If one were to separate the positives and negatives in Scripture, what proportion would we say are positive and what negative? Some might quibble over the definitions of “positive” and “negative” so another way to approach the issue is asking how much of Scripture is given over to recording God’s promises as opposed to His warnings; His blessings as opposed to His curses?

In his farewell to the Sons of Israel (בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל), Moses gave both equal time:

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your seed. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

A true prophet of God, Moses neglected neither the blessings nor the curses.

Today, such evenhandedness is rare, requiring us to keep careful watch on those we look to for a word from the Lord. They must not flatter us.

When King Ahab asked King Jehoshaphat to join him in war against the king of Aram, Jehoshaphat appealed to Ahab to command the prophets to give a word from the Lord. Agreeing to the request, Ahab called God’s servants together and put the question to them:

Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle or shall I refrain?”

And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.”

Jehoshaphat didn’t trust them. Four hundred prophets of God all unanimous in their agreement God would give the victory? It didn’t seem right to Jehoshaphat:

But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not yet a prophet of the LORD here that we may inquire of him?”

Jehoshaphat had already heard four hundred prophets of the Lord, so why did he ask for another?

King Jehoshaphat knew the nature of false prophets is to flatter their audience. Four hundred prophets agreeing God had only blessings and victory didn’t smell right to him, so he pushed Ahab to find a true prophet who would tell the truth.

King Ahab didn’t like King Jehoshaphat calling into question the legitimacy of the prophets he kept on retainer, so he responded:

The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” (1Kings 22:6-8)

You may be a member of a pulpit committee looking for a new pastor. You may be a seminary homiletics professor training preachers. You may be a single mother looking for a church home in which to raise the three sons their father abandoned. All of us need a shepherd who will feed us faithfully, but how do we go about finding him?

Listen for God’s “yes” and “no.” Of course you’ll hear God’s “yes.” Most preaching today is the incessant repetition of God’s “yes,” with very occasional additions of God’s “no” which are only applied to the evil liberals and politicians “out there.” To those sitting in the sanctuary during worship, the unfaithful shepherd never stops giving assurances of God’s blessings and promises of triumph and victory to those who belong to Him—which, it goes without saying, include all those attending worship sitting under his preaching, today.

It might be acknowledged during the sermon that someone present may not yet have believed in Jesus, and that person is also fed God’s promises and blessings as enticements to have everything good which has been being talked about and all the promises proffered to those present who (of course) are already believers.

If you can’t figure out what “hate speech” is and how to avoid it, open your Bible and read God’s endless threatenings, warnings, negative commands, curses, prohibitions, and judgments. Today, those who know the Word of God and the hatred of those who are slaves of Satan for everything He has written down in His Word through His servants the prophets recognize it is all God’s threatenings, warnings, negative commands, curses, prohibitions, and judgments which are “hate speech,” and that He Himself is the First Hater.

Naturally then, pastors today avoid God’s threatenings, warnings, negative commands, curses, prohibitions, and judgments. In a world now drowning in its sin, there is never a mention of Sodom or sodomy. Too easy to be mistaken as a hater.

God Himself rained fire down on the sodomites of Sodom and Gomorrah, but we never stop parading our own deep and abiding Christian compassion, explaining to anyone and everyone willing to listen how we ourselves hate the sin but love the sinner.

Maybe you’re not looking for a faithful shepherd, but are yourself a shepherd of souls purchased with the blood of God’s Own Son—souls who look to and trust you to guard, warn, and lead them safely to Heaven’s salvation?

If so, resurrect God’s threatenings, warnings, negative commands, curses, prohibitions, and judgments in your pastoral care, teaching, and preaching. If you love your sheep and their Chief Shepherd, stop saying God’s “yes” and avoiding His “no.” Leave the four hundred false prophets of Gracedom with their gentle and lowly god-lite behind, and find a true prophet to hang with—someone like Micaiah.

We’re not done with this account of the four hundred false prophets of God’s “yes” and that single true prophet of God who faithfully spoke His “no.” The historical record continues:

Then the messenger who went to summon Micaiah spoke to him saying, “Behold now, the words of the prophets are uniformly favorable to the king. Please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.”

Note that “uniformly favorable.” This is what is uniformly descriptive of the preaching of God’s prophets today to God’s sheep trustingly looking and listening to them for a word from the Lord.

Micaiah was not like us:

But Micaiah said, “As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I shall speak.”

May God raise up many Micaiahs today.

When he came to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?”

And he answered him, “Go up and succeed, and the LORD will give it into the hand of the king.”

Now that’s funny, and what follows is even more funny:

Then the king said to him, “How many times must I adjure you to speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?”

So he said,

“I saw all Israel
Scattered on the mountains,
Like sheep which have no shepherd.
And the LORD said, ‘These have no master.
Let each of them return to his house in peace.’”

All Israel scattered on the mountains, sheep which have no shepherd.

This is Israel (which is to say the Christian Church) today.

Be careful, though. Don’t be deceived by all the warnings, judgments, curses, and “nos” the false prophets of our day proclaim against those outside their congregations; against all the liberals, civil authorities, and lying media they endlessly condemn.

If you think this is your shepherd’s faithfulness, and that he’s standing with Micaiah, remember that what the four hundred false prophets were agreed upon was God’s judgment and curse upon all the liberals, civil authorities, and lying media of their own day. King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat’s enemies.

The lying four hundred were saying “no” to the enemies of God’s church, and if this is all that’s needed for you to judge your preaching as faithful and true, you would have fit in well with that four hundred.

And hated Micaiah for proclaiming God’s “no” and judgment to the Old Testament church and its leaders.

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

At this point, you might want to stop me to argue that I’m misapplying the text, saying something like, “Jehoshaphat and Ahab were wicked, but our church leaders today are righteous. The people of God then were evil, but we obey God’s commands!”

Really? Two responses.

First, do you think God’s people standing there listening to the false four hundred’s promises of death to the heathen and victory to righteous Ahab and Jehoshaphat didn’t love what they heard? Did the false prophets’ positive assurances of victory not stroke the ears of God’s people precisely where they itched, and is that not why there were four hundred false prophets and only one who was true?

Second, why did the true word of God that day consist only of warnings, condemnations, and judgments? Was it because God didn’t see the faithfulness of His people and judged them harshly? Was it because God failed by letting Himself hate both the sin and the sinners? In other words, do you think being a member of the Christian church means you escape or don’t even need God’s “no,” His warnings, condemnations, threatenings, curses, and discipline?

If so, the next section of this historical account will shock you as Micaiah pulls back the curtain of God’s throne room:

Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. The LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’ The LORD said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’ Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the LORD has proclaimed disaster against you.”

Stop and think carefully about this, dear brothers in Christ. Who is it Who sends deceiving spirits in the mouths of the prophets to bring disaster upon His people and their esteemed leaders?

Micaiah testifies this is done by God the Father Almighty.

To think, let alone say, such a thing must be blasphemy, right? What’s needed is for one of the four hundred to silence this usurper seeking to discredit him and his three-hundred and ninety-nine compatriots, trying to steal their position and pay.

Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, “How did the Spirit of the LORD pass from me to speak to you?”

Here we read the same response as that of the chief elders and scribes to Jesus and His Apostles when they spoke God’s threats and judgments against God’s people of their own time. Their jealousy got the best of them. The true prophets were a threat to their position and pay, so they beat and mocked and plotted, then killed them.

In the face of terrible danger, blessed Micaiah wasn’t backing down. He stuck to the truths God was revealing to him:

Micaiah said, “Behold, you shall see on that day when you enter an inner room to hide yourself.”

Micaiah had faithfully proclaimed God’s “no,” and now Ahab dispensed with him:

Then the king of Israel said, “Take Micaiah and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son; and say, ‘Thus says the king, “Put this man in prison and feed him sparingly with bread and water until I return safely.”’”

The historical record shows Micaiah had not one, but two last things to say.

Micaiah said, “If you indeed return safely the LORD has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Listen, all you people.” (1Kings 22)

Listen, all you people, today.

You can tell who truly speaks for God by examining the message for God’s “yes” and God’s “no.” God’s blessings and God’s curses. God’s promises of good and His promises of evil. Right and wrong. Life and death.

Both should be present and pronounced proportionally.

But as you examine, don’t be fooled by pulpit prophecies that make allusions to God’s “no” without actually pronouncing it. Something like this is so common today:

God’s plan is best. Why would you believe He wants what’s bad for you? Dont’ you trust Him? Why would God command heterosexual marriage if love can’t be wrong? Yet God is love, isn’t He, and so whatever God commands is for your good. Do you believe that? Embrace the Gospel! I’m pleading with you to believe the truth. It is so beautiful. All of us here have found it sweet to our mouths and our lives have been blessed by giving ourselves to it.

Don’t be afraid to come to God. Jesus said His Own true heart is gentle and lowly, so there is nothing to fear. He has promised those who come to Him He will never cast out, so come. He made you and He knows what is best for you. Won’t you trust Him and embrace the Gospel? He wants this so very much for you! He wants you and your children to flourish!

This is not God’s “no.” This bears no resemblance to His prohibitions, warnings, threats, and curses.

Endless repetition of God’s yes, heightening the rhetoric surrounding it, will never equal one simple declaration of His “no”:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)

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