Micaiah and today’s false prophets

April 10, 2008 at 10:56 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, False teaching, Theology | Leave a comment

Those who are false prophets will say whatever is to their advantage, regardless of the truth, and they disguise their rhetoric in the words of people who believe the truth.  This is illustrated in the story of Micaiah, who prophesied against King Ahab.  His story is in 1 Kings 22 (and also 2 Chronicles 18 — I read the First Kings account this morning).  King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah joined forces to fight against the king of Aram.  At King Jehoshaphat’s request for a prophet, Ahab consulted his false prophets – about 400 of them – who all gave the same report, “Go to war, for the Lord will give victory.” (v6)  Jehoshaphat was not persuaded, asking, “Is there no prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?” (v7)

The upper and lower case letters are critical to a correct understanding of this story.  When the prophets spoke of “the Lord” (with lower case letters), they were using a generic term that could refer to any authority, false god or idol.  But when Jehoshaphat spoke of “the LORD” (upper case letters in most modern English translations), he was specifying what God he wanted to hear from; he wanted a word from Yahweh, the God who created the universe.  In other words, he was saying “these guys are false prophets, and I want to hear from a true prophet of God.” 

At this point two things happened.  First, Ahab sent for a prophet of the LORD named Micaiah, of whom Ahab was not fond, for Micaiah never said what Ahab wanted to hear.  And second, while they were waiting for him to arrive, the false prophets changed their tune.  They had been prophesying “the words of the Lord,” but after Jehoshaphat’s inquiry, they started saying, “This is what the LORD says.” (vv 11-12)  The only thing they kept consistent was the promise of victory.

Just like Ahab’s prophets said what Ahab wanted to hear and changed the wording so Jehoshaphat would also be pleased, so today’s false teachers promise what their audience wants to hear, using the words popular with Bible believers.  Unfortunately, again just like Ahab’s prophets, they change the meaning of those words to fit their agenda.

Be cautious!  Some of today’s popular teachers use good words but change their meaning.  They say what people want to hear.  They don’t talk about sin, which is so prominent in the Bible and without which there can be no good news.  Instead, they teach prosperity according to the world’s standards – exactly what most people like to hear.  Paul warned us that people would “gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”  Let’s be like Jehoshaphat, listening to the truth, even when a part of that truth is not what our human ears are fond of hearing.  Then we can hear and experience the real good news!  The real good news is not news of temporal prosperity; it’s news of eternal prosperity.

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