I love a good story, don’t you? I stumbled across a gem recently while studying a reading from the prophet Jeremiah.
As I read in chapter 23, I was reminded of Jesus’ “Woe to you” pronouncements (see Matthew 23) on the religious leaders who were misleading God’s people with their misinterpretations and corruptions of God’s Word.
Though it was certainly not unusual for Jesus to quote Old Testament prophets, I discovered that both he and Jeremiah were alluding to an even earlier prophet.
It seems that at the time when Ahab (think evil husband of even more evil Queen Jezebel) was king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat (he’s not jumping in this story; however, he was one of the few good guys) was king of Judah, these two rulers of adjacent countries decided to band together against a common enemy.
Jehoshaphat asked whether Ahab had checked to make sure that God approved of their planned military excursion. Ahab had consulted with all 400 of his yes-men, and they all said, “Yes! Go for it!”
Jehoshaphat then asked whether there were any other prophets who might be consulted. Ahab said, “Well, there’s one more, but I never like to ask him because he never prophesies anything good for me.”
Nevertheless, Ahab sent for the prophet Micaiah, who was warned by the messenger he had better agree with all the other prophets.
When Micaiah was first questioned by Ahab, he rolled his eyes, stuck his tongue in his cheek (my broad interpretation!) and said, “Sure, go ahead. Of course you’ll win!”
Ahab, greatly rankled by Micaiah’s obvious sarcasm, commanded him to speak God’s truth. So the fearless prophet told of a vision in which Ahab follows the advice of his yes-men and meets with fatal disaster. Read the “rest of the story” in 1 Kings 22, while we consider the moral of the story.
Being an educator and parent, I always look for a life lesson or application in any story or situation. Sad to say, the plight of our Christian church today is not so different from the situation in which God’s people found themselves in the days of the prophets or in Jesus’ time.
Where are the Micaiahs of our day? I hear lots of yes-man, exhorting us to listen to social mores and bow to cultural pressures. It alarms me when leaders of many of our mainline denominations reveal a very secular world view in their pronouncements and lifestyles.
I pray that God will raise up some Micaiahs, men and women of incredible and exclusive integrity, willing to stand for God against the stream of current popular religious confession.
We must proclaim what God says, not just go with the tide or preach that which society and current religious thought would have us do.
God’s Word and will are not hidden and hard to find – they’re right there in black and white in the Bible. Today, as in Ahab’s day, it takes a person like Micaiah – a person of God with integrity – to speak them.
TWYLA TUTEN IS A BIBLE SCHOLAR AND TEACHER AT THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY IN NORTH AUGUSTA.