Sometimes, our life with God feels complicated. We wonder what God is speaking. We consider our decisions deeply and ponder what God has next for us. We look at difficult relationships and think through how we will best honor God with our words and actions. Our workplace brings us into situations that force us into hard spots of living for God.
There are moments, however, when it all seems simple. There are times when the clouds seem to break and it is as if the light of God pours forth on our lives making everything seem so clear and uncomplicated.
Micaiah the prophet experienced and shows us the simplicity of life with God in a very complicated situation. Ahab, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, are contemplating retaking the city of Ramoth Gilead from Aram (1 Kings 22:1-4). About four-hundred prophets come together to give encouragement to these two kings in their endeavor, but a shred of doubt remains for King Jehoshaphat. “Is there no longer a prophet of Yahweh here whom we can inquire of?” (22:7).
Enter Micaiah, a true prophet of Yahweh. Micaiah’s reputation for being a fly in the ointment for King Ahab precedes him, but still Jehoshaphat insists on hearing from him. While the messenger retrieving Micaiah urges the prophet to “speak favorably” (22:13), that is give them what they want to hear, Micaiah responds with a few simple words:
But Micaiah said, “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.” (22:14)
‘It’s not that complicated,’ Micaiah is saying. ‘I only speak what God tells me.’ And so, Micaiah contradicts the four-hundred prophets of success with words of doom on Ahab. The result of his faithfulness to God is that he ends up in prison. At the same time, his words do come true and this is the end of the wicked king, Ahab. Regardless of the results, Micaiah was set on speaking only what God would speak to him.
As I read this story, I couldn’t help but wonder whether I am that sort of man or not. Am I the sort of person who is set on speaking God’s words alone, and not burdened more to speak my own words of supposed wisdom? Clearly, Micaiah’s role as a prophet of God is a bit different from us today, but still I sense the probing of God’s Spirit on this. What does it mean for us to be people who speak only what we hear from God?
There was another prophet like this, although he took a different path. His name was Balaam and he resisted God, even though he knew what God wanted. He was asked to curse God’s people by an Amorite leader, Balak son of Zippor. His prophetic words, however, turned into blessings on God’s people at every utterance, much to Balak’s dismay. Even Balaam could say:
I can’t say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth. (Numbers 22:38)
The difference between Micaiah and Balaam isn’t that difficult to discern. Both had a fairly simple approach to God: whatever He spoke, they would speak. The difference was in what they did with that. One pushed against that to go after his own ways. The other willingly went with God in obedience to the word God gave him.
May we be people like Micaiah, obediently going along with “only what the Lord tells” us.