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I Kings: All Things Elijah, Ahab, and Jehoshaphat (Chs. 17-22)

I took a close look at these chapters recently, so this will be a high-level brief look back at these events.

Ahab did not get off to a good start in his brief intro at the end of I Kings 16.

I Kings 17

Elijah the Tishbite
  • You may remember that Ahab sinned and sinned big, and even bigger once he married his hard-core baal worshipping wife, Jezebel.
  • In response, Elijah prophesized no dew or rain, except by his response.
  • Then the Lord told him to run and hide by a brook.
  • Ravens brought his bread and meat.
  • The brook dried up.
  • So the Lord sent him to a widow near enemy territory.
  • The widow was on her last reserves before she and her son died.
  • Because she was willing to provide for God's representative, her last remaining flour and oil miraculously did not run out.
  • The boy died; Elijah raised him from the dead.

I Kings 18

  • After three years, the Lord sent Elijah back to Ahab to bring rain.
  • The famine was severe in Samaria
  • Israel had a priest named Obadiah. He feared the Lord and hid 100 priests in a cave and provided bread and water.
  • Oh, verse 3 says he was over Ahab's household... so not a priest?
  • Ahab send Obadiah out to look for water for the animals so he wouldn't have to kill the cattle. Ahab also went looking.
  • Obadiah runs into Elijah and falls on his face before him. Elijah sends Obadiah to announce Elijah; but Obadiah balks. he thinks Elijah will disappear and Ahab will kill him.
  • So Ahab and Elijah meet. Ahab blames Elijah for the nation's trouble; but Elijah points out it is Ahab's baal worship that is causing the problems.
  • Elijah commands Ahab to bring his 450 prophets and Jezebel's 400 prophets. Elijah tells the people to choose between God and baal. The people stay quiet.
  • He sets up a challenge between Ahab's 450 prophets and himself with two slain oxen. Despite many theatrics, The baal prophets weren't able to get their god to send down fire and consume their offering (while Elijah mocked).
  • Next, Elijah called the people in closer, repaired the altar of the Lord that had been torn down, prepared an offering and added an altar of 12 stones. He had the people soak the wood with water, up to a trench full.
  • Then Elijah called to God and God reigned down fire that consumed everything, including the all of the water, stone, and altar, and offering.
  • The people were reminded who was Lord and called Him by name. Then Elijah had the people seize the 450 prophets of Ahab and slay them.
  • Then a massive rain storm came. Ahab tried to race back before his chariot would have gotten bogged down; but Elijah was about to miraculously outrun Ahab to Jezreel.

I King 19

  • Ahab went running to his wife and told her the story. Jezebel sent a note to Elijah promising that he would be slain by the next day.
  • Elijah ran for it. Leaving his servant in Beersheba, he went on into the wilderness, sat down under a tree and begged to die.
  • An The Angel of the Lord, whom I understand to be pre-incarnate Jesus, came to Elijah with food and water, then Elijah slept again and again The Angel of the Lord wok him with food and water.
  • Then, having no more food or water for 40 days, Elijah walked to Horeb, the mountain of God.
  • Elijah sat in a cave and the Lord asked, "What are you doing here?" ELijah made his complaints.
  • The Lord had Elijah stand on the mountain and send wind, earthquake,, and finally a gentle blowing wind. The Lord asks a second time what Elijah is doing there and he gives the same complaints.
  • God then sends him to Damascus (Syria) to anoint Hazael the king of Aram and Jehu over Israel and Elisha to replace Elijah.
  • Elijah recruits Elisha in as peculiar a manner as you'd expect.

I Kings 20

  • So back in Israel, it is under siege by the coalition of kings from Syria. Their King demands all of Ahab's gold, silver, beautiful wives and children and Ahab says ok. Then the king tells him they are going to search his house and take his best things and he panics, asking the elders to back him up. Suddenly we see what Ahab really values most.
  • The Lord sends a prophet to Ahab and tells him that the Lord will deliver the great multitude of Syria's army into Ahab's hands and Ahab will know that God is the on true Lord.
  • Ahab has, what appears to be, a good response for once. He asks a few logistical questions and then takes God at His prophet's word and acts. This is one more piece of evidence that I missed last time that Ahab knew who God was. He took a heck of a chance striking first in those circumstances, but he acted swiftly on the word of the Lord.
  • Because of pride and drunkenness, the King of Syria made bad choices and his men were routed and fled. He also fled on horseback.
  • The Lord warned Ahab they would be coming back and encouraged him to go prepare.
  • Ben-hadad's advisors presumed that Israel's strength from mountain god(s), and that all he needed to do was replace the horse and chariots, replace the kings with captains, and fight in the plains and their strength would win.
  • It sounds like Israel was tiny in number to the attacking army, but God did not take well to be perceived as a god of the mountains. So Israel slayed 100,000 of them and when the rest fled into a walled city, the Lord had the wall fall on them.
  • Ben-hadad's advisors now told him that Israel's kings were merciful and he should beg for his life.
  • Ahab had mercy on him and took him in and made a covenant with him, seemingly out of a brotherhood of being king. Which seemed to be the same exact mistake Saul made. Making it seem like mercy; but more like empathy for another king because you see yourself in that situation. That seems like something more selfish than mercy.
  • Then, in one of the more unique "Thus saithe the Lord" moments, a prophet has another prophet hit him to look beat up and he disguises himself to gain access to the King with a message metaphor. The prophet tells the king that he was supposed to guard a man, but he got away- so the king declares a death sentence for it. The the prophet agrees that this will be the kings sentence for letting Ben-hadad go when he should have destroyed him.
  • How sad that the Lord prepared Ahab for the battle, gave him the victory over a greater force and then supernaturally took care of the rest, but Ahab couldn't slay the king because he perceived him as a brother.

So the king of Israel went to his house sullen and vexxed, and came to Samaria.

I Kings 20:43

I Kings 21

Naboth's Vineyard

Once we get to Naboth's Vineyard we know Ahab's time is coming near to a close.

  • Naboth had a vineyard close to Ahab's summer palace that Ahab wanted to have for a vegetable garden.
  • Naboth refused him because the Lord's Law prevents selling property that had been given as an inheritance to a tribe. It wasn't really Naboth's to sell. God was the Landowner.
  • Ahab hissy-fits like a child until Jezebel promises to get the vineyard for him.
  • She sets up Naboth to be falsely accused, using Ahab's name, and Naboth ends up stoned to death. Sadly, what they had him accused of was cursing God and the king, despite Naboth specifically upholding God's Law.
  • When Ahab went to take possession of the vineyard, the Lord sent Elijah to meet him there and confront him. Letting him know that dogs would be licking up Ahab's blood from the same spot as they licked up Naboth's- which I think means out by the waste gate, since that's where stoning took place. Although I'm not sure that it would have been done the same in Samaria as Judah.
  • Ahab accuses Elijah of being his enemy and Elijah explains that Ahab has done evil and that he and all of his own will be wiped from the map- including Jezebel who will be eaten by dogs in Jezreel (where Naboth was from).
  • Elijah confirms that Ahab was doing evil because Jezebel incited him. He goes to confirm Ahab's idol worship.
  • It finally sunk in to Ahab that he crossed the line and he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and fasted.
  • The Lord saw that Ahab was humbled and postponed the sentence that he had imposed from Ahab to his son.

I Kings 22- The final chapter

  • The covenant between Ben-hadad and Ahab lasted three years.
  • Introducing Jehoshaphat. We learned in the middle of chapter 15 that when Asa, the long-reigning King of Judah, died, his son, Jehoshaphat, took over. Ahab started his reign near the end of Asa's reign.
  • So back to current time. Ahab invites Jehoshaphat to town. Ahab points out that Ben-hadad hasn't given back the cities he promised in their covenant. As a humorous side note, he makes it sound like Ben-hadad hasn't given it back "to us". Like it was going to be shared by the whole family. 🙂
  • Ahab asks Jehoshaphat to go into battle and take back a city named Ramoth-gilead. Jehoshaphat confirms his commitment to support Ahab, but asks Ahab to seek the Lord first.
  • Surprising (not surprisingly) Ahab's 400 prophets all agree that the Lord will give the victory to them. Wow. Not only do they say whatever Ahab wants to hear, but they claim what the Lord will do.
  • Jehoshaphat is less than convinced by Ahab's yes-men and asks for at least one prophet of the Lord to speak.
  • Ahab admits that

"There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. He is Miciah son of Imlah." But Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the king say so."

I Kings 22:8
  • So Ahab calls for Miciah.
  • Meanwhile Ahab's prophets continue to beclown themselves.
  • As Miciah is brought forth he is told what to prophesy and he states he'll only pass along what the living God tells him to say.
  • Ahab asks Micah whether they should take Ramoth-gilead and Miciah parrots the other prophets sarcastically. Ahab insists that he wants the "truth", so Miciah lays it on him. He describes his vision that Israel will be sheep with no shepherd...not hard to decipher.
  • Ahab whines about Miciah.
  • And Miciah starts in again with a new vision. He sees the Lord, surrounded on His left and right by all of the hosts of heaven. The Lord asks for a volunteer to entice Ahab to try and take Ramoth-gilead and fall. After some speak, one spirit comes forward and volunteers to entice him through the mouths of his prophets. And the Lord sends him.
  • Miciah even punctuates the vision with a summary of the events.
  • The lead Ahab prophet who had been beclowning himself stepped forward to strike Miciah and ask ask how the Spirit of the Lord (yes, capital S, Spirit) could have passed from him to Miciah. Miciah simply uses the test the Lord gave us all to test spirits- how does it play out in the fulness of time. Even giving the guy a sign- they will try to hide in an inner room.
  • Ahab has Miciah imprisoned "until he returns safely." Miciah agrees that's the right test of his words.
  • Despite this exchange, Jehoshaphat goes into battle with Ahab. He started off on the right foot. He wanted to hear from the Lord; but it seems he couldn't tell God's voice from the loud din of the false prophets. I'm sure I've been there a lot. Wanting to do right by God; but also wanting to please the person in front of me. Something to keep in mind.
  • Ahab immediately breaks faith with Jehoshaphat by disguising himself and sending Jehoshaphat out in royal robes...leaving the target on his back. The plan didn't work and they turned away from Jehoshaphat. Meanwhile a random arrow strikes Ahab, so he asks his driver to get him out of the fight.
  • He sat there stuck and wounded in his armor, draining blood into the chariot until he died. Then all of his sheep were scattered back to his own land.
  • The king was buried in Samaria and his blood was washed out of the chariot and licked up by the dogs.
  • Verse 39 starts the standard king's summary, but includes a comment about his house made of ivory.
  • His son, Ahaziah, rules in his place.
Jehoshaphat's Reign

Starting in verse 41 of chapter 22 is a little more info about Jehoshaphat.

  • His rule began in the 4th year of Ahab's reign.
  • He was 35 when he began his reign.
  • He reigned 25 years in Jerusalem.
  • He followed in his father's footstep, doing right.
  • However, he did not pull down the high places and people continued sacrifices there.
  • Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel.
  • Verse 45 starts the standard king summary. It does go on to note that he cleared out the sodomites that remained from his fathers days.
  • Then there was some international drama and Ahab's son tries to collaborate with Jehoshaphat; but this time, Jehoshaphat declines.
  • He dies and his son, Jehoram, takes his place.
  • More about Jehoshaphat in II Chronicles.
  • Ahaziah, Ahab's son, becomes king in Jehoshaphat's (Judah) 17th year.
  • He did evil and walked in the way of his father, his mother, and the grand-daddy of them all, Jeroboam, causing Israel to sin.
  • He served baal, provoking the Lord to anger.

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