1 Kings 22:1-28
OK, I know that today’s reading is a little longer than you might be used to here, but I really needed to present these verses, because they touch on some really important issues. I couldn’t really summarize the story and do it justice.
First, let’s get the weird/controversial part out of the way, then we can move on to more productive things. What the heck is up with Micaiah’s vision? God sent this—what, deceptive spirit? Evil spirit? Demonic spirit?—to Ahab’s court? Let’s use our God-given common sense and what we know from the rest of God’s word to work through this very obscure story.
• Did this literally happen in God’s court, or is it just a symbolic vision? Did this literally happen up in Heaven? Well, one of my principles in interpreting Scripture is that I take it literally unless I have some very good reason to think otherwise. There are some difficulties in accepting a literal interpretation, but they’re not insurmountable. So therefore, I lean towards a literal understanding, but I want to be charitable towards those who look at it symbolically.
• We need to think very carefully about this. Our Lord is the source of all truth, and our Savior is Truth Incarnate. He never ever ever lies to us, and his officially appointed messengers will never do so--ever. At least, they won't insomuch as they're truly representing him. However, he can and does sometimes use evil spirits, just like he uses evil men, to accomplish his purposes. That doesn’t mean he approves of all that they do. In fact, they might be in the act of sinning while they’re being manipulated in order to fulfill his plan. The ultimate example of this, of course, is the Passion of our Lord.
• Did God send a deceiving spirit to Ahab in order to destroy him? If you interpret the vision literally, then yes. But he also sent Micaiah with the truth. Ahab was not deprived of what he needed to know. He had a true prophet of God standing right in front of him, telling him that if they went forward, he (the king) would die. If Ahab was really interested in the truth instead of hearing what he wanted to hear, he had access to it. The only reason he didn't listen to what the true prophet was saying was because he freely chose to listen to the lying ones, who only echoed what he was planning to do anyway.
So now we come to the main point of today’s reading, at least as it regards our study of the prophets. My friend, listen very carefully. I don't believe that today we have biblical prophets who have the same authority as Isaiah or Amos. However, inasmuch as your preacher on Sunday faithfully teaches God’s word to you, he’s all you need anyway. That’s God’s word to you. If you’re waiting for some special “word from the Lord” besides what’s in the Bible in front of you, you’ve got a long wait ahead.
Why do I bring this up? Because if you can sit in front of a preacher Sunday after Sunday and feel perfectly comfortable doing so, then something’s wrong with either you or him. He’s not like a flight attendant on a plane, offering you a pillow and asking if you’re “comfy.” If nothing that he says ever pricks your conscience, then that’s not good.
That was Ahab’s problem, as if it wasn’t obvious. The whole way that he judged whether a prophet was “good” or not was whether the “prophet” told him what he wanted to hear. Why have a prophet then? I've never quite understood why any leaders ever have “yes men” around them. Besides stroking the leader’s ego, what good are they supposed to do?
But before we point the finger at this foolish king, we need to stop for a moment. There's a little bit of Ahab in all of us, isn't there? Isn't there?
Lord Jesus, I point and laugh at Ahab, but sometimes it’s not funny. When you’re speaking, I need to listen and obey.
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