Friday, August 20, 2010

Sphere of Influence

"The King of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, 'There is still one other by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies anything favorable about me, but only disaster.'"
(1 Kings 22:7-8)

King Jehoshaphat of Judah & King Ahab of Israel are debating launching a war together.  They asked the prophets of God, who all gave their blessing.  Wanting to make sure they've done their due diligence, Jehoshaphat asks if there was any other prophet who can seek God's wisdom?  "Yah, there's Micaiah.  But I hate him.  He never has anything good to say to me!" the king replies.  (Hey, at least he's honest!)

When the king's servant goes to bring Micaiah, he tells the prophet to give the king a favorable prophesy (which makes you wonder if the other were similarly "coached" beforehand?!?).  Before the two kings, Micaiah initially agrees with the other prophets.  "Go ahead.  God will bless you."  That's when Ahab lays into him.  "How many times have I told you to ONLY TELL ME THE TRUTH!?!?"  So Micaiah gives him the truth.  It will all end very badly.  Don't go to war.  Send the soldiers home.

For his truth, Micaiah is "rewarded" with imprisonment.  And reduced rations.  ("Didn't I tell you that he never says anything good about me?" says Ahab.)  Great.  So much for being a prophet with integrity.  Look where that leads.

As I think about this story, I see the immense pressure that people of influence have by others with MORE influence.  I've heard that many politicians begin their careers with high ideals and dreams of really making positive changes.  As time passes, however, they see how things actually get done.  Connections.  Alliances.  Favors.  Pay backs. Inevitably, corruption creeps in.  It's easy to condemn politicians... but this story says that we religious leaders can be influenced just as negatively - if we allow it.  Micaiah stayed true to his calling, despite the pressure.  Deep down, King Ahab knew.  He knew Micaiah had a connection to God.  And Micaiah stayed true.  He maintained his sphere of influece. 

May the same be said of me.  Help me, Lord!!!

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