1 Kings 19 Ė 20 part 13

 

In our last lesson we were introduced to Elijah, Ahab and his wife Jezebel. Ahab was the king of Israel and we ended our lesson with Elijah having a stand off with the 450 prophets of Baal to see who really had the true God and of course Elijah won this contest because God almighty responded and then the prophets were killed. We find out what happens next in the story as we continue on in 1 Kings 19.

 

Kings 19:1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword.2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time."3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, "It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!"

 

Now we need to remember that Elijah had just finished showing all kinds of courage and confidence when he faced off with those 450 prophets but now his is tired and he is losing his confidence. When he receives the message that Jezebel is going to have him killed he runs for his life and hides himself in remote location and he just begs God to let him die. Elijah just didnít have any ambition left in him and so he wanted to give up. But, notice what happens next.

 

1 Kings 19:5 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, "Arise and eat."6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again.7 And the angel of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you."8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"10 So he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."

 

Even though Elijah was ready to give up and didnít think he had anything left in him God knew that he could do more and so God provided for him giving him food and water by the hand of this angel. Elijah used this food and water to walk another 40 days just to hide a little bit better. This time he hid in a cave and God wants to know why are here? Elijah gives God what he thinks is a good answer for being hidden. Elijah believes that he is the only prophet left that loves God and that everyone else has turned against the Lord and wants him dead. So, He sees no good reason to leave this private protected cave. But watch what God does in response to this in,

 

1 Kings 19:11 Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"14 And he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."

 

This was Godís way of showing Elijah that he could press on and face the enemies of God. He shows him the three miracles of wind, earth and fire which shows the power that he can bring forth to destroy his enemies but God himself wasnít in those events. Instead He revealed himself to Elijah in very soft voice. Now many different meanings could be seen from this event but I personally see that God is showing his power in the 3 miracles and he is showing his loving care to Elijah as he whispers to Him.

 

Then we see Elijah showing his respect for God by wrapping his face with his mantel. Once again God ask him again why are you here and once again Elijah gives the same answer but watch what God says next.

 

1 Kings 19:15 Then the LORD said to him: "Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael (haz-a-el) as king over Syria.16 "Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.17 "It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, (haz-a-el) Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill.18 "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him."

 

God gives Elijah 3 task to perform. He is to anoint Hazael king of Syria and Jehu king over Israel. Finally he is to appoint Elisha as prophet to take his place. God gave Elijah everything he needed to stop having self pity so that he could once again march forward with full courage and do the bidding of God.

 

One thing I think we can learn from this is just how important for us to have goals in our life. If we donít have a goal to strive for then most likely we will end up like Elijah and start having self pity for ourselves. As we set our goals for what we want to do for God we need to make sure they are attainable goals or we will find ourselves discouraged once again. It also important that we donít make our goals so easy that there is no challenge or we will never grow. Let me give you a few examples. 1. You could set a goal of reading your 2 chapters a day of your Bible. 2 You could try and invite 3 people a week to church. When you meet your goals set new ones so that you always have something to work toward and remind yourself that God is with you and you can draw strength from him.

 

We also see that God reveals to Elijah that he is not alone in this world because there are 7000 other people who are faithful to God as well. Sometimes Christians feel Elijah does. They think that they are the only ones that are going through a difficult time and so they start to lose hope. But, just like Elijah we need to realize that there are other Christians out there that have been and are currently going through whatever difficulty we are going through. This is exactly what Peter tells us in,

 

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

 

Not only are there other Christians that have suffered the way we have we are suppose to use these difficult times to strengthen our faith in God. Elijah was certainly empowered by this thought and so should we.

 

1 Kings 19:19 So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him.20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, "Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you." And he said to him, "Go back again, for what have I done to you?"21 So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen's equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

 

Here we see Elisha working and being chosen by God. Elijah is just the messenger that is why he tells him go back again for what have I done to you? Elisha will be next major voice for God when Elijah is gone. So, Elijah has one of his goals out the way.

 

1 Kings 20:1 Now Ben-Hadad the king of Syria gathered all his forces together; thirty-two kings were with him, with horses and chariots. And he went up and besieged Samaria, and made war against it.2 Then he sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, and said to him, "Thus says Ben-Hadad:3 'Your silver and your gold are mine; your loveliest wives and children are mine.' "4 And the king of Israel answered and said, "My lord, O king, just as you say, I and all that I have are yours."5 Then the messengers came back and said, "Thus speaks Ben-Hadad, saying, 'Indeed I have sent to you, saying, "You shall deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children";6 'but I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants. And it shall be, that whatever is pleasant in your eyes, they will put it in their hands and take it.' "7 So the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, "Notice, please, and see how this man seeks trouble, for he sent to me for my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold; and I did not deny him."8 And all the elders and all the people said to him, "Do not listen or consent."9 Therefore he said to the messengers of Ben-Hadad, "Tell my lord the king, 'All that you sent for to your servant the first time I will do, but this thing I cannot do.' " And the messengers departed and brought back word to him.10 Then Ben-Hadad sent to him and said, "The gods do so to me, and more also, if enough dust is left of Samaria for a handful for each of the people who follow me."11 So the king of Israel answered and said, "Tell him, 'Let not the one who puts on his armor boast like the one who takes it off.' "12 And it happened when Ben-Hadad heard this message, as he and the kings were drinking at the command post, that he said to his servants, "Get ready." And they got ready to attack the city.

 

In these verses we learn some more about Ahabís characteristics. Ahab doesnít appear to be a very strong king as he was willing to cave in at Ben-Hadadís first request. Could you imagine willingly giving up your wives and children to your enemy just because they threatened you? Now I could understand giving up gold and silver to avoid the attach but not your family yet that is exactly what Ahab was willing to do. Well, Ben-Hadad allows his greed to get to him which will lead to his downfall. He was probably thinking well, if he is not going to put up a fight with my first request then I will ask for more but this time Ahab would not agree with the additional request and so Ben-Hadad swears an oath to his false Gods to total destroy Samaria.

 

1 Kings 20:13 Suddenly a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver it into your hand today, and you shall know that I am the LORD.' "14 So Ahab said, "By whom?" And he said, "Thus says the LORD: 'By the young leaders of the provinces.' " Then he said, "Who will set the battle in order?" And he answered, "You."15 Then he mustered the young leaders of the provinces, and there were two hundred and thirty-two; and after them he mustered all the people, all the children of Israel -- seven thousand.16 So they went out at noon. Meanwhile Ben-Hadad and the thirty-two kings helping him were getting drunk at the command post.17 The young leaders of the provinces went out first. And Ben-Hadad sent out a patrol, and they told him, saying, "Men are coming out of Samaria!"18 So he said, "If they have come out for peace, take them alive; and if they have come out for war, take them alive."19 Then these young leaders of the provinces went out of the city with the army which followed them.20 And each one killed his man; so the Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them; and Ben-Hadad the king of Syria escaped on a horse with the cavalry.21 Then the king of Israel went out and attacked the horses and chariots, and killed the Syrians with a great slaughter.

 

Here we see God showing both Ben- Hadad and his people and Ahab himself that he is the only true God and if you are on his side victory will be yours. Ben-Hadad and these other kings were drunker than skunks and over confident. With Godís help this small group of men under king Ahab was able to defeat these men and drive them out. You know this had to be humiliating to the Syrians. This should have been proof to King Ahab that God was in control.

 

1 Kings 20:22 And the prophet came to the king of Israel and said to him, "Go, strengthen yourself; take note, and see what you should do, for in the spring of the year the king of Syria will come up against you."23 Then the servants of the king of Syria said to him, "Their gods are gods of the hills. Therefore they were stronger than we; but if we fight against them in the plain, surely we will be stronger than they.24 "So do this thing: Dismiss the kings, each from his position, and put captains in their places;25 "and you shall muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain; surely we will be stronger than they." And he listened to their voice and did so.

 

Well, Syrians do believe that God helped Ahab win but they think he is just a God of the hills and that his power could not reach into the plains. So, they decided to try their luck at fighting the Israelites in the open field.

 

1 Kings 20:26 So it was, in the spring of the year, that Ben-Hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel.27 And the children of Israel were mustered and given provisions, and they went against them. Now the children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, while the Syrians filled the countryside.28 Then a man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, "Thus says the LORD: 'Because the Syrians have said, "The LORD is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys," therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.' "29 And they encamped opposite each other for seven days. So it was that on the seventh day the battle was joined; and the children of Israel killed one hundred thousand foot soldiers of the Syrians in one day.30 But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; then a wall fell on twenty-seven thousand of the men who were left. And Ben-Hadad fled and went into the city, into an inner chamber.

 

Once again these 2 foes face off and once again Ahab has the assurance from this unnamed man of God that the Syrians will be defeated which will once again prove that God is Lord over all. Just as the man of God said Syria feel hard beneath Ahabís feet as the destroyed 100,000 men in one day. Now it doesnít state it but It certainly seem plausible that God is the one that caused the wall to fall and kill those 27,000 men and once again Ben-Hadad manages to escape.

 

1 Kings 20:31 Then his servants said to him, "Look now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Please, let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will spare your life."32 So they wore sackcloth around their waists and put ropes around their heads, and came to the king of Israel and said, "Your servant Ben-Hadad says, 'Please let me live.' " And he said, "Is he still alive? He is my brother."33 Now the men were watching closely to see whether any sign of mercy would come from him; and they quickly grasped at this word and said, "Your brother Ben-Hadad." So he said, "Go, bring him." Then Ben-Hadad came out to him; and he had him come up into the chariot.34 So Ben-Hadad said to him, "The cities which my father took from your father I will restore; and you may set up marketplaces for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria." Then Ahab said, "I will send you away with this treaty." So he made a treaty with him and sent him away.

 

Ben-Hadadís people decided to submit themselves to Ahab and appeal to his mercy and sure enough Ahab decides to be merciful and even calls Ben-Hadad his brother. There is only major problem with all of this and that is God wanted these people dead. Ahab is making the same mistake that Saul had done in reign as king. Based on his own wisdom he decided to show mercy and not destroy what God said to destroy and because this God is not pleased with Ahabís action. This is pointed out in our next verses.

 

1 Kings 20:35 Now a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his neighbor by the word of the LORD, "Strike me, please." And the man refused to strike him.36 Then he said to him, "Because you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, surely, as soon as you depart from me, a lion shall kill you." And as soon as he left him, a lion found him and killed him.37 And he found another man, and said, "Strike me, please." So the man struck him, inflicting a wound.38 Then the prophet departed and waited for the king by the road, and disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes.39 Now as the king passed by, he cried out to the king and said, "Your servant went out into the midst of the battle; and there, a man came over and brought a man to me, and said, 'Guard this man; if by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.'40 "While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone." Then the king of Israel said to him, "So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it."41 And he hastened to take the bandage away from his eyes; and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets.42 Then he said to him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.' "43 So the king of Israel went to his house sullen and displeased, and came to Samaria.

 

Once again we have God using his prophet in an usual way to make a very vivid picture of his displeasure in Ahabís actions. A person can never accuse God of having no variety in delivering his messages and judgments. The basic message from this prophet is that Ahab should not have shown mercy when it wasnít his to give. It was his duty to destroy this man and his people. Ahab condemned himself and Israel because he let Ben-Hadad go. Now what should have been a great time of celebration for Ahab was now turned into a sad and displeased state of mind.

 

We can learn great lesson from this today and this is that we should submit to Godís commands and not try to substitute them with what we think should be done because Godís way is the only way if want to make it to heaven.As Jeremiah said, Jeremiah 10:23O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps