Today: [1 Kings Chapter Twenty-Two]: The Death of Ahab. Ahab and Jehosphat plan on warring against the Syrians. Jehosaphat wants to inquire of the prophets first and many of the prophets tell the two kings what they want to hear. One prophet however, Micaiah declares the truth and warns of the death of Ahab. Ahab refuses to listen and consequently dies. In this chapter we see three very important things regarding the prophetic that will help us avoid Ahab’s fate in our own lives.
[1Ki 22:1-53 KJV] 1 And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel. 2 And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. 3 And the king of Israel said unto his servants, Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead [is] ours, and we [be] still, [and] take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria? 4 And he said unto Jehoshaphat, Wilt thou go with me to battle to Ramothgilead? And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I [am] as thou [art], my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses. 5 And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day. 6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver [it] into the hand of the king. 7 And Jehoshaphat said, [Is there] not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him? 8 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, [There is] yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. 9 Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Hasten [hither] Micaiah the son of Imlah. 10 And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah sat each on his throne, having put on their robes, in a void place in the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them. 11 And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the LORD, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them. 12 And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver [it] into the king’s hand. 13 And the messenger that was gone to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets [declare] good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak [that which is] good. 14 And Micaiah said, [As] the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak. 15 So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver [it] into the hand of the king. 16 And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but [that which is] true in the name of the LORD? 17 And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.
God gave an undeserving king Ahab a great victory over the Syrians in the previous chapter. Ahab was a very evil king yet God only put one condition on this victory – he was to kill Benhadad the king of Syria. Instead Ahab calls Behandad his brother and makes a covenant of peace with him between Samaria (the capital of the Northern Tribes) and Damascus. This is very similar to the situation with Saul when God commanded him to destry Amalek yet he spared Agag their king and lost his own kingdom as a result. Because Ahab did this the prophet pronounced the end of his family line. Ahab is remorseful but not repentant. Because of his public show of humility God tells the prophet that he will defer Ahab’s judgment to his next generation. Now three years pass and there is no war between Syria and Samaria.
What is the significance of three years? The number three is said to speak of completion though to a lesser degree than the number seven. More accurately three speaks of fullness of time. Isaiah 16:17 refers to three years as the “years of a hireling…” God hired Ahab to destroy Benhadad of Syria and gave him three years to accomplish it. Ahab chose to be at peace with Syria. God was not a peace with Syria but Ahab chose to exempt himself from what God was saying and instructing him to do. What is God telling you to do. Remember this was God’s instructions through the prophets not the reading of the scriptures. Most people acknowledge the need to obey the word of God in the scriptures but consider the prophetic words over their life completely optional and in fact see the prophetic word as more God telling them what HE is going to do for them rather than what their assignment is. Because Ahab ignored the assignment of heaven given him by the prophets there will now be consequences.
After three years king Asa’s successor Jehosaphat comes down to Ahab and they agree to go to war with Syria over Ramothgilead which is held by Benhadad. Ahab still hasn’t learned his lesson. He sees this city and wants it just like he saw Naboth’s vineyard and wanted it. This shows that while God gave Ahab mercy regarding his collusion with Jezebel over Naboth’s vineyard – Ahab never repented. Now instead of enlisting Jezebel’s help in getting a vineyard he enlists Jehosaphat’s help in taking Ramothgilead. This is the Ahab mentality at work. Ahab never wants to go to war alone. Anything that an Ahab wants he will enlist others to help him get. Beware of people who want to pull you in to their project – you may be dealing with an Ahab who wants to use you to bring about their nefarious purposes.
Before the battle commences Jehosaphat asks to inquire of the prophets. Ahab has many prophets to Baal but Jehosaphat wants to hear from a prophet of God. Micaiah is available but Ahab doesn’t like him because he doesn’t tell him what he wants to hear. The two kings put on their royal robes (perhaps to impress the prophets and prompt a favorable word) and go to the gate of Samaria. The prophets make a grand show of pronouncing success over the Syrians. They come to Micaiah and he simply repeats what the other prophets have said. Ahab knows this is not Micaiah’s true word. Then Micaiah warns that the prophets have spoken with a lying spirit to bring Ahab to his death.
18 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil? 19 And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. 20 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. 21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. 22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade [him], and prevail also: go forth, and do so. 23 Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee. 24 But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee? 25 And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see in that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself. 26 And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king’s son; 27 And say, Thus saith the king, Put this [fellow] in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace. 28 And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the LORD hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people, every one of you. 29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramothgilead. 30 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and enter into the battle; but put thou on thy robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle. 31 But the king of Syria commanded his thirty and two captains that had rule over his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel. 32 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, Surely it [is] the king of Israel. And they turned aside to fight against him: and Jehoshaphat cried out. 33 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it [was] not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him. 34 And a [certain] man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded. 35 And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot. 36 And there went a proclamation throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his own country.
Despite Micaiah’s warning Ahab and Jehosaphat go to battle. Inexplicably Jehosaphat agrees to disguise himself as Ahab in the batte. Again the Ahab mentality – willing to put others at risk to save his own skin. Nonetheless the Syrian see through Jehosaphat’s disguise and leave off pursuing him. Hidden in the ranks a stray arrow finds its mark and Ahab is slain. This is as it was spoken by Elijah that Ahab would die in battle because of his sin concerning the vineyard of Naboth.
37 So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria. 38 And [one] washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armour; according unto the word of the LORD which he spake. 39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he made, and all the cities that he built, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 40 So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead. 41 And Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. 42 Jehoshaphat [was] thirty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name [was] Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 43 And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing [that which was] right in the eyes of the LORD: nevertheless the high places were not taken away; [for] the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places. 44 And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel. 45 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he shewed, and how he warred, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 46 And the remnant of the sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa, he took out of the land. 47 [There was] then no king in Edom: a deputy [was] king. 48 Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Eziongeber. 49 Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not. 50 And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Jehoram his son reigned in his stead. 51 Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel. 52 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin: 53 For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the LORD God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.
Ahab dies and Ahaziah his son reigns in his place. Jehosaphat even after seeing the judgment against Ahab by the prophets continues to be in league with the Northern Kingdom. Ahaziah continues in the idolatry of his father Ahab and continues to coerce Jehosaphat to assist him in battle against his enemies. Jehosaphat refuses learning something from the experience with the Syrians and the prophet Micaiah.
The lesson to learn from this is to see the attitudes in both Ahab and Jehosaphat regarding the commands of God. They exempted themselves and made exceptions presuming that the commands of God applied to others but did not apply to them. They scorned the words of the prophets – more interested in what God was going to do for them than in what God required. They were willing to allow God to bless them through the prophetic word but completely rejected any conditions or provisions of obedience given. Many times we come to the prophets with the attitude that we have already done everything God wanted now why isn’t God making good on His side of the situation. Nothing could be further from the truth. All prophecy is conditional and provisional. If we do not seek, identify and implement the tasks and assignment given explicitly or implied in a word of God there will be consequences with us as there was with Ahab. The other lesson to learn is to come with an open mind. These two kings consulted the prophets but they had their mind made up they were only willing to hear one thing: victory over the Syrians. When you have already determined what God must say beware that He will tell you exactly that as in the case of Micaiah. So the three things we learn from this are: 1.) We need to consult the prophetic which is not commonly done in Christian culture. 2.) We need to see the prophetic as an assignment given not merely an unconditional promise of a given outcome. 3.) We must have an open mind. Is there anything you are not willing to hear God tell you? When we adopt these attitudes then we can hear the pure word of the Lord and prosper.
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