboot… but just enough to remind me that what I was really asking for isn’t happening. If anything, it may have actually moved farther away because it seems unlikely that a studio that hasn’t made ANY futuristic dinosaur games in a long time is going to suddenly make TWO.

I don’t intend to throw Capcom completely under the bus here… it is possible that the company was truly unaware of the gaming public’s interest in a new entry in the Dino Crisis series. Or perhaps the developers believed that this new “Exoprimal” game is close enough to the source material that gamers would accept it in the place of the game that we really wanted. In time, perhaps we will. But either way, this game is NOT the Dino Crisis we have been asking and waiting for. It may look a little like it, have some elements in common with it, and even be inspired by this iconic franchise. But what we asked Capcom for is clearly not being created, leaving me to wonder if our requests were simply lost in translation, misinterpreted, or something far worse… they are being answered in a way that is designed to intentionally misdirect us to accept a counterfeit answer. The truth is that our desire to have the Dino Crisis game that we have been asking for may have been heard by ears OTHER than those who have an interest in making that specific game… and now they are taking that request and designing something close enough to satisfy us. If we squint hard enough, we may even be able to trick ourselves into thinking it really IS Dino Crisis, simply with a different name. And if Exoprimal turns out to be good enough, we may forget about the Dino Crisis game that we were originally asking for in the first place.

We are more prone to “Dino Crisis” substitutions in our lives than we may care to admit… most of us have prayed to the Lord for some specific requests, but all too often we accept the very first “answer” that comes… a response that may not have come from Him and does not have our best interests at heart. We pray about a specific path in life, a relationship, a job, or a large decision… but in our desire to move towards the response that we would prefer, we take the FIRST one that comes along or the one that sounds close enough to feel right. Most of my largest missteps in life came from what I thought was the result of me “mishearing” God… but it turns out that I never misheard anything. I heard something VERY clearly… only it wasn’t the Lord providing me with an answer. It was a counterfeit response that tapped into what I WANTED to hear and WHEN I wanted to hear it, instead of listening for what God was truly saying to me. And if the idea that our prayers can be intercepted and answered in a way that leads us down the wrong path ruffles your theology a little bit, you may want to buckle up. We are heading into the deep waters today…

1 Kings 22:1-8 Now three years passed without war between Syria and Israel. Then it came to pass, in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went down to visit the king of Israel (Ahab). And the king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you know that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, but we hesitate to take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?” So he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight at Ramoth Gilead?” Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Please inquire for the word of the Lord today.” Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to fight, or shall I refrain?” So they said, “Go up, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?” So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say such things!”

The quick and simple backdrop to this story is that this occurs many years after Israel had been split into two separate countries, both of which operated independently of each other with their own separate kings and armies. Jehoshaphat was a God-fearing king serving the tribes of Judah, while Ahab was a wicked, idol-worshiping king leading the tribes that made up the country of Israel. At this time there was a truce between the two kingdoms, and Ahab was angling to use Jehoshaphat and his military to help Ahab in his conquest of some land that Syria had taken from Israel. Jehoshaphat made the sensible call to seek the guidance and blessing of God on such a dangerous endeavor, and Ahab obliged by gathering FOUR HUNDRED of his “false prophets” to bless this undertaking and satisfy Jehoshaphat’s concerns. Fortunately, Jehoshaphat was not convinced and asked for a less biased answer. To Ahab’s credit, he knew where to find one… but Ahab wasn’t overly fond of the answers he would receive because they were never what he wanted. But Jehoshaphat persisted and the prophet with the unpopular answers was invited to the party…

1 Kings 22:15-23 Then he came to the king; and the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall we refrain?” And he answered him, “Go and prosper, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king!” So the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” Then he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace.’ ” And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The Lord said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the Lord said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’ Therefore look! The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the Lord has declared disaster against you.”

Ahab had received the immediate and favorable answer he wanted from his false prophets, but Micaiah had a much more somber and troubling message… and he did more than just predict the disaster that would shortly unfold. Micaiah pulled back the curtain to explain how and why Ahab was getting such a conflicting message. The truth is that Ahab knew exactly where to find the RIGHT answer from the Lord, but he had made the decision to surround himself with counterfeit forms of validation instead… and if I am being honest with myself, I have done the same thing. I have pulled verses out of context to support what I wanted to hear and convince myself that the Lord would bless the things that I was already intending to do. Like Ahab, I told my well-meaning friends and family members JUST ENOUGH of the story to get them to see my perspective and support my thought processes as well. Just as Ahab has done here, I created enough false validation systems in my life that I was actually able to blind myself to the truth that I did not want to accept… that I was only deceiving myself and setting God up to take the blame for my inevitable failure.

I have to keep it painfully real here… for myself as much as anyone else. Almost every major setback I have experienced in my life has one root cause issue at its’ heart… ME. Sure, there are many storms I have faced that were the result of enemy attacks or the natural trials and tribulations that we all experience in life… but if I am willing to be fully honest with myself, I have been the “Ahab” in many of these stories. I have accepted the first “answer to prayer” that I received because it was the one that I wanted… but it wasn’t an answer from the Lord. It was an answer from my flesh, or perhaps an answer from a source other than from the Father. I KNOW this is a troubling subject… believe me, I know. But one of the most challenging selection of verses in the Bible doubles down on this exact and uncomfortable truth…

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason, God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Here is the painful reality that I have had to accept… many times I am the villain of my own story. I am trying to figure out who sabotaged my life only to pull off the mask and realize I was opening myself up to deception the whole time. I walked outside of the Lord’s will for my life, ignored His direction that didn’t align with what I wanted to hear, and then once I walked far enough away from His sheltering arms, I would raise my hands to the heavens and ask why I am out here all alone in the pouring rain. I believed the lies because deep down inside I WANTED to… they told me what I wanted to hear. Just as James pointed out in his epistle, God does not tempt us… it is our own desire for that “Dino Crisis” that we have been waiting for that can easily result in settling for the “Exoprimal” choice that is currently being offered to us.

James 1:13-16 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

Our Father only has good gifts for His children (Matthew 7:7-11), but these gifts may not always be the ones we had in mind. His answer to our prayers requires physical patience and spiritual discernment, as they may not always be the first responses that arrive (1 Kings 19:11-12). The Lord is not a rewarder of those who casually seek Him so we can validate our specifically requested answers to our prayers… Ahab found this out the hard way. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6) and are authentically seeking guidance on how we can please and serve Him (James 1:5), not those who seek to use His power to gratify ourselves and our personal desires (James 4:3). In each of the “Dino Crisis” conundrums that we find ourselves dealing with in life, we have to make a choice. Do we accept an “Exoprimal” substitute because it is “close enough”? Just because there are a LOT of similarities between the two doesn’t mean that they have anything to do with each other… and perhaps we have already received the answer to our Dino Crisis question, and it simply isn’t the response we wanted. Maybe it just isn’t going to happen, and that could be for the best.

The Lord has only the BEST in mind for each of us… and falling in love with what we would PREFER for Him to do instead of what He actually intends to do has been a problem ever since Christ came as the Messiah we needed, but not the Messiah we wanted. It can be easy to mistake what we think God is telling us with what we WANT to hear if we surround ourselves with the wrong influences and listen to the wrong voices… if we are determined to get the wrong answer to the question it will find a way to be presented to us. It is only by surrendering ourselves to the will of Christ, taking the entirety of the Lord’s Word in context, and being willing to submit to His potentially undesired answer that we, along with Jesus, can truly say, “Not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

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