A Sermon Preached at the ACK St. James Church – Buruburu during the Main Service on Sunday 28th May, 2017
- 2 Chronicles 18:1-27
- 2 Timothy 4:1-6
Hate is a word which has become so common among people; whether believers or non-believers, whether Christians or non-Christians. More so, in our country, Kenya at a time like this when the political temperatures continue to rise towards the August 8th general elections. Hate, as an action and a feeling, can either be expressed verbally or non-verbally. Hate is manifested through tensions / conflicts / violence among people, through misunderstandings and through communication breakdowns.
Hate is a projection of internal feelings against a perceived or real enemy. Hate is a weapon used to get back at the opponent. Hate is a defence mechanism towards self-centeredness. Hate is a response when personal interests and ego are challenged. “…But I hate him” is a phrase used as an exclusion and rejection tool rather than inclusion and acceptance. Sometimes the reasons for hate are never clear if not for the sole purpose of prejudice and marking the boundary of “me against him / her”.
Historical Background of Israel
After the death of King Solomon, the kingdom was split under his son Rehoboam, the immediate successor. Rehoboam’s PR towards the elders who had served under his father Solomon led to the rebellion which resulted to the division of the kingdom (1 Kings 12:1-15):
1 Kings 12:16 “When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: “What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!” So the Israelites went home.”
Therefore, the kingdom split into Northern kingdom, which became Israel with her headquarters in Samaria and Southern kingdom, which became Judah, with the headquarters at Jerusalem. Ten tribes of the original Israel formed the Northern kingdom or Israel while two tribes; Judah and Benjamin formed the Southern kingdom or Judah.
The kings of Israel (North) led their people to worship idols; they married foreign women who brought with them the worship of their foreign gods. But the South (Judah), David’s promised kingship, the kings more or less followed the worship of the true God, YAHWEH; of course some of them were occasionally influenced by the Northerners.
During this time, the king of the North was Ahab whose wife was a wicked woman called Jezebel. The king of the South was Jehoshaphat who feared God. The two kings had a marriage relationship despite the hostilities that had existed between the two kingdoms:
2 Chronicles 18:1 “Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage.”
As Christians, I find three challenging issues in these passages which question our commitment, to true Godly counsel:
- Seeking God’s Counsel Vs Human Wisdom
Yes, we talk about God’s will and knowing God’s will but:
- Do we really seek God’s will?
- And if get to know God’s will, do we commit ourselves to follow it?
- Where do we usually start; is it first internalising our own will and desires or by seeking God’s will from a neutral position?
- Are our minds so corrupted and influenced by advices, rumours, opinions and self-confidence that when we come to God, we have already made up our minds of what we are going to do such that God’s will does not matter?
For many of us, to make decisions seems so automatic that we never stop to seek the will of God or God’s direction. You want to begin a project, you just start. We are going into August 8th election and we are ready for it, probably, because we have already aligned ourselves to the 10million plus strong votes or to the 70% + 1 votes.
In fact we are not praying that God may show us who will be the president or governor or whatever post because we have already made up our minds whom we will vote for based on our calculations, based on mobilisation strategies, based on tyranny of numbers, based on the coalitions we have built, based on the resources we have, based on the track records we have built over the years, based on the tribe we belong, and based on the history of losing or winning.
In essence the prayers we are making inwardly are that, God let there be a peaceful election so that my candidate can win fair and square; so that my enemy will accept defeat and move on; so that my opponent should not create chaos or violence but accept the win of my candidate. Friends, it is about my will and not God’s will as I stand from the position of human wisdom.
Seeking God’s Counsel Vs Human Wisdom – what a great struggle! BUT more than often, the human wisdom seems to overshadow God’s counsel.
2 Chronicles 18: 3-4 “3 Ahab king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?” Jehoshaphat replied, “I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will join you in the war.” 4 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the LORD.”
For Ahab, war was a matter of the number of soldiers he had and the support from King Jehoshaphat. However, for King Jehoshaphat, in everything he did, he sought God’s approval first. For Jehoshaphat, the will of God counted above the human effort and wisdom. Jehoshaphat responded to Ahab: “…First seek the counsel of the Lord.”
Golden Bells – Hymn No. 506
Stand up, stand up for Jesus! Stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you; You dare not trust your own.
Put on the gospel amour; And watching unto prayer;
Where duty calls or danger; Be never wanting there!
- God’s Counsel Vs Fake Godly Counsel
When we make fun of God! We live in very religious times when people tend to identify with what is religious. However in close scrutiny, it is all fake or just “…having a form of godliness...” (2Timothy 3:5). These are the times which Paul warned Timothy of:
2Timothy 4:3-4 “3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
When King Ahab was challenged by Jehoshaphat about seeking God’s counsel, Ahab called so many prophets, 400 in number (kimadharau), but the prophets had been drilled or coached how to say what Ahab wanted to hear. Oh, how we surround ourselves with friends or sycophants whom we can manipulate; who can ‘prophesy’ what is favourable and pleasing to us. But for King Jehoshaphat, it did not make any spiritual sense; “…Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?”? (2Chronicles 18:6).
In actual sense, Jehoshaphat was telling Ahab “Yes, I have heard YOUR prophets BUT I want to hear from the prophet of the LORD; I have heard the voice of YOUR many men BUT I want to hear from the voice of GOD!!” Jehoshaphat was sensitive to the divine voice. Although the four hundred prophets of Ahab prophesied the same message, Jehoshaphat felt that the Holy Spirit of God in him disagreed with their message.
In this electioneering period, we will be treated to many prophesies; be it in the political campaign platforms or in the church altars and pulpits, they will surely come. Some prophesies and predictions will come from reputable servants of God, like Zedekiah who slapped Micaiah:
2Chronicles 18:10-13, 16 “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.’ ” 11 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.” 12 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, as one man the other prophets are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.” 13 But Micaiah said, “As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what my God says.”… 16 Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’ ”
2Chronicles 18:18-23 “18 Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing on his right and on his left. 19 And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab king of Israel into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that. 20 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’ “‘By what means?’ the LORD asked. 21 “‘I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “ ‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’ 22 “So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you.” 23 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. “Which way did the spirit from the LORD go when he went from me to speak to you?” he asked.”
Friends, we need the Holy Spirit and the gift of discernment to help us differentiate God’s counsel from many counterfeit and fake godly counsels.
- He Gives True Godly Counsels “…But I Hate Him”
It is interesting that when Jehoshaphat asked Ahab whether there is a prophet of the Lord from whom, they could inquire of God’s will before they could attack the Arameans, Ahab conceded:
2Chronicles 18:7 “…“There is still one man 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.” “The king should not say that,” Jehoshaphat replied.”
Ahab knew that prophet Micaiah was the most qualified than the 400 prophets he had assembled “…but I hate him”. The hatred was neither based on policy nor the constitutionality but personality and self-interests. The hatred was not about the good of the nation and the benefit of the nationals but personal and egocentric.
Oh, how we bring our personal differences and preferences over serious and weighty national issues. The reason Ahab hated Micaiah, Micaiah’s qualifications notwithstanding, was purely personal and selfish. Micaiah was hated just because of his stand for God – speaking the truth, nothing but the truth; even if it meant being rejected and excluded.
Why do we exclude others yet we know that we know that they are qualified? Because we hate them.
- In the ladies’ Chama: Mrs. X is an accountant where she works and very strict, disciplined and straight forward with funds. But the chairlady does not like her being the treasurer. Why because the chairlady is corrupt.
- In a company, Mr. A has done courses on store-keeping and coupled with his Christian principles, he can never allow anything to leave the store without records and accounting. But the line manager transferred him to be a messenger. Why? Because he hates him.
“…But I hate him” is a phrase in one way or another we have used against people; people who challenge us directly or indirectly with their lives, their stand, their integrity, their tribe or their opinion. The person whom you hate today, why do you really hate the person? In these coming election, why will vote candidate L and not M? Are the reasons really genuine? Have you sought the counsel of the Lord about it? Did God really allow you to hate the person?
Sunday after Ascension Day, 2017
The Rev. Simon J. Oriedo
Curate at ACK St. James’ Buruburu
P.O. Box 14814 – 00100, Nairobi Kenya
Mobile: +254 – 722 838 023 / 772 838 023 / 735 62 11 72 / 752660620