1 Kings 20:16-43; Acts 13:13-15; Psalms 137:5-9; Proverbs 29:5-8
OT: “So Ahab mobilized the young men of the provincial leaders, and there were 232. After them he mobilized all the Israelite troops: 7,000. They marched out at noon while Ben-hadad and the thirty-two kings who were helping him were getting drunk in their quarters… 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 Israel pursued them, but King Ben-hadad of Aram escaped on a horse with the cavalry. Then the king of Israel marched out and attacked the cavalry and the chariots. He inflicted a severe slaughter on Aram. The prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him, “Go and strengthen yourself, then consider carefully what you should do, for in the spring the king of Aram will attack you.” Now the king of Aram’s servants said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hill country. That’s why they were stronger than we were. Instead, we should fight with them on the plain; then we will certainly be stronger than they are… In the spring, Ben-hadad mobilized the Arameans and went up to Aphek to battle Israel. The Israelites mobilized, gathered supplies, and went to fight them. The Israelites camped in front of them like two little flocks of goats, while the Arameans filled the landscape. Then the man of God approached and said to the king of Israel, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because the Arameans have said, “The Lord is a god of the mountains and not a god of the valleys,” I will hand over all this whole huge army to you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” They camped opposite each other for seven days. On the seventh day, the battle took place, and the Israelites struck down the Arameans — one hundred thousand foot soldiers in one day. The ones who remained fled into the city of Aphek, and the wall fell on those twenty-seven thousand remaining men. Ben-hadad also fled and went into an inner room in the city… So Ben-hadad came out to him, and Ahab had him come up into the chariot. 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 Samaria.” 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.’”” (1 Kings 20:15-16, 19-23, 26-30, 33b-34, 42 CSB)
Elijah’s spiritual victory on Mount Carmel must have impacted King Ahab in some way, for when Samaria was under siege by Ben-hadad of Aram (Syria), King Ahab actually listened to the voice of the Lord through the prophets. Both times that Ahab listened to the godly prophets, he won a miraculous victory over the vastly larger army of Syria. God didn’t move because he was blessing Ahab’s righteousness. God moved in spite of Ahab to prove to Ahab, the nation of Israel, and the nation of Syria that He was the One True God over all the earth. Though God won Ahab two convincing victories, Ahab’s heart was not changed. He did not fully embrace the Lord and His righteousness. Instead of utterly defeating the enemy of Israel, Ahab made a treaty with the defeated enemy and allowed the enemy to live to fight another day. When a person comes to the Lord in faith, repents of his sin, and accepts the Lord’s gift of salvation – in that moment the enemy of sin in that person’s life is miraculously and convincingly defeated. That newly saved person then has a choice: embrace the Lord completely, follow Him fully, and see sin utterly defeated… or… keep the Lord and His ways at arms length, make a treaty with the enemy of his soul, and continue holding on to the sin that he is accustomed to. The Bible teaches that if we embrace the Lord and His righteousness fully, then He will ongoingly sanctify us (make us holy) by the grace that He gives us, and allow us to become more and more like Him. The Bible also teaches that friendship with the world and its “pleasures” is enmity/hostility toward God, and those who retain their friendship with the world become enemies of God (James 4:4). As a result, there are many who claim to be saved… who may have grown up in a moral home… who may have prayed a prayer of salvation at one time in their life, but are actually spiritual enemies of God because they have made treaties with the enemy instead of fully and completely embracing the Lord and His righteousness. If that is you, hope is not lost. All that is required is for you to repent from your friendship with the world, turn to God, and fully embrace His word, will, and ways in faith. As you do that, He will place you on the upward cycle of grace where He will transform you from glory to glory as you fully follow Him.