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In First Kings 21, we find that king Ahab had surrounded himself with prophets of his own choosing. Whether true prophets, or false, these four hundred individuals were charged by Ahab to predict the outcome of an attack on Ramoth Gilead.
It was Ahab’s intent to invade, yet he sought the alliance of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. It was only because of Jehoshaphat’s insistence that such an endevour be with God’s blessing that the prophets were summoned. Their response was unanimous – “Israel will win!”
It is telling in verse 7 that ” . . . Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?” He seems discontent with the verdict of the 400. Look carefully at the wording on verses 6 and 7.
“So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain (verse 6)?”
“Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of (verse 7)?”
Jehoshaphat differentiated the status of the four hundred from one “of the Lord.” When the man of God, Micaiah is called, he is warned to stick to the party line.
“All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably (vs 12 -13).”
Micaiah’s response is telling,
“As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.”
He is then pressed by the king for his verdict. He answers as did the 400. This, allowing for his previous record of pronouncing against Ahab, seems to trouble the king. He presses harder in verse 16,
“The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?”
Now comes the full disclosure the king didn’t want to hear. And there is an indication of the difference between the prophecy of the four hundred, and that of the “prophet of the Lord.” He begins by noting a defeat, not victory for Ahab, then
“Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him. “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it. “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you (vs 19-23).”
God had already cut Ahab and his line off. His own lust for power was still evident in his desire to annex Ramoth Gilead. It is his own folly (as it was in the previous chapter) that was the cause of his own downfall. Here is a man not fit to lead God’s people. Micaiah sees this, and God allows him a greater revelation than the four hundred.
The prophets of Ahab were given their message by a deceiving spirit. They were led astray, by their own man pleasing, and the spirit of falsehood. Micaiah is shown the bigger picture. He sees why the message is given. And he reveals this to the king. Rather than trusting his word, Ahab imprisoned him. For what? For telling the truth.
There has been much comment of the exchange in heaven, recorded above. Let’s look at it briefly. God cannot and does not lie (Numbers 23:19). So we must conclude the “plotting” in heaven is not God’s falsehood.
- God cannot lie.
- God knows all things.
- God allows free will.
- God allows, but does not dictate sin (see Job 1)
Since God doesn’t lie, He is not the author of the lie in chapter 22. Since He knows all things, He did not ask the questions in 22 in order to be informed. There had to be a different purpose for His inquiry. God allows free will so allowed the 400 to follow their own conceits, and Ahab in turn to follow his own destiny brought about by his corruption. God allows the one (a spirit of falsehood) to spread his lies.
Let’s return to the purpose of the questions. Who was privy to the conversation? The multitudes of heaven, God, and Micaiah! The entire exchange informed the “prophet of the Lord” of the deceit of the false spirit, and how it would become manifested. This gave him revelation of truth in the face of falsehood.
God had, as already noted, cut off Ahab (as He had Saul and others). He also had in chapter 21 given Ahab a brief reprieve from destruction, because he had humbled himself, before God. But now he was back to his old ways. His destruction was foreknown of God, as the wages of his sin. Satan, the deceiver, is true to his nature. He is the father of lies, and as such easily manipulates the false four hundred into allowing Ahab to destroy himself. God allows it, He does not cause it.
If Ahab (and his wife) didn’t have greedy spirits, they would not have fallen foul of God. If Ahab had not surrounded himself with “prophets” that tickled his ears, he would not have been led astray. It the four hundred had sought the words of God in a spirit of truth, they would have not been flatterers. If Satan were not a liar, he would not have the desire to cause evil. If Ahab when he heard the actual words of truth from Micaiah had repented of his lust for power, he wouldn’t have entered into a losing battle.
Look at the power of a lie. Yet, revelation, the revealing of truth by God is empowering. Empowering if it is listened too. Jehoshaphat valued words of truth. He wanted to know the will and mind of God.
Are we Ahabs or Jehoshaphats? Do we listen to and readily spread lies like the four hundred? Or do we seek clarity in the truth like Micaiah? Do we seek lies or revelation?