Entry Eighty-Four: Ahab, Jezebel, & an Amazing Prayer

Submitted by johnlo on Thu, 2008-06-05 09:51

 

 

 

ENTRY EIGHTY-FOUR – JUNE 6, 2008

 

84-THE DIVIDED KINGDOM - PART IV (aka "Ahab, Jezebel, and Jehoshaphat’s Amazing Prayer")

 I Kings 20-22; II Kings 1; II Chronicles 18-20

  • This entry, which is for two days of reading, covers topics such as CONSEQUENCES OF SIN, THE BATTLE IS GOD’S, and HOW TO PRAY WHEN YOU ARE AGAINST ALL ODDS.

 

  • Please note that since I am following F. LaGard Smith's order, I will be jumping back and forth between the Kings and Chronicles texts frequently and I normally won't refer to the specific passage unless it affects the meaning.

 

  • Dr. Smith observed, “Two of the most wicked people who ever lived just happen to be married to each other.” If it weren’t so scary, it would be funny, but the people that King Ahab and Queen Jezebel terrorized would not have thought them humorous. This entry tells of their eventual destruction, as well as highlighting a beautiful and faithful prayer in the bible, prayed by Jehoshaphat, son of Asa.

 

  • Several lessons from the story in 1 Kings 20
  • Even though Ahab wasn’t righteous, God still showed grace to Israel and allowed the nation to have some victories. Just goes to show that God can use anyone to further his purposes, even leaders with some really bad qualities, although in the end he will make sure that justice is done
  • Don’t count your chickens before they hatch (Ben-Hadad’s boasting and getting drunk).
  • God loves to do the impossible just to show he can do it and to prove He is God!
  • Obeying God’s word and doing what God thinks is right is more important than doing what YOU think is right.

 

  • The next story about Ahab and Jezebel illustrates how truly evil they were as a couple. To use one’s political power to take away property from someone else is bad enough, but to revel in it, as Jezebel did, and to think it was her right because of her position was even worse. Worse still is the fact that they didn’t stop at just stealing the property, but went so far as to ruin Naboth’s reputation and to then murder him.

 

  • There are a few interesting lessons from this chapter – the best being that humility at the right time really helps!!  A more sobering lesson is for wives – do you help your husband to be more spiritual and encourage him when he makes godly but difficult decisions? (“Oh, I’m sorry that you couldn’t get that field <or job, or promotion, or car, etc> that you wanted, honey, but never mind – you’ll find a better one later.”) Let us never be Jezebel in our husband’s life, urging him on to do evil out of pride and greed and ego. Incidentally, this chapter also contains the curse of Jezebel, which is fulfilled after the death of Ahab.

 

  • The recounting of the way Jehoshaphat forced Ahab to look for a true prophet and how Ahab hated Micaiah for always prophesying bad things is one of the funniest stories in the book of I Kings. It’s right up there with Jeroboam trying to trick a prophet by making his wife wear a disguise!  In this story, Ahab was inquiring from false prophets ON PURPOSE because he liked what they told him. That sounds suspiciously like something I have read before (II Timothy 4:3-4) <smile> which tells us to beware of those who will hate right teaching and instead gather around them a multitude of teachers who will tell them what their itching ears want to hear! You would think that by now Ahab would have known better… What about in our lives? Do we avoid reading the bible or doing the work for the deep teaching classes or reviewing the sermons because we just don’t want to know? Or are we hungering and thirsting for righteousness, like we did as young Christians?

 

  • Ahab went one step further and put the offensive prophet in jail! We wouldn’t do that …..
  • But perhaps we have “silenced” those who have tried to speak the truth to us by either ignoring them and not fellowshipping with them so often OR exploding on them so defensively that they will think very hard before bringing up anything to us again….You be the judge. As they say, “If the shoe fits…”

 

  • Of course there are some who are gun-shy about taking input after feeling that leaders were too controlling or arbitrary or mixed up in their motives. However, the bible is clear that we all need godly input. The solution is to surround yourself with “safe people”, (to quote Drs. Cloud and Townsend) who you can trust to speak the truth in love with your best interests at heart. That is the responsibility we all have as Christians.

 

  • Back to Ahab…he did go to battle, and in an attempt to prove the prophet wrong, he traded clothing with a common soldier and fought in a disguise. However, you can’t outsmart God, and sure enough, he was wounded and died.  Such a gruesome death – sounds like an episode of CSI Miami. He “bled out”, as Horatio would say, and, just as had been prophesied, the dogs licked his blood. To add insult to injury (in the true sense of the phrase), the chariot which contained his blood was washed out in the same pool where the prostitutes bathed! Definitely CSI!

 

  • Jehoshaphat also got a rebuke from God, but in his case if was for helping someone who “hates the Lord”. The lesson for us all here is to choose our loyalties wisely.  At least God appreciated the things that Jehoshaphat did right (getting rid of idols and setting his heart on seeking God!) which says to me that God remembers the good things we have done, as well, even when we mess up.

 

  • We continue to read great stuff about Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles. As part of his effort to turn the people back to God, he reformed the justice system, instructing the judges he appointed to fear God and have nothing to do with injustice, partiality or bribery.  These are good things for all disciples to remember, but especially those of us who would take on the mantle of leadership (which is not a bad thing, amen!!). We should remember the New Testament words of James – that teachers will be judged more strictly!!

 

  • This righteous king also warned the priests to lead in the fear of the Lord, and to teach the people to not sin against the Lord. This is what our people need even today! When leaders teach the grace of God PLUS the necessity of hating sin, they are preaching the whole truth! And according to the words Jehoshaphat spoke to the priests, if we as leaders preach that way, “you will not sin.” In addition, he exhorted them to lead with courage, which we will need if we are to stand up against injustice and preach against sin!!

 

  • The prayer of II Chronicles 20 is one of my favourites! Let’s explore the situation that led to such a cry for help:

 

  • Jehoshaphat had been leading successfully for many years, and righteousness was his trademark. However, just because we are righteous, we are not promised a “rose garden”, amen? And one day it happened – disaster struck – a combination of three armed forces combined into one huge army was on its way to crush Judah! What would they do?
  • When the storms of life come, when disaster strikes, when we suddenly find ourselves besieged by “a huge army” (be it at work, at home, in a relationship, a health issue, etc), where do we go? Jehoshaphat was alarmed; who wouldn’t be? But he IMMEDIATELY TURNED TO GOD! He gathered the whole nation to fast and pray with him. He knew that his only help was God. When we are in dire straits, if we have already been living a spiritual life, we will naturally go to God. If, however, we have been living a worldly life, it will be hard to suddenly turn spiritual in difficult times. Jehoshaphat is an example of someone who built on the right foundation during the good times so that he was steady like a rock when the storms of life came and his house didn’t come crashing down (Matthew 7:24-27).

 

  • For the content of his prayer (by the way, it helps if you read it aloud, standing up and looking up to the heavens), Jehoshaphat praises God, reminds God of his promises, and actually refers to Solomon’s prayer which is recorded in II Chronicles 6 as well as I Kings 8 – the one to which I referred in an earlier entry as the “Hear from Heaven” Prayer. The humble king also recalls past times when God has acted, tells God of the injustice involved here cause the Israelites had been merciful to these peoples at one time and now were being treated badly in return for no reason, and throws himself at God’s mercy by admitting his powerlessness and acknowledging that God is their only hope. We can only pray this kind of prayer when we have reserves of bible knowledge, faith and righteousness (not perfection, of course) - these words just won’t come to your mind otherwise. Further evidence of the king’s faith and humility – he prayed this in front of all the people – men, women and children! There is nothing like drastic circumstances to get us to pray “all or nothing” prayers. He knew that if God didn’t answer, they were all dead. We will rely on God like this when we have that mindset. If, on the other hand, we are content with life on this earth and only think of God occasionally, we will not feel the need for God’s intervention except on the biggest of issues, and then we won’t have the reserves I mentioned earlier.

 

  • Well, God loves the impossible, and he revels in answering those kinds of prayers!! He sent a prophet who was a descendant of Asaph the singer and psalm writer to deliver the good news – “Don’t be afraid. The battle is not yours but God’s!” Don’t you love that answer!! And to top it all off, the whole gang decided that they would put their singers at the front of the army to praise and worship God! Wow! Can you imagine finding this in any book on how to successfully win a war? I don’t think so! But by the time they got to the battlefield, all they found were dead bodies. We serve a powerful God, amen??!!
  • They carried away so much plunder that it took three days! And they gathered in a valley to praise God for their victory, renaming it “The Valley of Praise”. Build your life on the rock, pray prayers of faith like Jehoshaphat, and you will be able to rename valleys in your life “The Valley of Praise”.