Bible Readings for October 19th

1 Kings 22 | 1 Thessalonians 5 | Daniel 4 | Psalms 108109

Although Ahab humbles himself before Yahweh in 1 Kings 21, we learn in 1 Kings 22 that this humbling is not true, full-fledged repentance and faith in Yahweh. Instead, when Ahab plans to go to battle against the Syrians with King Jehoshaphat of Judah as his ally, Ahab consults only false prophets until Jehoshaphat prompts Ahab to send for a faithful prophet (1 Kgs. 22:7, 14).

Micaiah, after sarcastically parroting the words of the other prophets, relays to Ahab a terrible vision. Micaiah sees Yahweh on his throne, gathering all the hosts of heaven and asking who could entice Ahab to go up to Ramoth-gilead, where he would die (1 Kgs. 22:19–20). The spirit whom Yahweh selects proposes this plan: “I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets” (1 Kgs. 22:22). Yahweh knows that Ahab will be deceived and enticed, so he sends the spirit.

What are we to make of such a vision? Why would Yahweh send lying spirits? Does he do anything like this today?

First, Yahweh does send a lying spirit to Ahab, but Yahweh also reveals that the prophets are therefore lying. Furthermore, Micaiah’s truthfulness is so apparent to everyone in the room that the prophet Zedekiah strikes Micaiah on the cheek, demanding, “How did the Spirit of the LORD go from me to speak to you?” (1 Kgs. 22:24). Yes, Yahweh sends lying spirits to deceive Ahab, but when Ahab chooses to go up in battle to Ramoth-gilead, he does so in deliberate, willful disobedience to the revealed word of Yahweh.

Second, we should compare this passage with a similar one in the New Testament. In 2 Thessalonians 2, we read about the people who refuse “to love truth and so be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10). Because of this hardness of heart, “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:11–12). In both cases, God only sends a “lying spirit” or a “strong delusion” in cases where people already refuse to believe and love the truth.

In fact, God doesn’t trick people. He has revealed his truth to the world—both in his written word as well as in his word made flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason that human beings reject God’s truth is that “the light has come into the world, and the people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19). The world rejects Jesus because they love their sin more than God’s truth.

The question, then, is this: Will you believe God’s truth, or will you persist in loving—and therefore believing—the falsehoods of this world?

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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