“For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6.13-14)
200 years after the time of Ahab and Elijah, the problem of empty promises from false prophets was still a problem. In the scripture quoted above, the Lord spoke through the prophet Jeremiah and denounced manipulative leaders — spiritual and political — in the land of Judah.
800 years after the time of Ahab and Elijah, the apostle Paul again warned of this danger. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4.1-4)
Paul exhorts Timothy (the young pastor of the church at Ephesus) to teach God’s word with clarity, authority, and patience. Paul also warns him (and us) that the time is coming when people will turn away from listening to the truth, and instead will seek teachers who tell them what they want to hear.
Here we are 2800 years after the time of Ahab and Elijah, and false promises from political and spiritual leaders continue to plague us. We must be very careful about the teachers we listen to and the messages we allow to influence us. We must exercise wisdom and discernment when listening to the promises and promotions of political or spiritual leaders.
Far too many people are much too quick to believe the easy messages. We don’t need leaders — whether spiritual or political — who “tickle our ears” with empty promises. We don’t need leaders who say “peace, peace” when there is no peace.
We need truth-tellers in our life. We especially need people to tell us the truth even when it is uncomfortable. That is one of the fundamental hallmarks of an authentic leader: Speak the truth.
Which brings us back to the story about the end of Ahab. Having heard what he wanted to hear from the 400 prophets, Ahab now reluctantly calls for the prophet Michaiah. And like a true prophet, Michaiah courageously speaks the word of God.
“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” (Ephesians 4.15)
The Lord is calling.