1 Kings 22, Amen Corners and Lying Spirits

We love signs. We love looking for answers in places that we think will not only tell us what we want to know, but what we want to hear. In our search for answers, we inevitably take along with us our desires. We know what we want to hear and we hope we hear it. God knows that about us. But so does the enemy.

In 1 Kings 22 we see the king of Israel, Ahab, and the King of Judah, Jehoshaphat, discussing the reclamation of land Ahab believes to be Israel’s. Ahab asks Jehoshaphat if he will help Israel reclaim this land from Syria. Jehoshaphat is on board, but only after asking the Lord if this is what He wants first.

“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.” And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord.””

‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭22:4-5‬ ESV

So Ahab goes and calls some of his prophet friends and asks them. And they all say “The Lord says it’s cool” (urban paraphrase). But Jehoshaphat isn’t satisfied. He asks Ahab “Are sure there’s no other prophet we can ask?” Then Ahab says “So there is this one guy but I don’t like him because he never prophesies anything good for me!”

“But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the Lord of whom we may inquire?” And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.””

‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭22:7-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Obviously Jehoshaphat didnt trust Ahab’s prophet friends. And to make the trust issues worsen, when asked if there is another prophet to inquire from, Ahab replies that he knows one but would rather not use him because the guy never prophesies in his favor.

A lot of us are like Ahab. We love truth as long as the truth benefits us. We sometimes purposefully surround ourselves with people who will only tell us what we want to hear and allow us to do whatever we have already decided to do. We don’t wish for wise counsel, we wish for blind consent.

So Ahab sent a messenger to his prophet frenemy Micaiah while his fake prophet friends repeated the same lie to him. When Micaiah arrives before the two kings he is urged to prophesy in line with what the other “prophets” have already said. Instead, Micaiah says that he will only say what the Lord tells him to.

“And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak.””

‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭22:13-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Micaiah’s prophesy, summarized is that Israel should attack but the king will die. And that’s exactly what happened. But I jump to the end of the story to spend more time highlighting the middle. Because the ending, though important, is only half the lesson. The rest is in how Ahab receives, and doesn’t receive, and obvious word from the Lord.

Micaiah says that victory is given to the king. Ahab, though he got what he wanted, is still unsure since this prophet never tells him what he wants to hear. So he inquired further. Micaiah then prophesies that the battle will leave the people king-less. This ominous word sounds more like the prophet that Ahab knows and dislikes. But Micaiah isn’t done.

“And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.””

‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭22:19-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Please don’t miss this what just happened here. There aren’t many times that we get glimpses into throne room activity and when we do, we should take great notice.

In this instance, God blatantly asks how can we get Ahab to die. Yes, that bluntly and that boldly. And though that sounds harsh, it really isn’t once we see the rest of the story. A spirit comes forward and says that it knows a way to make that happen. It says it will go and be a “lying spirit” in the mouth of Ahab’s fake prophet friends. The Lord then says not only is that a great plan, it’s a plan that will surely work. Micaiah, in plain language, tell Ahab that the Lord told your prophets to lie in order so that you would be killed in battle. And what does Ahab do with the information? Locks Micaiah up in prison. And we know the end of the story: Ahab dies. A random arrow, not even meant for him, pierces his body and kills him.

“But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” And the battle continued that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died. And the blood of the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot.”

‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭22:34-35‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God used Ahab’s own disobedience to be the conduit for Ahab’s prophesied demise. The Lord did not have to tell Ahab his plans. And Ahab did not have to go into battle. The Lord never said don’t go; He just said Ahab would die. This was less a specific judgement over Israel and more of one over Ahab for all of his disobedience (See 1 Kings 18-22).

And here is where we should be vigilant to hear the word of the Lord. Our personal amen corners might just be being used as tools of Lord for our discipline or our judgement. The issue is that not Ahab had friends who didn’t speak truth; the issue that Ahab preferred lies over truth because lies taste better. Lies are easier to swallow and go down smoother. Artificial coloring and sugar always look pleasing and taste desirably. But, they are as beautiful to the eyes and ears as they are detrimental to the body and soul.

Truth comes from God. And us being made in His image means we want truth. We desire truth because we were made in truth, from Truth. But our sin has made us not want lies. Like Romans 1 says, we have traded the things of God for lies and false beliefs. We now no longer care what is truly true, as long as it fits what we already want. Ahab wanted the same thing, and we see where that got him.

Your amen corner might just be killing you. Listen to the word of the Lord before it is too late. God did not leave Ahab without a word from Him. And like Ahab, we also have the Word from God; this Word (the Bible) is finished as it contains all we need to know about God in order to find Him. But God also did not force Ahab to obey; and we won’t force us either. We must choose to trust the Word of God over our own word. Since we are finite, temporary, and created creatures, our word that comes from us can only be that. But God, our Creator, is never created and has always been, is eternal and is permanent. And so is His truth.

Your friends may be lying to you and you not even aware. Or they could mean well just be wrong. I’m not saying to start mistrusting our friends, our twitter followers or our little fanbase. I’m just reminding us all that truth doesn’t come from friendship; it comes from relationship with the God of truth.

Take that amen of your corner and give it to God. It might just save you life.

Image Source: Lightstock

In Medias Res: New Title, Same Focus

Have you ever had a friend jump right into the middle of a story and zoom into details and quotes without any back story or context? Or have you ever watched a movie and the beginning isn’t a narrative that tells the origin of the story but instead you are thrust right into a battle scene with no idea how this battle started? Then you, my friend, just experienced the storytelling device called in medias res. In medias res is when a story opens up in the middle of the storyline, not at the beginning. It is Latin for “into the middle of things”. Many stories employ this technique, including Homer’s “The Odyssey” and even the Bible in Genesis can be argued that it starts in the middle of things, while looking back briefly at the beginning of things.

Although it can be confusing at first, I like the use of in medias res because this technique best resembles our life; internally and externally. Whenever we meet someone new, we are meeting them in medias res. Even babies come into the world 9 months after conception. That is almost a year of an entire life being created without interruption, mostly. But when meeting friends, going on dates, greeting at church, introducing yourself to new coworkers, you are meeting all of these people, in media res.

The only person who does not meet us in media res is God, for He sees the beginning as it were the end and the middle as the present. But God almost always finds us, though, in medias res. When we come to God, whether it is at the age of 4 or 94, we are coming to him in the middle of things. And sometimes, we are in the middle of some very heavy and hurtful things.

That is one of the reasons I blog the way I do, and it’s why I changed the title of my blog. It is not only paying homage to the device, but it represents what I try to do here on this site. I’ll be honest, I don’t think my voice is very influential. I don’t think it’s very needed or wanted often times. But I know the Lord has given me something to say, and He chooses the ear (or ears) who hear it. But one of the things that consistently bugs me about church culture is that we never talk about our problems in medias res; we only talk about them at the ending credits. We talk about them after the dragon is killed, after the bomb is diffused and after we come home from the war. But never in the middle.

My life is not done. My flesh is not dead. My sin is not killed. My heart is not always fully set on Christ and won’t always be this side of Heaven. I have physical ailments. I have internal health issues. I have mental health issues. I have trauma, pain, and past hurts that still cling hard to my soul. I give in to lust. I give in to anger. I give in to laziness and procrastination. I constantly wonder if following God is worth the suffering that comes with it. I constantly wonder if the joy God offers is really better than the world’s. I don’t always believe in the promises of God. I don’t always have hope in the Lord. I don’t always want to be alive. And that is right now. Like, at the moment I am typing this, I struggle with all of those things. In medias res.

I wish we talked more like this. The people who have been most impacted by my writing are people who are honest enough to say that they are in the middle of things. That they are in the midst of the battle, not at the beginning or the end. And if we are honest, which sadly we aren’t always, we are all there. But yet, we shy away from showing our open wounds in the middle of the battle and instead rather show them once they are scarred over. We would rather talk to you once we have figured things out than talk to you in the middle of processing. We do not want to show the struggle; we want to show the victory.

But God isn’t impressed with our victory. Because He knows all victory is really His. But, instead, God ask us to show our struggle. He says His power is made perfect in our weakness, not in our strength. Your strength is only present because of the God who supplies it. Therefore, He is not impressed nor amused by you showing something He gave; and worst, flaunting it off as your own. But our weakness? He loves when we show that. Not in a self-pitying, reverse-prideful way. But in a dependent, humble, in recognition of our need for God’s grace kind of way. He already knows the end. And for those of us who are found in Christ, we do as well. But it’s the middle where we show it. It’s our willingness to struggle with Christ in the middle of things that shows that we also believe in how the story ends; and it shows that we also believe in how the story began.

We are all in medias res. And this site, my blog, is dedicated to showing my life in the middle of things. Those who stumble along this site are hopefully finding God on their way to finding God. Join the journey.