In 2 Timothy 4:3 we read a familiar verse, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” Paul is writing to Timothy and giving him a heads up that as we get closer to the Lord’s return many in church pews will no longer listen to sound teaching/preaching, but will instead want to listen to teaching that itches or tickles their ears. In other words they will want to hear what they want to hear and nothing more.
We see this idea in our reading today as we come to 2 Chronicles 18 and read the story of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, making an alliance with Ahab, kind of Israel. During their discussion, Jehoshaphat asked if there was a man of God in Israel who could be trusted to accurately deliver the Lord’s message. So Ahab gathered his group of prophets who went on to tell him what he wanted to hear. All positive and encouraging, “Go for it Ahab!” Jehoshaphat, no doubt realizing what was going on, pushed Ahab again and asked if there was any other prophets. Ahab gives a somewhat humorous response in verse 7, “There is yet one man, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me.” I love how the wicked king Ahab describes this true man of God.
Certainly we see this same problem in America today; a bad combination of “preachers” who stand in pulpits Sunday after Sunday and never say anything to “ruffle any feathers”, as well as many who sits in the pews who would stop coming or change churches if the preacher ever did step on their toes. I remember my wise father-in-law telling me years ago that the problem with most modern churches in America is not what is said from the pulpit but instead what isn’t said. Certainly in most gospel-preaching churches there is a lot of truth to what is being said from the pulpit. But in most cases, there is little “negative” preaching that interferes with the lifestyle of the average American carnal Christian. Nothing on sin, standards or anything really close to home. No, instead they focus on love, faith and kindness. Thank God for preachers, like we have at Anthony, who aren’t afraid to preach against sin. We all need it, don’t we?