Christianity 201

June 27, 2013

Truth: The Alternative to Telling People What They Want To Hear

Christianity 201 is the devotional blog that I write and edit, but Daily Encouragement by Steven and Brooksyne Weber is the devotional blog that I read.  The story in Monday’s edition was familiar to me, but I had not looked at it in a long time. Be sure to read C201 posts at source, your traffic is an encouragement to the creators of these ministry sites. This one appeared under the title Hating the Voice of Truth.

Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not yet a prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of him?” 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” (1 Kings 22:6-8).

“There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth” (Amos 5:10). 

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16,17).

Brooksyne picked up a little paperback book the other day that’s interesting to randomly peruse. It’s titled, “The Book Of Bible Names – Fast facts on all 2,026 people named in Scripture”. It’s interesting see all the names of real people I have read about at some point but in many cases have given little thought as to the origin of their names. Many of course are obscure with no biographical info about them at all, such as those in lists. But the book has an interesting way of summarizing in a few sentences the notable aspects when there is information about the person in Scripture. I expect these will be a springboard for some future study and daily encouragement messages.

When we think of prophets in the Bible we likely first consider those who have Bible books named after them such Isaiah and Jeremiah. But there were other great prophets such as Elijah, Elisha and Nathan.

One of the lesser known prophets is Micaiah (we pronounce his name like Isaiah since its spelling is very similar). His story is told in parallel accounts in 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 18. He was a prophet to the apostate Northern Kingdom and was known for telling it like it is. People like Micaiah are rarely popular but their boldness is needed for each generation! Their words and actions may not be just for their time but may also affect the following generations and he present age as well.

The Book Of Bible Names sums up his life with these words: “Prophet whom King Ahab of Israel hated because he never prophesied anything good to him. When King Jehoshaphat asked Ahab for a prophet who would tell the truth, Ahab called for Micaiah.” I was especially intrigued by the phrase, “a prophet who would tell the truth.”

The background: Jehoshaphat, king of the southern Kingdom (Judah) and Ahab, king of the northern kingdom had entered into an ungodly alliance and were preparing for an attack against their enemy, the Aramites. Jehoshaphat had agreed to proceed but then remembered that he should seek the will of the Lord. His “Charge Ahead” attitude got ahead of Moses’ command, “Listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him” (Deuteronomy 30:20b)!

So he asked Ahab, “Please inquire first for the word of the Lord” (22:5). King Ahab got together four hundred “prophets” that assured them of victory in battle. “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king” (22:6). News of victory surely was a “sign” that God was in this but Jehoshaphat, on the face of such news, detected that these were false prophets. Exercising discernment he asked, “Is there not yet a prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of him?” (22:7). For Jehoshaphat the unfettered truth was more important than false assurance.

Indeed there was a prophet of the Lord but Ahab did not want to consult him! It seems even Ahab had some discernment but tried to ignore it, hoping to get his way.

His response is like many who don’t want to hear what God says. Instead he had gathered around him those whom he knew would say what he wanted to hear. The apostle Paul in the New Testament warned: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).  I think we live in such a time!

In regard to Jehoshaphat’s appeal for a true prophet of the Lord Ahab probably spoke just above a whisper through clenched teeth when he finally revealed, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord”.  I think in his heart even Ahab realized this was a real prophet. Surely his eyes were full of deadly venom as he went on to confess, “but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

So Micaiah was called and pressured by the messenger to give a prophetic word agreeable to the other 400.  He told Micaiah, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king.  Be sure that you agree with them and promise success.”

But Micaiah didn’t succumb to the messenger’s ungodly counsel. He surely reasoned that kings on earth do not have the same authority as the King of heaven. His response, although obscure, is one of the greatest statements of faith and acts of obedience in the Bible, “As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what my God says.” *

The application: Today we need to take some lessons from Micaiah. He didn’t go along with the crowd just to accommodate others’ ideology, even though they represented the “experts” of their time.  Our counsel and lifestyle must reflect the principles set forth in Holy Scripture, not the ever changing values and evolving definitions presented in our present society.

Like many today Ahab hated the voice of truth but that did not keep Micaiah from boldly speaking out. May God raise up men and women today who will speak the truth to our world. We want to be two of them. Won’t you join us?

The post title reminded me of a song which Steven and Brooksyne had already linked to. Posts at Daily Encouragement include photos, suggested music and stories of their chaplaincy ministry. Here’s the song Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns.

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