5 And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day.
6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
7 And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him?
8 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so… 1 Ki. 22:5-8
The surest sign that your life is not laid on the altar, that you are not taking up your cross and following Christ, is when all you want to hear is the good news. You don’t want to hear any bad news. You don’t want, for example, to hear someone scolding, rebuking, or correcting you. I personally have a problem when someone tries to do any one of those things to me. Something rises up in me … It took me a long time to realize that that “something” is the old man, who is still alive in me.
That’s not a good confession, but it is the truth about me. And man, am I glad to hear there is a first, second and third heaven! I am glad to know that at least in one sense God is so far from me. That makes me know that I still have a long road ahead of me; and yet, somehow, I love that challenge! I am learning to take up my cross and follow Christ.
There are many “challenges” in this world. But how about we hear about the challenge of the cross for a change?
Many people think the old man is fairy tales. But he is as real as you and me. And he lives in us, when our lives are not fully crucified with Christ on the cross.
When you are not taking up your cross and following Christ there are many things that you don’t want to hear. You don’t want to hear that your business is not going well, or to find yourself broke, penniless. You don’t want to be in lack… But the Apostle Paul says that he was “instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Phil. 4:12).
Instructed. It took a long time, but a time did arrive when Paul was ready for any situation, good or bad, that God would allow in his life. He accepted any situation with joy. Many of the situations that people of God will tell you are from the devil, Paul knew were from God! That is the difference between a man whose life is laid on the altar, and one whose life is not.
In the scripture above, it says that as King Ahab happily downed goblet after goblet of the finest wine in the land, about 400 prophets stood before him and prophesied in the loftiest terms about the victory that would be his once he went to war against the king of Syria.
In contrast, King Jehoshaphat was a righteous man. This means that this man’s life was laid on the altar. That does not mean he was perfect; but he was a man who was daily taking up his cross and following Christ. This man therefore knew the ways of the Lord. He was instructed in God’s ways. And when he saw such a large number of prophets and heard them prophesying the same thing “with one mouth” (v.13) – and good news, at that – he immediately got suspicious.
But King Ahab was an evil man, and he did not know the ways of the Lord. He was particularly indisposed to hearing any bad news, which invariably came from only one man, the prophet Micaiah. King Ahab wanted only to hear good news.
Do you know that many people of God today are crisscrossing the face of the planet seeking for a favorable prophecy about a situation they are facing? And, personally, when I read this kind of scripture, I can begin to understand the reason for the rise of the mega-church: it is because the message preached in such churches is one generally of a positive, upbeat approach. Here it is “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. All is good news – the gospel according to the flesh. Any bad news is out. Such news is not from God!
But if you read to the end of the saga in the above scripture, you will find that every prophecy that Micaiah made on that day (and it was all bad) came to be fulfilled. That means his was the Word of the Lord, bad news as it was.
When in the Spirit we identify our lives with Christ’s in His suffering and death, we will understand that God works both in the good and the bad. In both these situations we can learn to see God’s hand and allow Him to accomplish whatever He wants to accomplish.
[Below: A storm hits the Musoma pier]