The Lying Spirit in the Prophet
November 12th, 1961 @ 7:30 PM
THE LYING SPIRIT IN THE PROPHET
DR. W. A. CRISWELL
1 Kings 22:1-38
11-12-61 7:30 p.m.
In our Book, 1 Kings chapter 22, 1 Kings chapter 22, the last chapter in 1 Kings, we are going to read about Ahab, about Jehoshaphat and about Ramoth-Gilead. Now, 1 Kings 22, we shall read verses 28-38. Let us read 29-38.
Now a little introduction, in the previous chapter,
And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
Arise, arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, behold, he is in a vineyard of Naboth, .
And thou shall speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.
[1 Kings 21:17-19]
Now, 1 Kings 22, verses 29-38, now, together,
So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramothgilead.
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and enter into the battle; but put thou on thy robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle.
But the king of Syria commanded his thirty and two captains that had rule over his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel.
And it came to the pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, Surely it is the king of Israel. And they turned aside to fight against him; and Jehoshaphat cried out.
And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.
And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness; wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.
And the battle increased that day; and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even; and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot.
And there went a proclamation throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his own country.
So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria.
And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armor; according unto the word of the LORD which he spake.
And the title of the sermon is, The Lying Spirit in the Mouth of the Prophet or The Spirit of Lying in the Mouth of the Prophet. It is a strange thing about human nature; we like to hear what we are pleased with, and when we have a man prophesying to us, when we have a man preach to us we desire that he preach to us pleasant things. We have what Paul describes as "itching ears," and we want him to say things that we like to hear.
I do not know of a better following and illustration of that than just to go through the Book of the Kings. For example, in the twelfth chapter of 1 Kings is this young man, Rehoboam, the son of David who inherited the kingdom. And he had a certain thing that he wanted to hear. And when he called the old men who were wise and said, "How shall I be king over these people?" Those old men who were wise said, "Be gracious unto them and be kind to them and speak good words to them and they will be thy servants as long as you live."
But he did not like that, he called the young fellows, those boys who had grown up with him in the dissolute court, and he said, "What do you say?" And those young fellows said, "You tell the people that the little finger of your hand is going to be thicker than your father’s loins. And if Solomon," the father of Rehoboam, "and if Solomon scourged you with scorpions, I am going to scourge you with whips." And that pleased Rehoboam, he liked that. That was what he wanted to hear; that was what he was looking for. That is what pleased him, and he lost his kingdom.
I turn the page to the next chapter, the thirteenth chapter of 1 Kings, and here is a prophet and a true man of God. He is come up from Judah to prophesy to the Northern Kingdom. And as he stands there at Bethel, and as he denounces those golden calves of Jeroboam, having delivered his message God said to him, "You are not to tarry. The king’s business requires haste. And do not go back the way that you came, lest somebody see you and invite you to tarry, but leave immediately after you deliver the message of God."
Well there was an old prophet in Bethel whose sons observed the way that the man returned to Judah. And the old prophet overtook him and he said to him, "I am a prophet also, even as thou art. And an angel spake unto me saying, ‘Come and break bread and eat and drink at my house and let us have fellowship together.’" And it pleased the man of God; that is what he wanted to hear. But the prophet of Bethel lied to him; but that is what the prophet of Judah wanted to hear. So he turned aside in disobedience to the command of God; went into the house of this lying prophet, broke bread with him, enjoyed the fellowship with him, and the Word of the Lord came to him and said, "On your way home, a lion will slay you on the way." It always turns disastrously, hearing these things we like to hear that please us.
All right, I will turn the page to the next chapter and it is the same thing. Jeroboam, this king of Israel, the northern ten tribes, has a son, Abijah, that is sick and the boy was sick unto death. And Jeroboam has disobeyed the Lord when Ahijah, the prophet at Shiloh in the Northern Kingdom of Jeroboam, he said to Jeroboam, "Walk in the ways of the Lord God and God will confirm the kingdom to you forever." But Jeroboam did not do that. When he went up there to Bethel, and the first thing he did at Dan was to build those golden calves, and said, "These be thy gods, O Israel, that brought thee out of the land of Egypt." And they bowed down in idolatry, like people bow down today before images and they worship before the graven image. And the thing displeased God. And so the boy is sick, and Jeroboam says, "You go to Ahijah, the prophet at Shiloh. Do not let him know who you are, because we want pleasant words from him. And you disguise yourself, so he will not recognize you. And you go in and ask him how our boy Abijah is going to be. Is he going to live?"
And the very minute Jeroboam’s wife, disguised, came into the presence of the blind prophet, because of age, blind, the blind prophet of Shiloh, the very minute she came into Ahijah’s presence, Ahijah said to her, "Thou wife of Jeroboam! Why disguiseth thou thyself? And thus speaks the Lord God: The kingdom is taken away from Jeroboam and the minute your feet hits the soil and the streets of your city of Bethel, your boy will die."
Is that not a strange thing? We want God to say good things to us and pleasant things to us, even though we disobey His every commandment. And then we try to disguise ourselves in order to find the true word of the Lord that is pleasant to us.
Now, I turn the page again. And we are going to pick up this story of this twenty-second chapter of the Book of Kings and Ahab. " Ahab said to Jehoshaphat," – Jehoshaphat is the king of Judah whose capitol is Jerusalem, and Ahab is the kingdom of Israel whose capitol is Samaria, – "And, Ahab says to Jehoshaphat, ‘Did you know that Ramoth, over there on the other side of the Jordan, in the land of Gilead, did you know it belongs to us? It is our town. It is our people. But, the Syrians have conquered it; and Benhadad reigns over it. Let us go over there and wrest it away from the Syrians. It belongs to us."
And, Jehoshaphat said to Ahab, the king of Israel, "My heart is thy heart and my men are as thy men and my horses and my chariots are as thine."
"So Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, "Before we go into the battle, let us inquire of the Lord and ask whether God will bless us." And, the saying pleased him. So, Ahab called together his prophets, 400 men. That was quite a pastoral group there in the church in Samaria: 400 prophets. And all 400 of them, together, were not worth a plug nickel because they were all lying prophets, saying things that pleased the people.
So, he gathered all 400 of his preachers together. And Ahab stood in their presence and he said, "Jehoshaphat here wants to know whether the Lord will bless us or not when we go up to fight the Syrians at Ramoth, on the other side of the Jordan, in Gilead. Shall we go up?"
Now, those 400 preachers knew exactly what Ahab wanted to hear. So, all 400 of them, they spoke with one voice and in great unanimity, said, "Go up and the Lord will give you victory and deliver Ramothgilead into your hand." And Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, stood there by Ahab and listened to those 400 lying preachers say these sweet things and nice things to Ahab, just like Ahab wanted to hear.
You know, that is the beatenest thing in the world. Whenever you have a liquor bill down there at Austin, they will go traipsing down there from Dallas and other towns, the bishop of such-and-such church, and he will go down there and he will testify we do not want any liquor bill passed. And he says those things to please his people, because all it takes for him to be a good and acceptable preacher is to be a good bridge player and a good dancer and to carry his liquor with fine decorum. And that is all the qualifications he has for his office.
So, when they go down there, that lying preacher will be on the front row, testifying that we ought to open a liquor joint on every street. And we ought to put one on every corner and we ought to teach our children how to drink. That lying preacher, he always does it. They always do it. They are the same stripe. They have been so ever since the Lord God made the world.
So, they are down there before Ahab, 400 of them and the bishop presided over them. "Go out," says the preachers, all 400 of them. "Go out, and the Lord God will deliver Ramothgilead into your hands."
Well, Jehoshaphat was a godly man. Jehoshaphat was a great follower of God. And when Jehoshaphat heard those 400 lying preachers, all dressed up in their clerical garments, all of them holy and pious for money. Give me enough money and I will say anything you want me to say. Give me enough money and I will do anything you want me to do. When Jehoshaphat looked at them, all 400 of them, Jehoshaphat said to Ahab, "Yes, yeah. I understand all of those 400 preachers. I understand. But, surely, is there not one other preacher besides, is there not, that we could inquire from the Lord? Is there not one? Is there not just one?"
And, Ahab said, "Yep. Yep." Growled, "Yep, Yep." And you hear him shrug it off, "Yep. Yeah, there is one, but not him," I am just telling you what the Book says, "I hate him."
"Well," says Jehoshaphat, "let not the king say so. Let not the king say so. Ah, ah, send for him, and let us ask this one other preacher. Let us ask him what God says about going up to Ramothgilead."
So, the king of Israel said, "All right." And he sent for Micaiah, the preacher.
Now, they thought, as they planned this, Ahab thought, we are over all that preacher. And in the presence of the kings and in the presence of the lying prophets, in the presence of all this army and these horses, we are over all of the men of God.
So, the Book says that King Jehoshaphat was placed on a high throne with all of his gorgeous robes. And the Book says that Ahab was placed on a high throne with all of his glorious robes. And Zedekiah, the son of Chenaanah, who was the bishop of the 400 lying preachers, Zedekiah, the son of Chenaanah, "Put on a demonstration there before Micaiah and the kings and the armies and all of the assembled hosts." He put horns of iron on his head and he went around with those shackles on his head and he said, "Thus saith the Lord God. With these irons shall you destroy the Syrians until you have consumed them." And, that was a signal for all of the lying preachers, 400 of them, to say the same thing. "That is right. That is right. Go up to Ramothgilead and the Lord will deliver it into your hands. That is right," said all of the 400 lying preachers in a frenzy.
Well, that was pretty much for Micaiah to look at. Now, the two kings on their throne and in all their regal glory and all of those 400 lying preachers, out there, prophesying with great unanimity, testifying to victory, and there was Zedekiah, their clerical leader who was leading the great refrain.
Then, the thing happened that really put heartache in Micaiah, the man of God. And the messenger was his friend who left Ahab to go see Micaiah. And the messenger that had gone to call Micaiah, spake unto him and said, "Micaiah, I like you. You and I have been friends ever since we were little boys. Micaiah, listen, say something good for the king. Do it. All of those 400 prophets there, they are saying good things about Ahab. And all of those leaders and the hosts are saying great, glorious things to Ahab. Now," says the messenger, "now, Micaiah, when you come speak that which is good? Tell the king what he wants to hear. Do it, do it Micaiah, do it."
And, Micaiah’s answer was the humble, humble reply of the true man of God, "Friend, I do not know anything to say but what God says. I do not invent my message, I do not originate my prophecy, I am just an echo. I just say what the Lord says, that is all." And, so, he came to the king. And Micaiah stands out there in a circle by himself. There is Zedekiah, the bishop. There is all the 400 lying preachers on one side. And there are the captains of the hosts on the other side. And there are the two kings on their thrones, in regal robes, seated before him. And, there Micaiah stands in the presence of the kings. And so, Ahab looks at him and he says, "What do you say, Micaiah? What do you say?"
And, Micaiah replied, ironically, "Why, Ahab, I say what all of the rest of these hirelings say. I say what all these lying preachers say, Go up and be prospered in the battle."
And, when Ahab saw Micaiah, that he ironically spake, the king said to him, "I adjure thee, tell us nothing but what is true. In the name of the Lord, what does God say?"
And, Micaiah addresses his first answer to the king. And then, he addresses his second answer to the lying preachers. First, he addresses his answer to the king, "O King, in a vision, I saw the shepherd smitten and destroyed and I saw the sheep scattered over the hills. And I heard them say, ‘We have no master. Let us return, everyone, to his fold." And Micaiah prophesies to the king that he will be slain in the battle and that the soldiers will be scattered. They will lose the war, and, when Micaiah said that to the king, Ahab growled to Jehoshaphat and said, "Did I not say to you that he would prophesy no good concerning me?" Did you hear, growled it out?
All right, then Micaiah delivered the second part of his message. He turned to the lying preachers and he said, "Hear thou the Word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on his throne. And there came an evil spirit and said, ‘I know how we can persuade Ahab to go up to Ramothgilead and be slain there.’
"And, the Lord said, ‘How?’"
"And, the evil, lying spirit said, ‘I will go down into the mouths of those preachers. And I will make those preachers lie to Ahab. And they will persuade Ahab to go out and he will be slain in the battle.’"
And, that made the bishop furious. He walked over there, Zedekiah, the son of Chenaana, walked over there where Micaiah was speaking. And he took the back of his hand and he slapped Micaiah in the face and said, "Well, whither went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto you? I am head all of these 400 preachers and when we give a pronouncement, excathedra, that is the infallible Word of the living God." And he slapped Micaiah on the face.
And, Micaiah said, "I will l tell you when the Spirit of God left you to speak unto me, it will be in the day when you go into an inner chamber to hide thyself for shame, for the rotten, unbelievable things you have done and said in the name of the Lord God. That will be the day."
Oh, then, the King turned to his servants and said, "Come." And then, he contemptuously said, "Put this fellow, put this fellow in prison and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction until I come in victory and in peace." I do not know what bread of affliction means and I do not know what water of affliction means. But, Ahab called his henchmen and said, "Take Micaiah, that lone preacher, and persecute him. Put him on the rack. Tear him asunder. Keep him in pain and in trial until I come in victory."
And, Micaiah said, "If you ever come back alive, there is no Lord God in heaven that speaks to His prophets."
So, they take Micaiah and bind him in fetters and put him in prison and torture him with bread of affliction and water of affliction until he is made a liar by Ahab and until Zedekiah, the bishop and the 400 lying preachers, are all justified, put him in prison.
And, there he lies in prison. Then, the thing got to turning over into Ahab’s mind. And he calls Jehoshaphat to him and says, "Micaiah, the preacher, says, that if I go into this battle, I will come back dead. I tell you what let us do. Let us fool God. Let us fool the preacher. Let us make that prophecy of the living Lord a lie, and let us justify these 400 lying preachers and Zedekiah. "This is what you do: You dress yourself as the king of Israel. Put on the royal robes and the crown and get out your golden chariot and the great crimson steed. And you lead the Israelites into battle. And I, I will be coming somewhere behind. I will be disguised as a slave. And I will put on these ragged robes. And I will put on these garments of dirt. And they will never know that I am in the campaign. And they will never seek after me. And they will never shoot at me, and they will never throw darts, and javelins at me, and they will not pursue me. And we will make a liar out of that preacher, and we will make a liar out of God, and we will justify these four hundred false prophets. And I will come back in victory and in triumph."
So, Ahab kicks off his royal robes, and Ahab puts on the garments of a slave. And after Jehoshaphat leads the forefront into the battle, why, Ahab, disguised, comes along behind, and while the campaign is going on, and while the battle is being fought, there was a soldier, there was a Syrian, unnamed and unknown, who, without aim, drew back his bow on a venture and just let the arrow fly anywhere the arrow might go. He just pulled back that bow until the string was taut and then turned that arrow loose with no aim at all.
And, the Lord took that arrow and he guided it by the infallible scrutiny of the eye of the living God. And there was a place in the joint of the harness of Ahab underneath those ragged gaws, disguising clothes, there was a joint in the armor of Ahab, and God guided that arrow, and it entered that one little crevice in the joint of his armor. And, Ahab looked down and that arrow was piercing his heart. And the blood began to flow into the bottom and the floor of the chariot. And he said to his charioteer, "Turn aside, turn aside, turn aside, turn aside." And, the charioteer could not leave in the midst of the battle. And that day, the blood of the king ran out and he fell lifeless in his own blood on the floor of the chariot.
And, when it became known that the king was dead, there was a cry that went up in the armies of Israel, ish el irov, ve’ish el artzov. Oh, that Hebrew is expressive. You have it translated here, "Every man to his city and every man to his own country." Ish el irov, ve’ish el artzov, "Every man back to his house. Every man back to his home." And the explanation to that, "for the king is dead."
So, the king died. And when they buried him, the blood, red and crimson, staining and coagulating on the bottom of the chariot, they washed it out in the pool of Samaria. And the dogs came and licked it up, according to the saying of the man of God.
That is humanity, "Preacher, saying to us pleasant things; we’ve got itching ears." I had been pastor of this church but a little while until a man from another church here in the city of Dallas, who had received some of our members, out in a lush place where the plums, juicy and luscious just fall in their laps, and after hearing me preach that day, and hours in vain against worldliness and compromise in God’s people, he came up to me after the service and he said, "Well, all I have got to say about you, you just keep on preaching sermons like that, you just keep on preaching sermons like that and we will keep on accepting members of the First Baptist Church in our church out here in the suburbs."
I looked him right square in the eye and I said, "Fine. Fine. Fine. If in the delivery in my soul against worldliness and compromise, nobody down here in the First Baptist Church but the preacher, the message will still be delivered, by the grace of God, the best that I know how to deliver it, the best I know how."
You know, it is a funny thing how God does with a preacher. Just give God time with him, give God time with him, and he will gather around him folks of a like heart and a like dedication and a like commitment. Give a worldly preacher time, and he will have around him those that love to drink and love to live in the sinful worldliness of this weary age. Give a true minister of the gospel of the Son of God time, and there will be gathered to him those of a like heart and a like commitment, whose backs are toward the world and whose faces are toward the cross and whose hope and whose inheritance is in glory. Just give it time. Just give it time.
Funny thing how humanity is, Love to hear the things that please.
Now, may I bring my brief application. And let us pray that God will give us a harvest of souls tonight. My brief application, man, as God lives in heaven, and as the truth is the truth, and as the Lord is the Lord, and as the Book is the Book, O man of God, tell us what God has to say. Do not hide it. Do not dilute it. Do not soften it. Do not make it easy, when God says it is hard. Tell us the truth of God. What does the Lord God say?
And when we try to divert, to dilute, and subvert, and to change the message of God, that it please itching ears when we do it, let me tell you what it is like. That is the identical thing as a sea captain taking the Bell over the shoal that toils above the reef. And he takes out the clapper, as though, by destroying the warning bell, he takes away the reef. That is the same kind of a thing as a man who is seafaring, goes to the lighthouse and destroys the lamp in the lighthouse to get rid of the rocks that destroys the ship. It is the same kind of a thing as dismissing the signal man with his red flag, crossing a dangerous intersection. It is the same thing as taking the barometer and nailing that needle down at fire when the clouds lower and the storms are raging.
The Lord God said, "He that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not is like a fool that builds his house on the sand and the rains descended and the floods rose and the winds beat and that house fell." [Matthew 7:26, 27]
It is not fair weather when a man is outside of God. It is not heaven when a man is on the road to perdition and damnation and the flames and fires of an everlasting torment. It is not all right with us when we are compromised in the world and live in blasphemy and repudiation and unbelief and unacceptance of the Lamb of God, sent of the Lord, take away the sin of the world.
"Preacher, tell us the truth. Can I live and reject Christ? Can I? Can I? Can I say no to God and be saved? Do I have hope for heaven and the world that is to come when I spurn the overtures of the grace of Jesus?" The answer from God is an everlasting clear and ringing, "No!" The soul that sins shall die and the wages of sin is death. No man that sinneth not. All of us lost and undone.
"Then, preacher, tell us the truth of God. Is there a way for a man to be saved? Is there a way for a man to have hope of heaven, even though he is a sinner like I am?" Answer to God is a ringing, lucid and everlastingly, "Yea and Amen!" John pointed, the greatest Baptist preacher, pointed to Jesus as he walked by him and said, "Behold, behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. Look, my brother, look, look and live. And it was so that if any man was bitten by a serpent, if he looked, if he looked, he lived. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man lifted up, that whoever trusts in Him, looks to Him, believes on Him should never perish but have everlasting, eternal, undying life." [John 3:14]
There is life for a look at the Crucified One,
There is life at this moment for thee,
Then look sinner, look unto Him and be saved,
Unto Him who was nailed to the tree.
I have a message from the Lord, Hallelujah!
It is this, that you look and live.
Look and live. My brother, live.
Look to Jesus Christ and live.
It is recorded in His Word. Hallelujah!
It is only that you look and live.
[Adapted from "Look and Live," by William A. Ogden, 1887]
What a blessedness, what a preciousness, what a promise, what a God-given wide invitation, just look in faith, in acceptance, in trusting, repentance, in turning, look, look, look and live, look and live. To some of us, we could not do it ought beside. Some of us, no money to pay, some of us hardly able, and maybe some of us not able even, to stand up. Some of us, maybe, could not even come down an aisle.
I have, since I have been pastor here, these who say, "Come to our house. This invalid cannot even be taken out of the bed, but, he has trusted Jesus as his Savior. Let him make his confession of faith to thee." Once in a while, we might arrange to have a baptismal service in a bathtub. It does not matter, just so there is, in the heart and in the soul, the spirit to turn, to look and to live.
This is the announcement of the glad tidings of the true preacher of Christ. Turn, my brother, turn. Look, my brother, look. Look in faith, in change, in repentance, in turning, look, look and live. And that is our appeal to your soul tonight.
While we sing this song so preciously, tenderly beautiful, while we sing the song, somebody you, give his heart to Jesus. Come and stand by me, somebody you, put your life in the fellowship of God’s church. Come and stand by me, "Preacher, this is my wife. We are both coming tonight. Pastor, this is our whole family. We are all coming tonight." Or, just one somebody you, is there a lad here or a sweet little girl? Is there a youth? Is there a couple? As God shall say the word and make the appeal, while we sing the song and while we prayerfully and earnestly wait for you, make it tonight; make it tonight. On the first note of the first stanza, "Here I come, preacher, and here I am. I give you my hand. I have given my heart to God. Here I come," while we stand and while we sing.