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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
Title:Thy Word is Truth: Part 2 ‘The True Prophet’
Text:1 Kings 22:1-28 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Written Word of God

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, whether we’re talking about the way a vintage wrist watch works, or even a modern digital age Apple Watch, or the way the human heart or brain functions, what we see on the outside is really nothing compared to the intricate design and the internal workings that are going on behind the scenes – that are not visible to the naked eye. 


The same could be said of what we read tonight. The Lord’s true prophet Micaiah “draws back the curtain” as it were, and he shows us the intricate design and inner workings of God’s sovereign and secret counsel in regard to Ahab’s decision to go to war to reclaim Ramoth Gilead.  


Tonight, we continue the theme of God’s Word is truth. We are going to meet the prophet who revealed this, and we are also going to consider his prophecy of truth.        

  1. The True Prophet of the Lord
  2. His Amazing Prophesy of Truth


1. The True Prophet of the Lord

We meet this true prophet of the Lord in verse 8 of chapter 22. He is someone whom Ahab undoubtedly knew very well. In fact, the entire narrative in chapter 22 assumes that these two men have crossed paths (locked horns) before. Ahab openly admitted that he hated and despised him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah, son of Imlah.


If there was any consolation for Micaiah -- and I say this only slightly in gest – it’s that Micaiah was probably not hated by Ahab to the extent that he hated Elijah. I think we can all agree on that, having witnessed their interaction several times now. I do think it’s of some interest that Ahab doesn’t mention Elijah (as another prophet he could summon), and perhaps that’s because Micaiah was more accessible than Elijah who came and went as the Lord sent him.


Something else I want us to observe here: notice in Ahab’s response to Jehoshaphat there is an admission that Ahab’s prophets were not TRUE prophets of the Lord. The question was: Is there not a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of? Ahab’s answer: there is still one man through whom we can inquire of the Lord.       


Ahab’s answer suggests that those 400 prophets were something less than faithful. They were not of the same stripe or quality as this man Micaiah. This morning we made the point that Ahab’s prophets were like his own personal “yes men”. They were more like his personal cheer leaders.


They were what we call “sycophants” (suck-ups) who flattered the king, who agreed with anything he said, who would do or say anything to stay in his favor, and who were careful not to upset the king of contradict the king, or prophesy anything that might aggravate him or go against his wishes.  


That’s the reason Ahab hates Micaiah. His complaint against Micaiah was that he never prophesies anything good about me. That tells you all you need to know about Ahab’s warped view and version of “prophecy”. He wanted prophets who would tell him something good, that would build him up, that would be supportive and agreeable to all his plans. Modern businessmen say that – they want people around them who bring positive energy. Micaiah was too negative.                


The second observation is this: in admitting there was still one man through whom he could inquire of the Lord, Ahab was also admitting that he still had free access to the Word and will of God. He still could have inquired of the Lord at any time, for any reason. Yes, it would be wonderful if Jezebel had not killed so many prophets, and like Moses said, would that all of God’s people were prophets! There can never be enough who speak the truth of God.


But for Ahab, one prophet was still sufficient to speak the truth. He only needed one man who had access to the throne of God, access to the will and counsel of God – that was Micaiah. And Ahab’s problem was not that Micaiah was always prophesying bad things about him, it was that Ahab was always walking in sin and therefore, the Lord was continually bringing him into judgment.


This also tells us that Ahab’s repentance that we read about back in chapter 21:28-29 (after Elijah confronted him about his sin of killing Naboth), his repentance was short-lived. It was not a true heartfelt repentance that resulted in a changed heart and a changed life. If it were, then Ahab would have welcomed Micaiah, and he would have gladly listened to and submitted himself to his prophesy precisely because it was the very Word of God he spoke. That’s the way repentant people act – they humble themselves before the Word and they yield and submit themselves to the will of the Lord.   


Going on, I want to direct your attention to verse 13. After Micaiah is summoned to come before the king, a well meaning messenger (who obviously knows what Ahab his master is like, and who also must have known the king’s low opinion of Micaiah) gently suggests to Micaiah that he should simply go with the flow. “Everyone else predicted success in battle, so be a good sport. Play along with the game. Make your prophecy agree with theirs and then the king is happy and then we’re all happy and then everyone goes home happy.”


But notice what Micaiah says: I surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.

In other words, a true prophet is not free to prophecy whatever he wants. More than that -- God’s Word, His truth is not to be subject to the opinion of the masses, or to the discretion or the liking of the king. or to whatever social conventions there were.


A prophet is bound by God to speak whatever truth God gives him to say – nothing more and nothing less. Dale Ralph Davis picks up on this in his commentary.


He writes: Hence the word of God is free and cannot be manipulated by kings or messengers or even slick prophets. Whatever word Yahweh gives a prophet that is what the prophet must speak. The prophet is not at liberty to massage or shape or bend, let alone pervert that word. One who cannot understand this does not comprehend the sovereign freedom of the Word of the Lord.


Now, I want us to pause here a moment and think of another true prophet of the Lord. Think of Jesus Christ and His ministry, and how Jesus embodied this office, and how faithfully he fulfilled his mission and purpose to speak the truth, to preach the truth, to reveal the truth even though many of the people to whom he was revealing the truth hated him for it.


If we just follow the book of John, we see Jesus confronting those in the temple who are selling livestock and exchanging money. He drove them out saying, “How dare you turn my father's house into a marketplace!” Then Jesus appears to Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He tells him what he must do to be saved – you must be born again to enter the Kingdom of heaven.


Then Jesus goes to Samaria and he spoke to a woman who was living a life of sin. Jesus was kind and gentle, but he was also firm and truthful. Jesus showed her her sin and told her that unless she drank from the water that gives life, she would thirst again. After meeting Jesus, the woman went off and told the townspeople: “Here is a man who told me everything I ever did.” She put her faith in Christ, and so did others with whom she shared the Good News of Jesus.


In John 8, Jesus spoke the truth to the Jews who claimed that they were legitimate children of God. Jesus said to them if God were your father, you would love me for I came from God and now am here...You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me…The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.


After his arrest, Jesus testified to the truth before Annas and Caiphas the High Priest. In fact, he spoke the truth and they struck him in the face. Then Jesus was taken to Pilate where he said you are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.


To which Pilate replied with cynicism and doubt -- much like we would expect Ahab to reply: What is truth?


And for prophesying the truth, for being faithful to the calling for which he came into the world, Jesus was sentenced to be crucified. As we see in our passage in I Kings 22 that Micaiah also suffered for the sake of the truth -- he was struck by Zedekiah then later imprisoned.


In fact, there’s a close connection between what Zedekiah said to Micaiah in verse 24, to what Jesus experienced. In verse 24, Zedekiah slapped Micaiah in the face, and mocked him saying: Which way did the Spirit of the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you? That was very similar to the soldiers who had blindfolded Jesus, then struck him on the face and mocked him, demanding: Prophesy! Who hit you!!  


The lesson we learn from this is that those who are enemies of the truth are blind and deaf to the truth, and they would rather kill the messenger than believe the message. They would rather persecute those who bring the good News than believe the Good News.


And if they did that to Micaiah, and to Jesus, then the world will treat us the same way. So we not only have to be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have – but we also have to be ready and willing to suffer for the sake of the truth, for the sake of the Gospel.


Hebrews 10:32-39 to end the point.  


2. His Amazing Prophesy of Truth

Now that we have met Micaiah the True Prophet of the Lord, let’s consider his amazing Prophesy.

The first words out of Micaiah’s mouth are dripping with sarcasm and contain some genuine comic relief. If you look at verse 15, you'll see that when he arrives the king Ahab asks him: Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?


Micaiah’s response is priceless: he says “Attack and be victorious for the Lord will give it into the king's hand.” Obviously, we cannot see his facial expressions or see the gestures he was making, but it's very clear that what he's doing is mimicking or parroting what the other prophets have said. This is what the king wants to hear, right?


But Ahab knows what he is doing. And this is where we see that these two men must have had a lot of history together; this was probably not the first time that an exchange like this had happened. In verse 16 Ahab replies: “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?

Isn't it ironic that Ahab would be the one to say this? Isn't it ironic that he is the one who must command the Lord’s true prophet to make sure that he tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth??


But right after that Micaiah get serious and he gets down to business. First, he tells the king what he sees, he foretells what is going to happen in the battle. “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, “These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.”  In other words, Ahab will not survive the day of battle. 


That's not all he says. After Ahab complains again to Jehoshaphat about the negative prophecy, Micaiah goes on to prophesy about the deception and delusion that Ahab is under. Macaiah literally tells Ahab that he is not going to listen to his prophecy but rather he is going to be deceived by his own lying prophets. And I want to show you what a powerful and glorious revelation this is.


If we look at verse 19, we see that Micaiah is describing a royal throne scene. Before we look at this in detail, I want you to see that Micaiah is playing off another throne scene that we came across earlier. Look back at verse 10.


There we’re told that Ahab the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were dressed in their royal robes. They were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them.


What’s happening there was what we call a war council. These royal kings dressed in all their royal regalia had their staff create a makeshift throne room by the threshing floor and this is where the two kings sat and deliberated and took into consideration all the counsel and advice of the prophets who had around them. This is where they would make the decision to go to war or refrain.  


But then, look at what Micaiah describes. It is a royal throne scene in heaven above. It says, “I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the hosts of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left.”


Now, which is those two throne scenes, and which of those kings depicts true wisdom and power and might and sovereignty? Dale Ralph Davis suggests that the heavenly throne scene was designed to be the antithesis of the throne scene on earth. He writes: Is there any doubt as to which king’s decision will shape history?


It’s an amazing scene, and it shows us once more how God sovereignly reigns over everything here on earth. Micaiah not only describes the scene, but he reveals the conversation as well. The Lord said: who will lure 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 lure him.” “By what means?” The Lord asked. “I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,” he said. “You will succeed in luring him,” said the Lord. “Go and do it.”


One wonders what kind of spirit this was. We’re not told whether this was an angel or another kind of spirit, so there’s no need to speculate. What we take away from this is clear. Micaiah was revealing to Ahab everything he asked. Everything he needed to know.


Remember, Ahab asked: Shall we go to war or shall we refrain? Micaiah has now informed the king twice that if he did, he was going to die.


Now, some people might read this passage and argue that Ahab was a victim of fate, of God’s cruel hand of trickery and guile. See, God deceived Ahab into going off to war so that he could kill him. The big problem with that argument is there is no deception at all. The Lord, through his true prophet Micaiah, revealed everything to Ahab.


The Lord told Ahab the entire story of how he would be deceived, and by what means, and even that he would die in battle – and he told him this before Ahab went off to war. So how is that possibly a form of deception?  


The only conclusion we can draw from this – knowing what we do, that Ahab is indeed going to go off to war, and he will indeed be killed – is that no matter how clear, no matter how transparent and obvious God can be in His Word about the truth of a matter, and even about the consequences for our own deception and unbelief, Ahab, and countless millions just like him, are so stubborn, so hard-hearted, that they simply cannot and will not heed the truth of God’s Word.


Keep that in mind when we talk to others about matters of heaven and hell, of spiritual life and death, when we speak about God and His Son Jesus Christ, and the message of salvation revealed in the Bible, there are many who will not believe us. There are many who think that the Bible is a book of lies and that Christianity is just another religious myth.


They reject the truth – but never because the truth about God isn’t clear enough. It’s not because we failed to make a good enough argument. No. The truth is, they are self-deceived. And the only way that they, or anyone else for that matter, is ever going to believe, is if God will send His Holy to work in their hearts, to free them from their self-deception, and to give them a spirit of understanding.           


That is why we also must thank the Lord that by His grace and mercy He has delivered us from our own self-deception … and that God has given us eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to embrace Christ and His grace, a mind to understand the teachings of truth, and a spirit that yields to the sway of our almighty God.


Keep in mind as well that we live on this side of the cross, were God’s Spirit has been poured out, where the day of grace is at hand, and for any and all people we know – and for billions we don’t know – we must pray that the Lord would deliver them from the lying and deceptive spirits of this age, the lying and deceptive spirits in our schools and universities, and in false churches, and in their friend groups – and cause there to be a modern day Reformation, a returning once more to the truth of God’s Word – a truth that endures forever and that applies to all people in every age, that reveals a Savior for all humanity who is Jesus Christ, the Lord. Amen.       

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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