The noted historical figure Mohandas Gandhi [1869-1948], in his inspirational work titled Young India, astutely opined, "Fearlessness is the first requisite of spirituality." Though clearly never their intent, these words could quite easily provide the foundation for comprehending and appreciating the character of one of the least known, but most courageous, of all the many prophets of the Lord -- Micaiah, son of Imlah. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman [1820-1891], in his famous Memoirs, defined courage as "a perfect sensibility of the measure of danger, and a mental willingness to incur it." Once again, these are words that could easily be spoken of the above mentioned man of God. Similar to his contemporary Elijah, he faced 400 false prophets who had very little regard for him, one of whom even struck him a blow to the head. The wicked king, by his own admission, declared that he could not stand this prophet of God. His message was unpopular, as it foretold of death and devastation for the king and his forces in the upcoming conflict. He was very likely summoned from a prison cell, and was most certainly returned to one, where he was fed only bread and water. From this same wicked king, and his equally evil wife, the prophet Elijah had fled for his life into the wilderness. Yet, Micaiah boldly stood his ground before this hostile assembly and declared God's Truth. Who was this courageous, devoted man of God, and what were the circumstances surrounding this magnificent demonstration of faithfulness and fearlessness? And what valuable lessons can we today learn from this event?
The way to destruction is wide, but the path to life is narrow (Matthew 7:13-14). But, even those who follow hard after God, and have gleaned wisdom from scripture, find this a sad reality; nearly the entire religious, societal, scholastic, political, and philosophical establishment tells us that we are wrong. In some places this stand against the grain can cost believers their lives, or at least their freedom. This is the paradox of living out our faith in God, in this life. All of this reminded me of the account in 2 Chronicles 18 and its parallel account in 1 Kings 22 of Micaiah the prophet. This man knew what it was like to stand alone, and pay for his stand severely.
Micaiah was a man of God, a true prophet in a land where the rest of the prophets had sold out to the pagan enterprises of King Ahab of Israel. All of the king’s prophets were deceived and telling the king only what he wanted to hear. Yet an incident unfolded where Ahab was forced to summon Micaiah one last time and to be irked again by his condemning and negative prophesies concerning him. This incident was of Ahab’s own concocting. He had wooed good king Jehoshaphat of Judah into joining him in battle against the king of Aram (2 Chronicles 18:1-3). But before Jehoshaphat was ready to go and fight, he wanted to seek the Word of the Lord. Ahab brought in his own prophets, all four hundred of them, who in perfect collusion and conformity, told Ahab that Israel would win and succeed in battle. Jehoshaphat wasn’t convinced by these pagan impostors (v. 6), and Ahab was forced to call upon the last man of God in the land, Micaiah.
So Micaiah was summoned before Ahab in the presence of all of the 400 evil prophets. But before Micaiah was to enter before the king, the messenger who was sent to bring him in told him the following in 2 Chronicles 18:12: “Behold, the words of the prophets are uniformly favorable to the king. So please let your word be like one of them and speak favorably." This messenger knew the kind of man Micaiah was and his track record with the king. He knew Micaiah would likely say something bad about Ahab, and, though his motives are not given, either he didn’t want to see the party stop or Micaiah get hurt, or both. But it is not for the man of God to look out for his own welfare or to concern himself with the happiness of those to whom God has brought judgment. Micaiah responded to the messenger by saying, “As the LORD lives, what my God says, that I will speak” .
This is the heart-cry of the true follower of Christ. We are not to be concerned with the results of our preaching, only that we preach the Word of God. It doesn’t matter if we stand alone or if we, like Micaiah, are outnumbered 400 to 1. We must be so confident in the authority of the Bible that we choose to cling to it and preach it even in a hostile environment.
Satan may try to convince us that we must be wrong, given that there are so few who stand by our side, but God’s Word renders the only verdict that counts. Others might call us “arrogant” for believing that we know is the truth while they are wrong, but we must stand firm. If we believe God’s Word and obey it, we can expect to be in the minority and to have persecution. Being a spokesperson for the Lord has never been a popularity contest or a glamour job. Just ask Jesus Himself. The crowds left him, and only the twelve stuck with Him (John 6:66-68). But He did the will of Him Who sent Him (John 4:34), and that was the only thing that mattered.
Micaiah told Ahab the truth that Israel would be defeated and that Ahab would be killed in battle. One of the evil prophets struck Micaiah across the cheek for having the audacity to claim that he was being deceived. Ahab also reacted angrily to the prophecy and commanded that Micaiah be thrown into prison with minimal food and water. Yet Micaiah didn’t back down or regret his decision to speak the truth. He wanted the people to remember what he said and to listen, for he was confident that the future events would prove him to have been the true prophet of God.
Ahab tried to thwart the prophecy from God by disguising himself in battle and setting up Jehoshaphat as a target. But God protected Jehoshaphat, while a “random” arrow pierced one of the joints of Ahab’s armor, killing him. God’s Word always comes to pass, even if we try to thwart it. Nothing can change about God’s Word, for it endures forever (1 Peter 1:25).
The call of the Christian will face the same testing. To obey the will of God no matter the cost and no matter the loss, being mindful of the reward and gain to come. May God give us the strength, perseverance, and boldness to go against the grain, even if it requires us, like Micaiah, to stand alone.
Five principles- food for thought:
It is better to be divided by truth than united in error.
It is better to tell the truth that hurts and then heals than to tell a lie that comforts and then kills.
It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie.
It is better to stand alone with the truth than to be wrong with a multitude.
It is better to succeed ultimately with the truth than to succeed temporarily with a lie.
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No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me,
saith the LORD.
is born of God overcometh the world: and this is
the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Who is he that overcometh the world,
but he that believeth
that Jesus is the
Son of God?
But they that wait
upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
The Whole Armor
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all,
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
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