Reading through the Bible together
After a series of messages between Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, and Ahab the king of Israel, a state of war is declared between the two nations. The elders told Ahab not to give the enemy what he wanted. Ahab listened and refused to give Ben-Hadad what he asked for, so war broke out. Our refusal to give the enemy (Satan) what he wants always creates war. But one of the greatest weapons that we can employ against the devil is our resistance of him. Resistance that is based on our continual and complete surrender to God. "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). Never give the enemy anything. Whenever we give the enemy a little, he comes back to get more. In the midst of the ensuing conflict, God sends a message to Ahab by an unnamed prophet. God’s message is simple and conveys the battle strategy that will guarantee a victory for Israel. Again we are brought to consider the incredible patience of God towards us. In the previous chapters, Ahab had demonstrated significant resistance to the Lord, and yet the Lord had not yet given up on trying to reach Ahab’s heart.
After Israel's first victory, Ben-Hadad again attempted to flex his muscles the next spring. Interestingly, Ahab marches his army out ready to respond and once more a “man of God” comes and speaks the word of the Lord to the king, who apparently had made no effort of his own to seek it out. His message is noteworthy. Because the Syrians believed that the God of Israel was only strong in the hills (as pagan gods were within their territory) God told Ahab that He would deliver Israel’s enemies into his hands in the valley also, so that “you will know that I am the LORD.” What a wonderful declaration this is for us to meditate upon! Our God is God of the mountains and the valleys! He is God in the good times and in the bad times! The God of the day is still God of the night. And isn’t it amazing how our God is willing to do all of this in order to appeal to Ahab’s heart?
After Ahab won a second battle against Ben-Hadad, the king successfully appealed to Ahab to spare his life. This Ahab did without consulting the Lord. And so, the chapter ends with a final message from God’s prophet to the king: “…your life for his life.” When God provides a way of escape from sin and we refuse to take it, we are exchanging freedom for bondage and ultimately life for death. May we never forget that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it”(1 Corinthians 10:13, KJV).