Contending For The Faith

November 13, 2008

Lying Prophets and Delusions

Filed under: Bible Study — Lynda O @ 10:38 am
Tags: , ,

Oh, the many things still to find in God’s word — how can anyone get to the point that they think they know everything that is in the Bible and cannot find new treasures in it?

Jim McClarty in his eschatology series, “The False Prophet (MP3 file)” brings out this interesting point regarding the issue of lying prophets and those who believe the delusion.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 says:  “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

In this brief passage we can find an Old Testament precedent, an example of this same principle, in the story of King Ahab and the prophet Micaiah told in 1 Kings 22.  In this familiar story, Ahab is considering going to Ramoth Gilead to fight against the Arameans.  Jehoshaphat king of Judah has joined him, and 400 prophets are gathered, and all are prophesying victory and success.  Only when King Jehoshaphat asks to hear from any other prophets of the Lord, does Ahab mention one prophet, Micaiah, whom he dislikes because he never prophesies good, but only bad, about Ahab.  The 400 prophets are continuing their good words, even using some visual aides to demonstrate God’s success.  Then Micaiah is summoned, and explains to all those gathered:

1Ki 22:19-23:    Micaiah continued, ‘Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left.  And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that.  Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’  ” ‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. ” ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. ” ‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’   “So now the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

Here too the Lord used the power of an evil spirit — one who puts a “lying spirit” into men — to accomplish His divine purposes.  God had purposed to destroy Ahab, in a particular way, and we are let in on a small part of that plan which includes the details even down to the matter of how to entice King Ahab to go to a certain place to meet his doom.  The 400 lying prophets clearly convinced Ahab, even after Micaiah told the truth.  Or perhaps Ahab thought himself greater than the Lord, thought that he could alter God’s plans, for the text relates afterwards how Ahab convinced Jehoshaphat to dress up as the king and Ahab wore the plain clothes of a soldier.  Then, as the story goes on to tell (verse 34), “But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor.”

The lying prophets is an interesting point, a topic referenced in the 2 Thessalonians passage.  As in the case of Ahab in 1 Kings 22, God sends a powerful delusion, to the purpose that those who hear it will believe the lie and be condemned. God is the same throughout the Bible, throughout history, and shows plenty of examples of His power, and how He did things in the past, so that we can trust Him and have confidence that He will act consistently in the future, true to His nature.  What can be seen in a story affecting one particular individual (King Ahab) also shows us how God will deal with many people in the future, all to accomplish His purposes, including the destruction of unbelievers.

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