Today’s world suffers from a lack of moral courage. By that I do not mean physical bravery or sacrificial heroism. Admirable as these kinds of behavior undoubtedly are, they must not be confused with moral courage. Rambo, for example, is an adventurer of cold-blooded fearlessness. But he is not a model of moral courage.

To understand what I have in mind, consider the confrontation recorded in 1 Kings 22. It is the only time the prophet Micaiah appears on the biblical stage.

King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah have agreed to a united attack on Ramoth-Gilead. Their plan has been enthusiastically endorsed by Ahab’s entire religious establishment—his hired sycophants who are supposedly God’s spokesmen. But Jehoshaphat is evidently suspicious of such uncritical unanimity. He asks if there is perhaps a dissident opinion. Reluctantly, therefore, Ahab summons God’s nonconformist servant, Micaiah. They stand face to face, King Ahab and prophet Micaiah.

Common sense, caution, and compromise would seem to be the policy for Micaiah to follow. Ahab, after all, is the king whom Elijah has denounced as the troubler of Israel because he has “deserted Jehovah and gone after the Baals.” Ahab is the king who coveted Naboth’s vineyard and tolerated murder in order to confiscate property to which he was not entitled. Ahab is the king who epitomizes evil. According to 1 Kings 21:25 there has never been a man so willing to sell himself and do what is wrong in the eyes of the Lord. Ahab had no scruples about liquidating people who dared to oppose him.

So, Micaiah, why risk martyrdom for the sake of refusing to endorse a military expedition on which this incarnation of wickedness has set ...

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