The Bible teaches that, in addition to being God’s children, believers in Jesus Christ are also His servants. This shows that the authority of God is two-fold over those that have faith unto eternal life. God is the authority as a father is over his child. God is also the authority as a master is over his servant. These descriptions of these relationships show that God is the one that makes up the rules, sets the standards, determines right from wrong, and administrates the enforcement of these standards. If the Bible showed God to be a horrible oppressor like an abusive father or tyrant of a master, this would be horrible. Thankfully, the Bible does not paint that picture of God. The Bible explains that God is the exclusive distributor of all things that are ultimately and really good. The Lord is truth. The Lord is light. The Lord is our righteousness. Therefore, we can trust that the standards that God sets in place, and the things that He determines are right and good, fair and equal.
This is important to understand as it concerns God’s appointment and distribution of spiritual gifts and responsibilities in ministry. When engaging in ministry, there is great temptation to look at the work or service of another and have a covetous heart. Many people struggle with the extent of their ministry and many are disgruntled with the simple nature of service that God has called them to. Many people desire positions of service where the fruit of the labor of ministry is easy to recognize and abundant. This isn’t always how it works though. For examples, the Apostle John wrote two epistles to commend and encourage three people – an elect lady that ran a church out of her home, a man named Gaius, and a man named Demetrius. The service of these three people was simple and would have gone unknown to many had the Apostle John not spoke highly of their service, recognizing the power behind the simplicity of their diligence in faith. Two books of the Bible were written on account of three individuals that understood the authority God has to determine who does what, and they expressed contentment and gratitude for that opportunity as was seen in their attitudes.
This goes to show that it is good to desire the gifts that God gives and the service that God instructs. However, it is also important to recognize that God is the One that will ultimately determine what service each of His children are to do, and to what extent. When God’s people live according to this understanding, good things happen! An illustration of this truth is provided in the testimony of Elijah’s departure from this earth in 2 Kings 2:9-11. There the Bible explains that while Elijah and Elisha walked towards the place where Elijah would be caught up into the heavens, Elijah asked Elisha what he would desire as a final manner of service. Knowing that his time on this earth was near the end, he desired to know how he could serve the desire of his student and friend. It is good to see that, even though Elijah was sure of his near entrance into the kingdom of God that Elijah was still focused on serving the needs of those who would remain. What good is it to be on this earth if not to spiritually equip God’s people to fulfill their purpose on this earth until their time also expires? As Elisha wanted to maximize his time with his teacher and made good use of that short time span to be with him and enjoy his company, Elijah sought to make the most of his limited time as well by seeking to serve the needs of his student one last time to equip him for the next phase of his service unto God.
Elisha’s answer to Elijah’s inquiry was quick and simple. This means that Elisha knew exactly what he wanted out of the relationship he had with Elijah. Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. This means that Elisha wanted to serve the Lord in the same manner of Elijah, and then some. Knowing the wisdom and connection that Elijah had to the Lord, Elisha craved more understanding and a deeper connection to the Lord. Elijah was a man that spoke the truth of God’s Word to hard people that God was dealing with. Elisha didn’t want to shy away from those parts of ministry. Elisha desired twice as much. Elijah was a teacher and communicator of God’s Word and did well to equip many people to uphold the truth of God’s commands, holiness, and righteousness. Elisha desired to engage in twice the work required to teach, communicate, illustrate, and equip God’s people. Elisha’s desire was a good desire. While Elijah’s life was pleasing to the Lord overall (as evidenced by the manner in which he was taken up into heaven), Elisha wanted to be equipped for the Lord’s service to please Him twice as much. As Elijah’s service unto the Lord was good to glorify God, Elisha wanted to continue to glorify God, and then glorify Him some more.
Though Elisha’s request was good and noble, Elijah confessed that he was not able to deliver on such a desire. The manner of Elisha’s service to God and the extent of it is not up to ANY person to determine. So many speak presumptuously about the gifts and callings of others, and yet the Bible shows that even the great Elijah was not so proud as if he had the right to make such determinations. Elijah told Elisha that the thing he sought was a difficult thing. Elijah confessed that, regardless of the authority he carried in this life to serve the Lord, the Lord is the One that ultimately determines how His people serve Him. Nevertheless, Elijah didn’t completely deflate Elisha’s desire. Though Elisha’s desire was “a hard thing,” Elijah admitted that the Lord might be willing to fulfill such a desire. It was not as if the children of Israel couldn’t use such a man to keep them focused on the Lord. Here, Elijah’s attitude expresses humility. Many people in ministry have sought to keep their jobs to themselves and made it seem as if their quality of service was irreplaceable. This simply isn’t true. If a true servant of God, then one is motivated by and equipped by the Holy Spirit to serve His purposes. Thus, ANY person is able to ANYTHING that God determines. This means that all of God’s people are expendable in that way. John the Baptist even confessed as “the greatest prophet born of a woman” that God is able to raise up children of Abraham unto His glory from stones on the floor if He should desire to do so. Therefore, when Elijah encouraged Elisha in his desire and provided hope that God might be willing to equip Elisha in such a way, it shows that Elijah didn’t think so highly of himself that his work couldn’t be continued, duplicated, or exceeded by another, despite the power of his ministry.
Elijah told Elisha that God might be willing to fulfill Elisha’s desire. He encouraged Elisha by stating the manner in which God would ultimately reveal His will for Elisha. If Elisha was able to be an eyewitness to the departure of Elijah, then God would fill Elisha with His Spirit to the degree that he desired, and Elisha would indeed receive double portion of Elijah’s ministry. However, if Elisha was not able to be an eyewitness to Elijah’s departure, then he would not receive double portion, and would serve the Lord in a lesser capacity. Both men were content with this set of circumstances, acknowledging that God is the authority to select how His people will serve and to what extent. To Elisha’s delight, the Bible then states that as the two men finished their discussion that a chariot of fire, being pulled by horses of fire, appeared out of the sky and took Elijah up into the heavens by a whirlwind. We have these details of Elijah’s departure because of Elisha’s eyewitness, which confirms that God permitted Elisha’s desire. So, while God is the chief administrator of gifts, talents, and purpose in our service unto Him, and the One that determines the extent of service that anyone gives, it is clear to see that when God’s people truly desire to serve Him in ways that glorify Him (not self), God will show people things that encourage that desire, and equip that desire, giving God’s people an opportunity to live according to the desires of our hearts to exalt His name!
The manner in which God’s people enter into His kingdom and His presence is an AWESOME thing to consider! The Bible doesn’t give a lot of information about the kingdom of heaven. Instead, the Bible offers a substantial amount of detail about the temperament of the King of kings in order to understand the nature of His kingdom. Thus, while it is impossible to say exactly what God’s kingdom is like, we can observe the manner in which the Messiah King administrates and deals with His people here on earth to get a sense of what things will be like in heaven. The lives of God’s people in this world are merely a blip on the radar of time that serves more to be a transitional stage into our true dwelling place. As the Apostle Paul put it, we are merely as pilgrims passing through this life while our true citizenship is in heaven on account of the work of Jesus Christ to place us in heavenly places to know the exceeding glory and kindness of the Father. God’s true children understand these dynamics, and the Bible shows that it is on account of the knowledge that God’s children have of God. Thus, since this life is temporary and short in its length, no person able to know when the end will come, it is amazing to see the maturity of certain believers in the Bible in how they deal with the realities of this life based on their knowledge of the King to know some of the dynamics of eternal life.
The testimony of 2 Kings 2:1-8 documents the “transition” of Elijah passing on from this world over into eternal life. The Bible shows that Elijah was able to experience a radical transformation that provides hope and encouragement to all of God’s children since Elijah was a man that never experienced physical death. Elijah was caught up into the kingdom of God by a chariot of fire, in the breath of God’s whirlwind, and was somehow immediately transformed into the condition that eternity required him to be in so that he could dwell there. This was a glorious and supernatural work that many people witnessed, and is confirmed in the testimony of 2 Kings 2:1-8. The transition of Elijah provides some insight into the doctrines of the rapture that Paul talked about to the Thessalonian and Corinthian churches. While Jesus promised that those who believe in Him will never die, the receipt of Elijah into heaven in the manner that God performed shows that He is able and well-qualified to fulfill such a promise – even for men such as Elijah that were normal, sinful, mistake-committing, yet faithful human beings.
There are four major parts to examine concerning the testimony of Elijah’s transition into the heavens. First, it is important to examine the actions of Elijah himself. The Bible explains that Elijah went about from town to town to visit the various schools of prophets that had been established all around Judah. Knowing that his time on this earth was short, having received some sort of communication and confirmation that he would soon be taken away from this world, Elijah made it a point to personally visit those who were close to him on account of their profession and their relationship to the Lord. Elijah was personally connected to the students of these prophet schools, not necessarily as their only teacher, but as a leader in godliness. Before Jesus verbalized the Great Commission, it seems that Elijah was committed to teaching others the ways of the Lord in the manner that the Lord had shown him. It was because of his leadership among these young men that he had a close affection for them and desired to bid them farewell.
It is also worth noting that Elijah sought to rid of Elisha, his direct understudy, several times. Elijah went to visit three prophet schools; one in Bethel, one in Jericho and one by the Jordan River. Elijah urged Elisha to depart from him each time they ventured to a new city. While the Bible is not clear as to why Elijah tried to rid of Elisha, the pattern of Elijah’s suggestions and Elisha’s responses closely parallel the testimony of Ruth and Naomi. Where Naomi sought to get rid of Ruth to encourage her own personal growth and opportunity in life, Ruth was a picture of a faithful servant that would not depart from her master; no matter the extent of opportunity and chance for personal growth. Hence, while Elijah knew of his departure and the nearness of it, it is possible that Elijah gave one last lesson to his students by enabling Elisha to demonstrate the character of a true faithful servant of the Lord.
Knowing this, it is important to consider the response of Elisha. Elisha was indeed a faithful servant that desired to be with his master and teacher. The affection and dedication of Elisha is exemplary of anyone that claims to desire the Lord. No matter where Elijah went, the Bible explains that Elisha desired to go with him. Elisha didn’t have a regard for the distance that would be traveled. He didn’t care about the conclusion of their journey, knowing that Elijah’s time on this earth was short. In fact, it was because of this knowledge that Elisha desired to be with his master all the more! Jesus Himself taught that this world would always have the poor, but would not always have Him. For this reason, He encouraged His disciples to embrace and cherish the time that they could spend with Him then because that time would soon expire. The scriptures teach that today is the day of salvation, encouraging Jesus’ true followers to express the desire to be with our Master and Savior today while the opportunity is present. While the dynamics of our relationship with the Lord will improve in eternity, why squander the change to be close to Him today if we truly do cherish Him? This is why Elisha did not want to depart from Elijah. His affection and respect for his master was made evident by the time that Elisha spent with him and the diligence he demonstrated to be with him. The same should be said of Jesus’ followers today.
Elisha showed great focus in his pursuit to be with his master as well. The Bible says that as Elijah and Elisha went from school to school, the “sons of prophets,” or the students in the prophecy school, all understood to some degree that Elijah was leaving. They bid him farewell and made efforts to undergo life without him. They also encouraged Elisha to do the same, stating to Elisha, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” This statement was not in mockery towards Elisha, but instead to try and console Elisha with reality. The Lord is gracious to provide each of us with mentors, teachers, and leaders in godliness, but those relationships are not forever in this life. There are a number of dynamics and variables that can change the ways our relationships with our fellow Christians is appreciated. The Bible repeatedly reminds God’s children that our Father’s focus is eternal because He is eternal in nature. Therefore, He has no interest in keeping His children here in this corrupted place once His purpose with us in this place is complete. The sons of the prophets understood this and sought to encourage Elisha to learn to move on. Elisha didn’t want to hear it. He repeatedly told each of the three groups of students that tried to encourage him that he knew Elijah would be taken soon. Then Elisha told each of them to be quiet and stop distracting him with the thoughts of a future date that could not be determined that were actually interrupting the joy that he had with his master at the moment.
The Bible teaches that life is but a vapor – it is here one moment and gone the next. Elisha had good wisdom to not speculate too far into the timing of God’s work to take Elijah unto himself so that he would not be interrupted in the opportunity he had to enjoy his master and teacher while he was still here. Elisha was opportunistic in this sense to embrace the moments he could have with those who encouraged and nurtured his faith while the opportunity was available, rather than squander it thinking about the inevitable truth he well understood already. Thus, while the advice and obvious statements of the students of the prophecy schools were well-intentioned, they weren’t really profitable for Elisha. Hence, Elisha continued to follow his master until the very end, thereby enabling him to witness two of the greatest miracles documented in the Bible.
After Elijah said goodbye to the school of prophets by the Jordan River, Elijah and Elisha departed for the Jordan River. The Bible then explains that before God took Elijah up into the air, Elijah had to cross over the Jordan River. Just as the children of Israel could not enter into the Promised Land of Canaan until crossing over the Jordan, Elijah could not enter into the heavenly Promised Land, the heavenly Canaan, until he also crossed over the Jordan. Elijah had to be on the right side of the river and pass through the barrier that separated him from the dwelling place that God appointed to him. Just like the children of Israel that followed Joshua into the Promised Land, Elijah crossed that river on dry ground! The Bible testifies that Elijah took off his mantle, struck the water of the river with it, and the river parted allowing him and Elisha to cross over on dry ground in the exact manner as the children of Israel that followed Joshua. Here it is awesome to notice the ritual that Elijah performed to part the river. He took of his mantle and let the mantle touch the waters. The mantle was the sign and symbol of God’s calling upon his life. Likewise, when Moses struck the waters of the Red Sea, he did so with the rod that God have him – a symbol and sign of God’s calling upon Moses’ life. Hence, it is not the ability of God’s people that allows them to safely cross the boundary that leads into the Promised Land. In that Elijah and Moses were allowed safe passage by the touching of symbols that communicated God’s calling, it is God’s ordination and appointment that allows one to cross into the Promised Land.
Elijah was a great prophet that demonstrated great power and miracles, but it was the calling that God placed upon his life that enabled him with that power, and also enabled him with the permission to momentarily retire that power until his next mission would be completed in the last days. This is how eternal life works for the children of God. We are all called to a season of service, and when that service is complete, we are ushered into the glory of our Master by the provision and appointment of the Father Himself. We are able to cross into the Promised Land by otherwise troubling waters because of the safe way that God Himself provides through the basis of His purpose for us in this life. Nevertheless, God’s purpose for each of His people comes to an end here so that we can fulfill our eternal purpose in His presence to worship Him. While those who are left behind for the time being might miss those whom God calls into His presence, it is important to understand the eternal nature of God’s work and the reality that this is the manner in which God has elected to get things done. So, God’s people would be wise to be like Elisha, embracing the opportunities we have with those who encourage and nurture our faith now, knowing that a time will come when those dynamics change, but for the good!
There are many people in the world that disagree with God’s declarations and judgments. This doesn’t change anything about God. There are many people that don’t believe that God’s declarations and judgements are true. This also doesn’t mean that they aren’t. Whether a person believes or not in God does not change the reality of His existence and His identity. Whether or not a person agrees with God’s declarations or judgments also doesn’t change the fact that they are right and true. The scriptures plainly state, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” The point of this statement is that God is right in everything He does, whether we like it or not. One day, all will come to the realization of this truth, but until then, the true people of God are to simply trust that His Word, judgments, decrees, statutes, and all of the work He does to fulfill those things, are right and true. Those who disagree with the Bible can disagree all they want to their own demise. This history of the Bible shows that those who disagree with God and fight against the declarations of His judgments, don’t change anything about God’s Word, His works, or the outcome of the circumstances they desire. Instead, those who rebel against the Lord are found to be most pitiable in the end.
This idea is seen to be true in the historical narrative of King Ahaziah, the King of the northern kingdom of Israel. In 2 Kings 1:9-18 the Bible describes how Ahaziah responded to the declaration of judgment that God made against him. The scriptures explain that Ahaziah was a wicked king like his father Ahab. In fact, God already knew of Ahaziah’s wickedness so that before he took rule in Israel, He declared that He would place some of the judgment intended for Ahab, upon Ahaziah. God honored the momentary humility that Ahab demonstrated and though he would still be judged, would be shamed in his judgment to a lesser degree. The remained of Ahab’s judgment was placed upon his son because God knew that Ahaziah would not demonstrate any humility and was full deserving of every bit of judgment that God declared.
The testimony of 2 Kings begins by explaining that Ahaziah fell off of a lattice at his home so that his wounds were near fatal. Seeking to know the extent of damage that those wounds would cause, Ahaziah sought to in inquire of Baal-Zebub, the false God of Ekron. Ahaziah saw the Lord God Almighty judge his father, but did not seek the Lord to know the future of his life. Ahaziah did not seek the Lord in humility or repentance, but instead sought to inquire of the devilish gods of pagan cultures. God was not pleased with this, so when Ahaziah sent messengers to a false prophet, God sent Elijah to intercept those messengers in order to deliver Ahaziah the truth about his wounds. The Bible explains that Elijah pronounced God’s judgment, and the message was accurately and truthfully relayed back to Ahaziah by his messengers. The testimony of 2 Kings 1:9-18 describes Ahaziah’s response to the bad news that God declared.
Elijah explained that Ahaziah would die of his wounds according to the declaration of the Lord. Ahaziah responded by sending a company of fifty soldiers and their commander to detain Elijah. It is important to recognize that those who are summonsed by military companies are not being summonsed for friendly reasons. Recall that when Ahaziah sent for the false prophet, he simply sent messengers. Yet because he did not like the declaration that God gave through Elijah, Ahaziah sent soldiers. The soldiers approached Elijah, and when they did, the Bible explains that Elijah was peacefully conducting himself on a hill. The captain of the fifty men demanded that Elijah accompany them back to the king because the king wanted to speak with him. Elijah’s response is compelling. The scriptures state that Elijah sought to validate himself as a prophet of God to show that the judgment he previously declared was true, and did not require any further discussion. Elijah told the commander that if he were truly a messenger of God, then fire would come down from heaven and consume all of the men. The Bible testifies that immediately after this declaration, God sent fire from heaven and consumed the company of soldiers!
After this supernatural event took place, Ahaziah continued to harden his heart against God’s judgment. The Bible explains that he sent out another company of fifty soldiers and their captain with them. Once again, the captain found Elijah peacefully on the hill but made aggressive demands to leave and accompany them back to the king. The captain of the fifty men emphasized that Ahaziah was demanding Elijah return with urgency, requiring Elijah to stop everything at the moment to respond to the demands of the king. Elijah told this second captain the same thing that he told the first captain, and like the first group, the second group of men was fully consumed by the fire of God! It is important to consider the reality of these circumstances. One hundred men died because of one man’s rebellion against God. Ahaziah did not like the judgment that God declared and so he sought to aggressively pursue and attack God’s messenger. Ahaziah did not recognize God as sovereign and supremely powerful. Ahaziah did not approach Elijah with any statement of humility or in the tone of one seeking mercy. Ahaziah wanted to take Elijah by force to try and convince Elijah of a different outcome. Much like Balak tried to convince Balaam that speaking against God’s will was possible, Ahaziah sought to do the same with Elijah; and one hundred men paid the price on account of his stubbornness and depraved heart.
Clearly the idea that anything is okay to do so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else is a flawed doctrine. Sin spreads consequence like cancer. While the destruction of the one hundred soldiers doesn’t necessarily condemn them to hell (only God knows the results of their spiritual condition), their deaths were unnecessary on account of the pride and foolishness of a man that disagreed with God; and in the end, God never changed His stance. God’s judgment was repeated, but only after Ahaziah sent one more group of fifty men and their captain, proving just how stubborn and hard-hearted Ahaziah was. However, this last captain, having heard of the fate of the previous two companies that went before him, approached Elijah with a different tone. Recognizing the power of God, the third captain humbled himself before Elijah and begged for mercy. He stated that Ahaziah still wanted to speak with him, so the soldier was faithful to do his job even though his job was given by a foolish man. Nevertheless, the man did his job with a humble heart, seeking the mercy of God rather than being a conduit of Ahaziah’s arrogance and foolishness.
The third captain asked Elijah for mercy, hoping that his life and the humble manner of it would be sufficient to please Elijah, but most importantly, Elijah’s God. The humility of the third captain was recognized. In fact, the scriptures state that “the Angel of the Lord,” which is an Old Testament manifestation of Jesus Christ, appeared to Elijah and commanded Elijah to spare the captain and his men, to follow them back to Ahaziah, and make the same declaration as before. Here it is interesting to note that God was willing to send Elijah back to Ahaziah to repeat His judgment. In fact, when Elijah went to speak to Ahaziah, the Bible states that Elijah said the exact same things that he previously told Ahaziah’s servants, and then Ahaziah later died just as God declared. However, notice that God was willing to respond to the humble request of the third captain, while the previous two were consumed in fire. The Bible teaches that God resists the proud. In this case, “resistance” resulted in destruction; and not just any destruction. The fact that God consumed these men with fire from heaven served to remind Israel that He is still supremely in charge and the righteous God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The manner of destruction that God employed against those men was reminiscent of the pillar of fire that went before the children of Israel in the wilderness, and that appeared at Mount Sinai when God gave Moses the Law. As God was terrifying and righteous then, so too was He when He judged Ahaziah.
This shows that no matter how far God’s people stray from Him in sin, He remains the same. This shows that no matter how much people disagree with God, He is still the same consuming fire that revealed a portion of His power and glory when the declarations of His righteousness were given to Moses through the Law. No matter what one’s opinion of God is, He is the Lord God still, and there is no other, nor will there ever be! Ahaziah’s rebellion against God was costly, and in the end, he died just as God declared. It didn’t matter how much Ahaziah hated God’s Word. Ahaziah’s opinion of God and His Word was not going to change God or His righteous course of action. When Ahaziah died, he died in a shameful manner, from the wounds of his own clumsiness, and furthermore, not having a son, was not able to provide an heir to his rule. His two-year reign ended with his sin and his brother Jehoram (the other son of Ahab) became king in his place. No matter what a person thinks of God and His Word, His Word will be done completely and perfectly. Thus, it would be wise for people to trust in the goodness of God, His ability to provide a perfect outcome among so much chaos, and His glorious righteousness since those who have rebelled against God have NEVER profited – especially spiritually.
The Bible teaches that idolatry is like adultery in the eyes of the Lord. When a person makes gods and idols out of things pertaining to one’s own will in rebellion against God, the Bible teaches that the Lord considers it as if that person is cheating on Him. When Jesus prayed to the Father in John Chapter 17, He plainly communicated that His will and the will of the Father were the same – to be one with His people. The Bible also teaches that when two married people come together, spiritually-speaking, the two become one in the eyes of God. Hence, marriage between a man and a woman is supposed to be representative God’s desire to be one with Him, and the means by which that process happens (the husband is the picture of Christ, while the bride is the picture of the church). This was God’s intention from the beginning, so that when His people pursue their own will rather than His, and form gods and idols in their heart that take His position, it is as if that person is cheating on God. God sees the god, the idol, or the desire that comes between Him and His people as if it is another man that comes between Him and His bride. When God’s people make other pursuits in life their chief pursuits in place of Him, He is highly offended and will respond in judgment as one would expect a jealous husband to respond in the circumstances of an adulterous wife!
Knowing this, it is important to understand the severity of offense that one brings against God when one pursues other desires of one’s own heart rather than God’s supreme goodness according to His Word. It is not just that one is ignoring God. God is not like a spoiled brat that wants all the attention. The Bible is clear to show that when God is not chiefly praised and honored, an accusation is actually made against His character and nature. Thus, the Bible shows that those who pursue selfish desires rather than God and His will are not just committing spiritual adultery against the Lord, but also making accusations against His character and identity. This is a problem.
The truth of this reality is demonstrated in the testimony of Ahaziah in 2 Kings 1:1-8. In this portion of scripture, the Bible documents how and why the Lord administrated judgment against Ahaziah for his wickedness. Recall that God had already that He would judge Ahaziah on account of the wickedness of Ahab. God, knowing that Ahaziah would also be wicked, showed mercy to Ahab by splitting up the full extent of judgment that He swore to pour out on that wicked family between Ahab and Ahaziah. Thus, God’s judgment against Ahaziah was already declared. The testimony of 2 Kings 1:1-8 explains what God saw of Ahaziah before the rest of the world did. The testimony of 2 Kings 1:1-8 explains what God saw of Ahaziah’s heart that made Him right to declare in judgment against Ahaziah.
The Bible explains that the reign of Ahaziah started off very shaky. Not only was his rule short over a two-year time span, but the Moabites immediately rebelled against the northern kingdom of Israel after Ahab’s death. This became Ahaziah’s problem. The first thing he had to deal with was a rebellion, and was not able to enjoy peace. Then, to top matters off, the Bible explains that Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper room in his home in Samaria and became severely injured. At the start of his rule, he had a rebellion to deal with, but was too injured to deal with the issue himself. This was the least of Ahaziah’s problems. Apparently, the wounds that Ahaziah received from his fall were extremely severe so that he felt his accident was life-threatening. This is where Ahaziah displayed his offense against God.
The Bible declares that Ahaziah called for his messengers to find a priest to the god Baal-Zebub to inquire from that priest of that god whether he would recover from his injuries or not. Here, there are two major issues. First, it is unfortunate to see that the son of a man that was just judged for seeking false gods, swiftly and immediately falls into the same wickedness when given a chance to do so. Ahaziah clearly did not learn from his wicked father’s mistakes, and while he likely heard the men of God that declared judgment against his father, did not fear the Lord after seeing Him respond faithfully in judgment. Secondly, it is a problem that there were priests of Baal-Zebub to inquire of in the northern kingdom of Israel. It is clear that the evil effect that Jeroboam and the other wicked kings up to, and including Ahab, was severe. Those who served false gods in Israel were to be purged from the people of God. Yet, the Bible shows that the priests of false gods were readily available to serve, not just the people, but even the kings, with lies and deception.
It is here where the Lord expresses the specific nature of His displeasure with Ahaziah. The Bible explains that when Ahaziah sent his messengers for the priest of the false god, a god often associated with Satan himself, the Lord interceded to send His own messenger. God sent Elijah to intercept the messengers of Ahaziah and give them His declaration of judgment concerning Ahaziah’s fall. Ahaziah would hear the truth of his circumstances, not flattery words from liars looking for selfish gain. In fact, the scriptures explain that Elijah was met by “the Angel of the Lord” to declare judgment against Ahaziah. This is an Old Testament manifestation of Jesus Christ! The Bible shows that “the Angel of the Lord” appears at some of the most critical and pivotal times in Israel’s history. This must have been one of those times, showing that the judgment of the Lord concerning idolatry is a BIG deal, and it is Jesus Himself that communicates and administrates the judgment of the Father!
When the Angel of the Lord met with Elijah, He was candid to explain the grim future of Ahaziah. God explained that that Elijah that he was to inform the messengers of the king that he would not live. God made this statement to explain the purpose for His judgment:
“Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron?”
Here, God’s statement shows that Ahaziah’s idolatry was a matter of accusation against the faithful nature of God. The point of the Lord was simple. Why seek another god if the Lord God Almighty is available and present among His people according to His promises? God’s declaration shows that Ahaziah’s unfaithfulness was a denial of God in unbelief. Ahaziah did not believe that God was present and accessible among the children of Israel. This is a direct slap in the face to God concerning His promises to Israel. God swore several times that He would NEVER leave nor forsake His people. Yet Ahaziah was seeking devilish gods as if God had departed. Ahaziah’s actions essentially accused God of being a liar. In the eyes of the Lord, Ahaziah went off and cheated on God with another false god because he believed that the Lord God Almighty had left and not met his needs. This is simply never true of God. Those who suffer the effects and consequences of sin do so because of one’s individual choice to depart from God and His goodness. Our issues are not God’s fault. Furthermore, when we deny God like Ahaziah did, as if God’s reach is too short to respond when we rebel against Him, or as if He has denied His own promises to lead His people, then we attack the character of God. It is best to believe and trust that God WILL respond. He will not be mocked!
The Bible testifies that Elijah was obedient to God’s command. He went out and met with the servants of Ahaziah and gave them the message that was to be communicated to Ahaziah. The messengers then turned back to speak to their master. They too were obedient to communicate the judgment that God had proclaimed in candor. Ahaziah was not pleased with the news that he heard. He did not want to hear that his wounds would be fatal. He did not especially like that fact that was pointed out that Ahaziah’s fall and coming death was on account of judgment against him for offending the One True Living God. However, Ahaziah did not seek the Lord’s forgiveness. Ahaziah did not seek repentance or mercy from God. Still figuring that God had departed from Israel, enabling him to do as he pleased without consequence, Ahaziah continued in his rebellion against God by seeking out God’s people. Thus, God’s previous declaration of judgment against Ahaziah was proven to be right and fair.
When God created the heavens and the earth, He first acknowledged that the earth was in a state of “darkness.” The meaning of this is actually quite simple. The earth was without light. The physical realm that God was creating did not yet have His essence as light dwelling in it. We know that this condition was not pleasing to the Lord because the first work that He did was in spite of the darkness of the earth. On the first day of creation, God said, “Let there be light.” Here it is important to recognize that God did not “create” light, but rather “revealed” light. The phrase “let there be” is not the same phrase used to describe the work God did on the other days of creation to form the physical matter we can observe today. Instead, the scriptures teach that God revealed the glory of His essence as light in order to overcome darkness. There, already on day one, we have a beautiful picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially as Jesus proclaimed that He was the light of the world that was revealed on day one in John 8:12. However, as the creation account continues, the Bible explains that evening and morning elapsed in a 24-hour period, and that was the first day. Then on day two, darkness came again. Recall that the sun, moon, and stars were not created until the fourth day, which means that the Lord was revealing AND concealing His essence as light for three days before He created the physical lights that we observe today that define the rotation of night and day as we know it. This is an important spiritual principle to understand.
God did not see the darkness as “good,” which is why He overcame it with light. Yet, it was the rotation of darkness to light that made up a day, that God declared as good. While this speaks to the physical works of a literal day, this also has massive theological implications. For example, though the devil is called the ruler of this world and the price of the power of the air, in 1 John 3:8 the Bible explains that Jesus came into the world solely for the purpose of destroying the works of the devil. Jesus’ identity as the Messiah is to judge the devil and the “darkness” that he produces. The chief purpose of “the Light of the world” is to destroy the works of the evil one who dwells in darkness. Thus, the rotation of a day resembles God’s promise to eliminate the devil and his evil. In the Jewish calendar, day begins in the evening, which means that every day ends with darkness having been overcome by the light. Every day is a reminder that God is able to destroy the works of darkness, and that He is faithful to do so. Though darkness comes back the next day, God does not grow wary of His work or forget His promise. The rotation of a day shows that, while darkness has it’s time, that time is appointed by God, the supreme authority, and that time is appointed to come to an end! The first three days show that God did conceal His glory to allow darkness to dominate the world for a time, but in it was the manifestation of His glory as Light (nothing more, nothing less) that made darkness subside when God determined it was time.
This is an important concept to understand when reading the entirety of scripture. There are many instances in the Bible that show God do a work of judgment that seems beneficial, only for the benefits to be foiled by the evil of the next person up. This vicious cycle is especially seen in the testimony of the judges and of the kings in Israel. Many people wonder, “Why does God let these evil men rule?” That is a fair question, but the question is more easily answered when we understand the illustration God makes of His power and faithfulness to destroy darkness in the rotation of a day cycle. God is simply reminding us that, while there are seasons of darkness, He is the One that ultimately determines how long those seasons will last, and He is the only One that can end those seasons; and the only way those seasons will end is when He manifests His own glory. The desires, works, and efforts of men and woman will never suffice to eliminate darkness. In fact, the Bible shows that it is the wicked efforts and desires of men and women that cause darkness to begin with. Recall that Satan did not have domain in this world until it was volunteered to him. Though Adam made the chief mistake in the Garden of Eden, the scriptures are clear that we have all inherited his spiritual DNA and crave for the devil to lead; that is until the Lord interrupts the naturally corrupted state of our lives in order to reveal the essence of His glory and goodness, instill hope in us through salvation.
This principle is important to apply in portions of scripture such as the testimony of Ahaziah in 1 Kings 22:51-53. This short portion of scripture merely documents that Ahaziah became king in the northern kingdom of Israel after Ahab died. He took over for his wicked father in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat’s reign in the south, and the Bible explains that Ahaziah only ruled for two years. However, one must wonder, with such an evil father, and with the testimony of scripture saying that Ahaziah did evil like his mother, father, and even like Jeroboam (leading others to do evil as well), why would God allow this? If God knows everything, even though Ahaziah’s reign was short, why have any rule at all over God’s people? Didn’t God know that Ahaziah would turn His people further away from Him?
The answer is quite simple. Of course God knew that Ahaziah was a wicked man, and of course God know the outcome of his rule. However, it is important to remember the full context of God’s promises. First, recall that God swore that He would not inflict the full load of His judgment upon Ahab because there was a time where Ahab actually humbled himself before God. Thus, God promised that the balance of judgment that was supposed to go upon Ahab, would be placed upon his son, Ahaziah. God, knowing the future wicked heart of Ahaziah, made use of such a person to pour out the rest of His judgment on him. God knew that Ahaziah would be just as evil as Jeroboam, Ahab, and Jezebel, so He would be blameless to finalize His justice upon the house of Ahab.
Additionally, it is important to remember how these men came into power to begin with. It is the hearts of mankind that crave darkness and evil. It is the fake self-righteousness of humanity that causes evil to take place. While the devil tempts to do evil, it is the human being that falls into temptation to actually disobey God and commit evil. It is the heart of the human being that is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things. It is the righteousness of mankind that is as filthy rags in the sight of the holy and righteous God. It is the human race that falls short of the glory of God. Hence, those who desire to live according to their own standards rather than God’s will only produce thorns and thistles, not the fruit of the Lord’s goodness. The wicked leadership in Israel was merely an outward manifestation of the wickedness of the hearts of the people. Though God has supreme authority and the final say on anything, the continued evil leadership in Israel was representative of a nation that didn’t care about the Lord or want Him to rule. Therefore, like the beginning of every day, God permitted darkness for a time. He concealed the essence of His glory in order to show the unfruitful and depraved nature of darkness. Yet, like the rotation of a day, God is the authority over darkness and has appointed a time in which darkness will end; when He reveals His essence and glory as the Light of the world. It is true that the northern kingdom of Israel had some terrible men and women leading God’s people that had gone astray from the Father. Yet, it is also true that God was preparing a servant to preserve righteousness and the overall spiritual integrity of His people in order that He could fulfill His eternally unconditional promises. Elijah was training Elisha the prophet, and the ministry of “light” that God would do through him shows that no matter who appears to be in charge, and no matter how dark things seem to be, God is still on the throne, and EVERYTHING is right on schedule. Darkness may come, but the Light of the world is guaranteed to shine at the appointed time!
With the way that the Bible explains and refers to sin, the children of God should be extremely wary about how sin infects life. Sin is a big deal! Sin is deadly. The Lord assures all people that the wages of sin is death. Hence, any inkling of sin in life can have devastating effects. The Bible does not tell the children of God to select some sins over others to deny, but instead to be totally dead to all sin. There should not be compromise in the lives of God’s people as if one type of sin is less harmful than another. The Bible is clear to show that when a person leaves the door open to sin, considering some things less harmful than others, those things taken lightly inevitably end up becoming a factor in the lives of God’s people so that life becomes more complicated.
This sort of situation can be clearly seen in the testimony of Jehoshaphat. In 1 Kings 22:41-50 the Bible summarizes the rule of King Jehoshaphat. King Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, during the reign of King Ahab. He was the son of King Asa, who ruled well according to the Lord’s standards. The scriptures proclaim that Asa did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and Jehoshaphat ultimately followed in his father’s footsteps. Generally speaking, Jehoshaphat had a pretty good kingship and was able to rule for twenty-five years until he was age sixty. However, while a fuller testimony of Jehoshaphat can be found in 2 Chronicles, the brief testimony of Jehoshaphat in 1 Kings showed that he had some issues in his life that made life more difficult that it had to be. The scriptures show that Jehoshaphat was a man of faith, but had certain areas of struggle and compromise in his life, so that even as a godly man, had to deal with difficulties that he brought upon himself, taking certain sins more lightly than others.
Consider the fact that Jehoshaphat is mentioned in the testimony of 1 Kings because of his relationship with Ahab, an ungodly and wicked man. Jehoshaphat became partners with Ahab and swore an allegiance to him for the purpose of going out to fight the Syrians. The New Testament scriptures would describe this sort of relationship as being “unequally yoked.” Jehoshaphat got into a bad partnership/business relationship with an ungodly man, and while that didn’t necessarily kill Jehoshaphat or dissolve his walk with the Lord, it certainly didn’t make life easier. Jehoshaphat became the chief target of the Syrians when he went out to assist Ahab in battle. Jehoshaphat’s identity was mistaken for Ahab’s because Ahab went out to battle in disguise. Had Jehoshaphat refrained from engaging with Ahab, his life never would have been put at risk. Ultimately the Lord preserved his life, but Jehoshaphat never had to be in a position where his life was at risk to begin with.
This was Jehoshaphat’s folly. He had a challenge making tough decisions that affected other people in negative ways. In some ways, the scriptures make Jehoshaphat look like a “people-pleaser.” Jehoshaphat engaged in some relationships that were ultimately harmful to his own circumstances because he could not discern the dangers and could not say no to those who approached him with wicked propositions. Likewise, Jehoshaphat struggled to boldly lead people according to the righteous standards he understood, in ways that interrupted the wicked habits of others to show a more godly way. The testimony of 1 Kings 22:41-50 explains that Jehoshaphat was a godly man and abstained from worshiping idols. Yet the king was not bold enough to take down the altars and high places that people before him previously built. He was content to do well in his own walk, but was afraid to lead others to do the same. Jehoshaphat did well to stay focused on the Lord in his individual relationship with the Lord, but as the king, allowed idolatry to continue in his domain. He considered his own well-being, but did not consider the well-being of others as he was unwilling to interrupt the idolatry of the people in order to point them to the righteousness of the One True Living God.
Jehoshaphat was a man of compromise in this way. He figured if he did well and let the people do their own thing, ultimately he would be okay. This was partially true, but this also made things more difficult for Jehoshaphat. Since he left the altars and high places of false gods erect, the people continued to worship them. Since idolatry is infectious like cancer, this sin had an effect on the entire southern kingdom, which ultimately affected Jehoshaphat’s own walk and plans. The Bible explains that, though Jehoshaphat didn’t worship idols, he was influenced by the foolishness that comes from idolatry. The spiritual blindness that the idol worshipers had was able to have an impact on Jehoshaphat as well. It affected his ability to discern dumb things, so that he ended up making some costly dumb decisions. The partnership with Ahab was already mentioned, but the Bible goes on to proclaim that Jehoshaphat later made another dumb decision to build a business with Ahab’s son, Ahaziah.
Ahaziah was also a wicked man. This shows that Jehoshaphat didn’t learn from his past mistake, and therefore suffered similar consequences. The business that Ahaziah and Jehoshaphat created ultimately tanked. They sought to partner together to make merchant ships to send out to increase their personal profits. Though the reign of Jehoshaphat was prosperous, he was not content in the increase that the Lord provided and sought to engage in his own increase. This greed is the same quality of greed that the idolaters around him were living by. The environment of greed in idolatry had influenced Jehoshaphat to live according to the same greed so that he was willing to partner with the wrong people. In the end, the Bible explains that God destroyed that business by sinking all of the ships they had built. Thankfully, when God’s people are too foolish or weak to make the right decision, God will interceded to do what needs to be done to protect the spiritual integrity of His people before our decisions get out of hand.
These few things mentioned of Jehoshaphat show the kind of subtle, but profound effect compromise can have on someone’s life. Jehoshaphat didn’t think it was a big deal to leave the altars and high places erected in Judah. He figured if the idols were gone from his own home, he would be fine. He didn’t worry about the people he surrounded himself with or the environment that he allowed in his kingdom outside of his home. He did well to keep idolatry out of his own life, but in accepting idolatry in the lives of others, he fell into some relationships and circumstances that caused him to be spiritually affected as if he were an idolater himself. He took sin lightly. He didn’t think that the sin of others would infect him in any way. He figured that the foolish decisions of others was their own problem and couldn’t cause him any harm. However, because God entrusted Jehoshaphat as the king, those were his people and he was responsible to lead, not tolerate.
As children of God, we are called to be ambassadors of Christ. As ambassadors, God’s people have been entrusted as servants to proclaim the whole of His truth. The Bible shows what happens when people take sin lightly and don’t address the issue of repentance. One’s personal repentance is good to an extent, but when the message of repentance is kept from the people that surround us, their evil influence will have an effect on God’s people one way or another. This doesn’t necessarily mean that God’s people will lose salvation. That certainly was not the case for Jehoshaphat. Nevertheless, many of the major difficulties that Jehoshaphat had to deal with in his life were on account of the people he allowed into his life due to the spiritual blindness that his environment had caused. He had the influence and authority to lead the people according to the righteousness he sought to live by. Yet, either because of fear, indifference, or self-righteousness, Jehoshaphat let the people live their own way, and eventually their spiritual blindness became contagious at some pretty critical times in some pretty critical ways.
It is impossible to trick God or to change a course of action that He has determined. He is the Lord God Almighty. This means that His power is supreme. He cannot be controlled or manipulated. He cannot be overpowered. When God makes a declaration, one can be assured that it will ABSOLUTELY come to pass no matter how hard someone may work to try and sidestep the will of God. Recall that in the testimony of God’s declaration of judgment against Ahab, the prophet Micaiah had a vision of God’s supreme control, not only over human circumstances, but also spiritual entities that influence human circumstances. Thus, when a person thinks that they are moving according to their own clever planning or desire, it may very well be that the Lord is ultimately exercising His sovereignty over all things to accomplish His will. Nothing can be done about this other than to trust in the goodness of God’s power since it results in peace and justice for those who love the Lord and submit to His purposes rather than rebel against Him.
This truth is made clear in how King Ahab responded to Micaiah’s declaration of God’s judgment. In 1 Kings 22:29-40 the Bible explains that Ahab, despite the prophecy of his death, endeavored to go out and fight against the Syrians. The prophet Micaiah explained that God made it so that Ahab would die in battle. God even allowed demonic influences to lie to Ahab’s prophets in order that Ahab would be convinced and enthusiastic about going out to battle where God had prepared Ahab’s judgment for his wickedness. Ahab didn’t care. Ahab clearly heard the words of Micaiah and the declaration of God’s sovereign control. Ahab knew that God was set on bringing judgment against the house of Ahab. Micaiah was not the only prophet that communicated God’s judgment against Ahab. Nevertheless, Ahab decided that he would trust in the words of false prophets and deceived men that were manipulated by lying demonic spirits rather than the prophet of the Lord that spoke truth.
Ahab resolved within himself that he could change that which God declared as true by his own efforts. When Ahab and Jehoshaphat went out to battle, Ahab sought to be clever. He figured he could go out and get his victory and hide from the judgment of God. Knowing deep down that the proclamation of God’s judgment against him was true, Ahab tried to confuse God and trick him, only to his demise in the end anyway. The Bible testifies that when preparing to go fight, Ahab put on a disguise. Ahab convinced Jehoshaphat to remain in his normal kingly attire while Ahab would go into battle as one of the normal soldiers. Ahab’s thinking was that, if God had control to influence demons, He might put it in the heart of the king of Syria to target Ahab. Additionally, it was customary in warfare to seek to destroy the leaders of men knowing that the men would scatter once the leader was destroyed. Ahab figured he could sidestep his fate by dressing down and making Jehoshaphat the sole target.
Here it is important to understand the dangers of being unequally yoked. When Jehoshaphat made his alliance with Ahab, an ungodly man, the idea that was presented was that the two kings would be in partnership. What kind of partnership involves only one man being put at risk in order to ensure the safety of the other? Ahab had no concern for Jehoshaphat whatsoever. Ahab wanted Jehoshaphat’s resources, and then wanted him to act as bait. Ahab had no care for Jehoshaphat’s health or ability to lead his people. Ahab only cared about himself. It is important to understand that the Bible teaches that this is normal and typical for all human beings whose hearts have not been transformed by the Lord God Almighty. Those who are not children of God are by extension, children of the devil, whose chief aim is to steal, kill, and destroy. Hence, those who live according to his evil influence do not care to improve or assist the spiritual integrity of any person – only to take care of their own selfish affairs. When God’s people partner with people of the world, this will be the inevitable result. What accord does darkness have with light? If the two oppose one another, how could they possibly work together to achieve a singular purpose? By definition, the two are contrary to one another.
When Ahab and Jehoshaphat got to the battle, this very principle was put on clear display very quickly. The king of Syria, Ben-Hadad, was not happy with Ahab and the manner of their last meeting. Therefore, the king of Syria made it a point to instruct his men that he only wanted Ahab dead. He had thirty-two commanders of chariots that he appointed to engage in what became an assassination mission. Their duty was to find Ahab and take him out. When they got to the battle field, they saw Jehoshaphat dressed in his normal kingly attire, and not knowing that Ahab and Jehoshaphat were in partnership, assumed that Jehoshaphat was Ahab and went full steam ahead. Jehoshaphat quickly recognized that he was being specially targeted and fled in fear, crying out in terror. His participation in the battle was foolish and pointless. He was quickly chased away and in a manner that was humbling and embarrassing. When God’s people feel they can partner with those who deny the Lord in hopes to provide a good and favorable result, they will at some point find shame and embarrassment when darkness proves that it has no concern for the desires of light.
The scriptures testify that the Syrians quickly realized that Jehoshaphat was not Ahab. Therefore, they drew back and changed their course. At the same time, the scriptures testify that an archer shot an arrow “at random” and happened to hit Ahab in a place that proved to be fatal. The language of the Bible is important to consider as it describes the manner in which Ahab died. First, the scriptures show that, while Ahab was targeted, it was an archer that was not aiming for the target that ultimately hit the target. Thus, no man would be able to glory in the death of Ahab. No man would be able to boast in their power to take Ahab down. With Ahab in disguise, the archer didn’t even know who he had hit. Secondly, the scriptures state that the arrow was shot “randomly.” This shows that while the archer shot an arrow at his enemy, he didn’t do so with any specific purpose, and yet the arrow hit the target that God desired with great precision! The Bible explains that, though Ahab was disguised and wearing armor, the arrow of a random archer that wasn’t even aiming found a way to puncture through a gap in Ahab’s armor to deliver a wound that ended up being fatal. That which seems accidental and random to mankind proves to be more proof and evidence of God’s sovereign control.
Recall that the scriptures declared God’s judgment upon Ahab in this battle. Though the archer shot his arrow “randomly,” the results of that arrow show that nothing about the circumstances was random. Ahab did not die by chance. God does not predict chance. God makes declarations and exercises His supreme control to fulfill His promises; and clearly His judgments are equal as promises as His blessings. The archer was a no-named man that shot without cause so that God could be recognized as the Judge, and so that God would be the Author of justice against the wicked. The arrow was shot “at random,” but it was able to find a gap in the Ahab’s armor because God guided that arrow through the air with great accuracy. No matter Ahab’s attempts to escape God’s declaration, God’s Word was fulfilled. No matter how ignorant the enemy was of Ahab’s plans, God knew everything. Though the Syrians were targeting the right man, they failed and put their efforts in a pursuit that resulted in nothing. Meanwhile, God knew exactly where Ahab was, what he was doing, and how to take him down. There is nothing that any person can do to escape the sovereign control of the Lord God Almighty!
When Ahab realized that he had been shot, he told his chariot driver to take him away. Ahab then bled to death in his chariot. When the children of Israel heard about the fate of Ahab and knew that Jehoshaphat had fled, they all fled as well. The victory that the false prophets assured Ahab did not come. The judgment of God was executed to perfection. In fact, the manner in which Ahab died was also a fulfillment of prophecy. The scriptures testify that when Ahab’s dead body was removed from his chariot, the harlots of Samaria went out to clean the chariot that Ahab bled out and died in. While they cleaned his chariot, the Bible explains that the dogs of the neighborhood came by and licked up the blood of Ahab out of the chariot just as God has prophesied when God declared judgment against Ahab for the death of Naboth in 1 Kings 21:19. Ahab was eventually buried in Samaria, and God’s purging of Ahab from Israel was complete. Though God had not yet completed all of his judgments against the household of Ahab, the testimony of his death shows that God’s Word was going to be fulfilled no matter what any person thought they could do against it. When God says it, it is best to believe that it WILL come to pass whether we desire it or not.
The sovereignty of God is an INCREDIBLE thing to study in the scriptures. The extent of God’s supreme control over ALL things in the heavens and the earth is a powerful dynamic that qualifies God to do every single thing that He’s promised – both in judgment and in blessing. For example, the Bible teaches that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. How can a house that is divided be successful to accomplish a singular purpose? The Lord Jesus posed this question to prove the point of His own power and sovereignty. In Matthew Chapter 12, the Bible explains that Jesus cast out a demon from a person and enabled the man to be fully restored with speech and sight. The people marveled but the Jewish religious leaders accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan. Jesus explained the absence of logic in such an accusation. If Satan’s objective is to steal, kill, and destroy, why then would he command and enable one of his own to set someone free from bondage unto a restored quality of life? How does this work support the efforts of the devil’s objective? Thus, if the devil works against himself in this way, he cannot succeed. With this point in mind, consider this thought: What if God’s power was so great that He could force the devil to work contrary to his own evil purposes to disintegrate his plans? Wouldn’t that be an exceptional and extraordinary about of power and control?
The scriptures state that God is not only able to do this very thing, but the scriptures actually document God’s sovereignty being exercised in this exact manner in history through the testimony of Ahab. In 1 Kings 22:17-28 the Bible explains that Ahab and Jehoshaphat sought to go to battle against the Syrians. Ahab had summoned his own false prophets to inquire of his false gods as to the outcome of his desire. The false prophets encouraged Ahab and Jehoshaphat to partner, assuring them that they would have total victory against the Syrians. Jehoshaphat, having had a relationship with the Lord, asked Ahab if there was a prophet of God that could be inquired of. Ahab confessed that there was a man named Micaiah, but Ahab was reluctant to call him on account of the “bad news” that Micaiah always had for Ahab. This shows that, for those who desire to do their own will and rebel against the Lord, the Lord does not offer promising words of hope and encouragement until a change of course is orchestrated unto repentance.
Ahab gave into Jehoshaphat’s desire and called Micaiah. When Micaiah arrived, the Bible states that Ahab’s servants strongly encouraged Micaiah to simply agree with the words of the false prophets. Since the flattering words of the false prophets made Ahab happy, the servants of Ahab encouraged Micaiah to lie simply to keep Ahab happy, regardless of the truth. Micaiah swore that he would only speak the truth of God. Hence, when he was actually brought before Ahab, Micaiah spoke the word of the Lord concerning the battle against Syria. He at first made it seem as if God’s Word agreed with the false prophets of Ahab. Micaiah also encouraged Ahab and Jehoshaphat to go fight and that the Lord would provide victory. However, not being accustomed to Micaiah agreeing with him, Ahab sensed that there was more to the story. Whether victory would come was no longer the concern of Ahab. Ahab wanted to know what the cost of that victory would be, and sensed that Micaiah knew that the victory would be costly, specifically to Ahab.
In the testimony of 1 Kings 22:17-28, the Bible explains that Micaiah opened up to provide all of the information that God had revealed concerning this battle. Micaiah testified that God showed him a vision of these circumstances. First, that Israel appeared like a flock of sheep scattered across the mountains. Ahab immediately knew what Micaiah was referring to. Ahab leaned over to Jehoshaphat and proclaimed that he was right about Micaiah not ever having good news for Ahab. Ahab got the sense that Micaiah’s vision of Israel was a slight against him and his failing leadership. Ahab was accurate in his assumption. Israel was indeed scattered, not having a spiritual leader to shepherd them according to the ways of God’s righteousness like King David. In that the people were scattered on “the mountains” shows that the children of Israel were scattered and lost because of their position in “high places.” It was the worship of false gods and idols that Ahab encouraged that caused the children of Israel in the north to be in such a position. This is what the Lord revealed to Micaiah. This is what Ahab interpreted correctly.
Additionally, Micaiah said that the Lord showed him another vision about how the battle would affect Ahab. He said that Ahab would be judged in the battle, and he would be killed. Israel would win, but Ahab would die. The means by which this vision came speaks of INCREDIBLE power and control of God. Micaiah said that in his vision, he saw “all of the hosts of heaven” standing by the Lord’s throne on His right and left. This is important to identify. First, the mention of “heavens” doesn’t necessarily refer to God’s eternal kingdom, although Micaiah did see the “hosts of heaven” standing by the throne of God. Rather, in that “all the hosts” of heaven were standing before God shows that God has supreme control over all spiritual beings. The word “hosts” refers to armies. God has all armies standing before Him in the spiritual realms. They ALL submit to His Word and His will. They ALL stand before Him in submission to His objective, despite their desires. Thus, it is not just that God’s angelic servants stand before Him in the spiritual realm, but also demonic entities that seek to rebel against Him. Whether they are for God or against Him, they all stand before Him in submission to His purposes.
The scriptures proclaim that God asked a question about Ahab as they all stood at attention to Him. He asked, “Who will persuade Ahab to go, that he may fall at Ramoth Gildead?” God was looking for a spiritual entity to leverage for His judgment against Ahab. God was going to use the battle that Ahab desired to fight to judge Ahab. However, God wanted to ensure that Ahab felt confident in his desire to win so that he would engage in the battle with enthusiasm, only to be destroyed by his own foolishness. This shows that the ideas that people have, either for good or for evil, can be inspired or encouraged by spiritual entities doing God’s work. The Bible explains that one particular “spirit” volunteered to do the job. This “spirit” cannot be assumed to be an angel in favor of God’s will to bless Israel since the means by which the “spirit” stated it would engage Ahab does not match the patters of God’s righteous works. The “spirit” is better to be considered a demonic entity; and since God had “all the hosts” of the spirit realm standing before Him, God has access to every facet of life to use for His purposes.
The spirit approached God and said that he would lie to the prophets of Ahab. This spirit said that he would influence the false prophets of Baal to be in agreement with one another that total victory would be the result of the battle. This demonic spirit would continue to speak lies to the evil false prophets to use evil against itself. Here is where God’s sovereign control is explained in an amazing way. The Lord Jesus taught that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. However, God was able to leverage a demonic spirit to cause the demise of one of Satan’s own tools. Consider that Israel – God’s children in the north – were scattered because of the wicked leadership of Ahab and Jezebel. It would seem that the devil was successfully using those two people to destroy the people of God. Yet, the testimony of 1 Kings 22:17-28 explains that God would use a demonic spirit to cause the destruction of a tool that Satan was using against God’s people. As all the armies of the spirit realm stood in submission before God, the Lord God Almighty used a tool of the devil to inspire the destruction of another tool of the devil! God was causing division from within Satan’s own camp, thereby showing that his kingdom CANNOT STAND! God is in charge of both the righteous AND the wicked; and this testimony shows that God’s power is so great that He is able to cause division among the wicked so that they tear themselves apart, thereby leaving God’s righteous intact!
As Micaiah proclaimed these truths, Ahab was stunned. He could not believe his ears and refused to accept Micaiah’s truth. One of the prophets of Baal that stood by also was offended. He went up to Micaiah and slapped him in the face while mocking Micaiah. Micaiah simply responded that his words were true and that the outcome of the events coming would prove his words to be the prophetic words of the Lord God Almighty. Ahab then had Micaiah thrown into prison and tortured. While Micaiah was faithful to speak God’s word, it came with its fair share of cost and difficulty. Nevertheless, Micaiah trusted in the Lord God Almighty that is able to control the armies of the heavens to meet his needs rather than fear the evil works of those on the earth. If God is able to control the devil and foil his plans by making them self-destructive, Micaiah trusted that the devil’s kingdom would not stand. If the devil’s kingdom would not remain, neither would Ahab’s. God’s will would be done and His promises to His faithful WILL be fulfilled. Thus, Micaiah was willing to endure whatever difficulty his service called him to, trusting in the eternal outcome of God’s sovereign hand.
The scriptures are candid to warn people about a very dangerous problem that is natural to all human beings. People will often go extreme measures just to find words they like to hear, that agree with their personal and selfish ambitions, even when they know those words are wrong and are lies. This is not a matter of presumptuous proclamation, but a statement of truth that even the Lord Jesus made. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in John Chapter 3, He explained this truth about the nature of the world:
"And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”
Plain and simple, Jesus explained that people love darkness more than the light. People do evil things by nature, and will seek out lies that promote their personal evil in order to keep their evil from being exposed. According to the Bible EVERY human being has this problem as a natural tendency. This is why the world is in desperate need of a Savior! That said, it is important for people to recognize when we are acting out according to natural habit in which we pursue lies and surround ourselves with things we want to hear, that deep down we know are wrong, ultimately leading us into destruction. If God’s people are not aware of this habit, then God’s people are in great risk of great danger and in store for great shame.
The testimony of King Ahab proves this principle to be true. In 1 Kings 22:13-16 the Bible explains that he and King Jehoshaphat listed to Ahab’s false prophets speak hyped up words about going to battle with Syria while they waited for the true prophet of God to arrive. Rather than shut the mouths of these men, Ahab and Jehoshaphat let the false prophets speak falsely because their words sounded good to the flesh, even though they were false. In fact, when Micaiah, the true prophet of God arrived, he was instructed to simply speak in agreement with the other false prophets. Yes, the court of the king “encouraged” the prophet of the Lord to speak lies just because the king liked hearing them. Micaiah was tempted to simply be in agreement with false men in order to please another person of authority.
This was a great challenge for Micaiah. It would have been easy to simply agree with the sentiment that Ahab would succeed against the Syrians without problem and that Ahab would get everything he ever wanted if he just put his mind to it and linked up with the right people. This likely would have been good for Micaiah’s ministry since he would have been in good standing with both Ahab and Jehoshaphat. This likely would have been good for the people to go into battle fully encouraged and confident, believing that the Lord God Almighty was on their side just because they felt entitled to a certain possession. However, Micaiah knew better and responded according to the Lord, not the wicked desires and traditions of men. When the servants of Ahab told Micaiah to just say words that would please the king, the prophet responded in this way:
“As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, that I will speak.”
This is a PROFOUND statement to make under such pressure. How different would our churches be if it’s leaders were disciplined to follow this statement rather than seek to please others? How different would our communities be if people simply spoke the truth of the Lord without selfish ambition? How different would our country be if our leadership was influenced by the real truth of the Word of God rather than flattering words that appease selfish ambition? It is important to recognize that this is the standard by which EVERY one of God’s children/servant should live by. This does not give God’s people free reign to deliver their own brands of truth in offensive ways just to bring other people down. That was not Micaiah’s intent. Instead, Micaiah was committed to doing what God wanted, rather than that which was easy or popular. Micaiah was committed to doing the will of the Lord, regardless of what it meant to his personal affairs. Micaiah was not interested in “telling people how it is,” but instead being an instrument of light unto the glory of the Lord. Thus, when Micaiah approached Ahab and Jehoshaphat, he opened his mouth to give the whole truth that God had revealed to him, and did so with boldness and humility.
It is terrifying to examine Ahab’s response to the presence of Micaiah. When Micaiah first addressed the kings, they asked him if the Lord wanted them to go fight the Syrians at Ramoth Gilead. The scriptures show that Micaiah stated what seemed to be in agreement with the false prophets that went before him. Like those false prophets, Micaiah stated that Ahab and Jehoshaphat should go out and fight and prosper, for the Lord would deliver the land into the hands of the king. This statement seems like Micaiah fell into the temptation to lie like the others. This statement makes it seem like Micaiah lost his nerve and was overcome by the pressure to speak flattery to the kings. However, Ahab’s response to Micaiah shows that this was not the case at all. Ahab knew that there was more to the story. Ahab knew that Micaiah had more to say. Whether God wanted Israel to go fight or not did not seem to be Ahab’s chief concern. Ahab was now interested to know how the battle would affect him personally. Recall that Ahab had grown accustomed to hearing harsh words from Micaiah, and to it was unusual to hear Micaiah speak without those harsh words. Ahab knew there was more to the story and so demanded Micaiah to speak the full truth that God revealed.
This is important to recognize. After Micaiah spoke the first time, Ahab immediately told him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” In other words, Ahab perceived that Micaiah had more to say. Though Micaiah had said words that agreed with the words of the false prophet that sounded good to Ahab’s flesh, Ahab had a sense that there was more. This means that Ahab always had a sense that there was more than what the false prophets were speaking. Though Ahab loved the flattery of the false prophets, he kept them around and told them to speak because he liked what they said, not because he knew they were true. Ahab’s response to Micaiah shows that Ahab always felt that there were details missing that told the whole store of truth, but he didn’t want to hear truth. Now that truth was standing before him, Ahab was compelled to ask for the whole truth.
Ahab knew the battle against the Syrians would be more complex than what the false prophets were stating. Deep down, Ahab knew that the false prophets were lying and did not have access to the full truth; much like Nebuchadnezzar who had his prophets and astrologers around him, even though he knew they could not perform the services that he needed them to when interpreting his dreams. Why did these two kings keep people around them, knowing that they only used flattering words to encourage their personal desires? The scriptures show that with both Ahab and Nebuchadnezzar, there comes a time where flattery is not sufficient to satisfy the soul and truth must be sought. Deep down, Ahab knew what the truth meant, which is likely why he didn’t want to hear it and was compelled to keep the words of liars close by.
When living according to the flesh, it is not “encouraging” to hear the words of repentance and coming judgment for continued rebellion. People don’t like hearing that they cannot have what they want, cannot do what they want, that they are not in control, and that bad or uncomfortable things will happen. The testimony of Ahab shows the extent many people are willing to go to deny the truth by covering up the truth with the words of liars who just say things that they desire to hear. This did not work out well for Ahab, Nebuchadnezzar, the Jewish religious leaders that opposed Jesus, or anyone else in history. Recall that Jesus taught Nicodemus that “this is the condemnation!” To love darkness more than the light, enabling evil deeds of selfishness and self-righteousness by keeping flattering and lying words close by, will result in condemnation without swift and meaningful humility in repentance. No matter the extent of “encouraging words” that Ahab kept around, his fate was sealed by the One True Living God, whether he wanted to accept that as true or not.
It is one thing to profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and another thing to do what He says to demonstrate and validate that faith as true. The scriptures explain that the demons believe as shutter at the authority and presence of Jesus, as was exemplified by the testimony of Legion in the Gospels. However, the demons don’t submit to the authority of Christ to be instruments of His righteousness. Even though they are ultimately governed by the Lord and restricted by the parameters of His authority, they seek to steal, kill, and destroy, not lead to Jesus unto eternal life. Hence, like the Apostle James wrote, faith without works is indeed dead. Jesus plainly stated that if we love Him, which is fulfillment of the greatest command, then we will do what He says. Understanding this truth, it is critical for the people of God to pursue God’s will, know God’s will, understand God’s will, and then submit to God’s’ will by seeking His power to obey.
When considering the norm of human nature, this principle is even more important to understand. History shows that people have a tendency to “seek God” to “confirm His will” concerning personal desire. In other words, people will often make up their minds about a particular thing, then approach the scriptures or “prayer” find something that essentially gives permission to go in that direction. This approach does not consider the will of God, but merely hopes that God will agree with human will. This approach never resolves in anything good, since the natural heart doesn’t desire the things of God. Hence, this approach can create a lot of trouble and headache for the people of God.
An example of this reality can be found in the testimony of Jehoshaphat’s treaty with King Ahab. In 1 Kings 22:1-12 the Bible explains that Ahab reached out to Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, to help him achieve another fleshly desire that he had. The scriptures explained that Israel was at peace with Syria for three years on account of the treaty that Ahab made with Ben-Hadad. It was in that third year that Jehoshaphat went up to see Ahab and visit him at which point Ahab sought to convince Jehoshaphat to partner with him in his desire. Ahab sought to convince Jehoshaphat that if they were to partner, they could take one of the chief cities of the Syrians, Ramoth Gilead. In the mind of Jehoshaphat, Ahab’s proposition sounded reasonable. If the army of Israel was bigger, the victory would be assured, and the brothers of Judah could live in peace without future threats. This seemed good in the mind of Jehoshaphat and so without inquiring of the Lord, he agreed to partner with Ahab.
The scriptures testify that Jehoshaphat committed himself to Ahab and promised to give his resources to Ahab’s cause. Though Ahab was wicked and judgment against Ahab had been declared twice against him from the Lord, Jehoshaphat agreed to join up with him. Jehoshaphat did not consider the truth that bad company corrupts good morals. Jehoshaphat did not take into consideration that the people of God should not be unequally yoked with non-believers. Though Ahab had humbled himself before the Lord one time, he was by no means a repentant heir of God’s promises. Nevertheless, Jehoshaphat ignored all of these truths and gave his word to go with Ahab into battle against the Syrians.
After giving his word, Jehoshaphat asked Ahab if there was a prophet of God to inquire of to make sure the Lord’s will was being done. While Jehoshaphat’s request seemed noble and good, the true measure of nobility and goodness would have been seen if Jehoshaphat would have sought the prophet of the Lord BEFORE making his decision to join up with evil men. Jehoshaphat fell into the trap of human reason. He desired to seek God only to validate a decision he was already determined to make. If Jehoshaphat was really seeking God’s will, he would have remained silent until God spoke, and then realized that his connection to Ahab was wrong. Jehoshaphat had made up his mind in the same manner that Ahab had made up his mind. It is no surprise that Ahab did not seek the Lord for confirmation to attack the Syrians. Ahab was a Godless man. However, the scriptures testify of Jehoshaphat being a different man. He had great affection for the Lord, but here is caught slipping into the influence of the enemy’s trap. The ideas of wicked men seemed reasonable to his heart, but the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Thus, it was critical that Jehoshaphat inquire of the Lord first, to confirm whether his heart was truly in line with God’s will or not, before committing himself and the army of Judah to a wicked cause.
The scriptures state that Ahab sought to appease Jehoshaphat. When Jehoshaphat asked for a prophet of the Lord, Ahab brought four hundred prophets, but not of the Lord. Every prophet came in and gave the kings a solid pep talk, assuring them that battle against the Syrians would be successful. The prophets encouraged both kings to go fight. However, Jehoshaphat recognized that these men were not prophets of God. They might have declared themselves to be prophets, but their declarations were false. They boasted of guaranteed victory, but God had not spoken to these man, so that the true outcome of the battle was not declared. Jehoshaphat asked Ahab again if there were any “prophets of the Lord” in the area. Ahab confessed that there remained one man named Micaiah that was faithful to the One True Living God. However, Ahab was reluctant to call upon him since Micaiah had previously declared only “bad news” to Ahab. It is no surprise that a true man of God was bold to declare the truth to a wicked man, at which point the wicked man interpreted truth as “bad news.” Though Ahab was reluctant at first, Jehoshaphat pushed for Ahab to call him, at which point Ahab made such efforts.
While the kings waited for Micaiah, Ahab allowed his false prophets to continue to speak to them. Unfortunately, Jehoshaphat remained and continued to listen. He remained in the environment that encouraged his initial desire, not God’s will. Jehoshaphat should have either told Ahab to have those false prophets be quiet and leave, or leave himself. The scriptures explain that the people of God should be “simple concerning evil,” meaning that we don’t need to know the ways and plans of darkness. It is best that God’s people remain ignorant of those things, lest we be influenced without our knowing. This is what happened in the case of Jehoshaphat. As he compromised and allowed the words of liars to enter into his ears, his personal will was confirmed without the Lord truly addressing the people once. Clearly the Bible shows that humans have a habit of being comfortable among those who agree with personal desire – not necessarily with those who agree with the Lord. Jehoshaphat remained with those who thought like he did, even though his thoughts were not of the Lord. Jehoshaphat was okay being surrounded by people who told lies, so long as those lies were in agreement with his personal purposes. Though Jehoshaphat waited for Micaiah the prophet to hear the Word of God, it is difficult to conform to the will of God when one spends so much time and energy investing into one’s personal decision before inquiring of God. Hence, Jehoshaphat ended up making life much more difficult than it had to be. All of God’s children should be warned.