“There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth.” (Amos 5:10-NIV)
Have you ever said that about someone who was just trying to help you because you didn’t like what they had to say? Have you ever walked away from someone who truly cared about you only to find out that they were right all along? The people we choose to listen to in our life are vital. There are plenty of voices out there telling us what we want to hear, but how many are we listening to that are telling us what we need to hear?
Ahab, the most evil king in Israel up to his time, was deceived into thinking that he wasn’t doing so wrong. He justified the evil he did and as he made decisions that were against God, he thought he could escape ultimate judgement from his actions through deception. He was the first king to marry a pagan princess and allow altars to pagan gods and heathenistic worship throughout Israel. What Ahab wanted, he got, no matter who he had to destroy (literally) to get it. God kept trying to warn Ahab of what would happen to him if he kept on this road of deception and pride. At one point, Ahab repented, and God stayed His hand of judgement for a time. But there was no heart change in Ahab, and he was prideful enough to let himself be deceived that he still had it all under control.
Elijah the prophet was one that brought warning to Ahab and Ahab called him his enemy.
“So, my enemy, you have found me!” Ahab exclaimed to Elijah. “Yes,” Elijah answered, “I have come because you have sold yourself to what is evil in the Lord’s sight. 1 Kings 21:20 (NLT)
Ahab was listening to the wrong voices, especially his wicked wife, Jezebel.
No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel. 1 Kings 21:25
Ahab surrounded himself with “Yes” people. They were those that would tell him what he wanted to hear. They were those who were afraid to say the truth because they had seen what had happened to others at the hand of Ahab and Jezebel when they dared cross them. They were not looking out for Ahab, they were looking out for themselves. There was one prophet who did fear God more than Ahab and his name was Micaiah. His name in Hebrew means “Who is like Yah?” (Yah is the Hebrew name for God). He was clearly a man after God. When Micaiah comes on the scene in 1 Kings 22, Ahab has seen something else that he wants–the land of Ramoth-Gilead. He tells King Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, that he thinks they should go to war with King Aram and take that land. Jehoshaphat agrees that he is aligned with Ahab if he decides to go through with this but encourages him to go to the Lord for guidance, first. Ahab calls all his “Yes” men (not the Lord) to see what they think, and of course they tell him to trudge ahead and take what he wants. “God will give you the victory,” they say. Jehoshaphat is not convinced and asked Ahab if there is not a prophet of God, realizing that none of these other prophets were leaning on the guidance of the Lord. Ahab tells him that there is one, Micaiah, but he doesn’t want to call on him and says to Jehosophat:
. . . “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.” Jehoshaphat replied, “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say.” (1 Kings 22:8-NLT)
Why did Ahab hate Micaiah? Because, Micaiah told him the truth and Ahab didn’t want to hear the truth. He said Micaiah “always prophesied trouble” for him. But Micaiah wasn’t the reason for the trouble, Ahab’s actions were bringing the judgement of God upon himself. Yet, he hated Micaiah and blamed him. A prideful man (or woman) will always pass the blame for consequences onto someone else rather than realizing what they have done to cause their fate.
When Ahab’s servant went to fetch Micaiah, he made sure to tell him what Ahab wanted to hear and instructed him to say that. So, when Micaiah came before Ahab, he sarcastically says what the servant told him to say. He didn’t do this because he feared Ahab, because he was a man of God and he feared God. He knew that Ahab didn’t want God’s voice on the matter because it would be contrary to his. That’s why he hadn’t called on Micaiah in the first place.
A prideful man (or woman) will always pass the blame for consequences onto someone else rather than realizing what they have done to cause their fate.
Let’s listen in on their meeting:
King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah, dressed in their royal robes, were sitting on thrones at the threshing floor near the gate of Samaria. All of Ahab’s prophets were prophesying there in front of them. One of them, Zedekiah son of Kenaanah, made some iron horns and proclaimed, “This is what the Lord says: With these horns you will gore the Arameans to death!”
All the other prophets agreed. “Yes,” they said, “go up to Ramoth-gilead and be victorious, for the Lord will give the king victory!”
Meanwhile, the messenger who went to get Micaiah said to him, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure that you agree with them and promise success.”
But Micaiah replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, I will say only what the Lord tells me to say.”
When Micaiah arrived before the king, Ahab asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should we hold back?”
Micaiah replied sarcastically, “Yes, go up and be victorious, for the Lord will give the king victory!”
But the king replied sharply, “How many times must I demand that you speak only the truth to me when you speak for the Lord?”
Then Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.’”
“Didn’t I tell you?” the king of Israel exclaimed to Jehoshaphat. “He never prophesies anything but trouble for me.”
Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the Lord says! I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left. And the Lord said, ‘Who can entice Ahab to go into battle against Ramoth-gilead so he can be killed?’
“There were many suggestions, and finally a spirit approached the Lord and said, ‘I can do it!’
“‘How will you do this?’ the Lord asked.
“And the spirit replied, ‘I will go out and inspire all of Ahab’s prophets to speak lies.’
“‘You will succeed,’ said the Lord. ‘Go ahead and do it.’
“So, you see, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all your prophets. For the Lord has pronounced your doom.”
Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah walked up to Micaiah and slapped him across the face. “Since when did the Spirit of the Lord leave me to speak to you?” he demanded.
And Micaiah replied, “You will find out soon enough when you are trying to hide in some secret room!”
“Arrest him!” the king of Israel ordered. “Take him back to Amon, the governor of the city, and to my son Joash. Give them this order from the king: ‘Put this man in prison and feed him nothing but bread and water until I return safely from the battle!’”
But Micaiah replied, “If you return safely, it will mean that the Lord has not spoken through me!” Then he added to those standing around, “Everyone mark my words!” (1 Kings 22:10-28-NLT)
A true friend will tell you the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it.
Ahab refused to hear Micaiah and had him thrown into prison. Micaiah was a true friend to Ahab and was honest to him. This man he said that he hated, would have saved his life, had he only listened. But Ahab wanted that victory. He liked what the others were telling him and at this point. It made him feel good about himself. He thought he could avoid judgement by deceit. So, he went on into battle and disguised himself. He even told King Jehosophat to wear his kingly robes so the enemy would be drawn away from him. Wow! Some friend that was! King Jehosophat was blind to go along with that after hearing the word from Micaiah. What kind of friend would put you on the front line of destruction to protect themselves? No true friend would do that. Only someone who is looking out for their own best interest.
You can’t hide from God.
He knows where you are and the attitude of your heart. Rest assured that He is always in control and his mercy only lasts so long when one willingly chooses to do evil. Just as Micaiah had prophesied, Ahab was killed in that battle. He tried to hide but the story tells us that even though he tried to disguise himself:
An Aramean soldier, however, randomly shot an arrow at the Israelite troops and hit the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. “Turn the horsesand get me out of here!” Ahab groaned to the driver of his chariot. “I’m badly wounded!” (1 Kings 22:34-NLT)
This was the fatal arrow and everything that Elijah and Micaiah had said came true, that day, because Ahab listened to the wrong voices. The arrow was “randomly” shot, and somehow pierced through the small joints of his armor. God cannot be deceived. Ahab bled out on the battlefield and the dogs licked up his blood just as Elijah had prophesied. He didn’t just die, he died a horrible death and was dishonored.
“Mark my words . . .”
It’s not easy to tell someone the truth when you know they are not going to want to hear it and you may even reap consequences by speaking it to them. However, if you are a true friend and you want to please God over man, you must speak the truth and know that eventually others will see that you were speaking truth.
Zedekiah slapped Micaiah in the face for telling Ahab what the Lord had told him and questioned how he thought he could be so bold to speak against King Ahab, “You will find out soon enough when you are trying to hide in some secret room!”
Have you ever felt slapped in the face for doing what you knew was right? Have you listened to God and spoken what He told you only to be betrayed and “thrown away” by those you were only trying the help because it went against what they wanted? But just like Micaiah, know that you did the right thing. You spoke the truth and you were a true friend. We must listen to God’s direction, no matter what the consequences we will have to face on this earth.
After Ahab’s negative response to what Micaiah had to say, Micaiah replied, “If you return safely, it will mean that the Lord has not spoken through me!” Then he added to those standing around, “Everyone mark my words!”
Micaiah knew that it was in God’s hands from this point and the truth would prevail in the end. He didn’t have to beg and plead for them to believe him. All he had to do was sit and wait and let God prove who was really in control. God had had enough of the evil of Ahab and Jezebel and was ready to act and stop it!
I love how the Psalms reads: “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise”, says the Lord; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” (Psalm 12:5-ESV) Can you just see God standing up and saying, “Enough is enough!”
Right now, the evil that we are being bombarded with from political leaders as well as church leaders is overwhelming. We look around and it seems like there are more doing evil than there are doing good. There were two prophets speaking truth to Ahab against 400 prophets speaking lies. Yet, God showed who was truly the boss in the end. So, “Mark My Words”, God will stand up and take back what is His in His timing. We just need to continue to stand on the truth of His Word and not fear what man can do.
What side are you on? Are you a “Yes” person who doesn’t want to make waves because of the consequences it may mean to you? Maybe you are afraid you will lose some friends or maybe even your job. Is your job your source? Is it worth losing your integrity as a son and daughter of the Lord to lay back and say what the “bully’s” want to hear? Are you the bully? Are you the one that has deceived yourself because of pleasure that things and power have given you? Are you afraid of the Jezebel’s in your life who are using you as their pawn to get what they want? All these people exist in our world today and we will all fall into one of these categories unless you are the person who will seek to honor the Lord and do what He says regardless of what happens to you or what it costs you?
Jesus said, “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:16-22-NLT)
So, I ask you again, “Who will you listen to? Will you know the voice of a true friend? Will you seek to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit even when He tells you to go and to do what is contrary to what you want?” I hope so. Because, “he who endures to the end, will be saved”.
“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” (Proverbs 12:16-NIV)