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The Great Need for This Hour! The Best of Vance Havner

Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him? (1 Kings 22:7)

There is no period of Bible history more dramatic than the life and times of Ahab. Some of the worst and some of the best Old Testament characters were his contemporaries. There was Jezebel, one of the most wicked women who ever lived, and there was Elijah, who lived in a tempest and went to heaven in a whirlwind. The times were evil, but they were not dull. Something was happening every minute.

On one occasion, Ahab planned a campaign against Ramoth-gilead. It was a case of a bad man doing a good thing in the wrong way. He had Scripture for the undertaking(Deuteronomy 4:43),but it takes more than a verse of Scripture to justify such a venture. Ahab inveigled King Jehoshaphat of Judah into joining him in the enterprise. Jehoshaphat was a good man but easily influenced. Ahab put on a banquet — a kick-off supper is usually all it takes to line up a Jehoshaphat. The King of Judah had no business in such a project, and the prophet Jehu asked him, “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord(2 Chronicles 19:2). That text ought to be brought out of the moth balls and put into circulation!

Jehoshaphat asked that the Israelites enquire of the Lord. It was a little late, since they had already made up their minds, but four hundred false prophets were called in and they were unanimous in their opinion. When four hundred preachers agree, there may be grounds for suspicion. Jehoshaphat asked, “is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we may enquire of him?” Give Jehoshaphat credit at least for raising the issue: “Isn’t there somebody around who speaks for God?” Ahab replied, “There is yet one man … ”(1 Kings 22:8). Thank God, there usually is! But Ahab added, “.. .but I hate him” – which is to the eternal credit of that one man–”because he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil” (verse 8). Does that not remind us of the Greatest Prophet of all, who said, ” … me it (the world) hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil”(John 7:7)?

While a messenger went to bring Micaiah, one of the false prophets put a theatrical touch on his prophecy and added a dash of Hollywood. Zedekiah waved horns and dramatized the success of the forthcoming venture. It is bad enough to be a false prophet, but to be a ham actor besides is too much.

It was a day of unification, with Ahab and Jehoshaphat uniting; it was a day of unanimity, with four hundred prophets in unison; it was a day of uniformity. The messenger advised Micaiah that the clergy had agreed and that he should go along with them. But Micaiah had not been regimented, standardized, collectivized, or brainwashed. He had no axe to grind. He was not riding the bandwagon. He was not on his way up. The grass did not look greener in the next pasture and he craved no man’s bishopric. He was not a link in anybody’s chain.

Joseph Parker said, “The world hates the four-hundred-and-first prophet.” Micaiah was Number 401. He broke the monotony when he said, “As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak”(1 Kings 22:14). He was put on a diet of bread and water, but better a prophet on bread and water than a politician at the feasts of Ahab. With his immortal words Micaiah answered the question of Jehoshaphat: he was the prophet of the Lord besides.

We live in days not unlike the times of Micaiah. It is a time of unification. Ahab and Jehoshaphat are still going up against Ramoth-gilead. The world is being unified into the world state, the churches into the world church. It is a time of unanimity, of yes-men and rubber stamps. Adlai Stevenson is reported to have said that he had devised a new word, “yo,” which can mean either “yes” or “no”! It is a time of uniformity. We are like eggs in a crate. We talk about being “different” but never have we been more alike. Teenagers boast of being different but they dress alike, talk alike, look alike. The human race is gradually being homogenized into one faceless, monolithic mass. It is the day of the lowest common denominator, the happy medium, the middle of the road. A pleasant “get-alongism,” a “togetherness,” has so paralyzed us into moral inertia that it is almost impossible to arouse us from our amiable stupor. The steamroller is flattening all the mountains into one level plain. Such a time does not breed prophets.

Men who speak for God never merge into the fog around them. Noah stood alone in a civilization of culture and progress. His contemporaries must have laughed at him as an eccentric who was building an oversized houseboat and looking for the world to end. Eljah stood aloneamong the priests of Baal and the stooges who ate at Jezebel’s table. When he challenged the multitude, that fifth-amendment crowd “answered not a word.” Amos stood alone in the religio-political system of his day. Dr. Kyle Yates wrote, “His time had not been spent in a divinity school. He was unwilling to be classed as a member of the guilds who made their living by bowing to the wishes of the people and preaching a pleasing message that would guarantee a return engagement.” Jeremiah stood alone among the tranquilizers of his day who were preaching peace when there was no peace; but we are still reading Jeremiah while the happiness boys of his day have been forgotten. Daniel spoke for God in the midst of a pagan empireand it was worth a night in a lion’s den to be able to read God’s handwriting on the wall. Paul conferred not with flesh and blood but got his orders direct from Headquarters.He was not the product of any assembly line. Dr. Mordecai Ham said, “Paul was a strategist who thought out his strategy on the field of war, not in some Jerusalem war office where parchment and sealing wax were more plentiful than experience and foresight.”

True prophets are solitary people; eagles do not fly in flocks. It is not easy to be a Lone Dissenter.When the messenger was sent for Micaiah he must have said, in effect, “The clergy have agreed, and you had better make it unanimous. It is quite an honor to speak before two kings and four hundred prophets. Why are you such an odd number! This is a good gravy train and you had better ride it. This is the mood of the hour and you had better get with it.” The same subtle pressure today would persuade preachers to get in step with the times and ride the wave of the future. What we need are more preachers out of step with the times, more odd prophets like Micaiah. We are told that we must adjust. Adjust to what! What is there in this world set-up to adjust to? God’s man needs to adjust only to God’s Word and God’s will. It is not the business of the prophet to harmonize with the times.‘ .. what concord hath Christ with Belial?”(2 Corinthians 6:15). The preacher is a soloist; he was never meant to play the accompaniment to anything. The pulpit is not a platform from which to boost the projects of men to bring in a false millennium, the Kingdom without the King. No matter how much Scripture may be quoted or how many false prophets bid Ahab go up against Ramoth-gilead, Micaiah will stand his ground and refuse to be swept off his feet by popular movements. The greatest need of the hour is a four-hundred-and-first prophet of the Lord besides, that we may enquire of him.

There are several ways of silencing a prophet. Persecution will do it.John the Baptist’s head is not always brought in on a charger; there are newer ways of decapitating the prophet with more finesse. Promotion sometimes does it.The prophet is given a high seat in the synagogue and is never heard from again. The pressure of the times and discouragement can do it.Jeremiah wanted to quit preaching, get out in the wilderness, and run a motel. Another prophet can sometimes do it, as when the prophet at Bethel backslid in his own revival, and he who could turn down a king was deceived by another prophet.

Prophets are not popular at home; they are without honor in their own countries. They are not popular with politicians. Ahab hated Micaiah–but he feared him enough to disguise himself when he went to battle, lest Micaiah’s predictions came true. There was another prophet by the name of Obadiah who was out with Ahab looking for grass when he should have been with Elijah praying for rain. The true prophet does not know how to work both sides of the street.He refuses to dine with Jeroboam and does not let his hair down with the priests of Bethel.

Prophets are not popular with Pharisees.Our Lord asked, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?” (Acts 7:52), and He said, “… ye are the children of them that killed the prophets” (Matthew 23:31). One generation stones prophets and the next builds sepulchers in their honor. Organized religion hates the preacher whose headquarters is heaven, whose Superintendent is God. They are enraged when they cannot control him. The times are never propitious for the Lone Dissenter.

Naturally, one can hardly expect a sermon on Micaiah to be any more popular than its subject. But it is worth preaching if in the congregation one man will hear and heed the call to be a New Testament prophet. If such a prospect is reading this, God bless you. The odds will be four hundred to one, the diet may be bread and water, and the orders are: “ … what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak.”

If you are interested in the prophetic ministry, get ready for trouble! You will be despised by Amaziah and all who want to preserve the status quoat Bethel. You will be hatedby Jezebel and all who would set up the worship of Baal alongside the altar of Jehovah. You will be too angular to fit the Procrustean beds of the religious world. You will not be able to feather your nest in this world; scant provision is made for prophets down here. You will report to Heavenly Headquarters and get your orders from the Main Office. If you are a prospect, think it over. You had better mean business, else your ministry will be pathetic instead of prophetic. And remember that prophets are needed, but not wanted.

It is time for another four-hundred-and-first prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him.

From The Best of Vance Havner, copyright 1969 by Fleming H. Revell Company.

The Wake-up Herald

Wake-up, Pastors! Wake-up, Christians!

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The Wake-Up Herald is published by Robert McCurry. The publication is designed to exalt the true God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ, and inform, inspire, and challenge its readers regarding biblical truth and real-life issues. The contents are the sole responsibility of Robert McCurry and do not represent or speak for or on behalf of any other person or group. There is no subscription charge. The publication is a ministry of faith dependent on the contributions of its readers. Contributions are not tax-deductible. Send all correspondence to: Robert McCurry, 605 Moore Rd, Newnan, GA 30263 or herbap@aol.com Remove? Send reply with “remove” in Subject line.

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