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TRUE PREACHING IN A TIME OF APOSTASY

by Dr. Robert Hymers

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, December 4, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so” (I Kings 22:8).


I am not going to give you the details of this story. We could get so bogged down in the story that we would miss the message it has for us. I will say this - it must be an important message. It is repeated almost word for word in II Chronicles, chapter 18. In that sense it is like the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) in the New Testament. Each of the gospels tells us the same basic story, with a few added things here and there. We are told that story four times because God wanted us to hear it four times. And we are told this same story twice, in two different books of the Bible, for the same reason. God thought it was important enough for us to read it twice. And that’s exactly what I do every year. As I read through the Bible each year, I am led twice to think about this man, Micaiah the son of Imlah.

And he was quite an important man. Although we read nothing about his life before this moment, and nothing afterwards, from the moment that he stepped before the king to preach, until the moment that he was cast into prison, we instinctively understand that we have been in the presence of a preacher. And preachers are important men, in many ways the most important of all men - because it is through preachers that God speaks to the consciences of men. The Apostle Paul put it in the form of two questions:

“How shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Romans 10:14-15).

Certainly Micaiah was sent and, just as certainly, they would not have heard God’s message if he had not been sent. It was God that sent him. And they heard the truth from the mouth of this God-called, God-sent preacher man. The king of Israel said,

“There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the Lord…” (I Kings 22:8).

I. First, our text tells of the scarcity of such preachers.

“There is yet one man…” Why, haven’t you got all these other men? The king had just

“gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men”
     (I Kings 22:6).

Why not listen to the four hundred? Aren’t they good enough? Can’t they teach you well enough? But these preachers were mere hirelings. They were preaching because they were paid to do it. Micaiah was cut from a different cloth. He was not paid to do it. He preached because God had called him to do it. He preached out of a sense of divine calling. That was the difference between Micaiah and the other 400 preachers. After these 400 men had given their sermon, Jehoshaphat said,

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

The classical commentator Matthew Henry said,

Unity is not always the mark of a true church and a true ministry. Here were 400 men that prophesied with one mind and one mouth, and yet all in an error. Jehoshaphat cannot relish this sort of preaching; it is not what he was used to. The false prophets cannot so mimic the true that he who had spiritual senses exercised could discern the fallacy, and therefore he enquired for a prophet of the Lord besides (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, volume 2, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996 reprint, p. 545).

“And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him?” (I Kings 22:7).

Our text tells us of the scarcity of such men. The king of Israel said,

“There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the Lord…” (I Kings 22:8).

There is yet one man who is called to preach. There is yet one man who does it under the compelling call of God. There is yet one man who does not do it for money or prestige. There is yet one man who will

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (II Timothy 4:2-5).

Of all the teachers at the time of Christ’s appearing, there was but one John the Baptist in Israel. Of all the teachers on Mars Hill, in Athens, there was but one Apostle Paul. Of all the priests in Bohemia in the fifteenth century, there was only one John Huss. Of all the priests in England in the fourteenth century, there was only one John Wycliffe. Of all the bishops, priests and monks of Germany in the sixteenth century, there was only one Luther. Of all the tidy, refined and proper clergymen of London in the eighteenth century, there was only one George Whitefield, so energized by the Spirit of God that, though the doors of every church were closed against him, he was compelled by God to preach in the fields the unsearchable riches of Christ Jesus!

Where is John the Baptist? Where is the Apostle Paul? Where is a man like Huss, who is compelled by God to preach as the flames of the Roman church burn his body to ashes? Where is Wycliffe? Where is Luther? Where is great Whitefield when we need him most?

And if you are a young man considering a call to the ministry, let these men, and the prophet Micaiah, be your examples - not the four hundred priests of Baal, not the priests of Bohemia, not the bishops and monks of Germany, not the tidy, refined clergymen of London, not the dry as dust “Bible teachers” and “Bible expositors” of our apostate age. Do not follow them, young man. Let Micaiah the son of Imlah, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, John Huss, Wycliffe, Luther, and George Whitefield be the men you follow and emulate. Let them be your example of what a preacher ought to be!

“There is yet one man…by whom we may enquire of the Lord…” (I Kings 22:8).

Let you be that man!

And if you are here this morning and are not converted, have the sense of Jehoshaphat. Do not run after men who teach the Bible with no sweat, no emotion, and no call from God. Find a man who labors for the salvation of your soul, who is weighed down with the awful duty of preaching to you the only gospel that can save your soul. And listen to that man as the oracle of God to you, the one man that has been singled out to bring you the word of God, a man who

“In meekness instruct[s] those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give [you] repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (II Timothy 2:25).

Cherish such a preacher. Hang on his words. Be led by him to Christ Jesus. Be instructed by him in the way of salvation and truth. May God help you to do so. For there is, in our day, a scarcity of such preacher men upon the earth.

“And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him …” (I Kings 22:8).

II. Second, our text tells of the hatred the unbelieving world
will have for such preachers.

“There is yet one man…by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him …” (I Kings 22:8).

How those words against Micaiah the son of Imlah roll down across the centuries! “There is one man…but I hate him.” You cannot escape the hatred of the unbelieving world if you are a God-called preacher man. I have known a little of that in my time, a little of the sting of being hated by worldly people for proclaiming the truth of the gospel. But only a little of it. I have not been imprisoned like Micaiah the son of Imlah; not beheaded like John the Baptist; not martyred like the Apostle Paul; not burned at the stake like Huss; or excommunicated like Luther; not banished from my own church like Whitefield; not locked in the Tower of London like Richard Baxter; not censured by the apostasy-befogged Baptist Union, like the incomparable Spurgeon; not persecuted and killed like some faithful preachers in Indonesia; not imprisoned like some faithful preachers in China.  But I have been hated. Yes, I have known a little of the scorning ridicule that was heaped on the prophet Micaiah that day when the king of Israel said,

“There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him…” (I Kings 22:8).

But the small attacks I have endured are as nothing compared to what our Lord went through. It was said by Him,

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).

“They hated me without a cause” (John 15:25).

Our Lord Jesus Christ was hated so much for being a God-called preacher man that they arrested Him, flogged Him half to death, and nailed His bleeding body to a Cross.

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth…Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:21-24).

And it seems to me that Micaiah is a type, certainly an illustration, of our Lord Jesus in his suffering. Notice verse 24. Let us stand and read it aloud.

“But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee?” (I Kings 22:24).

We are instantly reminded of our Lord Jesus Christ:

“Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?”
     (Matthew 26:67-68).

Young men who feel a call to the ministry must bear in mind that they are going to be disliked and even hated by a certain class of people. There is no way to avoid this. Christ said,

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you…I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19).

You may be seated.

In a very real sense this applies to any true Christian, not just to preachers. The more godly you are, and the more you stand up for Christ, the more likely you are to be rebuked by the world. Have you ever gotten in trouble for being a Christian? Seriously - think about it. Has Christianity ever put you in an uncomfortable position? I would say, if it hasn’t, you should take a good hard look at yourself. Something is wrong. Christ said,

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).

Now, that doesn’t mean everyone will hate you. Look one last time at the text, I Kings 22:8. Let us stand and read it aloud.

“And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so” (I Kings 22:8).

You may be seated.

The king of Israel hated the prophet because he did not say good and pleasant things about him. But a wiser man, like Jehoshaphat, wants to hear the truth about himself. He was from the south. He had heard good, solid preaching.  He was glad when the preacher told him the truth about his sinful, lost condition.

Do you come to church to hear a few pleasant things about yourself - or do you come to hear the truth concerning your lost condition and your need for Christ to save you? Notice that Jehoshaphat disagreed with the king of Israel. He said, “Let not the king say so,” you shouldn’t say that. And, indeed, he should not have said that. Matthew Henry gave this comment:

Note, Those are wretchedly hardened in sin, and are ripening apace for ruin, who hate God’s ministers because they deal plainly with them and faithfully warn them of their misery and danger by reason of sin, and reckon those their enemies that tell them the truth (ibid.).

The difference between a God-called preacher man and a motivational speaker is made quite clear in this passage.  A motivational speaker, like Tony Robbins, tells people that they have the power within them to do better.  The motivational speaker tells them that they can succeed if they think positively and act positively.  That's like the 400 prophets of Baal in this chapter.  The prophets of Baal were all motivational speakers!  They said, 

“Go up to Ramoth-gilead, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the king's hand" (I Kings 22:12).  

They were "prosperity" speakers!  They were motivational speakers!  But, you see, a preacher is not the same.  A preacher does not tell you, "You can do it."  A preacher tells you, "You can't do it."  A preacher tells you that you are wicked and sinful, and helpless and lost - just the opposite of one of these motivational speakers or prosperity speakers that you hear on television.  But the true preacher has a negative message, and a great many people don't want to hear that.  They are like the king of Israel, who said, 

“I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil" (I Kings 22:8). 

The true preacher man lays down the law!  He tells you that you're a sinner.  He tells you that you have an evil heart of unbelief.  He does not "prophesy good."  He tells you you're a sinner bound for Hell, and that nothing but the Blood of Christ can save you!  

I pray that you will listen to this sermon. I am telling you that you are a ruined sinner. Do not deny it. Look within yourself and see that it is true. Let your heart condemn you now and God will not condemn you later. Come to Christ for cleansing in His precious Blood and you will be saved from the wrath to come, for, if you come to Him,

“the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”
     (I John 1:7).

Repent. Change your mind. Come to Christ and He will cleanse you from all sin.

The sad thing about this account, in I Kings 22, is that the king of Israel did not listen to the preacher man. He went ahead in his own way, into the battle that the preacher had warned him against.

“And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness…So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria” (I Kings 22:34, 37).

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:23).

Oh, I pray that you will listen to this sermon, and change your mind, and come to Christ by faith. No one but Jesus can cleanse your sin and give you pardon and atonement in the sight of God. Come to Jesus now - or, like the king of Israel, your life will end on earth and your soul will stand without salvation before Almighty God your Judge.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan:
                                                                     I Kings 22:6-8, 24-28, 34-37.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Faith of Our Fathers” (by Frederick W. Faber, 1814-1863).


THE OUTLINE OF

TRUE PREACHING IN A TIME OF APOSTASY

by Dr. Robert Hymers


“There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so” (I Kings 22:8).

(Romans 10:14-15)

I.   Our text tells of the scarcity of such preachers, I Kings 22:6, 7;
II Timothy 4:2-5; 2:25.

II.  Our text tells of the hatred the unbelieving world will have for
such preachers, John 15:18, 25; I Peter 2:21-24;
I Kings 22:24; Matthew 26:67-68; John 15:18-19;
I Kings 22:12; I John 1:7; I Kings 22:34, 37; Luke 16:23.