1 Kings 22.11-12
“And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.’” And all the prophets prophesied so and said, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.”
Ahab and Jehoshaphat sat at the entrance of the gate in the city of Samaria to listen to the message of the prophets. The question that was put before the prophets was whether or not Ahab should join Jehoshaphat in attacking the Syrian-held city of Ramoth-Gilead.
Zedekiah was the most engaging and charismatic of these unfaithful prophets. When he spoke, he used horns of iron to illustrate two powerful forces, the combined armies of Israel and Judah that he claimed would rout the Syrians.
This must have been a vivid and motivating presentation. Every eye was on Zedekiah when he held up the horns of iron to dramatically illustrate the point. It was certainly persuasive to have the other 400 prophets agree with him!
But no matter how powerful and persuasive the presentation, the message was false. Despite what they claimed, these 400 prophets did not speak in the name of the Lord. They simply told Ahab what he wanted to hear, and he kept listening. Even worse, Ahab financed their prophetic activity, and they lived a life of comfort and privilege.
Nevertheless, it was a life of lies and deceit.
There was one exception: the prophet Micaiah. He spoke the truth to Ahab, and as a result he was reviled by the other prophets and imprisoned by Ahab. What a contrast! The prophets who spoke comfortable lies lived in luxury, while the prophet who spoke uncomfortable truth was thrown in prison.
There were counterfeits then, and there are counterfeits today. Many spiritual leaders in our time claim to speak “in the name of Jesus,” when in reality they simply tell people what they want to hear. These pseudo-preachers teach from the pulpit, broadcast on TV and radio, publish in articles and books, and post on websites. They promise health and wealth, proclaim unbounded optimism and prosperity, and predict personal peace and affluence — all “in the name of Jesus.”
These counterfeit teachers ignore and avoid the uncomfortable and challenging messages in scripture about God’s judgment on sin, his call to repentance, and his command that we die to self. In fact, the core message of these modern false prophets is dramatically self-centered.
If you have ever seen them on TV, they are scarily reminiscent of the false prophet Zedekiah described in the 1 Kings passage above. Dramatic. Flamboyant. Persuasive. And dead wrong.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7.15)
Guard your heart. Be discerning. Listen to the voice of Truth.