To Stand Alone
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To Stand Alone
1 Kings 22:1-12
1 Kings 22:13-28
1 Kings 22:29-40
Have you ever had someone tell you something that you didn’t really want to hear but needed to hear it anyway? I think most people dislike criticism even if it is constructive. However, when done so in love it can have great results if the person receiving the criticism listens. The saying goes, “listen to the truth and the truth will set you free.” However, not everyone likes to hear the truth. I would venture to say that the vast multitude of people would rather hear lies instead of the truth because a lie can be temporarily pleasing or satisfying. The truth often hurts though but the result of the truth gives life while a lie may have the result of death or pain. Our scripture reading today sets up a story of a king who was one person who never did well with handling the truth. It seems he would rather hear lies.
Ahab was the king of the Northern kingdom of Israel. When the kingdom split between the Northern kingdom Israel and the kingdom of Judah. The Northern kingdom seemed to have many bad kings who did not follow the will of God and turned to the idol worship instead. However, I would say that between all the kings they went through, Ahab would have to be the worst king of Israel. On top of being the evilest and most sinful king he was also one of the longest reigning kings. God would send many prophets to warn him and speak the truth to him but he would not listen and would throw them in prison or kill them if he did not like what they had to say. Micaiah was one such prophet that Ahab hated and it says that it was because Micaiah never had anything nice to say about Ahab. However, Micaiah would only speak the truth that God would tell him to.
At the beginning of this story we see that there has been peace for 3 years between Israel and Aram. Aram had previously captured and inhabited Ramoth and Gilead from Israel and even though there was peace, Ahab as greedy as he was wanted these cities back. The king of Judah at the time was Jehoshaphat and contrary to Ahab he was a good king and a God-fearing king. Israel and Judah also happened to have good relations at this time which was not always the case. Jehoshaphat had gone to visit Ahab and Ahab entices Jehoshaphat to join forces with him to take back Ramoth and Gilead. Jehoshaphat agrees but first requests that they inquire from the Lord before making this decision. This is a wise decision from a God-fearing man. Ahab then summoned about 400 “prophets” to ask them if they should go to war or if they should refrain from war. All 400 told Ahab to go and that he would be successful. I said prophets in quotations because it appears that these prophets were not prophets of the Lord as they were only there to say what the king wanted to hear and not what he needed to hear. This is why Jehoshaphat asks if there is no prophet of the Lord left in Israel. Ahab said that there is one man but that he hates him because he never says anything good about him. He hates Micaiah because Micaiah tells Ahab whatever the Lord tells him to say and because Ahab is such a bad king it is never anything good.
Ahab sent messengers out to summon Micaiah and they told him that all the other so-called prophets in the land were predicting success for the king so rather than stir up trouble he should just agree with their prediction. It is obvious that Ahab really didn’t want to know what the Lord was saying but only wanted to hear what his ears wanted to hear. However, Micaiah being a true Prophet for the Lord explains that he can only say what the Lord tells him to say. Surprisingly when Micaiah is asked by the king whether they should go to war Micaiah tells him to attack and that he will be victorious. It seems that Ahab is surprised with this answer but does not believe Micaiah because this would be the first time, he has received a favorable reply from Micaiah. So, he pleads him to swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord. Therefore, Micaiah describes Israel without a shepherd and the Lord tells everyone to go home in peace. This statement alludes to Ahab’s death if he goes to war.
Micaiah then describes an event of the Lord sitting on the throne with the multitudes in heaven and the Lord asks the multitude “Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?” It appears that Ahab has no more chances left to repent and his fate is sealed. One spirit says that he will go out as a deceiving spirit in all the prophets of Ahab deceiving him to go out as if he would succeed. Micaiah explains that the Lord has declared disaster over Ahab. Of course, Ahab becomes angry at this response and has Micaiah throne into prison to only be fed bread and water until Ahab returns from battle safely. Micaiah says that if he returns safely then then Lord has not spoken through him. It is like Ahab is trying to hold Micaiah’s life for ransom to try to protect his own.
Jehoshaphat and Ahab end up going to war anyway. And Ahab tries to take fate into his own hands. He says that he will go to battle in disguise as if he is like any other soldier but tells Jehoshaphat to go wearing his royal robes. He is essentially putting Jehoshaphat out there as bait and as a sacrifice to selfishly protect his own life. However, when Jehoshaphat cried out after Aram pursued him, they saw that he was just a decoy and stopped pursuing him. Ahab thought that he could escape death because he was in disguise but someone fires an arrow at random and this arrow finds Ahab and wounds him fatally. Out of all the people that this arrow could have hit it hits Ahab. This was the Lord’s Arrow directed for Ahab. No disguise could hide him from the Lord. Therefore, Ahab died that evening.
Some may think that Micaiah got the wrong end of the deal in this whole situation but we see that in the end it is Ahab who gets what he deserves. Even though the multitude was set on telling Ahab a lie and Ahab was willing to listen to the lie, Micaiah was set apart, standing alone to tell the king the truth. Sometimes the people of God must stand alone to speak the truth in the world though there may be multitudes against them. Unfortunately, there are prophets out in our world today much like the ones that told Ahab to go to war. They tell lies to speak only what the people want to hear so that they can have fame and monetary support. There are such ministers of the Lord out in our world today that believe that only happy and appealing messages should be preached and nothing that would call people to repent. All that matters to them is butts in the pews. Yet the people do not realize that such messengers are leading them to Hell.
It is the role of the Pastor to speak the truth to their congregation. For it is better to tell the truth which hurts and heals rather than to lie which for a short time comforts and then kills. It is better to be hated for telling the truth rather than to be loved for telling a lie. It is better to stand alone with the truth like Micaiah than to be wrong with the multitude. It is not my job as Pastor to fill the pews with multitudes of people even though it would be nice. It is my job to speak the truth to you and to warn you of the consequences of sin so that you might repent and be saved. It is my job to fill the kingdom and not the pew. You cannot fill the kingdom with a lie. However, in speaking the truth it may often be lonely. You may have to stand alone from the rest of the world and the world may temporarily hate you. Such a message might seem divisive. It is important though that we never become divided over incidental things but when necessary we may have to stand alone for the truth. You see because it is better to suffer a little while for speaking the truth rather than temporarily succeed with a lie. This is because whichever option, we choose could have eternal consequences on our lives as believers and on the lives of others in the world.
Though it might not be popular I believe it is important that I preach and teach the truth if it might possibly save your eternal soul. I have seen people come and go in this church and some have gone and may never return because I read the truth in scripture. It is my hope and prayer that for as long as I am a pastor of this church that the only reason someone decides to leave the church is because I spoke the truth and they just could not handle that truth. If I stand here alone on the truth of the Word of God, I don’t count it my failure if everyone leaves because of that truth. However, I do count it as my failure if the pews are full and there are still people feeling secure in their sin. It is better to have a near empty church that reads, hears, and obeys the truth of the Word of God than to have a full Church that is never challenged and never feels the need to repent of their sins. The scripture warns us that there will be a day that people will no longer stand for hearing the truth but will only listen to what their tickling ears want to hear. I tell you the truth that that day is quickly becoming a reality. But it is my hope and prayer that all of you listening today will not fall into that category. It is my prayer that you will all find the courage to be willing to stand alone for the truth when the Lord calls you to do so regardless of the consequences that you might face. Again, it is better to suffer a short time for the truth rather succeed for only a short time with a lie. May you hold on and stand for that truth today.