Do Evil Spirits and Evil Events Do God’s Bidding? #297
Hello friends, and happy Monday to you! Pop quiz, hotshot: Which of the following people did NOT write a chapter of the Bible:
- Ethan the Ezrahite
I suspect that this trivia question would win you a lot of bar bets. Let me rephrase that: I suspect that this question will win you a lot of bets at your local Christian bookstore’s coffee hutch, if you have such a thing. And, the astonishing answer is: BARNABAS. Of the list I just read, only Barnabas hasn’t written a chapter of the Bible (that we are aware of, though I do need to say that he is a dark horse candidate for the book of Hebrews.) We could focus on Nebuchadnezzar’s chapter today, because it is an awesome chapter with some great insights, but that’s not our focus chapter. We’ll also read Psalms 108 and 109, but not focus our full attention there. Normally, we would focus on our 1st Thessalonians 5 passage, as I intimated on our last episode that we’d likely do today, but alas, I was wrong -mostly because the topic I would like to tackle: Will Jesus return like a thief in the night, has already been covered way back in April, on episode 101. Instead, we will consider a very, very strange (and perhaps, darkly humorous) chapter in 1st Kings, and that means that today we get to meet one of my favorite minor characters in the Bible – Micaiah the sarcastic, but Godly prophet.
Let’s go read the passage, but with one small twist: I’ll be reading in the HCSB today, which is probably my favorite Bible translation. I chose the CSB for the podcast because I think more people have it and use it, but the HCSB is my preferred because it usually translates the Tetragrammaton – the Hebrews personal name for God – as Yahweh, instead of LORD. Reading the Bible and seeing LORD and realizing it is YHWH is ok, but listening to it, with no distinction between LORD and Lord is difficult and makes some passages difficult to understand, like this one.
A fascinating story in this chapter. Why would God send a spirit with the express mission to mislead and bring calamity for King Ahab? And I believe we find the answer to this question in Psalms 34 and 1 Peter:
“The face of the LORD is set against those who do what is evil, to remove all memory of them from the earth.” (Psalms 34:16)
“because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil.” 1 Peter 3:12
It would help to remember here that Ahab has intentionally turned away from God, time and time again, even though he has seen God moving powerfully and miraculously with his own eyes. Ahab has seen time and time again that God has spoken truth through Elijah, and other prophets of His, but still Ahab persisted in sinning against God. The writer of 1 Kings summarizes Ahab’s life by saying there was no other king as wicked as him and, in summarizing the life of Ahab’s son, 1 Kings says , “[Ahab’s son Ahaziah] provoked the Lord God of Israel just as his father had done.” So, Ahab PROVOKED God – an active rebellion. This is obviously a dangerous position to be in. Further, we need to know that the prophets giving Ahab advice were not prophets of God, but likely prophets of Baal, a distinction that is made in the Hebrew, but not clearly in every modern translation. The lying prophets were not prophets of God.
There are other instances of God intervening against the wicked in a similar manner, as pointed out by pastor John Piper:
Rehoboam rejected the wisdom of the old men and said to the people: “My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” Then the inspired writer says, “The king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by God that the Lord might fulfill his word” (2 Chronicles 10:15).
• Then king Ahab is enticed by false prophets to fight against the Syrians, and Micaiah, the true prophet of the Lord, says, “Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these your prophets. The Lord has declared disaster concerning you” (2 Chronicles 18:22).
• Then Joash, King of Israel, gave wise counsel to Amaziah, king of Judah, not to go out to battle against his own people. But Amaziah refused to listen, and the inspired writer says, “But Amaziah would not listen, for it was of God, in order that he might give them into the hand of their enemies, because they had sought the gods of Edom” (2 Chronicles 25:20).
John Piper, Sermons from John Piper (2000–2014) (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2014).
Does God’s use of a lying spirit mean that God lies? No, it doesn’t
…God governs all things in the universe, including the sins of sinful men. Sin does not cease to be sin because God governs it and guides it for the good of his people and the glory of his name.
That is what he did in the sin of Joseph’s deceptive sale into Egypt—and Judas’ deceptive kiss of betrayal. The one led to the greatest act of salvation in the Old Testament (the Exodus from Egypt), and the other led to the greatest act of salvation in history (the death of Christ for our sins).
When God says, “I have deceived that prophet” (Ezekiel 14:9), he means that he can and does govern a sinful prophet’s mind so that the prophet believes a lie; but God does it in such a way that he himself is not lying. God is able to superintend a thousand circumstances and influences so that a sinful prophet will think a lie, without God himself lying or in any way compromising his perfect truthfulness.
Let the word of God about the word of God stand firm:
- “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19).
- “The Glory of Israel will not lie” (1 Samuel 15:29).
- “The word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.” (Psalms 33:4).
- “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true” (2 Samuel 22:31).
- “Every word of God proves true” (Proverbs 30:5).
- “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times” (Psalms 12:6).
God can be trusted. But do not play games with him. Do not begin to be careless with the truth. Do not “take pleasure in unrighteousness” and forsake the “love of the truth.” If you do, you may be abandoned to a strong delusion and never be able to see again.
What is our conclusion here? I think we clearly see that God causes all things, uses all events and uses all entities, good and evil, for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose and the righteous end of those who reject God and refuse to come to Him and live. Let’s consider some more Scripture:
9 The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance 2nd Peter 3:9
God is a righteous judge
and a God who shows his wrath every day 12 If anyone does not repent, he will sharpen his sword he has strung his bow and made it ready. 13 He has prepared his deadly weapons; he tips his arrows with fire. Psalms 7:11-13
5 Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” Jesus in Revelation 2:5
2nd Thessalonians 2:10 well describes those who reject God, “They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved.”
As we have discussed in the last few days, the Bible teaches us that the Lord takes NO delight in the death of the wicked, but rather desires them to repent and turn to Him, but make no mistake – there is judgment coming to all who refuse to turn to the Lord, and that is just and right because God is a righteous judge. He has provided a merciful way of escape for all mankind through the sacrifice of Jesus, but those who refuse to turn to Him and those who refuse the riches of His kindness are in as great a peril as Ahab was.
The goal of the podcast is to learn the truth of God, the Word of God and the character of God. As a pastor and preacher, and Bible podcaster, I suppose, it is easy for me to constantly focus on the mercy and love of God and minimize His justice and judgment. The reason for this is most westerners can relate more to the mercy and love and get a warm fuzzy and good feeling from that…which is good, in many ways – God is far more merciful and loving than we can comprehend, so we can’t focus on that enough. The danger, however, is not focusing on all of the beautiful character of God and when we miss Him as a good judge, we miss an important aspect of His righteousness and justice. Romans 11:22 is one of those keystone verses in Scripture that helps us to accurately behold the fullness of the character of God.
22 Therefore, consider God’s kindness and severity: severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness toward you—if you remain in his kindness. Romans 11:22
So the ultimate message of today is sobering. God is good and merciful, yes – but it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God (Hebrews 10:31) when we are stubbornly refusing to follow Him as Ahab did. Let Ahab’s life be a cautionary tale for us, and rather than rebel against the goodness of God, let us return to the Lord and wholeheartedly follow Him and bask in His merciful covenant love.