Introduction: 1 Kings concludes with a series of mistakes that both Ahab (Northern Israel’s king) and Jehoshaphat (Judah’s king) made in failing to fully discern or follow God’s Word. From the their mistakes and the example offered through God’s prophet Micaiah, God reveals seven lessons for discerning and following His Word in your life. These include: (1) prayer, (2) testing, (3) truth, (4) submission, (5) fearing God, (6) obedience, and (7) your family’s worship.
First, Ahab wanted to immediately start a war with the Syrians. Yet, Jehoshaphat wanted Ahab to first seek Yahweh’s guidance. In this area, Jehoshaphat acted correctly. From his example, God wants you to pray for His guidance and not to rely on your own understanding. Second, Ahab received advice from 400 false prophets of Asherah and one false prophet who claimed to represent Yahweh. Because Satan will attempt to deceive you with false spirits, God wants you to always test the advice that you receive to ensure that it is from Him. Third, Ahab’s messenger encouraged Micaiah to speak with unity and embrace the other prophets’ message. Yet, he spoke the truth in predicting Ahab’s death if he pursued war. Micaiah spoke the truth even though it made him unpopular and likely kept him in prison. From Micaiah’s example, God shows that His will is revealed when you seek His truth over appeasing others. Fourth, upon hearing God’s Word, Ahab called it “evil” because he would not submit to God. Thus, God allowed Satan to deceive Ahab and his false prophets. From Ahab’s mistake, God warns that it is your choice to submit to His guidance. If you don’t do so, Satan may be the one to guide you and to deceive you. Fifth, instead of repenting, a false prophet struck Micaiah, and Ahab sent him to prison to endure harsh conditions. From the evil acts of Ahab and his false prophet, God warns that if you don’t fear Him you may not discern His Word. Fearing God in the Bible is defined as hating that which is evil. Sixth, because Ahab was disobedient to God, he died on the battlefield, just as Micaiah foretold. From Ahab’s mistake, God warns that if you reject His Word, you will suffer consequences. Finally, the account concludes by revealing that both Jehoshaphat and Ahab’s families suffered as their sons repeated the sins of their fathers. As a result, neither family fully discerned or fully followed God’s Word. From their mistakes, God reveals that His Word must be followed by all your family or your family will suffer together.
Ahab seeks allies in Judah for a third war against the Syrians without consulting God. After forming a peace treaty that was against God’s will, Ahab sought to wage a third war with the Syrians to retake land that he won under his peace treaty: “1 Three years passed without war between Aram and Israel. 2 In the third year Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. 3 Now the king of Israel said to his servants, ‘Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, and we are still doing nothing to take it out of the hand of the king of Aram?’” 4 And he said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?’ And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, ‘I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.’ 5 Moreover, Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, ‘Please inquire first for the word of the Lord.’” (1 Kgs. 22:1-5). As a condition for sparing his life after losing two wars with the Jews, Ben-hadad agreed to restore lands that his forces had taken from the Jews. “34 Ben-hadad said to him, ‘The cities which my father took from your father I will restore . . .” (1 Kgs. 20:34). Ramoth-gilead was a city that Ben-hadad promised to return to the Jews but then failed to do so. It was Levitical city east of the Jordan River in Gilead (Jdgs. 11:34). It was also an important city under Solomon (1 Kgs. 4:13). It was also strategically important because it overlooked the plain of Jezreel. King Ahab cared about the security of Jezreel because he had a palace there, and this is were he stole Naboth’s lands after killing him (1 Kgs. 21:1, 15-16). During the three years of peace (1 Kgs. 22:1), Ahab formed a coalition with Ben-hadad and 10 other pagan kings in order to fight off an Assyrian invasion. From Assyrian records, historians believe that these forces fought a battle at Qarqar on the Orontes River in 853 B.C. This battle temporarily stopped the southward march of the invading Assyrian forces. This peace allowed Ahab to turn his attention to recapturing Ramoth-gilead. At this time, the new King of Judah, Jehoshaphat (circa 873-848 B.C.), came to establish a better relationship with Israel after years of conflict, and he tried to pursue God’s will (2 Chr. 17:4-9; 19:5-7). When Ahab pressed Jehoshaphat to help him retake Ramoth-gilead, he asked Ahab if he had first consulted God for guidance (1 Kgs. 22:5). This was something that Ahab failed to do because he did not trust God.
Seek God’s will to guide the important decisions in your life. This was not the last time when Jehoshaphat would demonstrate himself to be a man after God’s heart. In 2 Kings, he became introduced to Elijah after he asked for a prophet to help discern God’s will: “But Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD by him?’ And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, ‘Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.’” (2 Kgs. 3:11). After hearing reports of Saul’s imminent attack on him in the wilderness, David turned to the priest Abiathar to guide his steps (1 Sam. 23:9-15). When you cry out to God, He will give you wisdom: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Jam. 1:5). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” (Ps. 51:6). “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6). David would also turn to God’s Word to guide his path: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105). The Holy Spirit will help you to remember the Word and apply it in your life. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (Jo. 14:26, 16; 15:26; 16:13). Are you reading the Word and praying for the Spirit to guide you?
Do not lean on your own understanding. Ahab failed to follow Solomon’s advice not to lean on his own understandings: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). For people like Ahab, consulting God’s wisdom will also appear like a foolish waste of time. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18; 1 Cor. 2:14). If you are facing an important decision, consult God.
Seek God’s wisdom first, and He will add everything else you need. If you seek God’s kingdom, His righteousness, and His wisdom, He also promises to provide for your needs: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33). “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (Jo. 15:7). “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6). “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4). If you diligently seek Him, you will also find Him: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13). “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8). If Ahab had pursued after God, he would not feel the need to covet his neighbor’s lands.
The false prophets tell Ahab that he will prevail in a third war against the Syrians. Instead of consulting God, Ahab got the answer he wanted by consulting 400 false prophets. Yet, after Jehoshaphat insisted on hearing from a real prophet from Yahweh, Ahab brought him a prophet named Micaiah: “6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, ‘Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle or shall I refrain?’ And they said, ‘Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.’ 7 But Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not yet a prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of him?’ 8 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.’ But Jehoshaphat said, ‘Let not the king say so.’ 9 Then the king of Israel called an officer and said, ‘Bring quickly Micaiah son of Imlah.’ 10 Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting each on his throne, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 11 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made horns of iron for himself and said, ‘Thus says the Lord, ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are consumed.’’ 12 All the prophets were prophesying thus, saying, ‘Go up to Ramoth-gilead and prosper, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.’” (1 Kgs. 22:6-12; 2 Chron. 18:8-27). The 400 false prophets were most likely the false prophets of Asherah who were not killed with the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel: “Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” (1 Kgs. 18:19, 22). The false prophets of Asherah told Ahab exactly what he wanted to hear. They promised him victory. The numbers 40 and 400 are both associated with testing in the Bible. God tested the Jews to see who they would turn to. Ahab turned to the people who told him what he wanted to hear. Yet, Jehoshaphat did not trust pagan prophets. He wanted a “prophet of the Lord.” Micaiah was the only available “prophet of the lord”. His name roughly translated as “Who is like the lord?” Yet, Ahab did not like Micaiah because he did not say what he wanted. Based upon the context, most believe that Ahab had cast him into prison for his prior advice. When the kings were together in a royal court room, the false prophet Zedekiah (yet likely not a prophet of Asherah) repeated the promises of victory. He made horns of iron and used them to prophesy against the Syrians (1 Kgs. 22:11-12). This is a symbol of victory (Dan. 8:7; Micah 4:13; Zech. 1:18-19). To add to his claims of authenticity, he did not claim to represent Asherah. Instead, he claim victory on behalf of Yahweh.
Be wary of those who only preach “feel good” messages on behalf of God. Ahab had 400 false prophets of Asherah and one alleged prophet of Yahweh named Zedekiah. All offered uplifting messages of victory. By a number count, it would appear that God would ensure victory. Yet, God later condemned the many false prophets who offered the words that the people wanted to hear instead of the truth: “For this is a rebellious people, false sons, sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of the LORD; who say to the seers, ‘You must not see visions’; and to the prophets, ‘You must not prophesy to us what is right, speak to us pleasant words, prophesy illusions.” (Is. 30:9-10). “It is definitely because they have misled My people by saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace. And when anyone builds a wall, behold, they plaster it over with whitewash;” (Ezek. 13:10). “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,” (Jer. 23:26). ‘“Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,’ declares the LORD, ‘and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 23:32). Many churches also offer only “feel good” messages. While the Bible calls upon believers to encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11), that is not the only message in the Bible. If your church only offers half of God’s truth, it is not fully representing God. God’s Word is also meant to convict and change behavior.
Test every spirit and every prophetic claim. Throughout history, there have been many false leaders who have led God’s people into rebellion against Him. “Then the LORD said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.”’ (Jer. 14:14). Thus, Jesus warns believers to “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt. 7:15). “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.” (Matt. 24:11, 24). Thus, it is important to test every person who claims to speak on God’s behalf: “20 But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Dt. 18:20-22). God allows false prophets to exist to test your heart (Dt. 13:3). His warnings to test all things is repeated in the New Testament. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 Jo. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Thess. 5:21). Deceiving spirits may also come across as “angels of light” (2 Cor. 11:14-15). The false prophets who advised Ahab were like angels of light with their predictions of victory. Yet, even when a person offers predictions of victory, you should always be wary of being deceived.
Seven signs of a false prophet. There are several signs of a false prophet. First, a false prophet encourages you to pursue things that are contrary to God’s will (Dt. 13:2). That is exactly what the false prophet did in this account. Second, a false prophet teaches things based upon human traditions that are contrary to what appears in the Bible (Mk. 7:6-8; Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Tim. 4:3; Jer. 23:16). Many of these false prophets also ignore sin: “Your prophets have seen for you false and foolish visions; and they have not exposed your iniquity so as to restore you from captivity, . . .” (Lam. 2:14). “They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.” (Jer. 8:11; 14:13-14; 20:6; 28:15; 29:8; 23:17; Is. 30:10; 1 Thess. 5:3). Third, a false prophet causes dissention that is unrelated to correcting or restoring a wayward person or a church (Rom. 16.17). Fourth, even if a person shows outward acts of piety or righteousness, the person is a false prophet if he or she is inwardly motivated by self-interest (Matt. 7:15; 2 Pet. 2:1-3, 13-15, 19; Jer. 23:26). Fifth, a false prophet denies that Jesus is the son of God (1 Jo. 4:2-6). Fifth a false prophet offers alternatives to salvation besides Jesus’ death on the cross (Matt. 24:5). Finally, a false prophet makes predictions that do not come true (Dt. 18:22). Believers are warned to be aware of these tests because false prophets will come and deceive many in the end times.
God’s prophet Micaiah foretells Ahab’s defeat. A messenger from Ahab warned Micaiah to offer words of unity with the other prophets. Yet, as the one true representative of Yahweh, Micaiah warned that the war with the Syrians would result in Ahab’s defeat: “13 Then the messenger who went to summon Micaiah spoke to him saying, ‘Behold now, the words of the prophets are uniformly favorable to the king. Please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.’ 14 But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I shall speak.’ 15 When he came to the king, the king said to him, ‘Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?’ And he answered him, ‘Go up and succeed, and the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.’ 16 Then the king said to him, ‘How many times must I adjure you to speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?’ 17 So he said, ‘I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep which have no shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master. Let each of them return to his house in peace.’’” (1 Kgs. 22:13-17). The messenger encouraged Micaiah to speak with unity with the other prophets who had already spoken ‘“let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.’” (1 Kgs. 22:13). The assumption that many have is that a favorable word from Micaiah would have resulted in his freedom from prison. Yet, Micaiah said that he would speak God’s truth, even if it challenged the consensus or unity of the group (1 Kgs. 22:14). Micaiah initially responded with sarcasm when he told Ahab to go and prosper because Ahab did not really want the truth (1 Kgs. 22:15). Ahab recognized Micaiah’ sarcasm and then demanded a truthful response (1 Kgs. 22:16). Yet, Ahab did not really seek God’s truth. Instead, he needed to convince Jehoshaphat to agree to send his forces to aid in the battle for Ramoth-gilead. Micaiah then prophesized that the “shepherd” of Northern Israel, Ahab, would be killed, leaving God’s people without their shepherd (1 Kgs. 22:17). Thus, Micaiah warned Ahab that his foolish war would result in his death.
God speaks to those who diligently seek His truth. Unlike the false prophets, Micaiah could hear God’s true voice because he was a man of faith who diligently sought God’s truth. Saul thought that he was serving God when he hunted down the followers of Christ. At that time, he could not hear God’s voice. Yet, God transformed him and allowed him to understand His voice (Acts 9). If you diligently seek His truth, you will also find Him, and His truth will guide you and set you free: ‘“and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. . . So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”’ (Jo. 8:32, 36). “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13). “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8). “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Ro. 8:2). Are you diligently seeking Jesus to develop an ongoing walk with Him?
The truth is more important that the unity of God’s people. At the time, Micaiah was under pressure to present a unified voice to the kings of Israel and Judah. Normally, believers are called upon act with one accord as the Spirit leads the body. “so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Ro. 12:5). “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:17). “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12). “But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” (1 Cor. 12:20-21). “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;” (Eph. 4:4). Yet, unity must be based upon the love of God: “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Col. 3:14). If Micaiah had promised victory, he would have been motivated out a love for his own freedom or for the people to feel united together. He would not have been motivated by a love for God. Churches can make the same mistake. There are many teachings in the Bible that are no longer politically popular. In fact, repeating certain verses in the wrong context could get you fired or even charged with “hate speech.” Like Micaiah, many churches and believers must choose between political unity and God’s truth.
God sent the prophets and later Jesus because His shepherds led His people astray. Micaiah warned that the Jews of Northern Israel would soon be without their shepherd (1 Kgs. 22:17). Yet, even though they had a physical shepherd, they had not had a spiritual shepherd since Israel divided into two nations. Moses prophetically prayed for God to provide a spiritual shepherd to gather His lost sheep: “May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the LORD will not be like sheep which have no shepherd.” (Nu. 27:16-17). Like Micaiah, Jeremiah also lamented the lack of a spiritual shepherd for God’s people: “My people have become lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray. They have made them turn aside on the mountains; they have gone along from mountain to hill and have forgotten their resting place.” (Jer. 50:6). Jesus is the Good Shepherd who came to gather His lost sheep: “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt. 9:36; Mk. 6:34). If He is your real shepherd, you will prize His truth over political correctness.
Micaiah reveals that God allowed for a spirit to deceive the false prophets. Because Ahab called God’s Word evil, God rendered his prophets spiritually blind and allowed Satan to send a spirit to deceive his false prophets: “18 Then the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?’ 19 Micaiah said, ‘Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. 20 The Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 The Lord said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’ 23 Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you.’” (1 Kgs. 22:18-23). Ahab claimed that he wanted the truth. Yet, he called Micaiah’s prophesy “evil” (1 Kgs. 22:18). Ahab only wanted to hear words of victory. To rebuke Ahab, Micaiah restated God’s prophesy against him more forcefully (1 Kgs. 22:19). Because Ahab and his prophets had embraced evil, God made them spiritually blind to a spirit that He allowed to deceive them. God cannot lie or deceive: “God is not a man, that He should lie, . . .” (Nu. 23:19; Heb. 6:18). Thus, this was an evil spirit from Satan that God allowed to deceive Ahab (1 Kgs. 22:22). At times, God allowed both Satan and his fallen angels access to heaven (Job 1:6; Rev. 12:10).
If you don’t submit to God’s Word, you are spiritually blind and likely to be deceived. God shut the eyes of the false prophets to the truth to show them that they were spiritually blind. In reference to those who will follow the future anti-christ, God warns: “For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,” (2 Thess. 2:11). “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,” (Ro. 1:28). “Be delayed and wait, blind yourselves and be blind; they become drunk, but not with wine, they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the LORD has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, the seers.” (Is. 29:9-10; 42:16). “Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech,” (Jdgs. 9:23.) As another example of this, Saul was spiritually blind to his persecution of Jesus’ followers until Jesus removed the scales from his eyes (Acts 9:8-9, 18). All who walk by sight instead of God’s Word are spiritually blind: “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:3-4; Matt. 13:22). If you are pressured to follow what is politically popular, will you resist and follow God’s Word?
Ahab imprisons Micaiah and subjects him to harsh treatment for foretelling defeat. Because their hearts were evil, a false prophet struck Micaiah, and Ahab threw him into prison, where he was further mistreated: “24 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, ‘How did the Spirit of the Lord pass from me to speak to you?’ 25 Micaiah said, ‘Behold, you shall see on that day when you enter an inner room to hide yourself.’ 26 Then the king of Israel said, ‘Take Micaiah and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son; 27 and say, ‘Thus says the king, ‘Put this man in prison and feed him sparingly with bread and water until I return safely.’’’ 28 Micaiah said, ‘If you indeed return safely the Lord has not spoken by me.’ And he said, ‘Listen, all you people.’” (1 Kgs. 22:24-28). Zedekiah accused Micaiah of lying when struck him (1 Kgs. 22:24). Ahab then sent him back to prison under a governor named Amon and his son Joash (1 Kgs. 22:267). In prison, Ahab had Micaiah abused further. Micaiah then stated that if Ahab returned in a victory, he could be killed in accordance with God’s law regarding false prophets (Dt. 18:21-22).
Fear God by hating evil. Ahab and his false prophets did not accept God’s wisdom and instruction because they did not fear Him: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7; 9:10). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.” (Ps. 111:10). This did not mean that Ahab and Zedekiah needed to fear the arbitrary wrath of God. Instead, they needed to fear God by hating that which was evil: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; . . .” (Prov. 8:13). If you are tolerating evil things in your life, the fear of God is missing in your life as well.
Don’t despise those who use God’s Word to reprove evil. Ahab and Zedekiah responded out of anger because Micaiah reproved them. God’s prophet Amos later condemned those who reject God’s reproof: “They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks with integrity.” (Amos 5:10). “A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise.” (Prov. 15:12). “Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter of troops; they have laid siege against us; with a rod they will smite the judge of Israel on the cheek.” (Micah 5:1). Paul also rebuked those who despised him for his candor in speaking God’s Word: “So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16). God does not want you to have a stiff neck when He reproves you. Instead, He wants you to repent and turn back to Him when He reproves you.
Listen to God’s prophetic Word through His prophets and Christ. Moses promised that God’s people during the end times or “latter days” would return and understand His voice: “When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice.” (Dt. 4:30). Jeremiah also promised that God’s prophetic Word would be clearly understood in the last days: “The anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart; in the last days you will clearly understand it.” (Jer. 23:20). In the Old Testament, God spoke through prophets and even non-believers (cf., Nu. 24:14; Dan. 2:28). In the New Testament, God spoke through Christ and His disciples: “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” (Heb. 1:2). Through Jesus, God has made His promises clear. You first need to listen and believe in faith. Listening to His word will build up your faith: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Ro. 10:17). You also must read the Word and pray. When things remain unclear, you must also seek His wisdom through Spirit-led teachers, pastors, and others.
Don’t reject all who offer prophetic utterances. Today, most would claim that they have no problem rejecting a false prophet. Many simply reject any type of prophetic utterance. Yet, if you do this, you may close the door for the Holy Spirit to speak to you: “do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;” (1 Thess. 5:20-21; Eph. 3:4-5). It was the Word that allowed the Bereans to verify Paul’s claims that Jesus was in fact the Messiah (Acts 17:11). If the Bereans had rejected all prophetic utterances, they would have never learned that Jesus was the Messiah. Likewise, if David had rejected all prophetic utterances, he would not have been convicted of sins when the prophet Nathan confronted him after he slept with Bathsheba and killed her husband (2 Sam. 12:1-7). Are you regularly reading the Word to keep the path for your feet lighted? (Ps. 119:105). For times when the Word does not address your issue, are you looking for the prophetic Word from the Spirit and then testing it against Scripture?
God defeats Ahab’s forces and kills Ahab for his disobedience. Because Ahab was disobedient, he died in battle, just as Ahab had foretold: “29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up against Ramoth-gilead. 30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘I will disguise myself and go into the battle, but you put on your robes.’ So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into the battle. 31 Now the king of Aram had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, saying, ‘Do not fight with small or great, but with the king of Israel alone.’ 32 So when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, ‘Surely it is the king of Israel,’ and they turned aside to fight against him, and Jehoshaphat cried out. 33 When the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him. 34 Now a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel in a joint of the armor. So he said to the driver of his chariot, ‘Turn around and take me out of the fight; for I am severely wounded.’ 35 The battle raged that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot in front of the Arameans, and died at evening, and the blood from the wound ran into the bottom of the chariot. 36 Then a cry passed throughout the army close to sunset, saying, ‘Every man to his city and every man to his country.’ 37 So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried the king in Samaria. 38 They washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood (now the harlots bathed themselves there), according to the word of the Lord which He spoke. 39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab and all that he did and the ivory house which he built and all the cities which he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 40 So Ahab slept with his fathers, and Ahaziah his son became king in his place.” (1 Kgs. 22:29-40). Although it is no surprise that Ahab rejected Micaiah, it is surprising that Jehoshaphat rejected Micaiah’s prophesy and followed Ahab into battle (1 Kgs. 22:29). If Jehoshaphat was torn between the competing claims of the prophets, he did nothing to test them. Ironically, it was Ahab who appeared to take Micaiah’s prophesy the most seriously. Thus, he disguised himself just in case the prophesy was true (1 Kgs. 22:30). Saul also tried to disguise himself to evade God when he sought the counsel of a medium (1 Sam. 28:8). Jeroboam also had his wife disguise herself in an effort to trick the prophet Ahijah into giving his ill son a blessing (1 Kgs. 14:1-18). Ahab might have thought that he could have Jehoshaphat killed instead of him if the prophesy was true. Yet, God cannot be fooled. Possibly acting under God’s influence, Ben-hadad told his troops to focus their fire on Ahab (1 Kgs. 22:31). Ahab previously spared Ben-hadad and formed a peace treaty with him (1 Kgs. 20:34). Yet, this was done against God’s will. Thus, Ahab had really formed a deal with Satin, the father of lies who would deceive him (Jo. 8:44). As the Syrian closed in on Jehoshaphat, he gave a cry for God’s deliverance (1 Kgs. 22:32). In response, God spared his life: “So when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, ‘It is the king of Israel,’ and they turned aside to fight against him. But Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him, and God diverted them from him.” (2 Chr. 18:31). This cry to Yahweh also revealed to the Syrians that this was not the real king of Northern Israel (1 Kgs. 22:33). In an act of divine providence, a Syrian soldier then shot at a Jewish soldier. Yet, he killed the disguised king Ahab (1 Kgs. 22:34-35). Thus, Micaiah’s prophesy was fulfilled (1 Kgs. 22:17). This also fulfilled other prior prophesies about Ahab’s death (1 Kgs. 20:42; 21:19).
Ahab squandered his chance to succeed. God previously forgave Ahab when he repented for killing his neighbor, stealing his lands, and for his idolatry: “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days.” (1 Kgs. 21:29). Yet, Ahab squandered God’s mercy and grace with his disobedience. Thus, he died without honor, just as Elijah previously foretold: “You shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘Have you murdered and also taken possession?’ And you shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth the dogs will lick up your blood, even yours.’” (1 Kgs. 21:19).
Be obedient to God’s Word, even if you don’t fully understand the reasons behind it. Unlike Ahab, Jesus wants you to show your love to Him through your obedience, even if you don’t fully understand. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jo. 14:15, 21; 1 Jo. 5:3; 2 Jo. 1:6). “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (Jo. 15:10; Matt. 19:17). “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1 Jo. 2:3). Will you obey God’s Word, even you don’t understand it?
Jesus is not your Lord if you reject His Word. Ahab repeatedly refused to follow God’s Word. If you reject Jesus’ Word, He warns that He is not the true Lord over your life: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Lk. 6:46). “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt. 7:21). “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (Jam. 1:22). “for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.” (Ro. 2:13). Are you obediently following His Word?
The sins of the fathers carried over to their sons. The account concludes with a brief account of how the heirs of King Asa in Judah and King Ahab in Northern Israel continued after the sins of their fathers. As a result, both nations suffered consequences for their leaders ongoing disobedience: “41 Now Jehoshaphat the son of Asa became king over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. 42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 43 He walked in all the way of Asa his father; he did not turn aside from it, doing right in the sight of the Lord. However, the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burnt incense on the high places. 44 Jehoshaphat also made peace with the king of Israel. 45 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might which he showed and how he warred, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 46 The remnant of the sodomites who remained in the days of his father Asa, he expelled from the land. 47 Now there was no king in Edom; a deputy was king. 48 Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold, but they did not go for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber. 49 Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Let my servants go with your servants in the ships.’ But Jehoshaphat was not willing. 50 And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of his father David, and Jehoram his son became king in his place. 51 Ahaziah the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned two years over Israel. 52 He did evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. 53 So he served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger, according to all that his father had done.” (1 Kgs. 22:41-53). Jehoshaphat was King Asa’s son (1 Kgs. 15:24, 22:41). He became king of Judah when he was 35 years old (2 Chr. 20:31). Ahab had reigned in Northern Israel for four years when Jehoshaphat became king. Jehoshaphat reigned for 25 years and died at age 60, circa 873-848 B.C. (1 Kgs. 22:42). A more complete account of his life is set forth in 2 Chronicles Chapters 17 through 20. Although he followed God in some areas, in others he rebelled. Where he followed after his father’s sins, Judah suffered. Likewise, where Ahab’s successor Ahaziah followed after his father’s Baal worship, Northern Israel also suffered.
Jehoshaphat followed after his father’s successes and failures in his walk. King Asa initially followed after God by rejecting same sex marriage: “He also put away the male cult prostitutes from the land and removed all the idols which his fathers had made.” (1 Kgs. 15:12). This is contrary to God’s law (Jude 1:7). Yet, King Asa allowed for pagan worship: “But the high places were not taken away; nevertheless the heart of Asa was wholly devoted to the LORD all his days.” (1 Kgs. 15:14). Like his father, Jehoshaphat expelled those who practiced same sex marriage: “46 The remnant of the sodomites who remained in the days of his father Asa, he expelled from the land.” (1 Kgs. 22:46). Yet, like his father, he also permitted pagan worship: “the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burnt incense on the high places.” (1 Kgs. 22:43). King Joash later committed the same sin: “Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.” (2 Kgs. 12:3). Thus, even with only partial disobedience, Jehoshaphat caused Judah to suffer.
God rebuked Jehoshaphat for his alliance with Ahab and Ahaziah. In addition to allowing for pagan worship, God used the prophet Jehu to rebuke Jehoshaphat for his alliance with Ahab: “Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned in safety to his house in Jerusalem. 2 Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, ‘Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord and so bring wrath on yourself from the Lord? 3 But there is some good in you, for you have removed the Asheroth from the land and you have set your heart to seek God.”’ (2 Chr. 19:1-3). God later punished Jehoshaphat in ways that are not recorded here. Jehoshaphat sought to be like Solomon by building up a fleet to build up his wealth (1 Kgs. 9:26-28). He used the conquered territory of Ezion-geber in Edom as a naval base (1 Kgs. 22:46-48). David previously conquered Edom and set up military bases there (2 Sam. 8:14). Jehoshaphat tried to build up his fleet through an alliance with Ahab’s son Ahaziah. Yet, God’s prophet Eliezer condemned him for committing an act of evil by joining with the evil king of Northern Israel: “After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel. He acted wickedly in so doing.” (2 Chr. 20:35). As result, God then destroyed his fleet before they ever left the port (2 Chr. 20:36-37). Jehoshaphat then wisely rejected another joint proposal that Ahaziah made to him (1 Kgs. 22:49).
Judah also suffered from Jehoshaphat’s marriage alliance with King Ahab. In addition to forming an economic alliance with Ahab’s family, Jehoshaphat formed a marriage alliance with his family. He gave his son Jehoram to the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, Athaliah (2 Ch. 18:1). This allowed Jezebel to introduce her Baal worship directly into the royal line of King David in Judah. As a result of this unholy union, Jehoram “walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab did (for Ahab’s daughter was his wife), and he did evil in the sight of the Lord.” (2 Chr. 21:6). This in turn caused Jehoram’s son to suffer under the curse of idolatry (2 Chr. 22:2-4). As the kings of Judah turned from God, this also caused all of the peoples of Judah to suffer.
Ahaziah also continued in the wicked acts of his father Ahab. During the 17th year of Jehoshaphat’s reign in Judah and following Ahab’s death, Ahab’s son Ahaziah became king over Northern Israel. Yet, as a sign of his judgment, he only reigned two years, 853-852 B.C. (2 Kgs. 22:51). Like Ahab, he did evil in God’s eyes by leading his people astray through the worship of the pagan god Baal (1 Kgs. 22:52-53). Jezebel, Ahaziah’s mother, survived Ahab’s death and continued her wicked influence through her son. Ahaziah’s short reign was also a fulfillment of God’s judgment upon Ahab’s household (1 Kgs. 21:29). Both Ahaziah and Jezebel would die brutal deaths.
Commit your family to worshiping together to discern and follow God’s Will. Joshua made clear that the decision to follow after God was a decision that his entire family did together: “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh. 24:15). Likewise, when Jacob’s family sinned, he led them all in repentance: “So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments;’” (Gen. 35:2). Job also made sacrifices for his sons in case they sinned (Job 1:5). Solomon also implored: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6). In reference to God’s Law, Moses implored: “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Dt. 11:19). All of these leaders understood the importance for an entire family to follow after God. If a family does not act together to follow after God, they either will not fully understand or fully follow after God’s will. This was the mistake that both the kings of Northern Israel and Judah made. Because each leader tolerated some form of sin, their children followed after their sins and both nations suffered from their actions.