Politically Incorrect – A History Lesson

Being truthful can be politically incorrect. In fact, it often is. Here’s a historical example of this from 2nd Chronicles 18.

*and that’s another illustration in political incorrectness itself as seen in 1 Kings 19

It’s in the context of kings waging war (some things haven’t changed).
King Ahab of Israel had convinced King Jehoshaphat of Judah to ride of with him into war. There’s the first problem – someone please explain to me what Jehoshaphat is doing working together with a wicked guy like Ahab? This is Ahab of the Ahab, Jezebel and Elijah fame*. Going out for a meal is one thing but marching out ”all in” onto the battlefield with questionable company is a whole other matter.

To his credit, Jehoshaphat wanted to know if God thought it was a good idea. Unfortunately he asked this of the wrong person – Ahab (no, this guy hasn’t any good news associated with him). That’s because Ahab, bent on war, already had an echo chamber full of people who would simply rubber stamp his wishes. This particular echo chamber was composed of 400 prophets. To be exact, 400 false prophets. This is what happened…

So the king of Israel gathered together four hundred prophets, and he inquired from them, “Should I go up to Ramoth Gilead for battle, or should I cease from this?”

They said, “Go up, for God will give this to the hand of the king.”
2 Chronicles 8:5

These days, false prophets tend to go by the names consultant, professor, committee, study etc. Let’s be clear, they are not always wrong but like any title or instrument wield by humans, always remember the human (sinful) element which may taint it. It’s always important to spend more time on someone’s statement than their qualifications.

What follows is interesting. Jehoshaphat seemed to have his doubts…

“But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not still here another prophet for the Lord from whom we might inquire?”

Then the king of Israel responded to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man from whom we can seek the Lord, but I hate him because he does not prophesy anything good for me but always disaster. He is Micaiah the son of Imlah.”….

2 Chronicles 8:6-7

So they went to get Micaiah but not without more dramatic utterances that they should go to war…

“And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting on their own thrones, clothed in their royalgarments, at the threshing floor at the entrance at the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them. Then Zedekiah the son of Kenaanah made for himself iron horns, and he said, “Thus says the Lord: With these you will thrust out the Arameans in Syria until they are finished.”

And all the prophets were prophesying the same, “Go up to Ramoth Gilead and find success, because the Lord has given the king into your hands.”

2 Chronicles 8:9-11

Zedekiah obviously went to the lecture on “object demonstrations” at presentation school. Good stuff.
It was all going well so they wanted to ensure Micaiah wouldn’t be a wet blanket…

“And the messenger who went to call Micaiah said to him, “The words of the prophets are as one voice and only for good to the king, so may your word be like one of them, and you speak favorably.”

And Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever my God says, that will I speak.”

2 Chronicles 8:12-13

No wonder Ahab didn’t like Micaiah – he actually cared about the truth. How politically incorrect. There’s a lesson to us all.
And he delivered but not without some sarcasm…

When he came to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, should we go up to Ramoth Gilead for battle, or should I cease?”

He said, “All of you go up and be successful, and they will be given into your hands.”

Then the king said to him, “How many times must I cause you to swear that you speak to me only truth in the name of the Lord?”

Then he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains like sheep that have no shepherd. The Lord said, ‘There are no masters for them. Let each man return to his home in peace.’ ”

Then the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not say to you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?”

2 Chronicles 8:14-17

This is more than a touch bizarre. Ahab had a history of not being on God’s side so it seemed like he knew that God wasn’t in this slug-fest he was about to initiate. He wouldn’t have recognised the sarcasm otherwise. Yet he still persisted – there’s another lesson in this for us all.

ahab-pierced-by-an-arrow-tissotSo how did this end?

  • Micaiah stuck to telling the politically incorrect truth (you’ll all lose and Ahab will be killed) and got thrown into prison (Ahab didn’t like the last bit)
  • Jehoshaphat still went ahead with the ill fated venture (despite having his doubts but hey, it was 400 to 1 right?)
  • Ahab died despite disguising himself and getting Jehoshaphat to dress in Ahab’s clothes like a “hey, kill me” costume on the battlefield.
    In fact, Jehoshaphat would have been killed had he not cried out to God.

One wonders how much resources and lives were wasted on this because leaders believed in the “politically correct”. Some things haven’t changed. Which isn’t all bad. That’s because if you are the lone “politically incorrect voice”, you may be saving the lives of those who care to listen.
And there’s nothing more correct than that. Keep it up.

Image: “Ahab pierced by an arrow”, James Tissot

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