Series: Thru the Bible
Message – Why are you here, Elijah?
***Video is HERE***
Why are you here, Elijah?
King Ahab begins his reign over Israel while King Asa is in the 38th year of his reign which was just 3 years prior to his death.
1Kings 16:29-34, “(29) In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel; and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. (30) Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. (31) And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. (32) Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. (33) And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. (34) In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the LORD, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun.”
It isn’t something I drew specific attention to at the time we were going through the book of Joshua, but Joshua had pronounced a curse by Prophecy regarding the rebuilding of Jericho. This is a bit of a time paradox which Sci-Fi people will understand. Either God, in His foreknowledge of the type of man King Ahab would be many years in the future, pronounced this prophecy as a foretelling of his future judgment OR Ahab knew of the prophecy and was acting deliberately in defiance against it… in his pride testing God’s resolve OR perhaps it was both. In any case the prophecy went like this,
Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, “Cursed be the man before the LORD who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.” (Joshua 6:26)
1Kings 17:1-24, “(1) And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab,
“As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”
(2) Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, (3) “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. (4) And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
(5) So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. (6) The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. (7) And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
(8) Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, (9) “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”
(10) So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.”
(11) And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
(12) So she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
(13) And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. (14) For thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’ ”
(15) So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. (16) The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.
“(17) Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. (18) So she said to Elijah, “What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?”
(19) And he said to her, “Give me your son.” So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed.
(20) Then he cried out to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?” (21) And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.”
(22) Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived. (23) And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives!”
(24) Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is the truth.”
Now to many, passages like this seem odd and even a little confusing. It is natural to wonder – If God can keep flour and oil from running out – why not do that to the brook and be done with it? OR, if God had in view to bless this woman, why not just send Elijah there in the first place instead of the brooke in Cherith?
Why not just not allow the boy to get sick rather than let him die and have to be raised to life again?
The lesson to learn from these events is that God is NOT predictable. What might seem to have been the best course of action to us as humans, is rarely the one God chooses, and we may never know why. Perhaps it prevented a worse problem, perhaps it answered a question that would not have been received any other way, perhaps it was to test the Prophet, perhaps all of the above. Out of the few specific examples of healing we see in Jesus’ ministry, most are not accomplished the same way. When we read of the “multitudes” no specifics are offered other than He healed them or that He laid His hands on them or spoke a word to them, but in the specific examples you have spit, mud, water, words, laying on hands…etc. Jesus had to listen to the Spirit, be led by Him. Known only to God are all His works. He has his reasons which, at least humanly, reason knows not of. So we listen and follow.
1Kings 18:1-46, “(1) And it came to pass after many days that the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth.”
(2) So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab; and there was a severe famine in Samaria. (3) And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly. (4) For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.)”
Now some of you may be wondering if this is the same Obadiah as the Prophet Obadiah from the book Obadiah. I don’t believe it was for several reasons.
- No mention of Edom is brought up at this time and Obadiah the prophet is noted for his prophetic word to Edom.
- In the book of Obadiah no mention is made of his serving Ahab or any king for that matter. In fact, in the book of his prophecy the word king is never even mentioned.
- Also, since Jezebel clearly sought to kill the true prophets of God, it seems quite unlikely that one would be serving in Ahab’s house.
- Also, prophets seemed to know what was going on – the scriptures tell us that God does nothing unless he first reveals it to his servants the prophets – so it seems unlikely that if THIS Obadiah was THE or even A prophet, he would have been in fear of Elijah not appearing before Ahab, since he would have known God told him to do so.
In any case, it is not easy to tell for certain, since there are no less than 13 Obadiahs in the Old Testament. It may have been a popular name since it meant “Servant or Worshipper of God”.
“(5) And Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go into the land to all the springs of water and to all the brooks; perhaps we may find grass to keep the horses and mules alive, so that we will not have to kill any livestock.”
(6) So they divided the land between them to explore it; Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
(7) Now as Obadiah was on his way, suddenly Elijah met him; and he recognized him, and fell on his face, and said,
“Is that you, my lord Elijah?”
(8) And he answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’ ”
(9) So he said, “How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? (10) As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you; and when they said, ‘He is not here,’ he took an oath from the kingdom or nation that they could not find you. (11) And now you say, ‘Go, tell your master, “Elijah is here” ‘! (12) And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from you, that the Spirit of the LORD will carry you to a place I do not know; so when I go and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me. But I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth. (13) Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid one hundred men of the LORD’s prophets, fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water? (14) And now you say, ‘Go, tell your master, “Elijah is here.” ‘ He will kill me!”
(15) Then Elijah said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely present myself to him today.”
(16) So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah. (17) Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?”
(18) And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals. (19) Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
(20) So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. (21) And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.
(22) Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. (23) Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. (24) Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.”
So all the people answered and said, “It is well spoken.”
(25) Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.”
(26) So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made.
(27) And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.”
(28) So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. (29) And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.
(30) Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. (31) And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” (32) Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. [about 4 gallons] (33) And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, “Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.” (34) Then he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time; and he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. (35) So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water. (36) And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. (37) Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” (38) Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.
(39) Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!”
(40) And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!”
So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there.
(41) Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”
(42) So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, (43) and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.” (44) Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’ ” (45) Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel. (46) Then the hand of the LORD came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.”
1Kings 19:1-21, “(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!”
(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.”
(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?”
Many attempts have been made to explain this passage but I believe the most straightforward interpretation to be the best.
God calls Elijah to come stand in a position where he would be able to witness the three events of wind, earthquake and fire.
The passage tells us that God was not ‘in’ any of them. That is a difficult passage because clearly God is the One who caused them all. The passage tells us that it all began when God passed by – then the wind, earthquake and fire all hit in succession. So what does it mean that God was not ‘in’ these things? Well the word ‘in’ is not in the Hebrew. The passage simply says God was not the wind, earthquake or fire. The word “in’ is added to make sense of the passage. Though it seems inescapable that God caused all of these events, he was not to be found IN them, but rather in a still small voice. In order to read much meaning into this passage, one would have to add to it something it does not say. It can however, be presumed that Elijah needed (if not was looking for) an encounter with God and like many of us he was looking for it in all the wrong places.
I remember about 12 to 13 years ago when I was very frustrated with life and ministry and above all – my personal relationship with God. I needed an encounter and sought God for it regularly, but in all the wrong ways and places. It was a LONG journey of seeking which spanned over a year. God had led me to a book I didnt’ want to read, called ‘Wild at Heart’ but as I read it, it began to really resonate with me. The further I got into the book the greater my anticipation that I was going to get my “encounter” with God. Though I am a very quick reader I did not rush it. I read one chapter and would take long walks and contemplate what I read – sometimes for days. Then I’d read another. Then I got to the final chapter and it was going well, and seemed to be leading to a glorious crescendo only to end with something like – well that’s it kids. God find God for yourself! I was devastated and angry! Like Elijah I felt almost set up for failure. The book spoke of a men’s retreat that sounded very much like the movie “City Slickers” to me. It was a week or so out on a ranch in Colorado where you roughed it with other men who were seeking God, herded cattle and did farm-hand work. It all sounded very therapeutic. So I told God, I want to go to this – I need someone to validate me. I didn’t get that from my father and I know I need it. God told me “I want to validate you.” But there was something that was dissatisfying about that. It seemed too ambiguous… too non-material to be substantive. I wanted a man’s man, who had no external reason to think well of me – to validate me (meaning to speak to my value and tell me I am a man, who he can clearly see is a man of God). So I told God again, almost in a complaining way. God told me again, and you can think I am crazy all you want but it was almost with what seemed like hurt in His voice, “I want validate you”. So I said I was sorry and tried to dismiss it out of my mind, but did not go to God for validation. Then a few days later I found myself thinking along those lines again, and out my mouth came the words, “I really need a man of God to validate me”…this time God’s response was startling and a little harsh. He said, “I will validate you and I don’t ever want to hear you bring that up again!” So I suppressed it. A little over a year or so later, a retreat was made available to me that I did NOT want to attend. Someone paid for it for me and I felt compelled to go but did not want to. In all honesty I was terrified. I felt as if God wanted to meet me there and I was afraid of what He’d say. I felt like Jonah thinking I could run from Him by not attending. When I finally gave in and climbed into a bus filled with 40 other men, driving off to a retreat, I felt very much like the main protagonist in the novel, “The Shack”. I knew I was going to meet with God. As you know that weekend rocked my world. I had no real encounter with other men, but I did with God. I was terrified, teary-eyed and lump throated all weekend until the night before the last day. God invaded my world in a way I will never forget even if I had a million years to do so and as most of you are living testimonies to the fact of it – I have never been the same as a result.
I wanted to meet God in ways I could control or in ways I could measure. I wanted a safe and predictable encounter and God was going to have none of it. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom.
So for Elijah it was a still small voice, for someone else it might be the wind, the earthquake or the fire. Like the ravens at the brook or the woman with the limited flour and oil, God is not predictable – He is an untamed wild personality Who is Who He is and will be Lord even over our encounters with Him, and if we will meet Him we will do so on His terms.
“(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.”
(15) Then the LORD said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael 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, 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.”
Now in short order we will read of these two men when we get to 2Kings chapters 8 & 9, but for now we know God appointed them by means of Elijah.
“(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.”
Immediately comes to mind the disciple who before fully committing to following Christ, asked permission to go bury his parents before following – the accounts being found in Matt. 8:21 & Luke 9:59. No mention is made of them being sick and near to death, just that he wanted to be with them and care for them. Jesus’ answer seemed abrupt and harsh, “Let the dead bury the dead, you follow Me and preach the Kingdom – no one who has put his hand to the plough, and then looks behind him, is fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Elijah’s response is not this pointed and perhaps it was because all Elisha wanted was to say goodbye. Also, Elisha had not yet put the plough in his hand so to speak. He wanted to say his goodbyes now before he started the work. Therein seems to be the difference. The passage does not specifically say he returned home, just that he slaughtered the oxen he was ploughing with as a sacrifice and gave it to the people. Those people may or may not have included his parents -we do not know. It has been suggested that for Elisha to have that man oxen for ploughing indicated he had a considerable estate. So it is possible that his slaughting them was for him much like the example I’ve offered you of the newly converted, corrupt business man being baptised in his business suit. Elisha was making a statement of “no turning back: by destroying his former way of life.
Afterwards Elisha DID then follow Elijah with no reprimand.
Elijah’s words to him may have been a warning or simply a clarification that it was not he who had called Elisha, but that God had so he needed to carefully weigh his response. It was as if Elijah was saying, “Listen what you do is your business. All I did was what God told me to do. How you respond to Him is on you.”
1Kings 20:1-43, “(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.”
Now if you remember, this is the same Ben-Hadad that King Asa of Judah sinned with by seeking his help rather than God’s against Baasha King of Israel.
Ben-Hadad had a covenant with Baasha King of Israel which King Asa of Judah prompted him to break. So this statement of Ben-Hadad, king of Syria may have been either a threat OR an attempt act as if his previous covenant had never been broken.
“(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.’ ”
That is – don’t count your chickens before they hatch. You are acting as if you have won a battle you haven’t even fought.
“(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.”
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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