From 2 Chronicles 18-20
Jehoshaphat and Ahab, kings of Judah and Israel hears the prophecies of four hundred prophets. They all give them a message they want to hear. Jehoshaphat wants to hear something something different. They all seem to eager to please the king. In comes Micaiah. He doesn’t care about flattering Ahab or the prophets around him. He shares the word of the LORD and no one likes it. Sometimes God gives us a message we don’t want to hear, but we need to. Hear, all you peoples! Whoever is of God hears the words of God.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
There are not many occasions after the separation of Israel from Judah when the two nations are on good terms and decide to unite against a common foe. In today’s passage Jehoshaphat a good king from Judah and Ahab an evil king of Israel team up.
18 Now Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor, and he made a marriage alliance with Ahab. 2 After some years he went down to Ahab in Samaria. And Ahab killed an abundance of sheep and oxen for him and for the people who were with him, and induced him to go up against Ramoth-gilead. 3 Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” He answered him, “I am as you are, my people as your people. We will be with you in the war.” (2 Chr 18:1–3)
They are on good terms because of a marriage alliance. Marriage is a good way to join two families.
Both kings recognise a common foe in Ramoth-gilead, a city lying in the region of Gilead which had been taken by the Aramaeans.
This is a rare occasion when the people came as one – ‘I am as you are, my people as your people’.
4 And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the LORD.” 5 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall we go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for God will give it into the hand of the king.” 6 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?” 7 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” 8 Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah.” (2 Chr 18:4–8)
Jehoshaphat relies on the LORD. He rightly feels it is appropriate to consult the LORD. Ahab seems to have gathered his own prophets around him. Four hundred in fact, which is an amazing number. The give a favourable message Ahab wants to hear. One that appeals to his ego and pride.
Jehoshaphat does not have a high regard for them or their advice. ‘Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?’
There is one. But Ahab hates him because he never prophesies anything good to him, only evil.
Do you only listen to advisors who tell you what you want to hear?
Ahab didn’t want to listen to him, so he kept him away. Jehoshaphat believes Micaiah will give a more faithful and honest response, so he insists he come also and prophesy.
9 Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes. And they were sitting at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 10 And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.’ ” 11 And all the prophets prophesied so and said, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph. The LORD will give it into the hand of the king.” (2 Chr 18:9–11)
While the kings are sitting on their thrones the prophets before them prance around and give Ahab messages he wants to hear.
They are still waiting for Micaiah to arrive. Along the way the messenger sent to bring him wants to influence what he says.
12 And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” 13 But Micaiah said, “As the LORD lives, what my God says, that I will speak.” (2 Chr 18:12-13)
Sometimes God’s messengers are under pressure to tell the world what it wants to hear, not what God wants to tell them. God’s people need to be bold.
At this point in time, Micaiah won’t have a bar of it. He will speak what the LORD says. Its as simple and difficult as that.
14 And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I refrain?”
And he answered, “Go up and triumph; they will be given into your hand.”
15 But the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?” (2 Chr 18:14–15)
Micaiah none the less seems to change his mind at the last moment and gives a message like the others. Perhaps he was not himself, or appeared unhappy as he said it. Ahab realises he didn’t share what the LORD had told him and rebukes him. It seems Micaiah has answered like this many times before and Ahab has had to pry the truth out of him.
So Micaiah shares the ugly truth. Ahab will die.
16 And 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 home in peace.’ ” 17 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” (2 Chr 18:16-17)
Ahab pursued the truth and got the message he knew he wouldn’t like. He says ‘I told you so’ to Jehoshaphat.
Micaiah has more to say. He condemns the four hundred prophets around him.
18 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. 19 And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab the king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. 20 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘By what means?’ 21 And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ 22 Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these your prophets. The LORD has declared disaster concerning you.” (2 Chr 18:18-22)
The four hundred prophets are all liars. They are being used by the LORD, under the control of a spirit, to give Ahab a false message he will be victorious in battle. They are all lying.
Micaiah seems unconcerned the prophets he accuses of lying are around him listening to his word.
23 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, “Which way did the Spirit of the LORD go from me to speak to you?” 24 And Micaiah said, “Behold, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide yourself.” 25 And the king of Israel said, “Seize Micaiah and take him back to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son, 26 and say, ‘Thus says the king, Put this fellow in prison and feed him with meager rations of bread and water until I return in peace.’ ” 27 And Micaiah said, “If you return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, all you peoples!” (2 Chr 18:23–27)
One of them strikes Micaiah and mocks him. Ahab is infuriated and has Micaiah imprisoned. They drag him out of the room with him standing by the prophecy and him saying ‘Hear all you peoples!’. An almost comical scene.
Ahab rejects Micaiah’s prophecy. He resolves to go into battle in disguise. Despite the precautions Ahab makes he is shot by a ‘random’ arrow and bleeds to death. Micaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled.
This isn’t the only time a prophet gave an unwelcome message. One which people ignored to their peril. Israel and Judah time and time again were warned their sin was angering the LORD and he would punish them. Time and time again they were urged to repent. They didn’t.
The LORD’s prophets are not little boys who call wolf, pretending there is danger when there isn’t. They predicted Israel and Judah would be taken over and that’s what happened.
Sometimes the message we need to hear and respond to is the one we don’t want to hear.
Jesus and the things he taught were not accepted by the rulers of his day. He had many arguments with the Jews during his ministry.
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” (Jn 8:42–47)
We can learn for the poor responses of Ahab and the Jews who rejected Jesus. We need to be able to accept God’s message, whether it is something we want to hear or not.
Whoever is of God hears the words of God.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.