Friday, February 15, 2008

1 Kings 22:29-40 also 2 Chronicles 18:28-34

What is this passage all about?
Ahab went into battle against the king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead in disguise, but a random arrow pierced him between his armour and he died.

What can I learn from it?
The Kings passage gives extra details regarding the events after the king's death, while the Chronicles passage gives additional information as to why Jehoshaphat was spared.
Ahab evidently thought he could avoid the death predicted by Micaiah the prophet if he went into battle in disguise. He must have thought something like, "if people cannot recognise who I am then God won't be able to recognise me either", but of course this was nonsense. God knew who he was, despite the distraction for the soldiers of Jehoshaphat being the only person there in royal robes. God ensured that the king of Israel was struck by an arrow shot by someone who (v34) "drew his bow at random and hit the king." Random? Guided by the hand of God, rather. And so it came to pass that what the LORD's prophet had foretold came true: Ahab died and the blood which had pooled in the chariot from his wound was later lapped up by dogs. Ugh!
Meanwhile, Jehoshaphat had entered the battle in his royal robes and the Aramean soldiers had mistaken him for Ahab, whom they had been instructed to fight. "So they turned to attack him, but when Jehoshaphat cried out, the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel and stopped pursuing him." (1 Kings 22:32b-33) This seems on the surface like a very lucky break for Jehoshaphat. There was no Debrett's Peerage in those days, let alone the plethoa of images and recordings of famous people that are available today. How did the chariot commanders recognise that Jehoshaphat was not Ahab? They had been given very specific instructions by the king of Aram, who had met Ahab face to face (cf 1 Kings 20:32-34), but 2 Chronicles reveals the providential reason (18:31b-32). "So they turned to attack him, but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him. God drew them away from him, for when the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel, they stopped pursuing him." In the case of Jehoshaphat, God acted to protect, rather than to expose.

How does this help me worship God?
This passage demonstrates several of God's qualities. Chiefly, He is all-seeing and all-knowing (omniscient). Hebrews 4:13 teaches, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Of course, this is making the point with regard to God's ability to see our choices, right and wrong. But the first sentence of the quote is not limited to our choices, for it says "nothing... is hidden". 1 John 3:20 asserts of God that "he knows everything." Psalm 139 shows the intimate nature of God's knowledge of each of his created children.
Secondly, God is not some divine observer who merely watches and does not participate. God was involved in the battle at Ramoth Gilead, acting against Ahab (in guiding the arrow) and for Jehoshaphat (in drawing the soldiers away). God cares for each and every one of His people and He is involved in their lives. This is just as true for me as it was for Ahab and Jehoshaphat!
Almighty God, I give you praise because You are over all: You see all things. You know all things, including my inner thoughts as well as my outer actions. You care about what I do and what happens to me and You stand ready to move in my life to mold me into the image of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You for your careful and loving oversight in my life. You are my kind and devoted Father in Heaven: may Your name be called Wonderful. Amen.

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