1 Kings 22 & 2 Chronicles 18
Yes, I know, a bit of a sensational title. In fact, I can hear my mom reaching for the Irish Spring to place in my mouth because “butt” is not a church word. Please give me grace just a few sentences longer as I am someone who spends a great deal of time at school with 11 and 12-year olds. I often use a bit of high-brow potty humor for the connection and to make sure that I have your attention. From here on out, I promise <crossing heart> I will use yes-men, suck-ups, sycophants, or something similar, but we’ll both know that I truly mean <in a whisper> “the ones who kiss b-u-t-t.”
Scattered throughout the last couple of weeks, we have read about the life of King Ahab. Today we will finish off Ahab [spoilers ahead] in more ways than one. Ahab has grown unhappy that a previously Israeli owned-city, Ramoth Gilead, is now occupied by the Syrian (Aram) people, the very nation that was given over to him by God (1 Kings 20). No doubt that Ahab’s misintentioned mercy to the Syrian nation (Again 1 Kings 20) has become less than advantageous, contemptuous, or is now, simply biting him in the…rear. Ahab forms an alliance with Judah’s king, Jehoshaphat, who says he will fight with Ahab to take back Ramoth Gilead if he consults the LORD first. Ahab thinks, “No problem; I have plenty of prophets.”. Enter the yes-men.
‘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?” “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” – 1 Kings 22:6
Jehoshaphat isn’t convinced by the mass of soothsaying suck-ups for a simple reason: they do not mention God, YHWH, which prompts his head-scratching statement “Is there no longer a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?” “But didn’t the prophets say ‘the Lord will give <Ramoth Gilead> into the king’s hand?’” You may have heard it before, but it is worth reminding, that not all “lords” are equal in most English translations of the Old Testament. L-o-r-d means master, which is often used for God, but L-O-R-D is the indisputable proper name of God, the Father, YHWH. The sycophantic seers have not consulted with the Almighty, but have most likely consulted one another, telling the king whatever they think he wanted to hear. Ahab confesses there is still ONE prophet of the LORD, Micaiah, but he doesn’t like to use him because he doesn’t like to kiss-up like the others. In fact, Ahab’s reluctance shows that he most likely already knew the truth. Micaiah lives up to his reputation, delivering a Word from the LORD that was unfavorable to what Ahab had already set upon his heart to do.
Is Ahab’s folly not our own? As I read about his fatal flaw, I can feel my own groan, lurch, and tumult described by Paul in Romans 7:15-20, between what I have intentioned in my heart and what the LORD wants of me. What makes it worse is the body of booty smoochers ready to tell me that fulfilling my desires are what will ultimately make me happy. In 2020, it doesn’t take much searching to find 400 people that agree with you. Just because a crowd has formed in agreement with you, it doesn’t mean they (or you) know what’s best. There are well-established organizations, conferences, websites, movements, forums, etc. that have opposing views to God’s desire for your life. No matter how convincing the mob, there is only one way to get the truth: The Word of the LORD. Yet the fact of the matter is as I wrestle with my desire, my pride, and my sin, I’d rather hear comforting, confirming, justifying lies from hundreds than hear a truth from a single person that would convict me and cause me to change. This would mean that the problem doesn’t externally exist in the world I live in, but within me, which is the hardest thing to hear (and the reason why we don’t invite challenging scriptures or a truth-telling Christian friend to the party, i.e. Micaiah)
“The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrew 4:12
There is great advice in the word of Jehoshaphat, “First seek the counsel of the LORD.” Before taking any course of action, no matter how great or small, let me stop consulting my social circle of “yes people” and search the Word of the LORD for discernment. Almost always, our only reluctance is because we already know the answer that is buried not-so-deep within our heart. Let’s pray that God will bring his convicting truth to our aspirations and challenge us to listen to His voice only as He guides us to His way.
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+22%2C+2+Chronicles+18&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Chronicles 19-23 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan