You just knew. In fact you knew so well that you did not want to look or you did not want to ask. What did you know? You know. You know that decision where you really struggled to make. You know that step you took knowing that it may not have been the right step to take. It may have been at work. It may have been with a significant other. It may have been with a group of friends.
Our lives are filled with decisions. Where do we go for guidance? Careful, we are good at turning where we know what answer we will get. Here is a story from 2 Chronicles 18 where we see some of what we do in our lives.
Even though Jehoshaphat already had great wealth and honor, he allied himself with Ahab through marriage. 2 A few years later, while Jehoshaphat was visiting Ahab in Samaria, Ahab slaughtered many sheep and oxen for Jehoshaphat and those who were with him in order to persuade him to attack Ramoth-gilead. 3 “Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” Israel’s King Ahab asked Judah’s King Jehoshaphat.Jehoshaphat replied, “I and my people will be united with you and your people in battle. 4 But,” Jehoshaphat said to Israel’s king, “first, let’s see what the Lord has to say.”
Are you following what is going on here? Ahab wants Jehoshaphat to join him in attacking Ramoth-gilead. Jehoshaphat has a great response. We may initially come back with a great response as well.
He says he needs to take some time to see what the Lord has to say. This is a good step.
It can be a very good thing for us to take this step as well. This may be only taking a minute to say a short prayer just to focus again on the decision we are about to make. This may mean taking a longer time to pray and read through Scripture. This may mean seeking guidance from other Christ followers too.
So Jehoshaphat takes the time, but where do they first turn?
5 So Israel’s king gathered four hundred prophets and asked them, “Should we go to war with Ramoth-gilead or not?” “Attack!” the prophets answered. “God will hand it over to the king.”6 But Jehoshaphat said, “Isn’t there any other prophet of the Lord around whom we could ask?”7 “There’s one other man who could ask the Lord for us,” Israel’s king told Jehoshaphat, “but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, only bad. His name is Micaiah, Imlah’s son.” “The king shouldn’t speak like that!” Jehoshaphat said.
Did you catch that last part? There was one other place they could turn, but the king did not want to go to him because he never tells him anything good. To say it another way, he is never told what he wants to hear.
8 So Israel’s king called an officer and ordered, “Bring Micaiah, Imlah’s son, right away.”9 Now Israel’s king and Judah’s King Jehoshaphat were sitting on their thrones dressed in their royal robes at the threshing floor beside the entrance to the gate of Samaria. All the prophets were prophesying in front of them. 10 Zedekiah, Chenaanah’s son, made iron horns for himself and said, “This is what the Lord says: With these horns you will gore the Arameans until there’s nothing left of them!”11 The other prophets agreed: “Attack Ramoth-gilead and win! The Lord will hand it over to the king!”
There was even some manipulation going on behind the scenes.
12 Meanwhile, the messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Listen, the prophets all agree that the king will succeed. You should say the same thing they say and prophesy success.”13 But Micaiah answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, I will say only what God tells me to say.”14 When Micaiah arrived, the king asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to war with Ramoth-gilead or not?” “Attack and win!” Micaiah answered. “The Lord will hand it over to the king.”
I would have loved to have seen this. This is great. I do not know what it was. Was it Micaiah’s sarcastic delivery? Was it in the way he looked at them as he talked? He first tells them what they want to hear. Again, for us, this a huge warning. How often do we first rationalize things in our heads to justify what we are doing or even how we feel? How often do we go to that friend or group of friends that we know will agree with us?
Here is such an important, and yes, scary step to take.
15 But the king said, “How many times must I demand that you tell me the truth when you speak in the Lord’s name?”16 Then Micaiah replied, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd! And then the Lord said: ‘They have no master. Let them return safely to their own homes.’”
Micaiah comes back and says what the Lord has revealed to him. The truth of what will happen should they attack is that Israel’s King Ahab will be killed, and they will be left without a leader. Of course the king did not like this.
17 Then Israel’s king said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you? He never prophesies anything good about me, only bad.”
So what is the obvious sign we may be trying to avoid God? We know. We know the right decision. We know the better step to take. We know, and yet, we seek the voices of people who will tell us what we want to hear.
May we seek God’s truth and God’s ways in all things.
(All scripture cited above from Common English Bible Copyright © 2011)