False Prophets and the Deceiving Spirit -- By: Richard L. Mayhue
MSJ 4:2 (Fall 93) p. 135
False Prophets and the Deceiving Spirit
Vice-President and Dean
Professor of Pastoral Ministries
First Kings 22:19–23 occasions the herculean challenge of identifying “the spirit” in a way that best accounts for the reality of false prophecy in 1 Kgs 22:6. From six suggested possibilities, a personified spirit of prophecy, a demon, and Satan are initially deemed the most reasonable identifications and thus merit further inquiry. Considering the philological, hermeneutical, and theological factors of the three interpretations, Satan best fits “the spirit” in 1 Kgs 22:21. Demonic activity, initiated and superintended by Satan, is the most probable and immediate dynamic responsible for the false prophecy in 1 Kgs 22:6 and explained by 1 Kgs 22:19–23. Finally, God did not ordain this event; however, He did permit it.
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R. A. Torrey realistically recognized that one of the most puzzling passages in the Bible is 1 Kings 22 and its parallel account in 2 Chronicles 18.1 Nearly everyone acknowledges that no conclusive agreement regarding the meaning of “the spirit” in 1 Kgs 22:21 has surfaced. The interpretation of this passage is tantalizing for students of Scripture.
Even scholars of the same tradition differ over solutions to this enigma of how a holy God apparently collaborates with deceiving spirits. The central question is how to harmonize “the spirit” in 1 Kgs 22:21 with the false prophecy of 1 Kgs 22:6. How can the immediate text, the holiness of God, and the inerrancy of Scripture yield a satisfactory identification of “the spirit”?
The dilemma is how a holy and true God can associate Himself with the apparent instigation of lies among false prophets? A proposed
MSJ 4:2 (Fall 93) p. 136
solution to this ultimate conundrum will address three significant questions.
1. Does 1 Kgs 22:1–40 represent sane factual history, or is it fictionalized drama with a spiritual message?
2. Is Micaiah’s vision in 22:19–23<...
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