In the dark days of Ahab’s reign as King of Israel (around mid-ninth century B.C.), there was a prophet spoken of in the eighteenth chapter of the book of Second Chronicles. His name is Micaiah, and he stands out among all the Old Testament prophets–and every biblical character for that matter–as a shining example of crusty, stubborn obedience to God. Even to the point of public ridicule and illogical incarceration.
If you have a moment, check out the entire chapter.
If not, here’s a quick summary: Israel and Judah, originally combined as twelve tribes, but at this point in Old Testament history, had split. With ten tribes under Ahab comprising the Kingdom of Israel, and the other two under King Jehoshaphat as Judah, the eighteenth chapter opens by saying how “Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance, and had joined affinity with Ahab.” So it seems on the surface that because of prosperity and maybe some complacency on Jehoshaphat’s part, he had decided to reconcile with Ahab. There are valuable lessons to be learned here with these character types and their response to situations and circumstances. We may share some of the same aspects of character in ourselves, and we face the same types of situations in our lives today. Moving forward–and back to Ahab and Jehoshaphat–one day after the peace accord, Jehoshaphat (who, unlike many kings that had come after David, actually walked with God— see 2 Chronicles 17:3-4) decides to go down and visit Ahab. Ahab receives him with open arms. Ever the opportunist, Ahab propositions Jehoshaphat to join forces with him against a common enemy and Jehoshaphat agrees, saying “I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in war.” (18:3) Since Jehoshaphat is more tuned in to God than is Ahab, he asks that they take some time and “Enquire…at the word of the Lord to day” after Ahab had asked Jehoshaphat to go to war. No big decision should be implemented without consulting with God. So Ahab brings in four-hundred prophets and all affirm Ahab’s decision to go up to battle at Ramothgilead. But something’s not right. Jehoshaphat, dismissing all of that asks, “is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him?” And here’s where Micaiah is introduced.
“Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.” (Proverbs 20:18)
Micaiah, whose name means, “who is like God?”, is brought in. The messenger, it says, who came to get Micaiah out of prison, sought to preface Micaiah’s prophecy to the kings by pointing out how all the other prophets had prophesied the same thing: a positive message, supposedly from God, as to the outcome of Ahab’s choice to go to war and drag Jehoshaphat along with him. The point here that I’d like to emphasize is found in Micaiah’s response to the messenger. Maybe then, we can see why Micaiah would have been imprisoned in the first place. Micaiah tells him that “as the Lord liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak.” (18:13) Micaiah calls Him “my God”. Remember this. Micaiah goes before the kings and answers Ahab’s question: “Go ye up and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand.” He gives the same answer as did all the other so-called prophets. But Ahab doesn’t believe him. And this is where things get scary.
Anytime we would seek to hear from God, yet hear only those things that agree with our plans and purposes, we should stop and make sure that we truly are hearing from God. Ahab tells Micaiah, reminding him really, that he only ever wants to hear the truth from God (18:15). Micaiah then relays the real story, the real state of things. It’s almost as if you can feel the winds die down and a hush envelop the room. I imagine Micaiah, this scraggly, dirty man with ratty hair and a beard. Somewhat stooped in appearance, slumped shoulders and an aloof air about him, etc. After hearing Ahab feign the desire for truth, he stands up straight, squaring his shoulders. He trains his hard eyes on Ahab and speaks: “I did see all Israel scatered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace.” (18:16)
He’s saying that Ahab would be killed when he went to Ramothgilead.