HOW WELL DO YOU LISTEN TO GOD?
I want to begin this morning with a historical incident that occurred in the reigns
of Ahab, the king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah (both Israelites).
- The incident: (1 Kings 22)
- We must have a little background.
- Ahab was truly an ungodly, wicked man.
- His queen was Jezebel, a Sidonian woman who supported the prophets of
Baal and made Baal worship Israel's official religion.
- He was the king who hated Elijah, God's prophet.
- He was wealthy but wicked.
- At this time Assyria was a major threat to northern Israel and to Judah.
- At this time Assyria often was the powerful nation that controlled the
- But Ahab entered a coalition of several nations, fought Assyria, and broke
Assyria's control over their area.
- Though Assyria's control was broken in the region, Ahab did not gain control
over one of Israel's oldest cities.
- Ramoth-Gilead had been one of Israel's cities of refuge.
- It was one of the places east of the Jordan River that was settled before
Israel entered Canaan.
- Literally from the beginning of Israel's association with Canaan,
Ramoth-Gilead was a part of their territory.
- When Assyrian control of the area was broken, Ahab saw an excellent
opportunity to regain control of the city.
- So he invited Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to combine armies, conquer the city,
and reclaim Ramoth-Gilead (1 Kings 22).
- Jehoshaphat quickly agreed: "I am as you are; my people as your people; my
horses as your horses."
- But . . . Jehoshaphat made one request before they declared war.
- Before they attacked Ramoth-Gilead, Jehoshaphat asked Ahab to consult
- Do a little remembering:
- Ahab's kingdom worshipped the idol Baal.
- Ahab's queen supported the prophets of Baal.
- The prophets of Baal would be the prophets that Ahab consulted.
- So Ahab called the prophets of Baal and asked them if the kings should
begin this battle or refrain from this battle.
- Without one voice of decent, the prophets told King Ahab to start the
war--"go for it!"
- They said, "The Lord will give it into the hand of the king."
- To emphasize the point, one of the leading prophets (Zedekiah) made
some iron horns and promised King Ahab that he "would gore the
Arameans until they are consumed"--certain victory!
- In others words, they told the king what he wanted to hear.
- However, Jehoshaphat asked, "Can't you ask a prophet of Jehovah God
to prophesy about this battle?"
- Ahab replied, "There is one prophet in my country I could ask, but he
never says anything good to me. However, I will send for him."
- Ahab then sent a messenger to tell the prophet Micaiah to come
- The messenger told Micaiah, "All the other prophets have been
favorable to the king. Please, when you prophesy, agree with them."
- Micaiah responded, "I will say what the Lord tells me to say."
- Before we look at what Micaiah said, we need to focus on God.
- God is pictured as He was in Job: having a meeting with the heavenly
- God asked His advisors, "Who will entice Ahab to attack Ramoth-Gilead?"
- One of the spirits said he would.
- God asked the spirit what he planned to do.
- The spirit said, "I will be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his
- God said, "Do it. Let him think he is going to win when he will actually
- Micaiah came to King Ahab.
- The first thing he said was precisely what the king wanted to hear: "Go to
battle and you will surely succeed--you will certainly win."
- Micaiah told the king what he wanted to hear, and the king did not like it.
- So the king commanded Micaiah in the name of Jehovah God to tell him
- So Micaiah gave him a second message.
- He told Ahab about God's council, and Zedekiah did not like what he said.
- He told him that he saw them like sheep scattered on a mountain without
- Ahab's forces would be defeated.
- Ahab then said to Jehoshaphat, "Didn't I tell you? He never says anything
good to me!"
- Then they prepared for battle by imprisoning Micaiah.
- One thing I want to note: God permitted Ahab to hear what he wanted to believe.
- If we think that God will not allow us to reach ungodly conclusions in our
thinking and convictions, we deceive ourselves.
- I do not care who we claim to be, God always allows us to believe what we
wish to believe.
- God allows us to justify anything we want to justify.
- Because we call ourselves godly in no way assures us God sees us as godly.
Likely the last letter that we have which Paul wrote is 2 Timothy.
- It is a personal letter from Paul to Timothy that focused on two situations.
- Paul expected to be executed in his near future.
- He wanted Timothy to continue teaching and stressing the things that Paul
taught and stressed.
- Paul made this statement in 2 Timothy 4:3,4.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but
wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in
accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will
turn aside to myths.
- In the churches of Christ, this was one of our favorite passages in the 20th
- We used it frequently to defend whatever issue we were discussing.
- We especially used this scripture when someone disagreed with our
- This morning I want to encourage you to consider what Paul meant when he said
- Paul said, "In the future (he was talking about in Timothy's life time)
dangerous periods were coming."
- What would make these times dangerous?
- People would not be willing to listen to sound doctrine.
- Note two things.
- People would lose the desire to hear; they would not listen.
- They would have no desire to listen to sound doctrine.
- What is this "sound doctrine"?
- The words "sound doctrine" simply mean "healthy teaching."
- Healthy in what way? It brings listeners closer to God.
- The need for teaching implies that there were matters they did not
know about God or understand about God that they needed to know
- When people will not want "healthy teaching," what will they want?
- Instead of hearing healthy teaching, they wanted their conclusions
- To make sure that happened, they surrounded themselves with
teachers who told them what they wanted to hear.
- They did not have to change desires, they did not have to go through
transformation because what they heard justified their desires.
- Please remember that the world of Paul's lifetime was filled with idolatry.
- People said there were may ways that a person could go to God
without knowledge of or understanding of Jesus Christ.
- Two prominent ways were the myths of idolatry and the genealogies of
the Jewish people.
- Myths basically declared God was too far from humans to be reached
- The genealogies said that approaching God was a matter of ancestry.
- Those people preferred to hear about alternate routes to God than to hear
that God reached down to them in Jesus Christ.
I combined these two scriptures for two reasons:
- First, in all ages people have the same problem: they want to hear what they
already concluded was okay.
- Generally speaking, people never have wanted healthy teaching that brought
them to a better understanding of what it meant to belong to God.
- People always have wanted to hear what they agree with before anything
- It was very important to Paul for Christians to have the willingness to hear
what they needed to hear. Decide for yourself by reading with me 1
For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by
way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the
gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we
never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed--God is
witness--nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though
as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.
- God allows us to hear precisely what we want to hear.
- I am talking to Christians, not those who are not Christians.
- God allows us to believe what we want to believe.
- If you doubt my conclusion, listen again to Paul's words to Christians in
2 Thessalonians 2:11,12 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence
so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not
believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
Among Christians there has occurred an enormous spiritual divorce, and that
divorce causes most people who are not Christians to be totally unimpressed
- What great divorce?
- We have divorced what we believe from how we live.
- Everybody but us can see this divorce in our pleasures.
- Everybody but us can see this divorce in our greed.
- Everybody but us can see this divorce in the way we treat people and the
way we act outside of church buildings.
- We call ourselves godly because of our religious positions.
- We do not call ourselves godly because of the way we think and live.
- Do you regard yourself to be a godly person? If you say yes, may I ask why?
- Do you regard yourself godly because you are sure you believe the right
- Or, do you regard yourself godly because Jesus Christ has changed the way
you think and act?
Paul said everyone of us will stand before God in judgment. Which of these two
responses would you like on that occasion?
- God: "Why did you think that was so important?"
- Us: "I stressed that because You said nothing about it."
- God: "Now let Me get this straight: because I said nothing about it, you thought it was important."
- Us: "God, You said a lot about helping people, praying for people, being holy instead of living for pleasure, being pure instead of living for greed, letting Christ be our Lord instead of letting our desires be our Lord. So we let Jesus teach us how to change who we were."
- God: "Thank you for serving Me by placing My emphasis where I placed it."
Are you willing to listen to God? Where do you place His emphasis?
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 6 April 2003
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