Wednesday, April 17, 2013

CXL - Concluding I Kings - Chapter 22

In the last post (chapter 21) we saw some more characteristics of Ahab, the king of Israel.  One being as a child who pouted when he didn't get what he wanted (Naboth's vineyard).  But also we saw how Ahab took on a repentant and humble spirit when Elijah told him of how God was going to punish him and his descendants because of the way he treated Naboth.  He was so sincerely repentant and humble that God decided to spare him of seeing all of his descendants punished for his actions.  Although God showed mercy to Ahab, it was merely a postponement of God's judgement.

Chapter 22  -  Macaiah Prophesies Against Ahab

This chapter's opening verse states that there has been peace between Syria and Israel for about three years.  The Historical documents say that after the battle of Karkar in 853 BC, Syria and Israel returned to being warring enemies.  Israel claimed the border city of Ramoth Gilead, but Syria controlled it.  Although Ahab and Omri had rebuilt Israel's military, it was still no match for that of Syria.  {During Ahab's reign in Samaria, Jehoshaphat had become king of Judah.  Jehoshaphat had taken steps to end the hostility between Judah and Israel.  The two nations made an alliance with each other, sealing it with the marriage of Jehoshaphat's son Jehoram, to Ahab's and Jezebel's daughter Athaliah.}  Evidently Ahab called for king Jehoshaphat to come to Samaria.  Verse 4-->  The reason for this summit was that Ahab wanted Judah to join Israel in battle against Syria to re-capture the city of Ramoth Gilead, which belonged to Israel before the Syrians assumed control of it a few years earlier.  Jehoshaphat agrees to support Ahab militarily, but he insists that they seek the Lord's approval first.  So in verse 6 Ahab summoned 400 prophets.  {Remember back in chapter 18 when Elijah was on Mount Carmel.  Ahab brought 450 Baal prophets to Mount Carmel to represent him and Jezebel.  But Jezebel had withheld 400 Baal prophets.  I submit that these 400 prophets mentioned in this passage are those same Baal prophets that Jezebel protected several years earlier.}  Of course all of these prophets told Ahab what they thought he wanted to hear.  They advised him to go to war against the Syrians.  Verse 7-->  But Jehoshaphat recognized these so-called prophets for what they were, and asked if there was possibly a "prophet of the Lord" anywhere in the land.  (I always have to chuckle when I read Ahab's response.)  He says, "Yes, but I hate him.  He never tells me anything good."  But he tells Jehoshaphat who it is:  Macaiah, son of Imlah.  {There are some Historians who say that Macaiah is another name for Elijah.  The time in History is correct, but I'm not so sure.}  So they brought Macaiah into the presence of both of the kings.  The servants of Ahab who brought Macaiah threatened him to say what Ahab wanted to hear.  When Ahab asked Macaiah if he should go to war against Syria, Macaiah said something like, "sure, go ahead".  Obviously his tone suggested an absence of sincerity, and the kings demanded truth in the name of the Lord.  Then Macaiah prophesied truthfully.  It was cerainly not what Ahab wanted to hear.  Ahab received from God's prophet bad news beyond anything he imagined.  Maiacah told him in verse 17 that Israel would be scattered like sheep without a shepherd.  The meaning of this metaphor was clear.  The sheep were Israel's soldiers.  "Without a shepherd" meant their king was dead.  In verse 18 Ahab barks at Jehoshaphat, "See, I told you he never tells me anything good!".  In verse 24, Zedekiah, a servant to king Ahab, slapped Macaiah and ordered him to be cast into prison.  Ahab told Macaiah that he would be in prison with only bread and water until Ahab's safe return to Samaria.  But look at verse 28 where Macaiah said, "If you would return safely, that would prove me wrong".  {Think about that.  Macaiah was correct.}

Verses 29-->  So in spite of Macaiah's prophecy, Ahab and Jehoshaphat went to Ramoth Gilead to engage in battle with the Syrians.  {I'm more than a little bit surprised that Jehoshaphat agreed to put his soldiers at risk by going against what a prophet of the Lord had said.}  As was the custom of the day, the enemy king was the biggest target in battle.  Syria knew that their aggressor was Ahab, not Jehoshaphat.  Therefore they commissioned their soldiers to go after Ahab.  {Here is where Ahab seems to sucker Jehoshaphat.}  He told Jehoshaphat (vs 30) that he would go into battle disguised as a foot soldier, but told Jehoshaphat to wear his royal robes.  {How could Jehoshaphat possibly fall for this ? ! ? }  This plan of Ahab's almost worked, but the Syrians recognized Jehoshaphat was not Ahab and stopped short of killing him.  Meanwhile, a stray arrow pierced Ahab in between sections of his armor.  Although it took almost the entire day, Ahab died from that arrow.  In verse 38, Elijah's prophesy (I Kings 21:19) was fulfilled as the dogs licked up the water used to rinse Ahab's blood from his chariot.

Verses 41-->  This passage tells a little about king Jehoshaphat of Judah.  He reigned in Jerusalem as king of Judah for 25 years.  His father was Asa, a very Godly king.  Jehoshaphat followed the ways of Asa and tried to do what was right in the sight of God.  One of Jehoshaphat's accomplishments was that he made peace with Israel, who for years before Jehoshaphat was a bitter enemy to Judah.  But later in his reign, their relationship began going backwards, which was evidenced by Jehoshaphat's refusal to allow Israel's sailors to sail on Judah's new fleet of ships.  Jehoshaphat reigned for 25 years and his son Jehoram succeeded him on the throne of Judah.

Verses 51-53  -   It was in the 17th year in the reign of Jehoshaphat that Ahab was killed by that Syrian arrow.  Ahab's son Ahaziah became king of Israel and reigned two years.  Ahaziah ruled just like his father Ahab.  But Ahaziah would be the last king being from the house of Omri.

This concludes our study of the Book of I Kings.  I hope you have found it interesting.  I have.  And as always, I consider it a privilege to expound on God's Holy Scripture.

In our next post we'll learn a little more about Ahaziah as we begin our study of the Book of II Kings.

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