The pressure to conform

1 Kings 22 may not be the best known chapter in the Bible, but the story it tells is a powerful warning to Christian believers and churches in our own day. Ahab (the godless king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel) is eager to reclaim an Israelite town under the control of the king of Aram. He persuades Jehoshaphat (the more godly king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah) to join forces with him. Jehoshaphat wisely enjoins Ahab to enquire of the Lord before embarking on this military venture. This raises a concern for Ahab, namely, that he won't like what the Lord says. So, instead of asking a true prophet of the Lord, he gathers a large group (400) of so-called-prophets, who tell him exactly what he wants to hear. However, Jehoshaphat insists that a true prophet of the Lord be allowed to speak. Enter Micaiah. It's him vs. 400 others, all insisting that Ahab should do whatever he wants. The messenger who fetches Micaiah warns him:

"Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs.."

That's pressure for you. The pressure of a powerful king; the pressure of the majority opinion. And yet, Micaiah responds, "As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what the LORD tells me." (1 Kings 22:13-14). Ahab shows his folly by rejecting this true word from the Lord, and ends up dead on a battlefield; Micaiah shows his courage and fidelity to God by delivering the true word from the Lord in the face of all that pressure, and ends up locked away in prison.

There is always a cost to remaining faithful to God in the face of pressure to conform. In our own age, we also face the temptation to find teachers and prophets who tell us exactly what we want to hear, rather than what God actually says. Instead, we need the word of the Lord, recorded perfectly for us in the Scriptures. Together, let's resist the pressures we face to reject God's word in favour of the secular consensus, and, like Micaiah- and indeed Jesus Christ himself- stick to the only ultimately safe ground: God's perfect Will revealed in his Word.


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