There is this story in the Old Testament that I find both funny and illuminating. Check it out – it’s one of the best exchanges in scripture – it will surprise you.
So, in 2 Chron. 18, Jehoshaphat and King Ahab are talking. King Ahab has 400 court prophets who are sycophants and say only what Ahab wants to hear. And he has one ragamuffin prophet named Micaiah that he doesn’t like.
Ahab wants to go to war and asks his prophets if it’s a good idea. Being sycophants, they say, “Go, God will let you win.”
But Jehoshaphat sees through the charade and asks if there isn’t a real prophet in the house.
Ahab answers, “Yes, Micaiah; but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me.”
Jehoshaphat replies, “You should not say that.”
So King Ahab says, “Bring Micaiah at once.”
Micaiah shows up and all the 400 prophets are prophesying to the king, “Attack and be victorious.”
But the king’s messenger has tipped off Micaiah and advised him, “Let your word agree with theirs and speak favorably.”
Micaiah caves, compromises his integrity and tells Ahab what he wants to hear: “Attack and be victorious.”
“How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” Ahab replies – this is not his first rodeo.
“I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd,” Micaiah prophesies.
Ahab turns to Jehoshaphat and says something that sounds like a Groucho Marx line: “Didn’t I tell you he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”
At this point, the die is cast for Micaiah and he lets it all hang out, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord enthroned, and all the angel armies of heaven standing at attention… And God said, ‘How can we seduce Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead?’
Some said this, and some said that. Then a spirit stepped out, stood before God, and said, ‘I’ll seduce him.’
‘And how will you do it?’ said God.
‘Easy, I’ll get all the prophets to lie.’
‘That should do it,’ said God. ‘On your way – seduce him!’
‘And that’s what has happened. God filled the mouths of your puppet prophets with seductive lies. God has pronounced your doom.'”
Of course it happened just as Micaiah prophesied – Ahab was killed and his army defeated.
Here’s the interesting thing about this story. When it’s time to get the job done, God has any number of spirits to call on. Who does he call? A lying spirit. In other words, a devil. This is not a contest between God on one side and the devil on the other. Not only do demons shudder before our God, but they curtsy and bow to do his bidding.
All God has to do is snap his fingers and the demons do exactly what he wants. We don’t serve a God who frets about things getting done. He’s got it all under control. Nothing happens to you that hasn’t first passed through his fingers.