When What You Feel is Not What God Feels
In 1 Kings 22, we find one of the most fascinating stories of the Bible. In this chapter, King Ahab, who ruled over the northern tribes of Israel, was preparing to go to battle. The Bible then tells us, “So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, ‘Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?’ ‘Go,’ they answered, ‘for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.’… 10 Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. 11 Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, ‘This is what the Lord says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’’ 12 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. ‘Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,’ they said, ‘for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.’ (I Kings 22:6, 10-12).
Imagine being in the room while this is going on. You have 400 prophets all speaking in tongues and foretelling the future. The atmosphere must have felt spiritual. I’m sure people could “feel” it. These men prophesied victory. From Ahab’s perspective, it must have felt good to have all these people telling you the same thing. I’m sure they felt that their faith was being built up by all these confirmations.
The king of the southern tribes was named Jehoshaphat. After he heard these prophets, he stated, “Is there not a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?” (I Kings 22:7). This king was not convinced that these 400 men were speaking according to God’s will. I can imagine some accused him of “prophesying out of bitterness”. Ahab responded to him in frustration, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.’” (I Kings 22:8) Ahab didn’t like Micaiah because he didn’t say smooth, pleasing things.
Later, Micaiah answered, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’ 23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.” (I Kings 22:19-23)
Ahab lamented Micaiah for his truthfulness, but this true prophet declared that there would be disaster. He actually had a heavenly vision where He saw God’s thoughts about Ahab’s strategy. God was disgusted with Ahab and sent the deception into his prophets! He foretold that Ahab would die, and it happened!
In 1 Kings 22, the 400 prophets and Ahab were feeling good about their decision to go to war. After all, there were prophets approved by the king giving them all of this assurance. The problem is that God did not feel that way. God was very unhappy, and only one person of the hundreds of people in the room knew it – Micaiah.
Now imagine if Jehoshaphat had not been there to discern that they needed a true Word from God. Ahab could have rode to battle without hearing the true Word of the Lord; people would not have blamed the loss on the false prophecy. They would have blamed it on their method.
So many people today live by what they feel. In other words, if they “feel” the spirit, then they think God is approving of the service. They then just soak in everything that is preached, especially if a lot of people are there. In America, we think if we can get enough people in the same room to approve of something, then we must be right. On top of this, we live in a “me” focused society. People go to church to see what they can “get out of it”. If they feel good, then it must be good, right? All three of these attitudes together play into the devil’s hands.
We often forget that the devil has not always been an enemy of God. At one time he was the chief angel. Ezekiel 28 tells us that he “walked in the fire of God” and was an “anointed cherub”. The fire of God was on the devil, but it was not in him. He fell from his place among God’s angels, but he is still anointed. Paul said that he even appears as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:12-14). He is the great deceiver who works his own wonders (2 Thess. 2:9).
What if you were in a service and “felt” the presence of God or even the “fire of God”, but the preacher stood up and approved homosexuality? What if the preacher approved fornication? What if he foretold your “victory” when your lifestyle was a wreck and you were headed for defeat like Ahab? What if he told you that the Bible was “just another book” or that the Old Testament is “irrelevant” today? Just because someone carries the fire of God on them does not mean it is in them! Just because they quote the Word does not mean the Word is in them! Satan quoted the Bible to Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4:5-7). The problem is that it contradicted the Torah, which is what Jesus responded with in the desert!
Satan will get you to rely on feel if it will distract your faith. In Genesis, Isaac was getting ready to bless Esau. Jacob came in to try and steal the blessing. Rebekah took some goat skins to cover Jacob so that he would feel hairy. Jacob went before Isaac; Isaac felt his arms and thought he was Esau, even though His voice sounded like Isaac. He trusted what he felt and not what he heard.
Though Jehoshaphat discerned that the 400 prophets of Ahab were not telling God’s will, he did not follow through with Micaiah’s vision. He went to fight with Ahab anyways. This shows you the seducing nature of Satan.
The Bible tells us in the last days that many false prophets will arise and deceive many people (Matthew 24:11). We must use discernment and the Word of God as the plumb line. This is what Jesus fought with in the desert, and we must fight with if we are to endure to the end.