In any venture, everybody knows the name of the star. For example, Michael Jordan is considered by most basketball experts to be the greatest basketball player who ever lived. He played for the Chicago Bulls and won six championships. In the fictional world, Batman is a star. On numerous occasions he saved Gotham City from various villains.
But both of these stars had a sidekick. Without that sidekick, they would not have been successful. Those sidekicks deserved some adulation as well. In Michael Jordan’s case, it was a man by the name of Scottie Pippen. Almost all agree that without Pippen, Jordan would not have won those championships. In Batman’s case, he would not have been able to do what he did without Robin. We may admire the basketball prowess of Michael Jordan, or the bravery and cunning of Batman, but we shouldn’t forget Pippen and Robin.
I recently realized that a similar situation is true when we consider one of the stars of the OT—the prophet Elijah. He certainly deserves our admiration. He stood up to an evil king and queen when his country needed him to proclaim the truth of God. We all know the story of what he did at Mount Carmel. He confronted 850 false prophets by himself and demonstrated that God, and not Baal, was the God of Israel (1 Kgs 18:19-40). It caused the royal couple to seek his life.
But Elijah had a sidekick, and my guess is that most students of the Bible don’t recognize his name. He confronted the same king and queen. He basically did the same thing Elijah did.
The same king, a man by the name of Ahab, wanted to go to war against Syria, his neighbor to the north. There was every reason to believe he would be successful. Ahab had recently defeated Syria in two separate battles. The king of Syria feared him (1 Kgs 20:1-34). Ahab had also recently had success in battle against the Assyrians. And Ahab had an ally who would fight alongside him–King Jehoshaphat of Judah.
Ahab was an evil king, but Jehoshaphat was a godly one and wanted to know whether God would bless Israel and Judah in battle against the Syrians. To convince his ally, Ahab called together 400 prophets. These were almost certainly not prophets of Baal, because Elijah had killed them on Mount Carmel. These were probably men who claimed to speak for the God of Israel.
It was clear to Jehoshaphat that these prophets were yes-men. They told the king what he wanted to hear. They realized that the odds of success were high, so this was an easy call for them. But Jehoshaphat asked Ahab to bring one single prophet of God who would tell him the truth, even if it wasn’t what he wanted to hear. Enter Micaiah. He had that kind of reputation.
Micaiah told Ahab that Ahab would be killed in the fight against the Syrians, and that the army of Israel would be scattered (1 Kgs 22:17). Like Elijah, he stood alone against hundreds of prophets and the king and gave a different message from that of the false prophets.
Micaiah did not win the friendship of those in power. The leader of the prophets punched him in the face in front of the king for not telling the truth. The king threw him into prison (vv 24-27).
It would have been very easy for Micaiah to go along with the crowd. It sure would have saved him from pain and discomfort. Even after Ahab died in battle, it is likely he wouldn’t have been castigated. He would have simply been seen as one of 400 who got it wrong. Better luck next time.
But like Elijah, Micaiah was faithful in proclaiming the truth of God’s word to the people of Israel. He was willing to go against the grain, even if only people like himself and Elijah were doing so. Both men proclaimed God’s truth at great personal cost.
Certainly, there is a lesson for us in these men. Oftentimes, the majority–even the religious majority–is not right. With Elijah, it was 850 to one. With Micaiah, it was 400 to one. Those in the Free Grace movement are often reminded of that: “There are so few of you! You can’t be telling the truth.” But we should stand up for the truth of the assurance of eternal life by faith alone in Christ even if the crowd around us disagrees.
But there is another lesson here as well. Maybe we think we cannot accomplish much. We are not stars. We could never be an Elijah. In the spiritual arena we are not a Michael Jordan or a Batman. But God uses sidekicks as well. They do the same work, but are not as famous. That’s OK. Maybe our role is to be a Pippen, a Robin, or a Micaiah.