"AN EXCELLENT SPINE"   (Numbers 24:10-13)
Balaam said the same thing as Micaiah but Micaiah met it!

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     A.   A Bible class was reading in Dan. 6:3 about Daniel exceeding others because  "an excellent spirit was in him."    The boy that was asked to read the passage misread it as, "an excellent spine was in him."  Good description of Daniel!  



   B.   One of the so called Christian graces in 2 Peter 1:5 is virtue."  "moral courage".   "Spiritual spine."   

A Christian needs to have backbone.  God wants us to have that.  

      C.    Micaiah had "an excellent spine".   He had godly courage!

   D. Background.


                 After Solomon's death in about 920 BC   Israel became a Divided Kingdom.

                The northern section retained the name Israel; the southern section was called Judah.

                 North went immediately into idolatry  About 60 years after Solomon Ahab is finally upon the throne there.   One of worst kings Ahab is married to the Canaanite Jezebel.

                 South retained Solomon's temple and the presence of God and the Torah.

                                One of the good kings in the south was Asa's son:  Jehoshaphat.

                                J. goes down to Samaria.     2 Chronicles 18

 1 Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance; and by marriage he allied himself with Ahab.

 2 After some years he went down to visit Ahab in Samaria


                                 #6        read or tell 1 Kgs. 22+ 2 Chron. 18:3ff.


 3 So Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, "Will you go with me against [Syria in] Ramoth Gilead?" And he answered him, "I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will be with you in the war."

 4 And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, "Please inquire for the word of the LORD today."

 5 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, four hundred men, and said to them, "Shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?" And they said, "Go up, for God will deliver it into the king's hand."

 6 But Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?"

 7 So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "There is still one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil. He is Micaiah the son of Imla." And Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the king say such things!"

 8 Then the king of Israel called one of his officers and said, "Bring Micaiah the son of Imla quickly!"

 9 The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah, clothed in their robes, sat each on his throne; and they sat at a threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them.

 10 Now Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made horns of iron for himself; and he said, "Thus says the LORD: 'With these you shall gore the Syrians until they are destroyed.'"


12 Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, "Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Therefore please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement."

 13 And Micaiah said, "As the LORD lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak."

 14 Then he came to the king; and the king said to him, "Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?" And he said, "Go and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand!"

 15 So the king said to him, "How many times shall I make you swear that you tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?"

 16 Then he said, "I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, 'These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace.'"

 17 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Did I not tell you he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?"

**** Micaiah was sent to prison.  Jehoshaphat and Ahab went to war.  Jehoshaphat barely got out with his life.  Ahab was killed just as Micaiah' and the Word of God had foretold.

It took courage for Micaiah to do what was right.   This is perhaps the only time that Jehoshaphat did not obey God.   Ahab was in habit of not paying attention to God.


I.   Christians can be SPINELESS like Ahab.

                A.  Ahab was a child of God, Israelite, but had little or no spine for truth.  Some might say he was spineless husband being married to Jezebel, that he was a crybaby when he didn't get what he wanted, but my point is he was spineless in his facing Truth.

                Isa. 30:10>>>"Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not                                                unto us right things, speak unto us SMOOTH thing, prophesy DECEITS"

                Ahab wanted only to hear what he wanted to hear.


               C.  We can be a spineless Ahab Christian if we only look for "yes" people men in our religion.

Please understand what I'm saying.    If the leaders want "yes" members to agree to everything they decide and do, regardless of the Scripturalness or the consequences, are they not like spineless Ahab. 

    If we members want a LEADERSHIP that says "yes" to everything  we do, are we not Spineless Ahabs.

                    Question:  "Are we one of those that ever decide to attend a particular congregation because the leaders tells us basically what we want to hear?  I'm not talking about Faith; I'm talking about messages that  keep us in our comfortable place... we get yes-messages all the time; if we don't, we want to take our bags and go elsewhere... 

                I heard somewhere that church should be a place that "comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable."    Do you believe that?   Ahab would not.

                 On doctrine, are we like Ahab with our ears closed to the Truth of God's Word? 

                 Someone came all the way from Tampa to talk to me about marrying a divorced woman who acknowledged that she did not have Scriptural grounds.   He had gone to Tampa preachers.  He knew the Scriptures.  He even quoted what the others had said.   I told him that regardless of what I said, that he was going to do what he wanted to do.  He was just looking for someone to say that the Scriptures  meant something else.   Sure enough, he found a preacher of the Owens faction and he did what he wanted to do.   Now he has to live with the consequences.

                Point #1, if Ahab had really listened to Micaiah's message, would he really have rushed out to battle?   "Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:19).   That doesn't describe Ahab.

 Be brave enough to admit you are a sinner in need of salvation,

 be brave enough to lean on Jesus.  Not just WWJD but WWJHMD.  What would Jesus have me do?   Be brave enough to give your life's navigation over to the Navigator Jesus, turning your back on the wrong and things amiss in your life, and obey Jesus' commands.  If you aren't a Christian, you haven't been baptized into Christ, be brave and do it now.  Don't be a spineless Ahab.   As Ananias commanded Paul, "Why do you tarry? Arise and be baptized, calling on the authority of Jesus Christ."

II.   Christians can have a "weak" spine like Jehoshaphat.

                A.  Jehoshaphat was faithful as long as he was top dog and calling  the shots in Judah.

                  1.  In Judah from Beersheba to the hills of Ephraim, he sent Levite preachers and teachers!  As a result, idols were torn down.   Neighbors began to respect Judah again.  Good man, right?  A brave man?  

              B.  Yes, But NOT when he was with his peer in power, in hostile country. There he cowered and had no spine.  He seemed to sit in awe before the sinner Ahab.   He let Ahab lead him.    

                C.   Jehoshaphat, like David, had a good habit of consulting God's Will  before his decision making.  But he did not do it here!    Commentators laud him for "forcing" Ahab to check with the Lord.   No sir!   I do not praise his actions here.   He had already made his decision.   He told Ahab, my power is yours!   Too late, Jehoshaphat.       Have you ever started eating and then "O, I forgot to give thanks for the food."   That's what happened here.  Perhaps  Jehoshaphat had second thoughts too about his alliance with Ahab, BUT he was too sheepish to correct the situation.   Jehu the prophet later condemned him for his alliance with Ahab.


                 D.   We can be a "weak SPINEd CHRISTIAN" in our relationships.  It is good to go on Facebook and see Christian type of exchanges between young correspondents.   It is also disheartening to see the opposite.                                                                                                                                                                        In Canada, 80 percent of graduates from high school had friends who believed completing high school was important, and only 2 percent had friends who thought this was unimportant.     Students with friends who like school and are interested in school , get good grades, & are more likely to graduate high school.    Friends who believe that academic achievement is important is beneficial for adolescents.   Would it not also work in other areas?   Such as in morals, faith, good choices?   Although it is more critical during developmental years of adolescence, peer groups are important throughout one's life.    "Grown ups" are in a sense just   grown up children.   Social needs and risks are still there.   Jehoshaphat proves that!


                Too often, people jam the words peer and pressure together and think of it as a bad thing. In Jehoshaphat's case it was true.  Peers have power. But this pressure can be positive.  You are the peer that could make the difference.   If you can't let your influence be good, you are in the wrong place.

Point #2, 


Take the leadership with your peers or get out of that group fast.  

If Jehoshaphat couldn't have the courage to be a leader with Ahab, he should have stayed in Jerusalem.


III.  Christians should have an excellent spine like Micaiah.

                A.  Micaiah had spine!   He took a courageous stand for the truth in a hostile environment.  

                B.    Michaiah made 2 choices:

                                 1. He believed His God lived.

                                   2.  He believed that God was speaking the Truth through him and would back him up.

                      He decided before he arrived at the thrones that his answer would be one that pleased His God.

                 C..  Micaiah had this advantage over us:    He could wait for God's Word to come to him.   And he would respond.  
                However, we have the advantage of the sacred written word, the Bible.  That means we have to do what Jackie pointed out this morning in his second point:   "Preparation."


E. Point #3,

                                1.  Why do we today sometimes shy away from talking about certain matters with nonbelievers, even when God's Word speaks clearly about such issues?   How can we develop the boldness and virtue of courage to speak up? 

                                2..  Knowledge. 

We need to spend time reading and studying the Bible, letting it fill our lives and allowing it to guide our behavior and decision making.  Micaiah said, "What the Lord saith... that will I speak."   Psalms 1: 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season,

                                3.  We need practice in speaking the Truth in love (Eph. 4). Sometimes our "speaking up" sounds like anger and hate which causes the Ahabs to really believe that we hate him.   Practice because even the successful sports person is successful because he/she practices.    Practice with your friends.  Your family.  If you can't converse with your friends about God's Word, how can you speak to Ahab the Truth of God's Word?


                Summary.  #1.       Let's determine to have the Christian spine to be brave enough to admit I am a sinner in need of salvation, be brave enough to lean on Jesus.

                        #2 Remember to consult the Bible before making decisions, especially the important ones.          and-        Take the leadership with your peers or if you can't, get out of that group fast.  

                #3  Let our courage be a companion to knowledge (2 Pet. 1).  Let our delight be in the Bible   let's  meditate on what we learn,  day and night.

   We shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit of God's Spirit  in its season"


prayer:    O God, You have called us out of this world to become Your holy servants.  Now send us back into the world with Your strength and Your courage to serve the needs of those about us who have lost their way and need the Light of the gospel.  In Jesus' name.