I’ve been reading the story of the nations of Israel and Judah (originally one nation — Israel but split by civil war). The narrative initially tracks Israel more closely — who never truly follow God. God should be angry, but is he? There is an enemy, what does he want? Here are two quick thoughts from 1 Kings 20.
1. Is God Angry? Not if Covenant Matters.
If you listen to enough people talk about the bible, you’ll soon hear statements about the “angry” God of the Old Testament. This God is different than the God we find in the New Testament. The Old Testament God demands justice. He destroys without mercy. He is stiff and unforgiving.
In this passage and up to this point, Israel is anything but God-fearing. Leading up to this chapter, the prophet Elijah just had a showdown with the prophets of the false-god Baal on Mount Carmel. Elijah wins the day, but nothing much changes in Israel. It’s status quo: God is out…evil is in.
If God has reason to be angry, this is it. So, this passage may leave you a bit confused. Why is God coming to the rescue of the wicked king Ahab and the ungrateful nation of Israel? Not only does God rescue Israel (twice!), but God does it unprovoked. No one asks for His help!
The picture of God in 1 Kings 20 is One whose covenant is committed to His people, and He stands by them even when they wander from Him. We see a God passionate about His people. You also see a God who longs to see His people connected to Himself. Finally, we see a God who wants His people to prosper.
That God is your God. He wants the same for you. Covenant matters to God, and He longs to enter into covenant with you.
2. Your Enemy is Insatiable.
This story isn’t just about God and His covenant with his people. It’s also about enemies. We too have an enemy, so what can we learn?
Ben-Hadad is the enemy of Ahab. Ben-Hadad doesn’t just dislike Israel, but he is a powerful foe. As such, he demands a tribute from Ahab. In order to keep the peace, Ahab agrees to Ben-Hadad’s demand. It wasn’t enough.
Ben-Hadad returns for more.
You have an enemy like Ben-Hadad. He will initially make a reasonable request for “peace”. Peace may come in the form of a drink or a hit. Drink might be a relationship or a career. However, peace never comes, and once Satan has an agreement in hand, he asks for more.
No, Satan demands more.
So don’t give in. If you give an inch, and you will hike a mile.
Stand strong. Be courageous. Say no.
Our enemy won’t stop until our lives are stolen, dead and destroyed.
Those are my thoughts from I Kings 20. What are your thoughts?