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God’s Sovereignty in Micaiah

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
March 22, 2023 12:01 am

God’s Sovereignty in Micaiah

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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March 22, 2023 12:01 am

There is no place for chance in the purposes of God. He is in complete control over all seemingly random and chaotic events. Today, Derek Thomas illustrates this reality from the prophecy of Micaiah and a stray arrow that changed the course of history.

Get Derek Thomas' Teaching Series 'Imprisoned' on DVD and the Digital Study Guide for Your Gift of Any Amount: https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/2640/imprisoned

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God is sovereign.

I take a no-risk view of history. That is to say that the future, in all of its details, macrocosmically and microcosmically, are all part and parcel of a divine plan, the execution of a divine decree. All things work together for the good of those that love Him.

In terms of a theory and an understanding of history, both past, present, and future, all of it is ordered by God completely and without exception. When Christians consider the sovereignty of God, we're typically wondering, is God only sovereign over those major events in history, perhaps in our life, or is He sovereign over even the tiniest of details? Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and thank you for joining us today for Renewing Your Mind. It is so important for us to understand the sovereignty of God rightly, especially before we face challenges and trials in our life. And today, as Dr. Derek Thomas continues his series Imprisoned, he's going to look to one of the most fascinating historical accounts recorded for us in the Old Testament, one that not only helps us understand the scope of God's sovereignty, but also the comfort that it brings us today. Here's Dr. Thomas now.

Well, hello again. This is number three in our study of characters in the Bible who found themselves imprisoned for a season. And we've been looking at the lessons that they learned themselves and perhaps the lessons that you and I can learn from similar trials and difficulties that are not literal imprisonments, but certainly when things aren't quite going our way. And the character today is Micaiah, a prophet that we find in 2 Chronicles chapter 18. And we'll set this in context in a moment, but again, I'm not going to read the entire chapter, which is lengthy, but I'm going to read verse 33. But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the King of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore, he said to the driver of his chariot, turn around and carry me out of the battle for I am wounded. And then in verse 34, and the battle continued that day and the King of Israel was propped up in his chariot, facing the Syrians until evening. Then at sunset, he died. And this is, of course, the death of King Ahab of the northern kingdom of Israel.

I'm tempted to call this study a lucky shot because from a human perspective, that's precisely what it was. A certain man drew his bow at a venture. He wasn't even aiming at anyone in particular.

It just so happened that it struck the King of Israel, Ahab, and it was a fatal wound. John Bunyan, at the time of the Civil War, he lied about his age. He was technically underage to be participating in the Civil War. In the middle of the 1640s in England, and for all kinds of reasons, his mother had died, his father had remarried. It was not a great relationship for Bunyan, I think. And so, John Bunyan decided to run away. And I don't think he ever saw any of the battles. He certainly wouldn't have fought in any of the battles, but I'm pretty sure he saw the effects of those set battles and the horrible injuries, unimaginably horrible injuries, that he would have undoubtedly seen. When I was a soldier, he writes this in his autobiographical book, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. When I was a soldier, I, with others, were drawn out to go to such a place to besiege it.

But when I was just ready to go, one of the company desired to go in my room, to which, when I had consented, he took my place. And coming to the siege, as he stood sentinel, he was shot into the head with a musket bullet and died. What do we call that for Bunyan, at least? A lucky break. But, of course, we have a doctrine of providence that nothing happens without God willing it to happen, and without God willing it to happen before it happens, and without God willing it to happen before it happens, and without God willing it to happen in the way that it happens.

And that's a similar thing to this man who draws a bow at random. The occasion in this chapter is a marriage alliance between the southern kingdom of Judah, where Jehoshaphat is king, and his wife is unnamed, and Ahab and Jezebel in Samaria in the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. And they are agreeing that Jehoshaphat's son, Jehoram, Jehoram, and Ahab and Jezebel's daughter, Athaliah, were to be married. And it was meant to secure peace from fifty years of hostilities between Judah and Israel. And a banquet is being held in the northern capital in Israel in the city of Samaria. Now, it's somewhat shocking that this marriage alliance is even on the cards because Athaliah, who was to marry Jehoshaphat's son Jehoram, after her husband died, she ensured the death of all her offspring and extended family, except for one grandson, Joash, in order that she might usurp the throne for six years before eventually she died. She was executed. But you think we live in weird, terrible times.

Well, it's almost beyond description as to how bad things were in this period of history. So, let's go to this banquet in Samaria. And Ahab suggests, perhaps after drinking, suggests that the way to cement this marriage and the alliances of these two houses is a good war, and to go against Ramoth Gilead, which was in Syrian hands, and recapture it for Judah. And he asks for prophets to come, and all his prophets, of course, are sycophants who will say what the king wants to hear, and the prophets come, and they will say things like, yes, you will be wonderfully successful, so go. And then he says, is there not a prophet realizing that these were all sycophants?

He asks, is there not a prophet of the Lord to give me advice? And yes, there is, and he's Micaiah, but he doesn't like Micaiah. In fact, he specifically says that he hates him because Micaiah never says anything good about Ahab. Initially, Micaiah plays the game and goes along with the other prophets, telling Ahab what he wants to hear, but in a tone and a manner that probably suggested that he was being ironic.

And then, when he is chided, he tells Ahab the truth that if he goes into battle, he will die, and Ahab has one of those moments where he says, I told you that this man never says anything good about me, but he goes into battle nevertheless and dies. Now, let's—and Micaiah, of course, is put in prison—let's analyze this narrative and draw some lessons from it. And the first is this, that God is sovereign, that God is sovereign. I take a no-risk view of history, that is to say that the future, in all of its details, macrocosmically and microcosmically, are all part and parcel of a divine plan, the execution of a divine decree that all things work together for the good of those that love Him. In terms of a theory and an understanding of history, both past, present, and future, all of it is ordered by God completely and without exception, I believe, in the total sovereignty of God. And prophecy, of course, would be meaningless if that weren't true, the fact that Micaiah or any other prophet can make a prophecy about the future and that that prophecy comes true in all of its details means that God is in charge of that future.

His dominion is total. There are those in our time. It's not quite as popular now as it was maybe twenty years ago, but there was an upsurge, an upsurge twenty years ago, of a view that we sometimes refer to as open theism, that God plans big things. You know, the big things are all planned, but the details have to sort themselves out by themselves and that therefore the future was open, open theism.

But that it would only take one little detail to change the course of history. An arrow, a lucky shot would change the course of history and what the Scripture is saying and what the chronicler wants you to understand here and the book of Chronicles is written at a much later period to underscore that God's covenant is sure and that God's promise is sure. None can stay the hand of God. None can say to God, what are you doing? It was the lesson of Joseph. You meant it for evil, he says to his brothers, but God at the same time meant it for good. God has a plan. God has a purpose to ensure the survival of the godly line of King David in a covenant that he made with David in 2 Samuel chapter 7, that messianic promise, great David's greater son would rule and reign forever. In all the messiness of life, in all the muck of life, God still has a plan. God still has a purpose. In the words of the Shorter Catechism, God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord. He turns it wherever he wills, Proverbs 21 and verse 1. The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is holy from the Lord, Proverbs 16 and verse 33. God is sovereign. Secondly, God is sovereign in chance, events. From a human point of view, there is a concept, and we all understand it, of luck, things that seem to be random, things that at least appear to us to be contingent. I studied mathematics.

I have a bachelor's degree in mathematics. I remember studying probability theory. I remember studying, at one point, chaos theory. It sounds like a contradiction in terms. There's chaos, but there's a theory.

There are equations. You and I understand that Las Vegas wouldn't exist if there wasn't a theory of chance. It couldn't possibly survive unless they know, using algorithms of probability, that in the end, they will make a profit.

Even though there will be losses along the way, they will make a profit. God is sovereign even over what appears to us to be random and chaotic events. They are not random or chaotic to the sight of God. Jesus said, not even a sparrow falls to the ground, not even a hare, without God's will. God is present, and there's no telling what He can do. What appears to be a random lucky shot fulfilled the purposes of Almighty God. That's the God we worship.

That's the world in which we live. Thirdly, God is sovereign over evil. Let me pick up verse 23. Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these your prophets. The Lord has declared disaster concerning you. And for which, this is Micaiah speaking now to Ahab about his sycophantic prophets, and the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these your prophets. And for which, Micaiah was struck on the cheek, and Micaiah says something else to Ahab, and Ahab says, Seize, Micaiah, and take him back to Ammon, the governor of the city, and to Joash, the king's son. And say, Thus says the king, put this fellow in prison, and feed him with meager rations of bread and water until I return in peace. It's a difficult statement, isn't it?

God has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets. You might balk at that. It certainly needs some nuanced interpretation.

Let's pick it up somewhere else. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, speaking about the crucifixion of Jesus in Acts chapter 2, and he says to the people in Jerusalem, You by wicked hands slew him, but it was all by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. Yes, you did something that was evil.

Your intent was evil, but it was all by the foreknowledge of God. There's a caveat as we think about divine causality. We make caveats that God is not the author of sin. He is sovereign over all events, but He's not the author of sin.

The Westminster Confession, for example, employed what had been part of medieval theology, that there was a recognition of first causes and second causes. Think of those words in Amos chapter 3. Does evil befall a city, and the Lord has not done it?

Does evil befall a city, and the Lord has not done it? Now, think of it from a point of view of spiritual and emotional well-being. When we think of, when we settle this biblically, intellectually, emotionally, that God has ultimate control of all things, including evil, and that this is gracious and precious beyond words. In the Heidelberg Catechism, question 27, the almighty and everywhere present power of God upholds heaven and earth with all creatures and so governs them that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, all things come not by chance but by His fatherly hand. When a person believes and cherishes that, it changes his life.

This is more than just the language of permission, that God permits something to happen. When Spurgeon was challenged that this is nothing but fatalism and stoicism, he replied, What is fate? Fate is this.

Whatever is must be. But there is a difference between that and providence. Providence says, Whatever God ordains must be. But the wisdom of God never ordains anything without a purpose.

Everything in this world is working for some great end. Fate does not say that. There is all the difference between fate and providence that there is between a man with good eyes and a blind man. God is sovereign over evil. God is sovereign over life and death.

That's another lesson here. He was sovereign over the life and death of King Ahab. Of course, Jehoshaphat should never have been in this situation. But we can also say that it is appointed unto man once to die and after death the judgment. Yes, deep in unfathomable minds of never-failing skill, He treasures up His bright designs and works His sovereign will.

Yes, God is sovereign over life and death, but He's also sovereign to ensure the final outcome. And the final outcome, of course, was the survival of the house of David in Jerusalem. That was the goal.

That was the plan. And the death of Ahab and the destruction of this alliance was part and parcel of that. There are two lessons I think I want us to think about as we think about the death of Ahab. A specific one, Jehoshaphat learned something about prayer in this incident. If you were to turn to chapter 20 and verse 3, then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all of Judah. I think this incident brought Jehoshaphat to a better place, to a greater sense of faith, and a sense of leaning more and more upon the Lord out of this imprisonment of Micaiah and the consequences that followed.

Jehoshaphat learned something, I think, about prayer. But there's a second lesson. Learn patience when things are bad. This is a rotten chapter. Just as Samson's story is a mess. Life can be messy.

Sometimes we find ourselves in the muck, and the end is going to be good, however. God is in control. God knows what He is doing. And to change the course of history, all it took was a random shot, a random arrow that just happened to pierce the king in a vulnerable spot in his armor as he rode along in his chariot playing games of war to impress King Jehoshaphat. But it was an arrow that fulfilled a prophecy of a faithful prophet and man of God, Micaiah, who was imprisoned for his prophecy. Well, lesson four, we'll look at one more character from the Old Testament.

Well, life can be messy, can't it? But isn't it encouraging to be reminded that God is in control and He knows what He's doing? And really, that's what we've been reminded every day this week, whether it was looking back at the life of Joseph or Samson or even today. And this series by Dr. Derek Thomas, Imprisoned, Faith in All Circumstances, is a story about the life of Joseph Thomas, imprisoned, faith in all circumstances, looks at many other figures than we can feature this week on Renewing Your Mind.

People like Daniel, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, and others. So I'd encourage you to make your donation of any amount today and we'll send you this complete series. It's on two DVDs, but not only will you receive that package, we will give you digital access as well to the audio and the video and the digital study guide. So make your donation today at renewingyourmind.org or by calling us at 800 435 4343. When we imagine a prison cell, we might think of a small room, perhaps a hard mattress, no windows. Well, tomorrow, Dr. Derek Thomas will show us a man whose imprisonment was in the belly of a whale. So join us here tomorrow on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-22 07:10:13 / 2023-03-22 07:18:10 / 8

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