Where is Micaiah?

Scripture: 1 Kings 22:1-53, 2 Chronicles 18:1-34
Date: 10/20/2007 
This sermon deals with the story of Jehoshaphat making an alliance with Ahab and calling in Micaiah the prophet for advice.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”--2 Timothy 4:2-4

Morning. It’s good to see each of you here and if you have not been welcomed if you’re a visitor we want to welcome you. We’ll even welcome you if you’re a member. I’m glad you’re here and we hope you come back, and that goes for everybody. We’re thankful for this opportunity to come together and to direct our attention right now to the word of God. I solicit your prayers because sometimes there is a subject in the Bible that I feel impressed to talk about and I wonder whether I’m up to the occasion. This subject is so important that I do hope you’ll pray for me as I speak that I can do it justice and the Lord will be able to say what He wants to say through imperfect vehicles.

The message this morning I’ve titled “Where is Micaiah?” Where is Micaiah? It’s based upon a couple of passages in the Bible that you’ll find it’s one of these examples where the story can be found in two places. One is 1 Kings chapter 22. That’s the last chapter in 1 Kings. The other place you’re going to find the story we’re talking about this morning is 2 Chronicles 18, and in both places the entire chapter pretty much is the theme for our story.

Now I’d like to start with an amazing fact. You ever heard someone use the expression before “They had a bullet with their name on it”? During World War II it was not uncommon for people to write names on their bombs. They might write the name of Adolph Hitler. During the Gulf War they wrote Saddam Hussein on the bombs when they came from the Air Force factories or the warehouses where they were loaded up, and they had bombs with people’s names on them. You know soldiers do that.

There is a very interesting story about a young man who found a bomb with his father’s name on it. Back during World War II there were a couple of American G.I.’s in Australia and they were riding a patrol that happened to be down a long dirt airstrip out in the outback somewhere, and Japanese planes suddenly were heard approaching to bomb the airstrip. Well the G.I.’s knew there was nowhere to drive the jeep off the road in time so they parked it real quick, jumped out of the jeep, dove into the ditches on the side of the airfield just in time. They could hear the bombs whistling down and among the many bombs that hit the airstrip, one made a direct hit on the jeep that they had just been driving in. Pretty soon the Japanese planes hummed off in the distance and left. The soldiers crawled out of the ditch and they could see the smoldering ruins of their jeep that had suffered this direct hit of one of the bombs, and as they were picking through the rubble right in the vinyl seat they saw a large piece of shrapnel and one of the soldiers as it cooled off he pulled out this piece of shrapnel that struck the seat where he was sitting and he noticed there was something engraved on the shrapnel. It was the name Ray Ewing. Ray Ewing.

Well, this really got his attention because this young man was Curtis Ewing and his father’s name was Ray Ewing. He tried to figure out how in the world did somebody with the same name as my father get his name etched on a piece of shrapnel here in Australia. They put two and two together and they realized that back just before World War II his father had sold an old Plymouth that he had. He had etched his name on a piece of the engine oil lid or something underneath the hood. That was then sold to scrap which much of it went to Japan before the war and somehow that piece of shrapnel, that piece of scrap iron was put as ballast in this bomb. The reason that bomb could not hurt him was because it had the love of his father’s name written on it. At least that’s the spin I’m putting on the story. However you want to spin it, that’s fine with me, but that’s a pretty amazing fact. Well, before our story is over today, you’re going to find out that there was another missile with someone’s name on it. Just park that and we’ll get there.

Turn with me to our passage in 1 Kings 22. A very important piece of biblical history. For most of the time the northern kingdom, the ten tribes and the southern kingdom of Judah were at war, but eventually there was a delicate peace that was forged between the northern kingdom then ruled by Ahab (That name sound familiar?) and the southern kingdom then ruled by a good king called Jehoshaphat sometimes confused as jumping Jehoshaphat. Nowhere does it say he jumped, but that’s the man. It turns out that Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter Athaliah married the son of Jehoshaphat and so they thought, “Well, since we’re kin, we probably need to stop warring together.”

Now it was during this time, it tells us, that Jehoshaphat went down to Samaria to visit Ahab. It says in verse 2 of chapter 22, “it came to pass, in the third year,” this was the third year of this tenuous peace that they had. It may also be the third year after the marriage of Joram with Athaliah. “Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went down to visit the king of Israel.” Israel was now deeply involved in idolatry. You remember Elijah with the prophets of Baal? That happened just before this event. “And the king of Israel said to his servants, ‘Do you know that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, but we hesitate to take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?’ So he said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Will you go with me to fight at Ramoth Gilead?’” against the Syrians? Now Ramoth Gilead was one of the cities of refuge. It used to be part of the territory of Israel. It had been captured by the Syrians. Ahab was very upset about this and he said the Syrians have had this city that is part of our territory. We need to fight and get it back. They were constantly at war with each other.

Matter of fact, if you read the headlines they’re still at war today, Israel and Syria. He said to Jehoshaphat, Look, this used to be part of the twelve tribes; why don’t you join me in this battle. The Syrians are common enemies. Jehoshaphat, he’s now at this visit with Ahab. He’s surrounded by Ahab’s court, and he wants to sound generous and he says, “I will go.” He says, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” We’re with you. And then he started reflecting, and he said, well, we want to make sure the Lord is behind this. He gets into trouble.

Now you know the reason he gets into trouble, Jehoshaphat nearly gets killed before the story is over, is because he got into a compromising alliance. He got himself into a compromising alliance. The Bible tells us that we should not be friends of God’s enemies. Jesus said, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” and again the Bible tells us, “Do not be unequally yoked.” Christians sometimes go into business partnerships with unbelievers, and you’re going to find yourself in a compromising situation when that happens.

Ahab was worshipping Baal. The prophets of Ahab were worshipping Ashtoreth and different pagan gods and here Jehoshaphat had the priests, the Levites, they were worshipping Jehovah. He said this is going to be a problem. So for him to say we’re going to go to war together that was a mistake. He realized that maybe this didn’t feel right and so he said let’s pray about this, let’s inquire of the Lord. That’s always a good principal. Before you’re going to make any big decision, inquire of the Lord. Before you’re going to go to battle, so often we just run off to war and we don’t say is this really what God wants us to do? Pray about it. So he says let’s consult with the Lord and let’s pray.

So Ahab says hey, no problem. We’ve got priests here we’ve hired. They’re on the payroll. Let’s put them to use. Now let me remind you about the difference between the priests in Judea and the priests in the northern kingdom of Israel. In Judea the priests were the Levites, the sons of Levi or they were the sons of Aaron, they worshipped in the temple, they went by the word of God, and they did not pray to idols. In the northern kingdom they had turned to idolatry. As soon as the northern kingdom separated during the time of Jeroboam, he set up these golden calves and they began to worship the calves and pray to them, and then by the time of Ahab they were praying to Baal, they were praying to Ashtoreth, they were praying to all of the pagan gods that Jezebel was setting up.

You remember when Elijah had the showdown on Mt. Carmel between him and four hundred prophets of Baal and four hundred fifty prophets of Ashtoreth and there was this big showdown? This has just happened. Evidently there were still some false prophets left. So Ahab says, “No problem. I’ll call in my prophets.” In verse six, “the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men…” In the ten tribes they had about forty assigned per tribe. “…and said to them, ‘Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to fight, or shall I refrain?’” Well, you know, prophets don’t like to give bad news when they’re on the payroll. They want to tell the king what he wants to hear. Everybody heard Ahab say, “We ought to get Ramoth Gilead back! That’s ours. I want it back!” So they didn’t want to tell the king something they didn’t want to hear. So they preached something pleasing to him. And they said to the king, “Go and prosper. Go up, for the Lord will deliver it into your hand.”

Well, we don’t know where they got their information, but it wasn’t from the Lord; they didn’t serve the Lord. Jehoshaphat noticed something was wrong. He saw all of the fanfare, the way the prophets were carrying on and he realized these are not prophets of Jehovah. They don’t act like that. Do you remember how the prophets of Baal act? They danced on the mountain. They cut themselves with lances, they carried on, they beat the drums, and they put on this big ceremony. They said, “Go and prosper.” He said, “This doesn’t look right. This is not how they worship Jehovah. These are not prophets of Jehovah. I can’t be getting my message from these prophets of Baal or these prophets of Ashtoreth.” We don’t know who they were exactly because Elijah, we thought, had eradicated most of the prophets of Baal. It didn’t take long for new ones to come in, but they were all of Ahab’s false prophets. Jezebel probably sent out resumes. As soon as Elijah had killed all of the prophets she began to hire a whole flock of other prophets. “And Jehoshaphat said,” notice this, verse seven, I’m in 1 Kings 22:7, “Is there not still a prophet of the Lord” and the word Lord there, he means of Jehovah, “that we may inquire of Him?” I mean, you know, just out of respect for me, you know that I worship Jehovah. The temple is still in Jerusalem. Not to say anything unkind about your prophets, but I’d really like to have Jehovah’s word on this. Don’t you have any prophets of Jehovah left in Samaria?

Listen to Ahab’s response. “…the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one man…’” How sad that Israel had come to the place where there was only one man left. When it came to false prophets how many were there? At least four hundred. When it came to true prophets there was only one left. You know that statement when I read it gives me goose-bumps. There is still one man. How did the church get to the place where they could have four hundred false prophets that would tell the people what they were itching to hear and only one true prophet?

That’s not the first time that it’s happened. You remember Nebuchadnezzar brought in all of his wise men and counselors and none of them could interpret what the dream meant, but there was still a man and they called for Daniel. The pharaoh brought in all of his wise men and counselors to help him understand his prophetic dream. He couldn’t find anybody then all of a sudden the butler remembered. He says, “You know, there is a man left that does understand dreams.” And they sent for Joseph. Through history it seems like the majority often goes with conventional wisdom and false prophecy, but God still has His people out there that will tell the truth. Now he had all of these false prophets lined up that were saying, “Go and prosper.” But Jehoshaphat said, “You know, this just doesn’t sound right. It doesn’t feel right. They’re not worshipping their god the way we worship Jehovah,” but they were doing it in the name of Jehovah.

Has the church come to the same place today as back in those days? You’ve got a lot of people who are telling the kings what they’re itching to hear, telling the people. This was sort of like a military war party. I could see it now. All of them began to beat the drum and say, “Go and prosper! Go and prosper! Prosper! Prosper! Go and prosper!” And they carried on and they called it a praise song. It just didn’t sound like what Jehoshaphat was used to hearing in the temple back in Jerusalem, and he said, “Can we bring a prophet of the Lord?” It’s interesting, Ahab knew there was still a prophet of the Lord, but he said, “You know, he’s a party pooper. There is one man left, but I really don’t want to call him.”

Now I want you to make sure you’ve got a picture of what’s going on here. It says in verse ten, “The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, having put on their robes, sat each on his throne…” They set up a throne for Jehoshaphat and of course Ahab had his throne, and here they are at this great threshing floor. Those were great big flat areas where they would thresh the wheat and it was not being used for wheat then because it’s spring. Big “threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them.” The military is there and all of the courtiers in their regalia and it is a very impressive scene. Two kings of Israel finally together at last after all of these years of civil war and now they’re going to show their unity because they’re going to fight together the same battle, but it’s not what God wanted. So everyone could get caught up in the scene and as the musicians played and the prophets prophesied Jehoshaphat is squirming. He says, “Maybe I shouldn’t have come. This just doesn’t feel right. Am I getting roped into something I shouldn’t be involved in?” He had just made this vow, “My horses are like your horses, my chariots like your chariots, my men are like your men. We’re going to be with you in the war.” Why would the king of Jerusalem and Judah want to hand over his soldiers to a king that’s married to Jezebel? That wouldn’t seem like a safe thing to do. Why would you want to put your forces at the disposal of someone that had been rebuked by Elijah for his wickedness?

He got caught up in what was politically correct. I can’t think of any better way to say it. This was an example of a king of the Lord getting caught up in what was politically correct. This is how politicians fall. He says, “Isn’t there a prophet of the Lord left?” And the king says, “There is still one man,” his name is “Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord…”

Now I want to just pause there for a moment. When he talks about Micaiah, the name Micaiah means “who is like Jehovah”. It’s similar to the name Micah or Michael. It means who is like God, who is like Jehovah and he is the son of Imlah. Imlah means full. Basically his name means who is like Jehovah and he is full of the Holy Spirit. Now how many have heard of Elijah before?

How many of you have heard of Elisha? Heard of John the Baptist? Isaiah, Jeremiah, Moses, Daniel? How many people really know about Micaiah? You know one reason you don’t know much about Micaiah is because every time he told the truth Ahab would throw him in jail. That’s probably where he spent a good time of his prophetic ministry. But even after he got out of jail he still was going to tell the truth. Now talk about an introduction. If you were going to be brought out to be the after dinner speaker. He says, There is one prophet left. His name is “Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of” Jehovah; “but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” I don’t like him one bit! He never says anything good about me. I suppose he could have said the same thing about Elijah, right? Do you remember what Ahab said about Elijah? “Have you found me, O my enemy?” Why was he the enemy? Because Elijah told him the truth.

You know that reminds me of Galatians 4:16, Paul says to the church, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” Truth is usually the enemy of the world. Jesus said in Matthew 24, “You will be hated of all nations for My names sake.” If you tell the truth, if you preach the truth, if you live the truth, you’re going to be hated and the world will look upon you as their enemy. Matter of fact, the Bible tells us whoever is the friend of the world is the enemy of God. Don’t try to be popular with the world. That’s not very good because Jesus said, “Woe unto you when all men speak well of you for so they did of the false prophets.” True prophets are almost never popular. If you’re living the truth and if you’re speaking the truth you can’t do that and then also run for a popularity contest. But we’re living in the days where instead of preachers reading the word of God, they’re reading how to make friends and influence people. Instead of the pulpit being a place where the truth is proclaimed it’s becoming a sounding board where people can hear what they want to hear echoed back at them. That doesn’t save people. “Woe unto you when all men speak well of you…” Somebody said one time, “I don’t judge a man by the friends he keeps; I judge him by his enemies.” It’s actually a compliment when Ahab says he’s your enemy. Would you want to be a friend of Goliath or the enemy of Goliath? Not only should you choose your friends very well, but choose your enemies well. You know what I mean by that?

Friendship with the world is enmity with God; you can’t serve both. So if you want everybody to love you, and I’ll be the first to admit I like to be liked, and I think if you’re honest you would say you like to be liked too, but you can’t be liked by everybody in this world if you’re living for truth. If you stand up for truth, some are going to count you their enemy and you just got to get used to it. You can’t make everybody happy. I’d go crazy if I tried to please everybody.

Now I get a lot of mail and I get a lot of very nice mail. People say kind things, encouraging things, and I really do appreciate that. I can’t keep up with it all. I do my best to try to respond as much as I can. But not all of my mail is nice. Some of the mail is criticism. I try to read that, matter of fact, I value that in some ways even more. You know you stand at the door after church and people, they want to be courteous, they thank you very much, “good sermon” and what else are you supposed to say? So I appreciate that, but when someone comes to me at the door and they say, “Pastor, you made a mistake.” That gets my attention. Sometimes there’s a critique and I appreciate that. Sometimes they’re wrong and I say, “Well, thank you very much.” But I just don’t agree with them. Sometimes they’re right, and I have to store that and try and process it. But you can’t live where you’re a slave to everybody’s likes and dislikes. You’ve got to make up your mind what truth is and follow the truth and just realize you’re not going to be popular with everybody.

Micaiah made up his mind he was going to live for the Lord. You’ve got to pick your enemies very well. I hate him because he never prophesies good concerning me. Why didn’t he prophesy good concerning Ahab? Because Ahab was bad. You can’t prophesy good concerning a bad king. Evidently he had been put in jail more than once for that. You know it was too bad that Ahab thought of Micaiah as his enemy because Micaiah was the best friend that Ahab had because if Ahab had listened to Micaiah his whole reign would have been different. It’s your friends that tell you the truth even when the truth hurts. Isn’t that right? It’s like, if you’ve got a friend and they’re getting ready to get in their car and they’ve been drinking and you don’t say anything, you’re not their friend. You want to keep your friends from destroying themselves. Do you know what I’m saying? Friends do tell you when they’re doing wrong. Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

Back to our story. So Ahab is complaining to Jehoshaphat and he says I hate him. He never says anything good concerning me, but only evil. Jehoshaphat said, “Don’t let the king say that. Aw, come on. Give him a chance.” “So the king of Israel called an officer and said, ‘Bring Micaiah the son of Imlah quickly.’”

Now we don’t know if he was just living in Samaria or they knew where to find him because he was still in jail. The Bible is not clear on that, but they knew where to find him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat they’re on their thrones and in the meantime while they’re waiting to fetch Micaiah this is turning into quite a pep rally. All of the prophets are saying, “Go and prosper! God is going to give you victory over the Syrians.” One of the false prophets, his name is Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, he made horns of iron for himself and he said thus, “With these you shall push the Syrians until they’re destroyed in the same way that a bull pushes and gores his enemy.” He made these horns and it was quite a show. He began to push and say, “This is how victorious you’re going to be.” They were all applauding and hooting and saying, “Amen. This is wonderful.”

It all sounded good, but that service that they had that day was imbedded in a lie. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got four hundred people saying something. It doesn’t make a lie the truth. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got ten thousand denominations that say something and they all agree and they have a meeting and they vote it, if it’s different from the word of the Lord, it doesn’t make it true. A lie is a lie no matter how you cloak it. But the truth is not always popular. People want smooth things preached to them.

As they are fetching Micaiah, the messenger brings him and he says, “Look, Micaiah, you’ve got a reputation for being a real party pooper. They’re having a good time there. Everybody is there. The kings are dressed up. The music is great. Folks are excited we’re going to go fight the Syrians. We’re going to win. We’re going to get back Ramoth Gilead. Say something positive. Be positive.”

You know, periodically I have people come to me and they say, “Pastor Doug, we appreciate your preaching, but you’re just a little bit too works oriented. We’d like to hear more grace. You know we have enough problems during the week. When we come to church we need encouragement.” I want to be encouraging and I believe in grace, but I don’t think it should only be grace. If all you do is play one note on the piano all the time then pretty soon, it might be a nice note, it might be a major key, but if that’s the only note you play it doesn’t make music after a while. So many sermons that I hear these days, they are just so insipid. I got that word from Pastor Mike. I’ve been waiting for a chance to use it. And they’re so watered down, and everything is just positive thinking and prosperity preaching and there’s no grist, there’s no fiber in the food. It’s all so hyper-refined all they get is empty calories. Smooth things.

And so this messenger says, “Let your word be like the word of one of them and speak what is good.” It reminds me of Isaiah 30:9, “This is a rebellious people…” By the way, the reason I’m preaching this message is I believe that we’re living in a generation right now that is repeating the history of ancient Israel. God’s people, like Jehoshaphat, he was a good king, southern kingdom, in wanting to be popular are compromising our convictions with the other tribes that used to worship the Lord. We’re wanting to be accepted. We’re wanting to be like them. We’re making alliances. So we’re inquiring of these false prophets.

It reminds me of the time when the king of Israel got sick and he sent his messengers to Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron to find out whether he was going to get well or not, and Elijah interrupted the messengers. He said, “You go back and tell the king of Israel, ‘You’re going to die. Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron to get the truth?”

You know I wonder sometimes at the things I hear in the background noise. It’s like I hear the pastors are consulting political parties to find out what the truth is, or they’re looking and finding out what churches are growing, irrespective of what they believe, and they say, “Let’s go and study under these pastors to find out how we can grow.” And they’re going to Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron to find out how to grow God’s church. We end up getting caught up in their battles. God has given us our mandate. It’s the three angels’ message. Babylon is fallen, come out of her. How can we give the message Babylon has fallen, come out of her if we’re now fraternizing with Babylon? While we’re supposed to be calling people out of Babylon we’re drifting in. “…this is a rebellious people, lying children,” I’m still at Isaiah 30:9, “children who will not hear the law of the Lord; Who say to the seers, (the prophets) ‘Do not see,’ and to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.’”

You know one of the biggest crises that we have in North America right now is obesity. Sorry. Don’t want to be unkind. I’m not picking on anyone in particular because you realize according to the statistics that it’s sixty percent and above, not just adults, children. How’d we get that way? Because we like smooth things. We want an easy life. We want autodial on our phones and remote controls and cruise control and the only muscle we’ve got in our body is our forefinger, our thumb for dialing our PDA’s and because we don’t rough it anymore, we’re killing ourselves. Smooth things.

I heard about, years ago, this missionary was working down in some of the South Pacific islands, and he worked among a noble people there and through his labors the chief who was a wonderful physical specimen, tall, strong, muscular definition, mouth full of pearly white teeth and noble high cheekbones and physique and his whole tribe ended up embracing Christianity. The mission was prospering and so the pastor said, “You know, we need to go on a furlough and I need to bring you back to the states with me because if we go from church to church, we could do fundraising. We could build a new school and we could build churches all over the islands.” And the chief said, “Okay, I’ll go.” So he flew back.

This is a true story. He flew back to North America and of course he could barely get his feet in American shoes. He kept all of his regalia that he wore, you know, the feathers and the dress so that when he’d do a presentation in the church and talk about the mission work. “This is what we used to look like and we were a warlike people and we were cannibals and then Christianity came and now here I am. I’m dressed up in a suit and I can fit my feet in these shoes.” It would really impress people when they saw the transformation that the gospel would make. But in the six months they were on this furlough as they made their circuit across the country with this denomination and visiting their different churches and fundraising for the mission work, very successful but something started happening. The king was eating all this mush that we eat. He was used to breaking coconuts with his teeth and chewing on palm fronds and things. Now all of a sudden he’s just eating all these Twinkies and instead of hiking around the island and working with his people and fishing and rowing, now he’s just sitting in a car and in a bus and sitting in a church. He started getting a little rotund very quickly. Some of his teeth started getting loose on him. His color changed. He began to look kind of hollow and by the time he came back to his people after six months, they barely recognized their king. He was just a shell of the man he used to be.

What nearly killed him was the smooth living that we’re so accustomed to, our idea of success. Well, that same principal applies to theology. If we don’t have enough fiber in our messages it destroys us spiritually. You not only need to hear about the grace, you need to hear about the law. You not only need the promises, you need the warnings. What you need is the whole truth because it’s the truth that sets you free.

Part of my personal entertainment is cruising around the radio stations and the television stations Sunday and listening to the different messages and messengers and you hear some good things, but prevalently it is peace, peace. It is smooth things. It is feel good. It’s how can I have what I want from God now in this life to make me comfortable? How can I feel good about myself and have my esteem bolstered instead of hearing what Jesus said and what John the Baptist said? You know what they said? Repent of your sins. If you do not repent, you will perish. Do not make unholy alliances with the world. Come out. Be separate. Be different. Don’t be conformed, be transformed. Jehoshaphat was beginning to conform. Very dangerous.

So the messenger gets Micaiah, and he says, “Don’t ruin the party. Say good things.” You know what Micaiah’s response was? 1 Kings 22:14, you might underline this, “And Micaiah said, ‘As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, that I will speak.’” I am going to say what the word of God says. He might have gotten taken out of jail in order to give this message, but he still gave the message. I’m going to tell the truth. The truth is not always popular. Lies are pretty popular. Who was it? Mark Twain that said, “A lie can travel half-way around the world while truth is putting on its shoes.” A lie will usually have four hundred prophets where the truth will have only one. If you’re waiting for the day for the truth in God’s truth in God’s church to be popular, to be accepted, God have mercy on us if we ever get to that place because Jesus said, “If they’ve hated Me, they’re going to hate you.”

I’d like to read something from the book called Historical Sketches, page 290. “Where are the soldiers of the cross of Christ? Let the God-fearing, the honest, the single-hearted who look steadfastly to the glory of God prepare themselves for the battle against error. There are too many faint cowardly hearts in this hour of spiritual conflict. Oh, that out of weakness they might be made strong, they might wax valiant in the fight and put to flight the armies of the aliens.” You know Jehoshaphat said, “Is there a prophet of the Lord that we can find out what the Lord wants?” Do you really want to know what the Lord wants? Are we willing to do what He says?

Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, that I will speak.” Verse 15, “Then he came to the king; and the king said to him, ‘Micaiah, (this is Ahab speaking) shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall we refrain?’” Go fight? Don’t fight? Now he saw what was happening when he got there. The floor show was still in full swing. He saw the prophets. He saw Zedekiah running around with his iron horns. He heard everyone shouting, “Go and prosper, go and prosper” as he was approaching the assembly. He saw the kings there with their sequins glittering in the sun, and the band and all of the royal courtiers. I mean, it was a very impressive scene.

Then this one lone man is brought into this pep rally saying, “We’re going to win! We’re going to beat them! We’re going to trounce them!” They said, “What do you want us to do? What’s your message from the Lord?” Talk about pressure. Boy, it takes real courage to be in an environment like that where what you say is going to be just a wet rag on the whole party. So you know what he did? He’s very clever. He used a little bit of humor and sarcasm to show them what they were doing. They weren’t really asking him what the Lord was going to say. They were asking him to say what they wanted him to say. Tell us what we want to hear. Preach smooth things. So you know what he said? “Shall we go up to fight?” And he answered, “Go and prosper, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king!” And he looks around at all of the false prophets, and it’s obvious from the way he said it that there was something wrong, that he didn’t really mean it. He said, “Do you really want me to say the truth or do you want me to just say what you want me to say? Here, let me tell you what you really want me to say. Go and prosper.” There is sarcasm in there.

You know how I know that? King Ahab, next verse, the king says, “How many times shall I make you swear that you tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?'” Boy, of all people to say that, Ahab was the last person that had the right to say that. You know there’s a lot of preachers in other churches that preach lies and they say, “The word of the Lord! We’ve got to go by the word of the Lord!” They say that, but they don’t. They don’t really mean it. And here is Ahab, of all people saying, “You tell me what the word of the Lord is.” What right does he have to say that? But he knew that Micaiah was being sarcastic, didn’t he? Or he wouldn’t have said that. Micaiah said, “Okay, you really want the truth? Do you really want the truth?”

Let me ask you, do you really want the truth? Do you want the truth because you’re curious, or do you want the truth because you want to live it? He said, “Alright, here’s the message from the Lord.” Verse seventeen, “I saw all Israel” that’s the ten tribes “scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace.’” What does that mean? The shepherd, the king, no more king. He’s gone; he died. It’s a very clear message and as soon as he says that Ahab turns to Jehoshaphat and he stomps his foot (I threw that in. It doesn’t say that.) and he said, “Didn’t I tell you that he wouldn’t say anything good concerning me, but only evil? He’s just bad news!” I mean, isn’t the gospel supposed to be good news, what’s all this about judgment? Bad news.

Then Micaiah said, “Look, I’m not done yet.” Micaiah said… and now he tells an allegory to help illustrate what’s going on. “Then Micaiah said, ‘Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left.’” Right and left would mean the truth and falsehood. “And the Lord said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.” Angels or these spirits are up there and they’re making suggestions to the Lord about how can we ensnare Ahab to fall?

By the way, friends, does the Lord need counselors? Trick question. Does God need to learn anything? Does God ever go to school? Does the Lord need counselors to tell him what to do or is this an allegory? I mean, only one of the few times I can think of in the Bible where Jesus asks anybody’s advice was when He for the purpose of teaching a lesson he said to Philip, “Where will we find bread for all this multitude?” But Jesus already knew what He was going to do, didn’t He? He doesn’t need counselors. So this is an allegory to teach a lesson. Who will persuade Ahab to go? One said this, one said that.

Then, verse twenty-one, “Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The Lord said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And He said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’ Now” Micaiah is still speaking, “therefore, look! The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the Lord has declared disaster against you.” You’re going to listen to the majority of the liars instead of the few who are teaching the truth. What’s going to happen in the last days? It says that three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the beast, out of the dragon and the false prophets, and they go forth, false prophets, to the kings of the earth. They’re the majority and they persuade them to go to the battle of Armageddon where who is going to perish? They’re going to perish. This is a repetition, a revelation of what you’re reading here in 1 Kings. He knew he wouldn’t listen.

Oh, by the way, you might be saying, “Pastor Doug, I’m still struggling with that spot where it said the Lord sent a lying spirit. Why would God send a lying spirit?” Again, we’re speaking in allegories here. Only good and truth comes from the Lord, but the Lord withdrew His Spirit from those prophets and He allowed the lying spirits on the left side to go and to persuade Ahab. Is that clear? The Hebrews often spoke in this language believing that God is ultimately sovereign and so He would take credit for everything because God must at least withdraw His power for the devil to do anything. You remember the story of Job? And so Micaiah basically in the presence of all these four hundred prophets, he says, they’re filled with the spirit of the devil. They are filled with a lying spirit. They are not telling the truth. They’re lying. It’s pretty bold to do that. It certainly won’t get you a raise as a prophet on the king’s payroll to say something like that, but there’s a lot out there that are saying, “Lord, Lord,” and they’re doing their own thing.

So Zedekiah, one of the false prophets who had just put on the show, he’s feeling convicted by this and so to resist the conviction it says, “He struck Micaiah on the cheek.” You remember when Jesus stood before the high priest when He was being tried, the soldier standing by when Christ told the truth, He was struck on the face. Jesus said, “Look, if I’m lying, tell me what I’ve said wrong, but if I’m telling the truth, why’d you hit Me?” Why did Zedekiah hit Micaiah? Because Micaiah told the truth.

Then he says sarcastically, Zedekiah says, “Which way did the spirit from the Lord go from me to speak to you?” I’ve got the spirit, Lord. I don’t remember him leaving me to give you any message. And Micaiah said, “Indeed, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide!” You have been so bold in claiming that you’ve got the spirit of the Lord and this is the message of the Lord, and when you are proven wrong, you’re going to go be hiding and quivering not only from embarrassment but because the Syrians are going to sweep across the land. “Then the king of Israel said, ‘Take…’” Now he’s got to make a decision. He’s trying to get the additional forces. You see, Ahab’s got a dilemma. He wants to fight the Syrians, he wants to get Ramoth Gilead back for himself. He can’t do it without the additional forces of Jehoshaphat. Here he’s got four hundred prophets that are saying, “Go and win”, one prophet who says, “I serve Jehovah” that says, “It’s going to be a disaster and Ahab is going to die.” He says, “Look, this is one out of four hundred. What are you going to do, Jehoshaphat?”

Now Jehoshaphat is in a dilemma. And Ahab sends off Micaiah. He says, “He’s crazy. I told you he never says anything good. It’s always bad. Don’t listen to him. Negative, negative, negative. You don’t want to listen to him.” But he was telling the truth. Even though it’s not popular sometimes. Then the king of Israel said put this fellow in prison. “Take Micaiah, and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son; and say, ‘Thus says the king: “Put this fellow in prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and water of affliction, until I come in peace.”’” That’s not a very good sentence. Not only saying bread and water, he’s saying bread of affliction and water of affliction. That means he was probably put in a dingy cell, put in the stocks, given bare survival rations. The king doesn’t want to kill him because there’s always that remote possibility that he’s right.

Did Ahab have that experience before where he’s got like one Elijah who is right and hundreds of prophets that are wrong? So just in case, don’t kill him. Put him in prison. Micaiah is very bold. He says, “If you ever return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me.” And then for all the people to hear, Micaiah says, “Listen to me now, people. You’ve all heard this, people. You’ve heard the truth.”

My question for you is summed up in the sermon title. Where is Micaiah today? Where are the prophets who are telling the truth? They’re talking about sin and salvation. They’re telling us that we shouldn’t be involved in these unholy alliances with unbelievers in the world or even Christians in apostasy, that we shouldn’t be seeking for popularity, but we should be living for Jehovah. Fighting in the wrong battles that are not ours.

You know the devil has got so many diversionary tactics out there, and if everything else fails the devil will try and get us to just waste our time. So verse twenty-nine, “the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead.” What are you doing, Jehoshaphat? You asked for a prophet of the Lord, you got a prophet of the Lord. He said, “Don’t go,” and you’re still going. Evidently he felt the peer pressure, and he said, well, maybe Micaiah is a little negative, and he went against his conscience. Jehoshaphat was a good king, but he shouldn’t have been there. “So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead.” They went to battle anyway. “And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘I will disguise myself and go into battle; but you put on your robes.’” Now I would have been real suspicious.

Why do you think Ahab said that? He said, “You know if I’m dressed up like the king and if the prophecy said the king is going to die, maybe if I’m dressed up like a common soldier and I’ll stay on the outskirts of the battle. I’m not going to go right on the front lines. I am going to play it safe. I am not going to let anything happen to me. If I see them starting to approach me, I’m in my chariot, I’ve got the fastest horses, we’re out of here.” He’s being extremely cautious. He’s thinking he’s going to somehow confound the prophecy of Micaiah. He should have known better after all his experience with Elijah. I’ll disguise myself, and then he tells Jehoshaphat, “You put on your robes.”

Now Ahab might be thinking to himself, “My daughter has married the son of the king of Israel. I could get all of Israel, southern and northern kingdom, all under me if Jehoshaphat dies. You go ahead and put on your crown, Jehoshaphat. You put on your robes. Jehoshaphat was a good man, but he maybe wasn’t very smart this day. He does it! Now little did he know, verse 31, “the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, saying, ‘Fight with no one small or great, but only with the king of Israel.’” That’s Ahab. He especially hated Ahab. He says, “If you can get rid of that king, the people will lose heart. Don’t mess around with all of the forces. Find out where the king is and get him.” Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter. “So it was, when the captains of the chariots” the Syrian chariots in the midst of the intensity of the battle, the captains of the chariots “saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, Surely it is the king of Israel;” they couldn’t tell from a distance. He’s in royal robes therefore “they turned aside to fight against him” and all of a sudden all of these captains are charging and just trying to get Jehoshaphat. He’s totally outnumbered: “and Jehoshaphat cried out.” That may be when he started jumping, jumping Jehoshaphat. He was praying. He prayed earlier about what to do and God said, “Don’t go to battle.” And now he has disobeyed the Lord, he’s gone to battle.

Don’t forget this, sometimes you disobey the Lord, can you still pray that God will get you out of the trouble you’re in because you did the wrong thing? Ah, God is so patient. He could have just withdrawn His protection and said, “I told you not to go.” But God heard his prayer again. He cried out. “And it happened, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.” Maybe when he was praying they realized that’s not Ahab. Ahab doesn’t pray to Jehovah. Turn away! And it happened, when the captains of the chariots saw him, they turned back. Verse 34. This is an amazing story about bomb with your name on it. “Now a certain man drew a bow at random, and struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor.” You can’t miss this. He drew a bow at a chance. That almost sounds like they’re just firing into the air in the general direction of the enemy. He’s not aiming at any specific target. The way it’s worded it makes it sound like this arrow was almost a stray arrow. It’s almost like it was…

You know sometimes they had buzzards beginning to circle the battlefields even before the battle was over. It’s like the arrow ricochets off the beak of a buzzard and God guides that arrow with little wisps of the wind and the configuration of the feathers God guides that arrow. Ahab is on the outskirts of the battle. He’s covered from bow to stern with armor, but he had a little joint in his armor in his side and that arrow managed to find that one spot because it had his name on it. It was an arrow of prophecy and an arrow of judgment.

You can’t escape the word of God. There is nowhere, you could be on the bottom of the ocean; He’s going to find you. He found Jonah out in the middle of the sea. You can run from the word of God. It says he drew his bow and he struck him “between the joints of his armor.” He felt it, “he said to the driver of his chariot, ‘Turn around and take me out of the battle, for I am wounded.’” I’m seriously wounded. “The battle increased that day; and the king was propped up in his chariot…” He thought, “Look, if my soldiers see that I’m down, they’re going to get discouraged.” Ahab was so stubborn. Instead of going and getting medical attention, who knows what would have happened if he had humbled himself. Stubbornly he propped himself up so everyone could see him, and there he was propped up bleeding to death, pierced in the side. That’s interesting to think about. Finally around the setting of the sun he died.

You know, Ahab is really getting what he deserves as a wicked king, but you can’t miss the point that here you’ve got a king that laid aside his royal robes, and he came down and he dressed up like the common soldier and he gets pierced in the side, and he’s propped up and he bleeds to death. Then the war is over when he bleeds to death. In a sense even Ahab is a type of Christ here in that story. I mean, you find all through the Bible even Absalom was when he died suspended between heaven and earth. God’s got these little vignettes there through the Bible. Well that was a guided missile.

You don’t need to be afraid of those arrows of judgment if you’re following God’s word. If you’re listening to Micaiah, you’re safe. Psalm 91:5 says “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor” what? Nor “the arrow that flies by day…” You won’t have to worry about covering up every chink in your armor because if you’re in the middle of God’s will, that is your armor and you’re safe.

But today God is looking for His Micaiahs. Education chapter 57 “The greatest want of the world is the want of men, men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle is to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.”

Did Micaiah go to jail? I’d like to think that after the battle somebody came slinking up the corridors with the keys in his hand and said, “You know, you were right.” I’d like to think that they let him out. It could be that Ahab’s son, just to be vindictive, left him there ‘til he died. Sad truth is, you never hear about him again. One thing I know is, he was willing to die rather than lie. He was willing to die in order to tell the truth. The word of God was so precious to him no matter how popular it was, no matter what it did for him personally, he was going to tell the truth about God’s word.

You know I almost need to add the little caveat at the end here about Jehoshaphat. You remember Jehoshaphat was not supposed to go into this battle. As Jehoshaphat is on his way home, a prophet rebukes him. He’s coming home with his tail between his legs. God told him not to go; shouldn’t be listening to these prophets of Baal. He shouldn’t be fraternizing with Ahab and Jezebel. “And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer” 2 Chronicles 19:2, he went out to meet Jehoshaphat, and he said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you. Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.”

So here you’ve got a king, and God says, I’ve blessed you. There are good things in you, but I’m mad at you. I’m upset with you because you dishonored Me by getting into a confederacy with this apostate kingdom, the kingdom of Israel. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,” and that’s what Jehoshaphat had done.

God has sent us the truth. This is our Micaiah, the word of the Lord. And God is looking for more people like John the Baptist and Elijah and Micaiah in the last days who will stand up for the truth and not wait for it to be popular. Even though we know we’re hated by the world, I want to be a follower of the truth. I want to seek first His kingdom. You’re going to be tested. You think we’re in bad shape now, friends. You just wait. In the last days when the final test comes it’s going to be so deceptive to go with the crowd that if it were possible even the very elect would be deceived. We’ve got to take a stand for the word even though the heavens fall. That’s my desire. I want to be that way, don’t you, friends? Praise the Lord. Our closing hymn is “Be Thou My Vision” and the number, once again, what is it? 547, 547. Let’s turn there, please, “Be Thou My Vision”, and let’s stand together as we sing.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;

Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, Thou mine Inheritance, now and always: Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

Before we sing the last verse… You know I especially chose this hymn. Probably not that long ago we did it, but it fits so well with the message. There’s a lot of prophesies and visions out there people are having, but there’s only one truth. There are not multiple truths. It’s that truth that’s going to set you free. Which king do you want to impress? When Micaiah stood before Jehoshaphat and Ahab with all of their regalia it did not impress him because he lived in the presence of a greater King and he was determined to show his loyalty to that King Jesus who is the truth. I hope that’s your desire, friends, to not only be hearers of the word, but to be doers. Jehoshaphat said, “I want to hear what the word of the Lord said.” But when he heard it, he didn’t listen, did he? I wonder how many people come to church week after week and they say, “I want to hear the word of the Lord,” but they walk out and they really don’t plan on doing anything about it. Do you want to be a hearer of the word only? Are you willing to say, “Lord, I want to be a doer of Your word.” Is that your prayer? Otherwise you might find yourself with the Syrians on your chariot. Amen? Let’s sing the last verse together, then we’ll pray.

High King of Heaven, my victory won, May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Our High King of Heaven, Lord, I pray that our mind’s eye will be fixed upon Thee. There are so many forces in the world that want to impress us to say what is politically correct, and the pressure is going to increase, Lord, to compromise our convictions. Help us be resolved, to keep our eyes on Jesus, to seek to be like Him. I pray that You’ll wake us up and shake us up and help us to come out of this hypnosis of seeking after smooth things that’s really suicide. I pray, Lord, that we will embrace the truth, whatever the cost. Send us more Micaiahs. Then I pray that we’ll be willing to listen. Bless each person. I pray through the Holy Spirit we’ll know how to apply the things we’ve heard today in our lives and may we reflect Jesus as we go from this place. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

God bless you. You may be seated.

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