My heart dropped into my stomach. My dad stood in front of me and asked a question that left little doubt. I had been caught and now punishment would most certainly rain upon my head. How do you respond in that moment when you are flat out busted? Usually there are three options to choose from. We can either deny it, pass the blame, or confess and accept what’s coming. In my experience it is almost always better to admit right away that you are wrong than to try and shirk responsibility for your actions.
In the middle of 1 Kings 22 is kind of a weird text. I can’t say I’m 100% sure what to make of it. King Ahab ruled in Israel for 22 years and in that time he led the people into idolatry and he was more wicked than all the kings before him. He and his wife Jezebel were certainly not role models for children and here in 1 Kings 22 he finally meets his end.
King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah were deciding if they should attack Aram or not and 400 prophets had said it was a great idea. Now here comes Micaiah to ruin the fun. King Ahab hated Micaiah because he always brought him bad news from the Lord and he didn’t disappoint.
1 Kings 22:19-23 (NLT) Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the Lord says! I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who can entice Ahab to go into battle against Ramoth-gilead so he can be killed?’
“There were many suggestions, 21 and finally a spirit approached the Lord and said, ‘I can do it!’
22 “‘How will you do this?’ the Lord asked.
“And the spirit replied, ‘I will go out and inspire all of Ahab’s prophets to speak lies.’
“‘You will succeed,’ said the Lord. ‘Go ahead and do it.’
23 “So you see, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all your prophets. For the Lord has pronounced your doom.”
What? WHAT?! This is such a weird portion of scripture. I bet some of you reading the past few days have never heard this story, because it’s super weird! It has the sarcastic prophet Micaiah and now God is sitting in heaven like a mob boss, “Who can take care of Ahab for me?” Then he sends a lying spirit to get 400 prophets to lie so Ahab will go to his death. It’s an unusual story and many preachers don’t ever talk about it.
Why would God do this? Let’s think about who God is and what we know about Him. He is full of unending mercy and never failing love. I truly believe he was trying to get Ahab’s attention one last time so that he might repent and turn from his wickedness.
Ahab was evil and yet God still tried multiple times to get his attention. He had Elijah call down fire from heaven to prove he was real (1 Kings 18)! He helped Ahab to win battles so that he might “know that I am the Lord (1 Kings 20:13).” I believe that God allowed the lying spirit to be released to show Ahab He alone was God. Ahab’s whole life he had been serving other gods, and God in infinite mercy and grace was trying to show Ahab that there was no other true God but Him, just like he had all along.
Ahab was once again caught and punishment was coming. I believe his response is everything. This is not the first time he was caught either. In the previous chapter the Lord sent Elijah to basically tell him, “You’re out of here, your whole family is gone, your wife Jezebel will be eaten by dogs, it’s DONE!”
1 Kings 21:27-29 (NLT) But when Ahab heard this message, he tore his clothing, dressed in burlap, and fasted. He even slept in burlap and went about in deep mourning.
28 Then another message from the Lord came to Elijah: 29 “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has done this, I will not do what I promised during his lifetime. It will happen to his sons; I will destroy his dynasty.”
Last time Ahab humbled himself before the Lord and God showed mercy! Ahab had only just stopped short of actually turning from his sins. If he had I have no doubt God would have shown even greater mercy. Perhaps God was hoping this time would be the time that he fully surrenders.
But that’s not what happens.
1 Kings 22:26 (NLT) “Arrest him!” the king of Israel ordered.
Ahab responded by threatening the prophet with jail. This is such a contrast to the last time when he responded in humility and brokenness. I believe God was wanting to show him mercy and compassion, but Ahab’s hard heart was finally past receiving God’s mercy and thus the Lord carried out His plans.
Friends, I do not believe God is past the point of demonstrating mercy in your life, in our communities, in our nation and around the world. He is eagerly longing for us to come to Him in humility and in repentance.
As we enter these final days, as the world deteriorates around us and God begins pouring out His judgment upon the earth, I firmly believe God is calling out for those who will respond in such a way that He can demonstrate His continued mercy.
If you’re in a place today where you feel caught and you fear the judgement of God please remember His great love. It is never too late to repent and turn from your sins and receive mercy from our great Savior.