“A prophet came to Ahab king of
and said, ‘This is what the Lord says: “Do you see this entire great army?
Watch, I am handing it over to you today so that you may know that I am the
Lord.”’” (1 Kings 20:13
The last time I went trout fishing, I hooked a monster fish—but he got away! A fish may be hooked, and even brought into reach, yet still escape. There have been times they have even been brought onto the boat or the bank, and they flopped back into the water and swam off.
This can happen to us spiritually, as well. Sometimes God’s people get to the point of victory and stop short of success. They have it in sight, but don’t press on. The momentum is there and they ease up. Instead of putting the pedal to the floorboard, they shift into park. “Just for a little while. We need a break.” We can get right to the brink of blessing and turn back. A church can arrive at the threshold of revival and not cross over.
Our text illustrates this truth. God provided Ahab, king of
victory, but he didn’t fully seize the opportunity. There are three elements to
this story: the foe, the fight and the folly. Israel
First, we will consider THE FOE (v.1-12).
“Now Ben-hadad king of
his entire army. Thirty-two kings, along with horses and chariots, were with
him. He marched up, besieged Aram ,
and fought against it.” (v.1) Samaria
The enemy of God’s people has been around a ling time, and our spiritual enemies are just as real. They may not be foes of flesh, but they are fiends bent on our destruction.
We dare not overlook THE DANGER. “Now Ben-hadad king of
assembled his entire army.
Thirty-two kings, along with horses and chariots, were with him. He marched up,
besieged Aram ,
and fought against it.” (v.1) Samaria
The people of God could never let down their guard, for there was always an enemy lurking near, ready to pounce. “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 HCSB)
This world is a dangerous place for the child of God. War is deadly business. It isn’t a game. Paul speaks to the need to wear your armor in Ephesians 6. Did you put yours on before you left the house this morning?
With the danger, there comes THE DEMAND. “He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of
Ben-Hadad makes his demands and fear grips Ahab. Remember, how Peter describes Satan? He is a roaring lion. Fear is the danger in a roaring lion. In the jungle, that roar strikes terror into the prey—and they will run from the roar—into the jaws of some lions hidden in the bush opposite them John tells us that faith is the key to victory (1 John 5:4). Fear is the opposite of faith. One cancels out the other. We must choose to trust in God, rather than tremble in fear.
So, there came THE DENIAL. “All the elders and all the people said to him, ‘Don't listen or agree.’" (v.8).
We dare not give in. We must stand and face the foe. Ephesians 6:13 sounds the trumpet of truth, “This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.” Don’t shrink back, stand up! Hold your ground! Have you surrendered, as you whimpered?
Because we have deadly foe, we are in for THE FIGHT (v.13-30).
“A prophet came to Ahab king of
God has furnished us with all the armor and weapons we need to overcome the enemy. It is time we took the offensive against sin. The gates of hell cannot resist the assault of those who have the Sword of the Spirit—the Word of God. We have our marching orders—the Great Commission!
There came THE REVELATION OF VICTORY. “The young men of the provincial leaders and the army behind them marched out from the city, and each one struck down his opponent. So the Arameans fled and
We will learn much about God in the battle that we wouldn’t know otherwise. None of us like struggles. We wouldn’t choose them. But there are lessons to be learned. Basic training is essential for an army, but there comes a time to take the field.
Another lesson learned was THE REASON FOR VICTORY. “Then the man of God approached and said to the king of
is what the Lord says: “Because the Arameans have said: Yahweh is a god of the
mountains and not a god of the valleys, I will hand over all this great army to
you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”’” (v.28) Israel
God was going to show Ben-Hadad who was boss. Satan is no match for God and God wants everybody to know it! That way He receives all the glory. This isn’t about a monument to a man or the pride of a people—it is about glory for God.
This leads to THE RESULT OF VICTORY. “They camped opposite each other for seven days. On the seventh day, the battle took place, and the Israelites struck down the Arameans-100,000 foot soldiers in one day. The ones who remained fled into the city of
It was an overwhelming victory. Scripture affirms that we are more than conquerors. Our intent isn’t just to defeat the enemy, but to decimate him. Then, we receive the spoil of battle! Spiritually speaking, that is the souls of men and women, Satan has enslaved—to set them free from his clutches!
But, there was a problem. They gave in to THE FOLLY (v.31-43).
“Then Ben-hadad said to him, ‘I restore to you the cities that my father took from your father, and you may set up marketplaces for yourself in
like my father set up in .’ [Ahab responded], ‘On the basis of this treaty, I release
you.’ So he made a treaty with him and released him….The prophet said to him, ‘This is what the Lord says:
“Because you released from your hand the man I had set apart for destruction,
it will be your life in place of his life and your people in place of his
people.”’” (v.34, 42) Samaria
The memory of 9-11 horror has faded. We are a war-weary nation. The struggle against terrorism that began with such zeal no longer seems to generate the same level of concern. In fact, the terrorists are as committed as ever to killing us and slaying freedom. The war on terror is a fight to the finish—if we aren’t in it to finish it, it will be our finish. Likewise, at the end of this spiritual conflict, only one can prevail. Appeasement didn’t work with Hitler. Treaties with tyrants are never honored. We dare not accept the Devil’s peace proposal. There can be no truce with sin.
Ahab embraced THE COMPROMISE. “Then Ben-hadad said to him, ‘I restore to you the cities that my father took from your father, and you may set up marketplaces for yourself in
Damascus, like my father set up in .’ [Ahab responded], ‘On the basis of this
treaty, I release you.’ So he made a
treaty with him and released him.” (v.34)
The devil will say, “If I can’t beat them, I’ll join them.” If he can’t beat us by fighting, he’ll try to
be our friend. That was Balaam’s
strategy. You may recall how when the
children of Samaria Israel came out
Balak, the Midianite monarch hired the false prophet Balaam to curse the
Israelis. But, each time he opened his
mouth, God caused him to utter a blessing instead. That plan failed. Balaam then proposed to send women into the
camp of the Jews to entice the men to love them—and their idols with them. They did—and this brought judgment on the
Jews. Balaam couldn’t beat them, so he
joined them. The world says, “Can’t we
just be friends?” Egypt
The compromise would produce THE CONSEQUENCE (v.35-43). Friendship with the world is enmity with God (see James 4:4).
Here we see this ILLUSTRATED “One of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow prophet by the word of the Lord, ‘Strike me!’ But the man refused to strike him. He told him, ‘Because you did not listen to the voice of the Lord, mark my words: When you leave me, a lion will kill you.’ When he left him, a lion attacked and killed him.” (v.35-36) This man was disobedient to the Word of the Lord. Partial obedience is disobedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience.
The consequences of compromise are not only illustrated, but INDICATED “The prophet said to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: “Because you released from your hand the man I had set apart for destruction, it will be your life in place of his life and your people in place of his people.”’” (v.42). The opportunity for complete victory was gone. The Greeks had a goddess named
was pictured as a woman with long hair which stretched before her, robes
flowing forward, hands reaching ahead.
Once she passed by there was nothing to take hold of. When opportunity passes, you can’t grasp it
One day, in heaven, we will be judged for reward. We will be judged for the quality of what we have done. But did you know that we’ll also be judged by the potential of what we might have done? What will we discover that we might have accomplished if we had pressed on?
Don’t let the big one get away.