2 Chronicles 18:12-22, Mark 15:1–15 (read online ⧉)
Ahab was an interesting king. He set himself up against God and the prophets multiple times. His greatest prophetic adversary was Elijah. However, Elijah was by no means his only one. Micaiah was apparently well known to Ahab. As Ahab told Jehoshaphat that Micaiah never says anything good to him (Ahab), we can infer the Micaiah was known to visit Ahab, probably often to chastise him for continue to worship Baal (and encouraging the people too).
Knowing that Ahab could behave in a weak fashion (see the story about Naboth’s vineyard), it is interesting to reflect on him bringing a known adversary to his court for consultation, especially in the presence of another king. This is not the behavior of a weak king. On top of it, Ahab is apparently smart enough to recognize that all his other “seers” are blowing hot air, for when Micaiah echoes their words, Ahab challenges that. He’s pretty certain that Micaiah is following the crowd and not his calling.
Why Micaiah succumbed to echoing the others is never answered, but there could be a number of answers. The likeliest answer of all was that Ahab wouldn’t respond to the truth, so why bother with it. People in power might ask people of influence or morals for advice (such as in this case). However, that can be merely a checkbox to show open-mindedness and wisdom, when in fact it is just a show. While Ahab took a risk calling in Micaiah, because he sought Jehoshaphat’s military aid, he probably felt that he needed to put on an appropriate show for the God-following Jehoshaphat.
In Jesus’ time, Pilate was the theoretical ruler of Jerusalem. He was under and sent with the authority of the Roman Empire. Only by his command could death be imposed. As the Jewish religious leaders needed his approval, they set him up. In many respects, Pilate knew it. He knew that the real issue was that Jesus challenged the influence of the Sanhedrin. Pilate, though, needed the Sanhedrin to control the people without always having to resort to arms. He and the Sanhedrin played a political game of chess, and Pilate gave up. He actually had a winning hand but succumbed to the pressure of the crowd. The Sanhedrin knew the political pitfalls that Pilate had to walk and took advantage of them.
Ahab and Pilate faced hard choices. For us, we don’t see them as too hard, but both were “political animals”. We see much the same today; people who cannot not be in politics. Every person has decisions to make. What matters is which direction each one of those steps leads.
1) Have you ever had to make a political choice that did not feel like it was the correct (e.g., righteous, moral) choice? Why did you make the choice you did? What were the results politically and spiritually?
2) For “political animals” (no disrespect intended), often the political game blinds them to good or wise decisions. Where do you see that occurring? Is it only that person or people?
3) People’s wiring for decisions is often different than our own. We may even come to the same decision via a completely different route. How do we work with others whose thought processes (again, not the conclusions) are so different from our own?