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THE POWER, THE PRECISION AND THE PENETRATION
PARABLE OF THE SHEPHERDLESS SHEEP
I Kings 22:17-28
Three Emphases in Reviewing
the Confrontations and the Applications
leading to and from these events
Part I Initial Survey
THE LONELY PROPHET
There were two Kings, one of Judah, one of Israel to the North. The latter was notoriously wicked, murderer, and his wife has left her name for a degrading term of description. They were Ahab and Jezebel. On the contrary, the King of Judah was none less than Jehoshaphat, notable for reform and leadership in spiritual issues. Amazingly, the latter had married the daughter of the other, a woman passionately idolatrous; and so his father-in-law suggested fighting together, in one battle, on the same side. Jehoshaphat with a staggering social slide, ignoring the spiritual, agreed.
There was now the time for the battle, in fact against Syria, in terms of 'regain lost property', in terms of Ramoth Gilead. How this illustrates the folly of marriage amiss, where the spiritual is not given priority, for a Christian where the wife either is not a Christian, or is in some sect or idolatrous contraption (II Cor. 6:14, I Cor. 6:9, II Chronicles 19:1ff.), which adds to the word of God, adds worshipful figures or subtracts from the deity of Christ, or His all-sufficient atonement to cover once for all the guilt of sin for ALL His people in ONE act finalised at Calvary (Hebrews 9).
One simple test is this. If you do not BOTH believe in the bodily resurrection of the only Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, without addition or addendum, amendment or multiplication: then such fail at once the most primary test of Romans 10:9, requiring to confess the Lord Jesus and to believe in your HEART that He is risen from the dead (as in Luke 24:39). There are no supplements (I Timothy 2, Acts 4:12, Matthew 23:8-10). In the Trinity alone is He found, and there is no other God.
If however the word of God written, and the living Word of God once smitten, do not rule, then there are developments to be expected. Soon ties of domestic, social or family kind begin to interfere with the spiritual, or dampen it, or corrode or compromise it. Moreover HOW could you AVOID the one who departs from the biblical teaching as in Romans 16:17, if married ? Jehoshaphat was no exception, and thus soon these things entered in: He shortly had sound reason to see, if not before! for He nearly lost his life through such antics.
Meanwhile, some 400 prophets, possibly those who ate at Jezebel's (extended) table, come for Ahab, father-in-law, to reassure him regarding the outcome of the forthcoming battle. There are slithery characters whom one would wisely trust not one millimetre (it is TOO easy to meet them, in their lairs and sophistry). Perhaps Jehoshaphat could not bring himself to trust their assurances that the battle was good, would end well! At any rate, he asked, Is there not another prophet ? He wanted confirmation from a better or at least different source. Yes, said Ahab, there is one, but he hated him, because his prophecies concerning that odious King were only evil!
Not at all! is the sense of Jehoshaphat's reply, so the man, the prophet Micaiah is sent for. The King of Judah wanted a second opinion!
At once effort is made to make of him a mere appendage to the 400 prophets already advocating the war. Please agree with them! the royal servant asks the prophet. That is like the Education Department requiring as precondition that what are mere nature myths be taught *1 (in type foretold in II Timothy 4:3-4), as if they related to scientific method.
In this case, it is war not merely on Syria, but on God, not only on adults, but on children, making many mill-stones at the ready (Matthew 18). One message once told us that there were 70,000 willing to take up this flag, so that the Ph.D's to the contrary, assuming both counts correct, would still be close to 400:1. Be that as it may, the principle is clear, whether it is Communism in1917 in falling Russia (before the induced famine), or in war-wearied China, before the Red Guard, or naturalism in some of the democracies in 2012...
There is always an end. In this case, it was soon to come. For all of life there is an end, or objective, the knowledge of the Maker, first as Creator and then as Redeemer, with liberty to worship Him on the part of those who are volunteers, as Psalm 110 puts, known to God before man was there to be known by man! There is also for every human exploit, an end, except where it has been stabilised, fortified, under-written and blessed by the Everlasting and Almighty God, when like Him, with His imprimatur of 'my son' or 'my daughter', it stays for ever. Some ends are obviously beneficial, like that of Hitler on this earth, the Red Guard, Stalin and other squalidly pre-occupied murderers; some are occupied in destruction, when those who denature their own lives and reject mercy, have everlasting shame
It is well to warn (Ezekiel 18, 33), and amidst the 400 false prophets, the King and the paraphernalia of authority, it may cost. How lovely have been the testimonies of those who would not yield, like stars in this world's darkness.
Micaiah, true prophet, did not yield, whether for money or profession. A first requirement of HIS profession was indissoluble truth I WILL SPEAK what the Lord shows, as the Lord lives, replied this true prophet.
To the King he went, for it was the King who sent! Will we prosper in this war or not ? came the royal question. Go and prosper for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the King! said what quite evidently was a mocking word to fill the bill! Seeing this at once, the King Ahab expostulated: How often must I tell you to tell me the truth! as if to reverse the roles.
Then, having made it clear in this peculiar but effective manner, that they would by no means prosper, the ironic being clear in the tone, Micaiah performed his lonely task. He alone had to speak the truth, despite the 400 on the other side, reminding one of the occasion in Sydney, at the 1964 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia*1A , when on trial for the truth, for it has seemed to me to be just like that, though it ended well, the Lord answering prayer munificently. Similarly, it reminds of the 1966 New Zealand Presbyterian Assembly's rejection of Christ's bodily resurrection as a doctrine required, when I alone there rejected their infamy formally,
both recording dissent*1B
and giving them formal grounds extensively in writing as permitted,
in this case to give glory to Christ and expose their apostasy.
What said Micaiah ? I saw, said Micaiah, all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep without a shepherd. "They have no master. Let each return to his house in peace." Such was the divine word spoken at this.
Ahab cried, "Did I not tell you he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil ?"
Thus evil was equated with the divine command that he had refused. That too is n land. Suggest that the divine design of the sexes for the purpose of procreation is both manifest in style and in the Bible, and you are viewed not as obviously factual, but as rank as any idolater would wish to make those who do not follow his bent! Being a Daniel, different, is not encouraged! But it still must be done (James 4:4), whether by 1 in 400 or 4,000,000! The truth of God is intransigent.
Thus evil was equated with a divine command in fact refused.
That too is now growing more common in this land. Suggest that the divine design*2 of the sexes for the purpose of procreation is both manifest in style and in the Bible, and you are viewed not as obviously factual, but as rank as any idolater would wish to make those who do not follow his bent! Being a Daniel, different, is not encouraged! But it still must be done (James 4:4). What then ? For Ahab, DO NOT GO to battle was the same as evil.
Evil was it ? Ignoring it cost Ahab his life. Insisting on on going any way in morbid fancy held a mortal wound! There is lesson indeed: do not have such a head of water in your head, or such a spring in your heart that to alter or stop becomes a personal affront! There are times, are there not, when a certain waywardness, wilfulness, clamant clamour can seek to inspire the heart! Like an intoxicating draught, it can surge. Wise is the person who WAITS on the Lord, and seeks wisdom and counsel from Him who saves, and is able to do so to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25), for those who come to God by Him. Why ? because, having paid the price and passed it on to such, He ALWAYS makes intercession for them. He neither leaves nor forsakes. This was soon to be seen as well for Jehoshaphat who was nearly there to end his career, but in mercy was saved.
THE PROPHETIC PARABLE
Life went on; and so did Ahab, who went off, both from the prophet and his protective word, and then, hit in battle, from this earthly sphere altogether! But first in the Lord's great mercies, before the battle, a parable was told by Micaiah, and it was one inspired by vision.
Now, to this advanced degree of regal recalcitrance, Micaiah reveals it. In vision, he had seen the Lord in His glory with all the host of heaven nearby. A question was asked: "Who will persuade Ahab to go up so that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead ?"
From this, we see that the Lord knowing all, and having clear before him the rebellious Ahab in just one MORE act of folly, resolved on his destruction. If you run across the road without looking for 99 times, then on the 100th., perhaps the time has come. Accordingly, in an ostensibly godly nation, actually formally now idolatrous, that is, Israel to the North, Ahab had reached the time when an uninterrupted stream of evil ways and desires was coming to its apt and just conclusion. Mercy was now being actively despised, even the current mercy which could have spared his own life! He despised the simple point: GO HOME!
Now it was for the Lord to announce to the people, the result. Thus the parable came on, from the lips of Micaiah. In this, the Lord then says to the multitude in heaven, WHO WILL GO, and persuade Ahab that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead ? In response, various spirits made diverse suggestions. One however came and said, "I will persuade him." He was sure and committed. He disclosed his method. He would go out as a lying spirit, that is one inducing self-deception in the King, and do this in the mouth of the false prophets. They would explicitly mislead him! That was their setting, this then their role!
After all, he trusted in them, so let him follow to death their deceptive delusions. It is as in II Thessalonians 2:10. BECAUSE certain people would NOT receive the love of the truth, THEREFORE the Lord would give them up to an ACTIVE delusion, so that they should believe THE LIE! As in Romans 1:25, so here, it is not ANY lie, but the pivotal one that is noted. This is that which divorces God from His biblical prophets, His written word, from the Bible, from His historic revelation, and so makes of natural things, or of man or of various frauds of this or that kind, the leading light, though it be darkness, one which at last does not go away, for it moves to and through their willing beings, all clinging wilfully to the confusion, ready to perish (II Thessalonians 2:10-12).
This is precisely what was to happen, has happened, is the prognosis for refusal of the living God as time runs on and down, and in our modern Age is its rampant fulfilment.
This was the procedure of power to instil that judgment in the case of Ahab, who despite his neat but unlovely trick, of encouraging his son-in-law to go to battle dressed as a king while he himself did not, yet fell. It reminds one of Jeremiah 37:10, where all mercies having been successively rejected by the furious desires of Judah, God announced that EVEN IF the attacking army were all wounded men, yet they would still arise and take the city! God is not a plaything, and omitting Him from your counsels omit His mercy, which is profound; but when it is time, when the opportunity is at last lost, then judgment in its time, supervenes.
Leaving God out of national counsel is the most riotous way to ruin you can gain, and both in the USA and now in Australia, this is becoming the way, as if power politics or trust in a group of nations could deliver. It does not. Fouling up, in this land, our Constitutional pre-amble concerning reliance on God Almighty, if it comes to that, could be even in the mercies of the most High, a high step over the precipice, the eyes lifted in unwise self-exaltation.
So Micaiah spoke. Ahab gave orders in response to this, Put him in prison and feed him on bread and water, till I return. IF, responded Micaiah, you return at all, the Lord has not spoken by me.
But He had. In the battle, when the power and plan of man was working, then the power and providence of God overcame this subtlety, and a stray arrow, set at a chance, found the heart of Ahab. If you fight against God, and make a welter of it, then your strength becomes weakness, and your hope your desolation, if not in body, then in heart, if not in finance, then in mind. Your sin will certainly find you out, if you flout it, and will not turn.
It is sad to see once great nations come to ruin, to see foolish peoples overthrow their nests, as sinning the more blatantly against God, they ASK for just such a thing, as indeed did ancient Israel (Hosea 8:7, Deuteronomy 32:21). THEY provoked God with useless idols; HE would provoke them with a foolish nation, and so did He! Play the fool and be fooled by what is already base. Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7).
THE GRACE OF CHRIST FOR HIS PEOPLE
In all this, Micaiah the prophet lived. Though the 'odds' humanly against him, were 400:1, the false prophets intoning their diseased minds into misleading words as is normal with such people, Micaiah lived through it, and with that had kept that word of rebuke and force: IF YOU RETURN AT ALL, the Lord has not spoken by me! That was a potential death warrant in view of Deuteronomy 13. Speak in the name of the Lord and the thing does not happen and you have misused that name; and in that theocracy, you would die for it! Hence Ahab had asked the people to NOTE that Micaiah had said King Ahab would not return alive. IF he had done so, MIcaiah would not have be left alive. In other words, he put his life on the line by faith; and so must every Christian do.
We read in the February 2012 edition of Israel, My Glory, that every 5 minutes a Christian dies for his faith, and that in the last 10 years, 100,000 per year have done this, while the Middle East is being increasingly vacated by Christians, many Jews also leaving, though Israel remains intact by divine warrant! (Zechariah 12-14). Christian life is not the sort of thing that is negotiable. What the Bible calls sin, call it, and what it calls you to do, do it; and if you fail, rue it and repenting or admitting failure, seek deliverance at once. It is like driving. The other day, another car drew near to us, and even making allowance for sitting on the left side, it seemed to me that it was coming too intimate! Crying out, I noted this, and indeed, it seems that it was careering slowly into us! It did not hit: action averted this.
You do not need to hit very often, when driving. Often, once will do... You have to WATCH. It is the same in Christian living. Watch and pray, so that you do not enter into temptation! Such were Christ's words to the disciples during that fateful night that led to the slaughter of the Saviour. Much was to occur in it, and as Peter found out to his cost, it was necessary to be prepared in spirit for the unexpected!
So once more the message comes. Be fearless, yes, but be also consistent. Be awake, but also be watchful. Be spiritually conscious, but also be prepared in spirit for whatever comes. If you are in the ratio of 1 to 400, against foes, what does that matter ? Think of Micaiah, and do not merely differ: be bold if it a matter of the Bible, of Christ's honour. Avoid the use of force, but let your mind and word and spirit be alike unmoved, but made strong like rock: for he who trusts in Him will never be moved! (Psalm 21:7, 55:22, 66:2,6). Though death seek to foul the waters, God is your refuge, and in Him you are safe, though the mountains be moved into the midst of the sea, and the ocean waters slap and crush as a result! (Psalm 46).
Rejoice in the Lord and be found faithful. Democracy is far better than tyranny, but even it can produce its own tyrannies when lies rule, and the people prefer the 400 to the one, even Jesus Christ, and so scattering righteousness, engage in what appear almost clownish acts (cf. Hosea 7:6-12a). Thus indeed the concept of same sex marriage in view of our divine design, is in effect to mock the Maker. It is no use having people attack each other: those who believe God and the verificatory evidence, MUST regard such things as close to a mockery of the God who is there (Romans 1, I Corinthians 5-6), and an exclusion zone, like adultery, for those who insist on it and do not repent.
Those who believe in themselves and make man the measure, though he himself is then unmeasured, reject such a view. You then measure but yourself and apply yourself without ground. Each sets the other view as wrong, misleading. Is that all ?
Is brazen will to rule ?*3 Is truth to die that laws to prohibit its criteria as final, may endure and lead a nation to its due results!
Is truth to lie fallen in the street, as in Isaiah 59, in its prophetic coverage of the days before the Lord who rose, and lives from eternity to eternity, "the Redeemer will come to Zion," (Isaiah 59:21), ready for judgment and rule on this earth (Isaiah 11). He does not leave this so, having already risen from the dead in all truth, and given man a long opportunity to seek Him, on a free basis, gloriously capable, called the Gospel.
What then ? In Act 5 of the divine drama, with its human outcome, all trials mature, He whose right it is, comes to collect His own (I Thessalonians 4, Matthew 24.Revelation 1, 19:1-8), then with them to Zion both as in Zechariah 14:5, that on earth, and then that phase past, with those who are His, to the Jerusalem which is above (Galatians 4:26, Revelation 20-22), when the final enfolding believer family, Jew and Gentile consummates (Romans 11, Revelation 20-22).
Without love, law fails, brittle and broken. Without law, truth is left idle. With truth and love, life becomes both worthy and disciplined again. Without repentance, where this is shown in salvation in the Saviour, the only name given by the God who equally gave but one design for our bodies (Acts 4:12), including both the content and linguistic type of our DNA: there is but eventual perishing.
Christianity does not require force. In the end, its opponents rely on it, whether by fines or prison, or as now so common, by slaughter such as now befouls the anti-Christian inclining earth, in its final mockeries before the judgment. Judgment! It is better to differ from Ahab and his prophets, and to follow one, in this case, not just Micaiah who, in his day, spoke so well as an example to all, but the One Saviour appointed. There is none with any record near to His, that of Jesus Christ, in power and compassion, in healing and holiness, in truth and operational thrust, whose word could not be broken, though His body was: as a sacrificial offering, through pardon, ready to make the heart of man glad. Breaching death, He is ready to confer life. The word of God alone continually stands, written, smitten, resurrected, whatever the affront or the force. He is like that!
See Secular Myths and Sacred Truth.
See also the approx. 1 million word compilation, The gods of naturalism have no go!
*1A See Biblical Blessings Ch. 11 as marked.
See Biblical Blessings Ch. 11 as selected. See also this summary. These concern New Zealand.
See the work, assessed as approx. 2.7 million words, Deity and Design, Designation and Destiny.
Barbs ... 6 -7, 17, SMR, TMR and
REASON, REVELATION and the REDEEMER.
LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST
WHO ANSWERS RIDDLES .
AND WHERE HE IS, DARKNESS DEPARTS.