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.’ (1 Kings 22:19-21, NIV)
I’m always intrigued by how God does things in the prophetic books.
Here, we find YHWH seated in the throne room surrounded by the throngs of heaven and looking for one of them to come up with a plan that will get the king of Israel to enter in a war that will lead to his death. It raises interesting questions for me. The first being, why doesn’t God just strike Ahab down?
Equally interesting to me is that God sends the spirit to deceive the prophets of Israel, but when Micaiah inquires of the Lord, the truth is revealed. God who had a spirit put lies into the mouths of the 400 prophets, would not lie when Micaiah sought out the Lord.
Ahab and Jehoshaphat are aware of the unreliability of the 400 because they seek out Micaiah after hearing the rousing encouragement to go to war with Aram, which would breach a three-year peace. Is it that the 400 are the court-appointed prophets of the king, yes men who exist to approve what the king wants? Are they the successors to the 400 who Elijah faced down in his earlier conflict with Ahab? Such men are useful to a king, but no help when things really matter and truth is required.
The exchange between Ahab and Jehoshaphat before Micaiah is brought forward may shed some light for us. Ahab said he did not want to bring in Micaiah because he only says bad things and never good. Jehoshaphat admonishes Ahab for that attitude, and yet Jehoshaphat does end up going to war with Ahab, even trying to protect his fellow king by trading clothing with him.
It is an interesting and rich story.
It leaves me wondering where the church — specifically the piece of it in which I reside — is seeking to inquire of the Lord and where we are listening to the voices of the prophets that we put in place to tell us what we want to hear. Who are the 400 and who is Micaiah?
Or, as Jesus is our prophet, are we listening carefully to him or turning our backs when he says bad things about us that we do not wish to hear. Are we being Ahab all over again?