Second Chronicles eighteen tells the fascinating story of how a little known prophet named Micaiah won the day because of how he stood up against a powerful king as well as popular opinion. In my mind, the story is a caricature of what it means to be a Christian even in our times.
Briefly, here’s what happened: the godly king, Jehoshaphat, of Judah to the south, was visiting king Ahab of Israel, in Samaria. Jehoshaphat probably was not wise to be courting an alliance with Ahab, but he did. In fact his son married Ahab’s daughter. The mood was celebratory and there was an elaborate banquet. No doubt it was Ahab’s way of preparing Jehoshaphat for a special proposition — sharing together in war against Ramoth Gilead. Jehoshaphat’s response was one of complete compliance, except for one thing. He felt it would be good if they heard from the Lord concerning this matter, (since he knew no one could count on success without the assurance of God’s help).
So it was that Ahab solicited the help of his “prophets,” of which there were some 400. It wasn’t long before ALL agreed that Ahab and Jehoshaphat would indeed be successful in their attack on Ramoth Gilead. One prophet even illustrated success by manufacturing some horns with which he said they would gore the enemy.
But Jehoshaphat wasn’t so sure of what he was hearing. So he asks Ahab if there might not be a prophet of the Lord in his domain of whom they might inquire. Ahab said there was one, but he was reluctant to call on him because his prophecies were never positive. Jehoshaphat, however, thought it would be a good idea. So it was that Ahab consented and commissioned a servant to call Macaiah. On the way, probably because of the hype and mood, the servant pled with Micaiah to agree with the other prophets. But Miciah was resolute: he would say only what God the Lord asked him to say.
At first, Miciah gave Ahab a sarcastic response saying that he indeed would be successful in the battle. But Ahab knew he wasn’t saying what he really thought, so he insisted that he wanted to know the truth. Micaiah’s next response was that he saw all Israel scattered on the mountainside because they had no leader. Furthermore, he went on to tell how this would come about. Micaiah said there was a conference in heaven about how to bring about Ahab’s demise. After a good deal of discussion, one spirit offered to be a lying spirit in the mouths of all of Ahab’s prophets to tell him what he should do.
One of those prophets, the one that built the horns, slapped Micaiah on the face and asked him which way the spirit from the Lord went from himself to speak to Micaiah. Micaiah’s response was that he would know how that came about on the day when he was hiding in a place where no one could find him! For Ahab’s part, he was absolutely disgusted with Micaiah’s performance and consigned him to a diet of bread and water “until I return from the battle.” But as Micaiah was leaving Ahab’s presence, he said, Mark my words, if what I have said, does not come to pass!
So Ahab and Jehoshaphat went to battle against Ramoth Gilead. Slyly, it seems, Ahab suggested that Jehoshaphat should dress in his royal robes, but he would disguise himself. At first, of course, the enemy went after Jehoshaphat because he was an obvious target. But by God’s help, Jehoshaphat was able to convince his pursuers that he was not King Ahab, and so they left him alone. Instead, a randomly-triggered arrow found its target in Ahab’s body through a chink in his armour, wounding him severely. Though he propped himself up in his chariot for the remainder of the day, he did not survive — just as the diminutive Micaiah had predicted!
I am impressed by the relevance of this story to the potential experience of Christians in our times. Like Ahab, there are many leaders of one kind or another today who are looking for direction from their own spiritual-like prognosticators. Thankfully, there are others like Jehoshaphat who are still sensitive to a higher voice. And thankfully too, there are still some like Micaiah who are willing to speak the truth from God, even if it contains words of judgment and exists in total disagreement with what everyone else is saying.
How the world needs men and women like Micaiah today who are willing to stand their ground spiritually and sometimes politically against common ways of thinking! But such a position, undoubtedly, not only requires courage (and invites persecution), but also true holiness and integrity. I am sure such a service takes long hours of prayer and devotion in God’s presence and truth. May God be pleased to raise up many in the present generation who would be willing to be like Micaiah. And as God gives me strength, may I too have the courage to be like that man!