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Micaiah's Warning (1 Kings 22:1-28; 2 Chronicles 18:1-27) January 25

Assyrian history records another war involving Ahab, which appears to have taken place during the three-year truce with Syria (1 Kings 22:1). The Assyrians began to rise in power, and made an advance toward the coastal area far north of Israel. Apparently Ahab joined an alliance of nations in repelling their advance, and, according to the inscriptions of Shalmaneser III, he supplied about one half (2,000) of the chariots and perhaps a sixth (10,000) of the infantry.

Jehoshaphat also forms an alliance with Ahab. As part of the alliance, their children, Jehoram and Athaliah, are married (2 Chronicles 18:1; 21:6). Jehoshaphat pays a visit to his ally, and Ahab proposes that Jehoshaphat join him in an attempt to recover Ramoth-Gilead from the Syrians in yet a third war with them. This was a town on the east side of the Jordan that belonged to Gad and had originally been designated as a city of refuge (Deuteronomy 4:41-43).

Jehoshaphat agrees but insists on finding out God's will in the matter first. For some reason, when asked about a prophet of God, Ahab does not mention Elijah or his assistant Elisha. Perhaps they were known to be away and not available. In any case, though many true prophets had been killed earlier in Ahab's reign, there were still a few around. Here we are introduced to the prophet Micaiah, who is mentioned nowhere else in Scripture unless, as some have speculated, he is the same Micaiah sent out by Jehoshaphat to teach in Judah (2 Chronicles 17:7). One of the saddest aspects of this encounter is that Jehoshaphat, too, is persuaded to ignore the message from the prophet of God whom he had specifically asked to hear from.

Remarkably, we get a glimpse in our current reading of how God actually sometimes uses even demons to fulfill His purposes. Notice that God did not command any spirit here to lie. He simply asked who would do it and told the volunteer to go do what he was inclined to do anyway. The fact that Micaiah's true prophecies were always at odds with those of Ahab's prophets (compare 1 Kings 22:8) would seem to imply that a "lying spirit" was commonly behind the words of Ahab's prophets.

Notice this from The Bible Reader's Companion: "Did God Himself lie to Ahab? Not at all. He did permit Ahab's prophets to lie…. [But] God in fact clearly revealed to Ahab the source of his prophets' predictions, and the truth about what would happen to him in the coming battle. Ahab's death resulted from refusing to believe the truth, not from a failure to know it. Let's be careful not to blame God for the consequences of our own fully conscious choices" (note on 1 Kings 22).

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