The enemy's going to come back. He's not satisfied. Yeah, you beat him, but he still thinks he can take you. He lost the battle. He's going to win the war.
That's how he's thinking, and you need to be ready. Jesus, when he was tempted in the wilderness, Luke adds this note, Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time, and that's a tactic of the enemy. He gets pushed back. He regroups.
He doesn't quit, ever. This is Cross Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher, Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the Book of 1 Kings.
Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. And now here's Pastor Rick with his continuing message called Botched Victory in 1 Kings chapter 20. Verse 12, and it happened when Ben-Hadad heard this message as he and the kings were drinking at the command post that he said to his servants, get ready, and they got ready to attack the city. Well, he's enraged, of course. A guy comes back to him like, no, no, you can take a hike.
You can't take this stuff. So he's enraged, and he uses this actually where it says get ready. It's a single word in the Hebrew, just like action.
So everybody jumps into war gear now. How many young men will die because of this foolish, wicked king Ben-Hadad? Verse 13, suddenly a prophet approached Ahab, king of Israel, saying, Thus says Yahweh, Have you seen all this great multitude?
Behold, I will deliver it into your hand today, and you shall know that I am Yahweh. Well, this is why it's in the Bible. This is why the story is in the Bible. Otherwise, it's just a war story, and there's no end to those. God is trying to get Ahab to trust him, to believe him, and he is using what the most dramatic experience in the human existence in this life is war, combat. Is there anything worse than that?
Just how many, you know, on the scale, the horror, the misery it leaves behind. Well, anyway, the prophet shows up. He's not named, reminding us that there were other prophets in Israel than Elijah, saying, Thus says the Lord, and his message is straight from God, and he's saying, Yeah, you're greatly outnumbered.
You're not, you have no chance. That's why you were capitulating so quickly, but I'm going to give you the victory, and so God reaching out to the king and the kingdom to turn from their idols, this is why the victory is going to be given to him twice. He's going to fight the Assyrians twice and beat them both times. He and the people will botch the victories because they will not surrender to Yahweh, and this epitomizes the worldly man, Mr. Worldly Wise, who's just determined to live his way and not really care about what God is doing, and even benefit from the goodness and kindness of God.
This is common. Verse 14, So Ahab said, By whom? He's answering the prophet.
How are we going to get this victory? He says, Behold, I will deliver you into the hand today, and you shall know that I am Yahweh. So Ahab said, Verse 14, By whom? And he said, Thus says Yahweh, By the young leaders of the provinces, sahab. And he said, Thus says the Lord, By the young leaders of the provinces. Then he said, Who will set the battle in order? And he answered you. So I talk about botched up victories, botched up verse, because I get excited.
There's so much, you know, going on here. Ahab said to the prophet, By whom? And the prophet said, Thus says Yahweh, By the young leaders of the provinces. Then he said, Ahab, Who will set the battle in order? And the prophet answered you.
Ahab is a bad man given a good opportunity to turn his life around. Here's another good thing to preach to somebody. You find people, knuckleheads like this, can't you see God working in your life? It's just so hard for them.
They won't give you a chance to say these things so many times. We want God to instantly defeat our foe. Yet there are times God wants us to take command of the battlefield. He'll give us the outline and we've got to go execute it.
That's what's going on here. This is a profound little piece of scripture. It shows up in Acts chapter 4 when the apostles entering into persecution prayed, Now, Lord, look on their threats and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word, that we will set the battle in order. Who will set the battle in order? The apostles said we will because they had that from the Lord to go out into the world and preach the gospel. So I like that. God tells him you're going to get these young leaders involved. We'll get to those in a moment.
Then you will command the battle. Verse 15, Then he mustered the young leaders of the provinces and there were two hundred and thirty-two. And after them he mustered all the people, all the children of Israel, seven thousand. Now it's difficult to identify just who these guys are. They're young, they're in the provinces, they're leaders or people of notoriety. I think they are elite troops because that's how they behave in this story.
I don't think they're princes with their long robes and they've got the high life and they never get their hands dirty or anything like that. So what we have here is Israel has a brigade-sized army, but Syria has an army group. So there's like seven thousand men next to a hundred thousand. Those are the numbers we're working with. So how can the seven thousand win? Two hundred guys?
That's a rifle company. What are they going to do? Well, verse 16, So they went out at noon. Meanwhile, Ben-Hadad and the thirty-two kings helping him were getting drunk at the command post. Now that's leadership. Verse 17, The young leaders of the provinces went out first.
Well, let's just read it. Verse 17, And Ben-Hadad sent out a patrol and they told him, saying, Men are coming out of Samaria. So here these young leaders, these two hundred and thirty-two Hebrews are coming out. Ben-Hadad had his patrols out. That's what you do.
You set your perimeter. You put patrols out. You look for skirmishes to see how the other side, how much force they can get to the battle to kind of feel everybody out. And so they report back to him about these two hundred young men coming out. Verse 18, So he said, If they have come out for peace, take them alive. And if they have come out for war, take them alive. So his orders are, Well, if they're looking to surrender, don't kill them.
But if they want to fight, try to capture them so we can interrogate them and find out what's going on. Verse 19, Then these young leaders of the provinces went out of the city with the army which followed. These are the Hebrews.
The seven thousand are following. Verse 20, And each one killed his man, so the Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them. And Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria, escaped on a horse with the cavalry. Verse 21, Then the king of Israel went out and attacked the horses and chariots and killed the Syrians with a great slaughter.
Again, that's a hilly area, and they didn't have just the room they want. The next time they come to war, they're going to factor that in, and we're going to fight them in the valley next time. Anyway, that elite unit, as I see him, 232 with the seven thousand following, deliver an upset victory because God had ordained it.
You would hope that Ahab would see it. Verse 22, And the prophet came to the king of Israel and said to him, Go strengthen yourself, take note, and see what you should do, for in the spring of the year the king of Syria will come up against you. The enemy's going to come back. He's not satisfied. Yeah, you beat him, but he still thinks he can take you. He lost the battle. He's going to win the war.
That's how he's thinking, and you need to be ready. Jesus, when he was tempted in the wilderness, Luke adds this note, Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. And that's a tactic of the enemy. He gets pushed back. He regroups.
He doesn't quit, ever. We go through this life with body armor. We sleep with body armor. We wake up with body armor.
The Christian, hopefully always ready, and I know it's hard, and the Lord sustains us. The springtime was the time of year that typically armies went to war. Well, because the provisions would be there. They could live off the land.
They could feed the livestock better. It just wasn't rainy, and chariots couldn't get bogged down, supply wagons. There's a reason why they went to war.
We'll come back to that. Verse 23, Then the servants of the king of Syria said to him, Their gods are the gods of the hills. Therefore, they were stronger than we, but if we fight against them in the plain, surely we will be stronger than they. Well, his advisors came up with an explanation why such a large army was defeated by such a small army.
It didn't take much. Once you get them in retreat, I mean, they just panic and drop their weapons and flee, and that's what happened to these Syrians. So they spin it and say, you know what?
We're going to beat them this time. We'll choose a different battlefield that's flat ground. A widespread superstition, as we've covered before through the kings, was that the gods were localized, deities were localized. We had the god of the ocean, you know.
You see this in Greek mythology, Neptune, and then you have this one over here. That thought is a pagan man just making up things about God rather than receiving things from God, about God. And so by that definition, we know that if a god is localized, if he's only the god of the valley, then he's not god at all. Our god is, of course, everywhere. The psalmist was saying in Psalm 139, Where can I go from your spirit or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there.
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uppermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me. This was unlike the pagan gods. So when the Jews said the living god, not the statue that is dead.
Our god is alive and he is ubiquitous and he is omniscient. And even the Greek and Roman gods were not this way. They had more power than humans, more jealousy and rage and hatred and pettiness also. This is what they were up against.
Verse 24, So do this thing. This is their advisors to King Ben-Hadad. Dismiss the kings from his position, each from his position, and put captains in their places. Now it appears that these chieftains really weren't military men.
They were just tribal chieftains who oversaw the government and their groups. And the suggestion seems to be put military commanders over them. Verse 25, And you shall muster an army like the army that you have lost.
Well, that had to sting just hearing that. Horse for horse and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain. Surely we will be stronger than they.
And he listened to their voice and did so. Verse 26, So it was in the spring of the year that Ben-Hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphex to fight against Israel. Well, it's war season everybody.
We've been getting ready for this all winter long. Ecclesiastes 3, A time to love, a time to hate, a time for war, a time of peace. Verse 27, And the children of Israel were mustered and given provisions and they went against them. Now the children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats while the Syrians filled the countryside. So there's that size disparity between the two armies.
It's highlighted, so God's going to get the credit. They're getting their wish. They're in the valley now. Their chariots will be able to be unleashed. You know, it's sort of like you can't, tanks don't work well in the jungle.
Not as well as they do in an open field. Well, the chariots were their mechanized army of the day. Verse 28, Then a man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel and said, Thus says Yahweh, because the Syrians have said, Yahweh is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys.
Therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand and you shall know that I am Yahweh. So this is repeated. It's probably the same prophet. The historians seem not to have been sure, so they just omit some of the details.
That seems to be what's happening. Didn't David defeat the giant in the valley of Elah? So they didn't know their war history. Had they known their history, they would have known it was the God of the Jews could kill you in the valley too. Again, probably the same prophet. Now this, you know, each nation having their own god or gods. When you left the land, your god stayed behind and now the other god took over the territory. It's sort of like, you know, now entering, you know, Hanover County.
Now entering Bowels County, you know, that kind of thinking. And this is probably behind King Hyrum of Tyre and the Queen of Sheba when they came and they were just praising Yahweh for the blessings on David and Solomon. There's possibility that they did not mean Yahweh is God, there is no other, but that, well, this is where your God is and he's blessed you. I like to think that they were really moved towards Yahweh, but we'll find out when we get to heaven.
Won't be my first stop when I get there though. Maybe about three or four thousand years, verse 29. And they encamped opposite each other for seven days, so it was that on the seventh day, the battle was joined and the children of Israel killed 100,000 foot soldiers of the Syrians in one day. Now, you look at these numbers and they're not to me surprising. I mean, when Napoleon invaded Russia, he had half a million men with him. That was in 1812. The Battle of the Somme, which is in France, 106 years ago, 1916, on that single day, the first day of battle, over 70,000 casualties, 60,000 of them British troops.
Just one of the greatest loss ever. But now, of course, that's machine guns and so on. Well, you also had first aid. You had, you know, field medics and hospitals and doctors saving lives, even though there were many of them mangled. And they only got six miles in the fight. What a loss for not butchering. Anyway, this number, 100,000. Well, you know, when you get sliced with a sword, especially in the back, chances of you surviving aren't too good.
And that's what we have here, a day of butchering. Verse 30, but the rest fled to affect into the city. Then a wall fell on 27,000 of the men who were left, and Ben-Hadad fled and went into the city into an inner chamber. Well, I'm not one to try to, I hope I'm not, excuse the large numbers in the scripture.
Sometimes there are discrepancies without contradictions, believe it or not. And, for example, here, 27,000 men. How do you get a wall to fall on them and kill them? Well, what if it's a stadium-like structure? I mean, a modern Yankee stadium holds, what, 54,000 people a little over that? So you get half the size of a stadium. And what if it's, you know, poor construction, you know, actually they didn't take the core samples and stuff. They didn't go through the proper steps.
Did you get a work permit for this? Anyhow, it's not, to that part I have no problem with the wall falling or the timing of it. How do you get 27,000 people in an area that tight? Well, if it's a walled city and it goes in a circle and it's a domino effect like Jericho, then, yeah, I don't have any problem, especially if it's got, you know, separate tiers to it. You know, inner chambers, which is common, common in much of the ancient wall structures.
You had chambers below the walls where people would gather. So you had troops just hanging out there, recuperating. And the wall falls on them in this earthquake. At the time, October 11, 2006, I made a note in this section of Scripture because there was a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Pakistan and it killed 79,000 people. So, you know, the infrastructure of Pakistan, at least in 2006, wasn't able to sustain such a hit like that.
Anyway, that's where we are. I have no problem believing that 27,000 troops were killed and I'm certainly not going to throw my salvation away because I think that that's a contradiction. The Bible is so true in so many areas that it demands respect and this is why it is despised and targeted because those who, the respected demands from the people that are living against it, they don't want to submit. They don't want God to be God. They don't want him to be true. They don't want his word to be his word and that doesn't make it go away. The prophecies, which is what Peter was saying, we have the martial word of prophecy. The prophecies are so sound, so many of them, that you can't ignore any of it. You can't look at that verse and say, 27,000, scoff at it and not violate reason. Reason dictates, listen, if this horse has ran 10 races and won all 10, he's probably going to win the 11th too.
That is, now of course there might be factors involved. Is he wearing sneakers? Does he have a contract now? Anyhow, verse 32. I mean the things that, verse 32. So they wore sackcloth around their waist and put ropes around their heads and came to the king of Israel and said, your servant Ben-Hadad says, please let me live and he said, is he still alive?
He is my brother. If the king of Israel is surprised that the king of Syria is still alive, that's an indicator that that catastrophe in the walled city was so severe that he didn't expect anybody to survive. But he does survive. And so that's, I think, another proof that it was literal, just as it's recorded. So coming back to verse 32, the wearing of the sackcloth around their waist and the ropes around their heads or their neck area, a symbol, they didn't have white flags.
This is how they surrendered, sent the signal that they had surrendered. And they, your servant Ben-Hadad says, please let me live. And he said, is he still alive?
He is my brother. That's important to the story because this is what's botching up the victory. 31, let's go back to verse 31. Then his servant said to him, look now.
Yes, a big verse too. Look now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Please let us put sackcloth around our waist and ropes around our heads and go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.
So there was a reputation that the people that were influenced by the God of Abraham were more merciful than the people that were influenced by homemade gods. And so they are trying to take advantage of this. Now they wouldn't give this kind of courtesy but they don't mind receiving it.
It was so typical of humanity. And then he comes and he says, please let me live. And is he alive? He is my brother.
What brother? Either he is saying that because he is a fellow king. I don't think that is it.
It is possible. Or because Abraham was Assyrian. I think that is closer to it. Either way, he is letting the rattlesnake go free in his own backyard.
That is what is going on here. God has condemned Ben-Hadad to be killed. Eventually he will be killed in his own country by his own people. But Ahab was supposed to do it. And he is not going to do it. Because he thinks he is wiser than God, more merciful than God without even processing the thought. He is just rolling that way when people do this.
They think God is just cruel and mean and they are kind and gentle. Verse 33, Now the men were watching closely to see whether any sign of mercy would come from him. And they quickly grasped at this word and said, Your brother Ben-Hadad. So he said, go bring him. Then Ben-Hadad came out to him and he had him come up into his chariot welcoming him with open arms. Your brother!
Your brother Ben-Hadad! They are saying, fucker! They know their life was hanging in the balance.
What a relief to hear this by a thread they are holding on. So he is going to take this wicked king into his limousine with him. Imagine Eisenhower doing this to Hitler or Mussolini. Or Peter doing this to Judas Iscariot. Impenitent people.
There is such a thing as an enemy. And this pithy little response of his, this pathetic little response is false pity. It produced disobedience to God's command and that is the sin. Verse 34, So Ben-Hadad said to him, The cities which my father took from your father I will restore and you may set up market places for yourself in Damascus as my father did in Samaria. Then Ahab said, I will send you away with this treaty.
So he made a treaty with him and sent him away. Thanks for joining us for today's teaching on Cross Reference Radio. This is the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia.
We trust that what you've heard today in the book of 1 Kings has had a lasting imprint on your life. If you'd like to listen to more teachings from this series or share it with someone you know, please visit CrossReferenceRadio.com. We encourage you to subscribe to our podcast, too, so you'll never miss another edition. Just visit CrossReferenceRadio.com and follow the links under radio. Again, that's CrossReferenceRadio.com. Our time with you today is about up, but we hope you'll tune in next time to continue studying the word of God. Join us again as Pastor Rick covers more in the book of 1 Kings on Cross Reference Radio.
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