“…but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.” 1 Kings 22:8
We may wonder whether telling the bad news all the time was necessarily a sign of a true prophet.
Perhaps, but not absolutely so. We get this idea because most of the prophets in the Old Testament were prophesying during times of great turmoil when people were rebelling against the Lord. God’s prophets were commanded from above to bear the news of divine judgment, which would be carried out by foreign invaders.
The news was mostly bad during those times, for there wasn’t any good news to report. Had there been any good tidings to tell, the prophets would have been more than glad to shout from the mountaintops and to cry out from alleys and streets, but it was hard to come by in those days.
The prophets of the Lord didn’t have any choice but to tell the people what they were told. They often started their pronouncement by saying: “Thus says the Lord.”
How could an evil man such as Ahab expect to hear anything good from the Lord? How could he expect a good God to condone or to sanction his bad behavior? Such an expectation was irrational and wishful thinking, as if a righteous God could just disregard all his sins as if they had never happened.
Isn’t it something we routinely do? We go to church to hear good news proclaimed to us, even though we live in sin and have absolutely no intention to repent. We go to church to have our guilty consciences soothed and walk away feeling good about ourselves, fully assured that our sins are forgiven and we are on our way to heaven.
That’s the gospel, the good news, isn’t it? Are you saying that the bearers of such good news are false prophets and the hearers of the gospel are misguided?
A clarification is needed here.
The gospel became a reality through the death of our Lord on the cross; therefore it started with the worst news. Our salvation, too, should always begin with bad news, which is our death on the cross with Christ, for unless we are united with him in his death, we will not be united with him in his life. The gospel is a combination of bad and good news and the ones who only proclaim the good and neglect entirely the bad are false prophets, pure and simple.
“And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” The Lord Jesus made it abundantly clear to us that we should die with him daily, yet this truth is conveniently ignored by many preachers. I am afraid there are more false prophets in our midst that we realize. In fact, I may be one of them, if I ever preach the gospel without the cross and the new life void of death to the carnal self.