Seeking the Word of the Lord (22:1-12)
It is about 853 BC and Ahab is the king of Israel. Remember that he is described in the scriptures as the worst king that ever ruled over God’s people. Jehoshaphat is the king of Judah. At this time these two kings are in-laws because Ahab’s daughter married Jehoshaphat’s son. Jehoshaphat goes to visit king Ahab. Ahab tells Jehoshaphat that Ramoth-gilead belongs to Israel after the last war three years ago. However, because of distractions with the Assyrians, Ahab has not gone to take the land back. Three years have past and the Syrians have continued to occupy this important city. Ahab asks Jehoshaphat to go with him to battle. Combine Judean and Israeli forces to go take back this city. Jehoshaphat agrees to do this.
But before Jehoshaphat will fully commit to the battle, he tells Ahab to inquire of the Lord first. Before we go to battle, we should ask God about their decision. Ahab gathers a bunch of prophets, about 400 prophets, and asks them if they should go to battle against Ramoth-gilead or not. All the prophets say, “Yes, go right ahead! The Lord will give the king victory” (22:6; NLT). With this Ahab seems satisfied. But Jehoshaphat is apparently dismayed by this. He ask Ahab, “Is there not a prophet of the Lord here whom we may ask?” Ahab has a bunch of “yes” men as his “prophets” who will say whatever King Ahab wants to hear. King Jehoshaphat recognizes this and asks for a true prophet of the Lord to ask about this decision. Ahab says that he only has one prophet of the Lord they can ask. His name is Micaiah, but I hate him because he never prophesies good for him, but disaster. Jehoshaphat tells Ahab that he should not speak this way about a prophet of the Lord. So Ahab summons Micaiah to come to the palace.
When Micaiah enters, Ahab and Jehoshaphat are dressed in their royal robes and are sitting on thrones. The 400 prophets are prophesying there in front of these two kings. One of the prophets named Zedekiah made some iron horns and proclaimed, “This is what the Lord says: With these horns you shall gore the Syrians until they are destroyed.” All the other prophets agree that Ahab is going to be victorious. This is the scene that Micaiah walks into.
IGNITE: Do we really want to know what God has to say? Do we really want to know his will? Or do we just want to hear what we want to hear? I fear the current situation where people just want to hear what they want to hear and they can find a “church” to tell them what they want to hear. People want to do what they want to do and think that they are doing the will of the Lord. Ahab has no interest in finding out what God has to say. He was going to go up to battle without consulting the Lord. When Ahab was asked to consult the Lord, he trots out his 400 false prophets who tell him everything he wants to hear. He never calls for Micaiah because Micaiah never tells Ahab what he wants to hear. How often we can have the same attitude! We should want to hear the word of the Lord no matter what. No matter how difficult or how painful the word of the Lord is, we must want to know what God has to say.
The Absolute Nature of the Word of the Lord (22:13-17)
When the messenger goes to get Micaiah, he tells Micaiah that all the prophets have promising victory for the king. Be sure that your words agree with theirs. Micaiah’s response shows that he truly is a prophet of God. Micaiah says that he will say only what the Lord tells him to say. Once Micaiah appears before Ahab and Jehoshaphat, Ahab asks him if they should go to war against Ramoth-gilead or not. Micaiah responds by saying the exact same words as the 400 prophets, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” Ahab knows that Micaiah is being sarcastic and says, “How many times must I demand that you speak only the truth to me when you speak for the Lord?” Obviously this is not the first time that Micaiah has spoken sarcastically to Ahab. Once this is out of the way, Micaiah is ready to give Ahab the word of the Lord. It is as if Micaiah is asking Ahab if he is ready to hear the word of the Lord and if he really wants to hear it.
Micaiah tells Ahab his vision of all Israel scattering like sheep without a shepherd. The master has been killed and the people are to return in peace. Micaiah says that they will not be victorious and Ahab is going to be killed in battle.
IGNITE: We learn about the absolute nature of God’s word. The godly person recognizes that God’s word cannot and must not be altered. Micaiah is asked to make his prophecy match what the other prophets are saying. Micaiah’s response is perfect. He can only say what God’s word says. This must be our same life standard. We can only teach what the word of the Lord teaches. We can only do what the word of the Lord says. We will demand our teachers to show us only what God’s word says. This is not a forum for story telling, for advancing politics, or venting opinions. What does the word of the Lord say? We want the word of the Lord opened and taught. Nothing else is acceptable. We must live our lives like Micaiah. We will only hear the word of the Lord. We will only say the word of the Lord. We will only accept the word of the Lord.
The Reaction of the Word of the Lord (22:18-28)
Micaiah has just told Ahab that he should not go to battle because he will die if he does. How does Ahab react to this? Does he think about Micaiah’s words and listen to God’s message? No, Ahab complains to Jehoshaphat how he was right and that Micaiah always prophesies disaster against him.
Micaiah goes further to explain why these words were given to Ahab. The Lord asks the armies of heaven who will entice him to go to Ramoth-gilead so he will be killed. The answer was that a lying spirit would be in the mouth of these 400 prophets so that they would give him information to get him killed. The Lord has pronounced doom on Ahab because he is a wicked king and his time of judgment has come. Does Ahab listen? Does Ahab decide to rethink this plan? No, Ahab has Micaiah arrested and to feed him nothing but bread and water until he returns from battle. Micaiah responds, “If you return safely, it will mean that the Lord has not spoken through me!” Then he tells everyone in the room listening to mark his words.
IGNITE: What is your reaction to listen to the word of the Lord? A teacher can see in the faces of his audience if they are rejecting the word. The look in the eyes says to just be quiet so that we can continue doing what we want to do. Are we wise enough to stop and consider our ways after hearing what the word of the Lord says? Will we think about what God is teaching us? Or will we sleep with our eyes open, ignoring what God is desperately trying to instruct us?
The Folly of Rejecting the Word of the Lord (22:29-40)
Ahab thinks he can get around the declaration of God’s word. Ahab says that he will go into battle in disguise. So Ahab and Jehoshaphat lead their armies into battle at Ramoth-gilead. The disguise works as the Syrian armies begin chasing Jehoshaphat as they see him in battle in his royal robes. Guess what happens. A soldier in the Syrian army draws his bow and shoots a random arrow at the Israelite soldiers. The arrow happens to his Ahab between the joints of his armor and he is badly wounded. Ahab dies in his chariot and the Israelite armies scatter, just as Micaiah had prophesied.
IGNITE: Why do we continue to stubbornly reject the word of the Lord? God tells us how to live a good life, to make wise decisions, and to be in a relationship with him. Yet we think we know what is best and live our lives on our own terms, bringing about distress and failures. We heap problems upon ourselves when we reject God’s word. We destroy our lives because we refuse to live according to the word of the Lord. Worse, we jeopardize our souls because we will not give our lives to God.
Does your life look like Ahab’s? Are you living your life doing what you want, occasionally consulting God, all the while serving yourself? Or do you live your life first listening to what God has to say and only then acting? I beg you to listen to God’s word, to seek God’s word, and let God’s word change your decisions. Disaster comes when we ignore God’s word. (NLT)