This past Saturday I attended a luncheon where a young friend spoke. His message began with a reference to a Jack Nicholson line from the 1992 movie A Few Good Men. In response to the defense lawyer’s demand “I want the truth!” USMC Colonel Jessup shouts. “You can’t handle the truth!”
Nearly twenty-nine centuries have passed since the Biblical events chosen as Dave’s reference point for the message, yet its veracity is in evidence every day. Men and women still have a problem with accepting truth when it doesn’t confirm their hopes and plans, doesn’t align with their personal beliefs and lifestyles and suggests an unwanted change in course.
In the 22nd chapter of 1 Kings we see the kings of Israel and Judah contemplating the wisdom of forming an alliance to retake Ramoth-Gilead from the Syrians who had conquered it a few years earlier. The evil King Ahab brings out his band of four hundred so-called prophets who he can always rely on to “foretell” exactly what he wants to hear – in this case, that the Lord would give them victory. The good King Jehoshaphat however senses something isn’t kosher and asks, “Is there not here another prophet of the Lord of whom we may inquire.”
The king of Israel grumpily responds that there is just one other man, Micaiah by name, whom he hates, because he always prophesies evil against him. In other words, the man speaks the truth – the real word of the Lord. King Jehoshaphat insists that they bring Micaiah to Samaria so he can make inquiry of him. While a messenger is sent to bring back the true prophet, the others keep speaking words of encouragement and triumph, hoping to dissuade Jehoshaphat from listening to their rival when he arrives.
Even the messenger himself, when he reaches Micaiah and explains the situation to him, encourages the prophet to not create waves. Because he knows neither king can handle the truth, so it would be best for the prophet to just repeat the false prophets’ words that all will go well if they attacked the Syrians. And for some strange reason Micaiah goes along with this recommendation, and the first words out of his mouth are as the messenger suggested.
But Jehoshaphat sees through the man and demands the truth, just like Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee played by Tom Cruise. At which the prophet announces that the Lord’s command is that Judah should return to its land in peace – otherwise the results will be disastrous for them all. Not only will they get their butts whipped, but King Ahab will not return from the battle alive. He also cautions that the false prophets are actually agents of a lying spirit sent to deceive and destroy Ahab.
Nevertheless, both kings ignore the truth and proceed to advance on Ramoth-Gilead. And the battle turns out exactly as prophesied; for though Ahab and Jehoshaphat trade royal garments, the Syrians let Jehoshaphat survive, but slay Ahab. His blood flows into the chariot, and when his body is returned to Samaria for burial; even “the dogs lick up his blood while the harlots bathe,” in accordance with an earlier prophesy.
So here we are, not in the 9th century BC, but in 2016 and the theme of the saga continues for all to witness across social media and in the news multiple times each day. Everyone claims they desire and are seeking the truth. Yet it’s human nature to shut one’s ears to the words of all but those who relieve the itching and who confirm that what one does and what one believes is well and good. So what such a self-deceived person claims they have is truth – is really just their own vile heart declaring their own righteousness through the words of confused and deceived friends and so-called “experts.”
The deceived turn the volume off to anyone who professes to have a word from God to help them. All too many just can’t handle the truth. When the truth demands an action that would require them to reverse course in their lifestyles and in their belief systems, they just get angry and continue to march forward toward their own demise.
It’s a sad destiny with an even unhappier eternal end. People are offered a chance to turn and walk toward God; instead they slink out of the room and head for home and their disillusioned belief that what they don’t know won’t hurt them.