A Symphony of Sycophants

It was 852 BC. The kingdom of Israel had been divided for eighty years. In the North, King Ahab was in his 22nd year of rule. In the South, King Jehoshaphat had reigned in Judah for 21 years. A land dispute led Ahab to ask Jehoshaphat to ally with him in a fight against Aram (east of the Jordan). Jehoshaphat responded, “Please inquire first for the word of the Lord.” (1 Kings 22:5).

Kings back then were surrounded by prophets. Ahab’s wife Jezebel came to Israel with a gaggle of pagan prophets serving Baal and Asherah. She slaughtered so many prophets of Yahweh that Elijah thought he was the only one left, even after he presided over Yahweh’s huge victory on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18). Actually, there were still 7,000 prophets who had not bowed to Baal (19:18). Later, in 852 BC, the good king Jehoshaphat was seeking the word of Yahweh’s prophets.

Small problem: the vast majority of prophets in that day, regardless of their stripe, were sycophants—fawning parasites swarming around royalty for personal security. Elijah had been a bold exception to this norm but he was apparently out of pocket. So, a lesser known prophet named Micaiah stepped up in 852 BC to be the exception.

Ahab set the stage carefully. He rounded up 400 puppet prophets at the threshing floor near the town gate. Both kings were adorned in royal robes, sitting on their thrones and surrounded by a huge throng of Ahab’s sycophants. All the accoutrements for intimidation were in place.

Like a proverbial choir, the prophets unanimously sang, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” (22:6). Zedekiah the sycophant stepped up with a dog and pony show to re-enforce the message of the ‘yes men.’ To impress Ahab who was trying to impress Jehoshaphat, Zedekiah put on “horns of iron” to dramatize the future goring of the Arameans (22:11). Imagine the cheers.

Jehoshaphat was not impressed. He asked if there was another prophet of Yahweh besides these hand-picked poodles. Ahab admitted there was, but he hated this negative nay-sayer. Yet he sent for him upon Jehoshaphat’s request. Even the un-named messenger who summoned this unpopular prophet played his politically correct (PC) part. He gave Micaiah some “friendly” advice: “Behold now, the words of the prophets are uniformly favorable to the king. Please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” (22:13).

PC intimidation occurs at all levels, from top to bottom. The intimidated often pass it along. That’s how corruption controls a culture. “Go along to get along!” “Don’t make waves.” “Forget truth and follow the money.” “Settle!” “Everyone else is doing it.”

In a world of pretense, Micaiah responded, “As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I shall speak.” (22: 14). The plot takes some strange and sarcastic twists from there but Micaiah stood out as the exception. It does not end well for Ahab.

Nine centuries later, Jerusalem welcomed Jesus to town with shouts of “Hosanna,” but were soon intimidated into shouting “Crucify Him!” (Mark 15:14). When Pilate asked the chief priests, “Shall I crucify your King?”, they answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15). They sold themselves to servile political correctness.

Today (2015), the media are the main enforcers. When they spin a false narrative, as in the Michael Brown tragedy, they heap scorn on those who think for themselves. Those who supported the false “Hands up, don’t shoot” narrative used intimidation to keep dissenters in the closet. No one wants to be accused of racist motives.

Some PC Americans are even upset that I used the initials “BC” in this article.

Christians are called to be the exception. Faithful bakers, florists, photographers, chaplains, clergy and more face a rising pressure help celebrate (not just tolerate) same-sex marriage under the intimidation of lawyers and the force of law. Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, recently signed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act to provide reasonable protection for people of faith regardless of color or ethnicity. Outraged homosexual militants are putting all their powers of phony scorn and intimidation into play. “Boycott Indiana” is their mantra. Shockingly, politicians who recently supported such laws are suddenly feigning outrage. The NCAA, Angie’s List, the CEO of Apple and many other sycophants are clamoring to undermine the most basic human right of all—the right of conscience. Many will cave.

Is your faith for sale? Is your freedom cheap? In 852 BC, a politically incorrect prophet defied intimidation saying, “As the LORD lives…” (22: 14) and stood firm. Of course, if you think God is dead, go ahead and sell out.

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