Micaiah the Prophet

Second Chronicles 18 tells the story of good King Jehoshaphat of Judah joining forces with evil King Ahab of Israel, to send their combined armies to attack the Arameans at Ramoth- Gilead.

While we might rightfully question the willingness of Jehoshaphat to share oxygen with Ahab, at least Jehoshaphat wanted to “first inquire for the word of the Lord” before embarking on the mission.

Ahab was happy to oblige. He assembled prophets, and they were quick to approve of Ahab’s plan. “Go,” they all said, “for God will give it into the hand of the king.”

But Jehoshaphat wasn’t satisfied. These yes-men were not prophets of Yahweh. Sure, they took God’s name upon their lips (v. 11) but did not serve Him nor speak for Him. Jehoshaphat asked Ahab, “is there not yet a prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of him?”

King Ahab replied that yes, “there is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil. He is Micaiah.” Apparently, Jezebel had missed killing a few true prophets of God in her reign of terror, and Ahab for some reason had allowed Micaiah to live. Jehoshaphat asked that Micaiah be sent for.

What follows (vv. 4-27) seems like a contest, as the two kings sat on their thrones and watched the prophets’ presentations. It serves as a powerful contrast between true prophets, the spokesmen of God; and false prophets, the agents of Satan. Let’s notice a few points that still hold true today.

A Vast Advantage in Numbers
The false prophets in Ahab’s retinue numbered four hundred (v. 5). The true prophets of God numbered just one.

Speaking truth is not about polling data. One person standing with God is a majority, unpopular though he may be. When it comes time, will you be the one willing to stand with God against a crowd? It’s not the thrones of these kings (v. 9) that so impressed Micaiah, but the throne of God (v. 18); the kings were arrayed in their fancy robes, but God was flanked by the armies of heaven!
A Pleasing Message

The false prophets presented an affirming message, that the king act on the desires of his heart. Unanimously, the false prophets echoed, “Go up to Ramoth-Gilead and succeed, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king” (v. 11). The messenger who was about to give Micaiah his cue to go on stage pointed out the “uniformly favorable” words of the four hundred, advising Micaiah that he should issue the same verdict if he didn’t want to create an uncomfortable scene, which could prove dangerous for himself.

Micaiah bravely replied, “As the Lord lives, what my God says, that I will speak” (v. 13). Though Micaiah knew good and well that his words would go unheeded, he spoke the truth to Ahab: “the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you” (v. 22). God would defeat Israel at Ramoth-Gilead, and scatter the army of Israel like sheep which have no shepherd.

As false teachers get more and more control of the levers of power and megaphones of media, the harder it is to stand for truth. It will cause discomfort to speak and to live God’s word regarding sexuality, honesty, worship, materialism. The gospel may not tickle the ears (2 Tim. 4:1-4), but it saves souls as repentance allows people to escape the wrath to come. Ahab hated Micaiah, but Micaiah demonstrated love for him (Gal. 4:16).

An Entertaining Presentation
Micaiah’s speech is not without its own brand of meaningful irony (in v. 15, compelling Ahab to demand the truth, hah!) But the presentation of the false prophets was quite a production. Zedekiah, the leader of the false prophets, took the trouble to make horns of iron for himself, placing them on his head and (I imagine) butting the air like a ram, saying, “Thus says the Lord, ‘With these you shall gore the Arameans until they are consumed’” (v. 10). Meanwhile, Micaiah’s message was just six spoken lines (v. 16).

“Speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) isn’t often done in a sophisticated way. But the message of Christ crucified and raised has power to save (Rom. 1:16).

Favor with the Powers of the Day
No doubt, the four hundred prophets high-fivved all the way back to their comfortable official residences. Micaiah revealed that the false prophets were complicit victims of a deceiving spirit; perhaps victims of the father of lies himself (John 8:44, 2 Thess. 2:11). Zedekiah felt secure enough in his official patronage to strike Micaiah in the face. Ahab had Micaiah thrown in prison. Micaiah did not retaliate, but uttered words of doom for both Zedekiah (v. 24) and Ahab (v. 27). As Micaiah predicted, the armies were routed, Ahab died in battle, and Jehoshaphat barely made it home safely.

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28). Micaiah stands as an example of all who would speak truth today!
–John Guzzetta