God's going to accomplish His purposes with or without you. So God can get somebody else and that feeling is enough to drive us forward because Mordecai, Cousin Mordecai used it on Esther. Esther, you called for this day, but if you don't want to do it, God will still get it done, just without you. And that was enough for her to say, you look, okay, fine, if I die, but he's not getting somebody else over me.
That's so true. 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 in the book of 1 Kings chapter 20 with his message called Botched Victory. 106 years ago, 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 stuff. 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 Aphek 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.
The sometimes where 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, it's 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.
Your 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 versus a 27,000 and 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, you know, does he have a contract now? Anyhow, verse 32. I mean, 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's it, that's possible, or because Abraham was Assyrian.
I think that's closer to it. Either way, he's letting the rattlesnake go free in his own backyard, that's what's 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's not going to do it, because he thinks he's wiser than God, more merciful than God, without even processing the thought. He's just rolling that way.
And people do this. They think God, you know, is just cruel and mean, and they're 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 grasp 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're saying, they know their life was hanging in the balance, what a relief to hear this by a thread they're holding on. So he's 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 a 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 marketplaces for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria. And then Ahab said, I will send you away with this treaty. So he made a treaty with him and sent him away. Now he's just patting himself on the back, Ahab.
He thinks he's just a statesman, and he's spared to life, and everybody is happy. A lot of blood was spilled in Israel by this man and his father before him, the Syrians launching their raids. In fact, remember Naaman's a Syrian? And he has a prisoner that's a little young Hebrew girl. And she came out of these raids, as did others.
She was a survivor. Ahab receives the right for Israeli or Israelite. The difference between an Israeli and an Israelite is the Israelites are the Jews under the children of Abraham in Israel, under the authority of the law. An Israelite is a citizen in Israel, and they could be the the Jews or the Muslims, they could be Israelites, but they're not Hebrews.
An American can live there or, you know, someone transplants to live there. They aren't an Israelite if they become a citizen, but they're not. I mean, they're Israelis, but they're not Israelites.
This is an ethnic thing. Well, with the religion, of course, convert to Judaism, you become an Israelite, as did Rahab. Well, these cities were taken by bloodshed. That's recorded in 1 Kings 15.
We already went there. This treaty will last for three years. We know that, because in chapter 22, which would follow this chapter if they had it in the order that I said, chapter 22, verse 1, now three years passed without war between Syria and Israel.
And that's based on this treaty here. So he made a covenant again with a man whom God had devoted to destruction. Verse 35, now a certain man of the sons of the prophet said to his neighbor by the word of Yahweh, strike me, please.
And the man refused to strike him. So this prophet, not happy with what the king is doing, as you might not be happy with, you know, say you had a president, and let's just say his name was Trader Joe. You might not be happy with everything that he was doing. And if you had a chance to confront him, you would.
Well, that's what's happening here. He's confronting Trader Joe, and he's going to use an action lesson to do this. So, or I should say an action sermon to make his message stick to a head made hard by a hardened heart. Now Isaiah, in Isaiah chapter 20, he dressed like a prisoner of war for three years to make his point. Jeremiah, of course, he made a wooden yoke and an iron yoke and paraded those around in front of his audience. Ezekiel played war and ate the prisoners' rations in Ezekiel 4. Jeremiah 27, 28, if you want to go back and read those. And if you do go back and read all of that, let me know, I'll be impressed. So these lessons like this are not new. Well, those prophets all come after this event here.
So anyway, verse 36, then he said to him, the prophet speaking to Ahab, the king of Israel, because you have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh, surely as soon as you, wait a minute, I missed something here. I'm sorry, I don't know, it's such a fun chapter. I guess, you know, the challenge going through this was like, I hope I don't bore them with this. I find it all kind of exciting.
But maybe you don't. So, verse 35, now a certain man of the sons of the prophet said to his neighbor by the word of Yahweh, strike me please, and the man refused to strike him. Verse 36, then he said to him, because you have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh, surely as soon as you depart from me, a lion shall kill you.
Oh man. And as soon as he left, a lion found him and killed him. Well, it was a lawful commandment from the prophet.
And it was no nonsense time. I think there's more to the story. I think they understood, because when he goes to the second guy and says strike me, they go, boom, pops him, okay. And maybe he heard about what happened to the other guy, or maybe they just all understood when the prophet of God gave you a directive, you were to act on it. Three times, at least, we find lions being part of God's judgment. Samson gets off the easiest. Samson, of course, he was a Nazarite, took the vow, not going to touch anything from the vine, it was one of the parts of his vow from birth. And he gets attacked by a lion in a vineyard. What's he doing in the vineyard? I mean, he's snacking on the grapes, you know he is, you just know it.
At least raisins. Anyway, the lion deals with Samson there. And I think that was certainly a judgment. There was a lot more to the story, but that was part of it. Then, of course, there was the prophet and the old man at Bethel. God told him don't go eating with anybody, but he did, and the lion killed him. And then there's this one here who refused the prophet. So, words come to mind from the New Testament. Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
I tell you, that's terrifying were it not for the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Verse 37, and he found another man and said, strike me, please. So the man struck him, inflicting a wound, and he kept hitting him. No, he didn't. He got carried away.
Stop it, I said once. God's going to accomplish his purposes with or without you. So God can get somebody else, and that feeling is enough to drive us forward, because Mordecai, cousin Mordecai used it on Esther. Esther, you called for this day, but if you don't want to do it, God will still get it done, just without you. And that was enough for her to say, okay, fine, if I die, but he's not getting somebody else over me.
That's so true. Now, were I speaking at a pastors' conference, I would make this point from this Bible verse. This prophet was intentionally taking a hit to make his point. He was intentionally bringing about pain on himself to accomplish God's work. And I think nothing makes a pastor want to leave the ministry more than a broken heart, than, you know, just being attacked verbally. Physical things aren't so bad, but to just have folks say things about you that are half-baked or not true or one side of the story, you know, it can hurt after a while, until you, you know, you just learn to just deal with it with the Lord, and it's fine. But in those early years, it could be hard. Paul, he took many hits to make his message clear.
And sometimes it's what the job calls for, that you've got to take the pain. Sometimes you might find a church and, oh, they don't have a program for your teens, but the word is preached there. So what are you going to do? You know, not take the hit and go find a church where the word is not preached, but they've got programs. I would encourage any Christian to not be that way. From now on, let no one trouble me, said Paul, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. What a profound statement. I don't want to hear this mess anymore, because I've taken beatings for Christ.
You know, he's saying, who are you? Who are you to come up and challenge my ministry? Anyway, am I willing to be struck to suffer a blow in order to effectively serve the Lord? Struck for the sake of effective ministry.
That is what this picture is. This man was so devoted, he was willing to take a strike to the face to make his point where it needed to be made, and it didn't work. The king remained an unbeliever, but the prophet was faithful. And when that man Ahab stood before the Lord and hid the rap sheet against him, it was long. Verse 38, then the prophet departed and waited for the king by the road and disguised himself with a bandage over his eye. So I, you know, I don't know if it was on the eyeball or not, but it was on the face.
That's messed up. I would have told him, not the face. Punch, this is the money maker, man, punch me in the chest or something.
Here's my wrist, hit that. Then the prophet departed and waited for the king by the road and disguised himself with a bandage over his eye. If this man could strike him, then the other man that was eaten, killed by the lion, not eaten, but killed by the lion, he had no excuse. Verse 39, now as the king passed by, he cried out to the king and said, your servant went out into the midst of the battle and there a man came over and brought a man to me and said, guard this man. If by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life or else you shall pay a talent of silver. Now this is a dramatization of the prophet. He's not, it's not a lie because he's going, it's not intended to hurt.
He's making his point and the transition hasn't come yet. So verse 40, when your servant was busy here and there, he was gone. Then the king of Israel said to him, so shall your judgment be, you yourself have decided it. Ahab had one thing to do as follow the command of God to destroy Ben-Hadad and whatever army got in the way. That was the one thing he had to do. And while he did a hundred things, he neglected the one.
He played statesman, he played diplomat and all the other things. That is the meaning of the parable. He was distracted by other things.
He fell for it. Then the king of Israel said to him, so shall your judgment be, you yourself have decided it. Well the king willfully allowed his enemy to go. In this parable, this action parable, the man did not willfully let the prisoner go.
He was distracted. So the king wants the century to be punished for letting a lesser prisoner go. The prophet exposes the double standard of the king. You had a higher order.
You let a higher value target go free. You're causing more pain for everybody. Verse 41, then he hastened to take the bandage away from his eyes and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. Surprise. This is God now. This is a spiritual thing. Do you think that Ahab would submit to these things? Verse 42, then he said to him, thus says Yahweh, because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction. Therefore your life shall go for his life and your people for his people. You botched the victory. And it means something.
It's not just, oh, I could have done better. It's that there's going to be more pain now because you thought you knew better than God. It was not supposed to be catch and release to king. This is war. He made a covenant with the man whom God devoted to destruction. He made a covenant with the evil one. That's what took place. That's what's being exposed.
It was not for Ahab to forgive Ben Haddon or Hayden. Hey, Dad, that's it. It's hard. You know what's also hard about saying those words? It's because they're sentences in our languages. Hey, Dad, but that's the guy's name.
Anyway, where am I? So again, Ahab rather than repenting, no, he just is going to go away angry and mad. Now, the Jewish historian Josephus writes little comments about some of these sections in the Old Testament, and he says this prophet is Micaiah, who we'll get to in a couple of chapters, one of my favorites. You know, Ahab hates him. And Micaiah, and the reason why is because Micaiah never had anything good to say to Ahab.
Well, this prophet doesn't have anything good to say to him either. Can't prove it. It might be. I don't know.
Neither did the one who recorded this for us. Well, let's see. Verse 43, so the king of Israel went to his house sullen and displeased and came to Samaria. Sad and angry.
Typical. He's going to be that way when he can't get Ahab's vineyard, Naboth's vineyard from him. Once again, Ahab was a bad man, given a good opportunity to be great for God, and he ruined it. He's brushing everything away and in his place, rejection of God. So we close with this verse from 2 Thessalonians chapter 2.
The coming of the lawless one, that is Antichrist, is according to the working of Satan with all power, signs, and lying wonders. What makes a lying wonder a lying wonder? It's not righteous. It's foul. It may be amazing, and I can't do that, but it's wrong. It's the motive, the source.
It's foul. And this is the thing with Antichrist. He's going to be an immoral person. There'll be no excuse to accept this man. Yet, almost all of humanity will be accepting him. Well, Paul goes on and says, with all unrighteous deception, there, he tells us right there, it's unrighteous. His deception is not wholesome. Among those who perish because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved, that's Ahab. He's the lawless one.
Truth did not matter to him. Let's pray. Our brother, another series of lessons in one chapter to strengthen us, to fortify us, to give us the ammunition that we might need in trying to reach lost souls. We thank you for your word. We thank you for its lessons, and we thank you for your love on us. We ask you in Jesus' name.
Amen. 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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