Character in Time of Crisis Day 18
“From hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Ye damned whale.” (Captain Ahab in Moby Dick by Herman Melville)
So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there.(1 Kings 22:37 NIV)
In all the passages we have looked at and indeed in all of the story of Elijah thus far, this is undoubtedly the most difficult if not even troubling passage. Many Christians over the years have had difficulty accepting some of what we read in 1 Kings 22:13 and following. Could it possibly be the case that God would send forth a lying spirit as verse 22 seems to suggest? Could God approve of such lies?
This passage shows us Judah and Israel for once in an alliance, and the two kings Jehosaphat and Ahab, allying together against the Arameans. Jehoshaphat is keen that Ahab seeks God’s will on this matter ( verse 5)
Four hundred prophets are brought forward who unanimously declare that Ahab will be victorious. Jehoshaphat is discerning enough to ask if no prophet of the Lord can be consulted, and the previously unknown prophet called Micaiah comes to the fore. I wonder if Micaiah was one of those 7000 that the Lord mentioned to Elijah earlier? Those who had not bowed the knee to Baal and had not kissed his image? (1 Kings 19:18) Micaiah is under pressure to agree with the rest of the prophets (verse 13), and initially brings the same bland encouraging message as they do (verse 15).
The fact that Ahab himself saw through what Micaiah had said seems to suggest that he is taking to heart what Elijah had said before and the judgement God had pronounced (1 Kings 21:19). Perhaps Ahab even expected to receive bad news someday. Micaiah’s message from the Lord was very different when it comes. Then Micaiah answered,
“I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.'” (1 Kings 22:17 NIV)
The reason Ahab hated Micaiah as he makes clear was that he only prophesied bad against him. (verses 8 & 18) Perhaps Ahab had surrounded himself with yes-men who would flatter to deceive and say what he wanted to hear, to the extent that he set himself up to be deceived.
Micaiah went to tell of impending disaster (verse 23) which was instigated by a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets. God sanctioned this, as Ahab’s time had come and his own prophets would seal his doom by telling him lies. Ahab and his prophets seem to fulfil the warning Paul gives in (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 NIV)
“For this reason, God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness’.
In His sovereign mercy though God also sent Ahab a means of hearing the truth from Micaiah. But like Herman Melville’s fearsome fictional character Captain Ahab, the king of Israel is blinded as to what lies ahead. Captain Ahab was determined above all else to destroy the white whale Moby Dick even if it cost him and his crew their lives. King Ahab was determined not to listen to or obey Jehovah God of Israel. Despite hearing the word of God through Micaiah he still ignores it and goes to battle at Ramoth Gilead where he is killed.
So Ahab king of Israel dies and as Elijah had said the dogs licked up his blood in Samaria. So died Elijah’s great enemy the man that scripture records in this way ( There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. (1 Kings 21:25 ESV).
Ahab died, and God’s judgement is enacted upon him. The solemn thought in this whole affair is that Ahab had heard both the truth and the lies, but for some reason, preferred the lie. How many in this world are similarly deceived and deceiving themselves in this way?