May 19. Ahab’s Final War with Syria

I Kin. 22:1-40; II Chron. 18:1-34

Three years after Israel’s war with Syria and Ahab’s treaty with Ben-Hadad, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah had become friends with Ahab. Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram had married Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah. That mistake formed a family and political alliance between the two kings.

Through a series of requests for advice from Ahab’s prophets and God’s prophet, Micaiah, Ahab and Jehoshaphat’s armies joined forces to capture Ramoth Gilead from Syria. That was after Micaiah had prophesied that he saw, “all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd…” Ahab’s four hundred false prophets had advised war, but the true prophet of God spoke the true word of God.

Ahab disguised himself as a regular soldier and went into the war. He was mortally wounded and died that evening. After his burial, his blood was washed from the chariot, “and the dogs licked up his blood…according to the word of the Lord which He had spoken.” His son, Ahaziah then became king of Israel.

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May 18. Ahab Commits Murder

I Kin. 21:1-29

It seemed to be a simple and honorable request. Naboth’s vineyard was next to Ahab’s palace in Jezreel (probably a home away from home). He offered what seemed to be more that a fair trade for it. However, Naboth had inherited it and would not consider the trade. Because of his disappointment, Ahab’s wife, Jezebel devised a scheme to have Naboth falsely accused of blasphemy against God and the king. That crime was punishable by stoning.

Even though Ahab probably did not touch a stone, he was guilty by consent of the murder of an innocent man. The sin of covetousness led to the cruel crime against Naboth. Property of public criminals became the property of the king—a bitter victory for Ahab.

Again, the prophet, Elijah was the bearer of bad news to Ahab. The message from God was that the dogs would lick his blood and that his posterity would have no succession to the throne of Israel. Whoever died in the city would be eaten by dogs and the birds would eat those who died in the country.

Ahab and Jezebel were extremely wicked in following idols instead of following God. However, Ahab showed remorse and repentance at the words of Elijah and God postponed the calamity against his family until the reign of his son.

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May 17. Ahab’s War/Treaty with Syria

I Kin. 20:1-43

Israel and Syria were bitter enemies. Through an exchange of messages between Ahab and Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria, Ahab agreed to surrender to the Syrian king. However, Ben-Hadad raised the stakes and a prophet from God informed Ahab that God would deliver Syria into his “hand today, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” Ahab’s army consisted of seven thousand, two hundred thirty two men against the mighty army of Syria. With God’s help, they “killed the Syrians with a great slaughter.”

The next spring, Ben-Hadad again attacked Israel and suffered a great defeat losing one hundred thousand men in battle and another twenty-seven thousand when a wall fell on them. The Syrian king and his army fled in defeat. In an effort to save his own life, he offered to restore all the cities that his father had taken from Israel and to allow the Israelites to set up market places in Damascus, the Syrian capital. Ahab agreed to the treaty and there was peace between the two kingdoms.

God was displeased with Ahab for making a treaty with Ben-Hadad instead of destroying him. He sent a disguised prophet to the king to make His displeasure known. After revealing himself, the prophet spoke the Lord’s words, “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.” Upon hearing the message from God, Ahab returned home sullen and displeased.

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Hello Internet Friends

Hello Internet Friends;

Sorry to be late with the Bible studies. I have been in the hospital since Saturday recovering from a collapsed lung. Here are the studies for May 14, 15 and 16.

James

May 14. BAAL’S PROPHETS DEFEATED/FAMINE ENDS.
I Kin. 18:17-46

Ahab’s greeting to Elijah: “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” Many of us today are like the king. As we suffer the consequences for our sins, we blame others for our pain. Elijah had the proper response stating that Ahab and his father’s house had brought on their troubles because of their forsaking the commandments of the Lord and following the Baals.

In order to show who the true God is, Elijah instructed Ahab to bring the children of Israel, the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah to Mount Carmel. It is said that followers of Baal believed that Mount Carmel was sacred to him. The challenge from Elijah would allow favorable conditions to his opponents thus giving more credence to the Lord.

After the false prophets had prepared their choice of the two bulls and had placed it on the unlit wood, they called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, but no fire came to consume their offering. They became more intense in their calls and until time for the evening sacrifice, “there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.”

Elijah’s turn: He repaired the broken down altar of the Lord and took twelve stones, representing the twelve tribes. After digging a trench around the altar, he placed his prepared bull upon the unlit wood as the other prophets had done. BUT, to make the demonstration more interesting, he ordered four pots of water to be poured out upon the sacrifice and the wood, also filling the trench. That was done three times in order to assure that everything was thoroughly soaked and fireproof. Instead of the incessant calling, leaping and self-cutting, Elijah simply prayed to God. Fire of the Lord immediately, “fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.”

The people were convinced that, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” At Elijah’s command, the false prophets were seized and taken to the Brook Kishon were he executed them.

Elijah prayed seven times for rain and after the seventh time, a small cloud appeared, followed by black clouds and wind, producing a heavy rain. After more than three years the drought had been broken.

May 15. ELIJAH STRUGGLES/ELISHA JOINS HIM. I Kin. 19:1-21

Elijah’s thrill of victory over the god, Baal was short-lived. Upon learning that Baal’s prophets had been slain by him, Jezebel sent word to him that within twenty-four hours he would also be dead. The prophet then fled to Beersheba in Judah. In a state of depression, he went a day’s journey farther and sat under a broom tree. There, he prayed that the Lord would take his life and place another person in his place as prophet.

Even God’s people sometimes become discouraged for various reasons. All may seem hopeless, but we should remember that we are not really alone. God still has work for us to do. An angel appeared to Elijah with food and water and he ate and drank. That happened a second time and he was able to press on for another forty days and nights to Mount Horeb without further nourishment. Upon Elijah’s report that Israel had forsaken God and that all of His prophets in Israel except himself had been killed, God stated that there were seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. They probably had to worship in secret to protect their lives.

God outlined the work that was to be accomplished by Elijah. He was to anoint Hazael as king of Syria; Jehu to be king of Israel and Elisha to succeed him as God’s prophet. Those successions were not to be immediate. However, Elisha did join him at that time to help in his work.

May 16. JEHOSHAPHAT BECOMES KING OF JUDAH. I Kin. 22:41-44;
II Chron. 17:1-19

A psalmist once said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Jehoshaphat continued in the leadership of his father, Asa as he followed the Lord’s ways as king of Judah. He became king at thirty-five years of age in the fourth year of Ahab’s reign in Israel. The new king walked with God as David had done before him. He refused to follow the false gods that were around him. “Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand…”

In addition to having God present, a nation’s strength is fortified by its ability to defend itself against its enemies. As Israel had previously been a bitter enemy of Judah, Jehoshaphat fortified his cities with troops. With God on his side and the cities fortified, the kingdoms around were afraid to make war against Judah. Instead, some of his neighbors presented him with tribute and other gifts.

One cannot be obedient if he does not know what to obey. Jehoshaphat sent Levites and priests with his leaders to teach the people in the cities of Judah. With the citizens being taught God’s ways and the cities being well fortified, Jehoshaphat reigned as a rich and powerful king.

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May 13. Elijah’s Presence Felt in Israel

I Kin. 17:8-18:40

Even Elijah, the prophet of God was adversely affected by the famine as his water supply at the Brook Cherith dried up. God, however, continued to care for him as He sent him to dwell in the home of a widow in Zarephath.

Women were deemed to be inferior to men and a widow who had no one to provide for her was at the bottom of the economic scale. To make matters worse, this widow had a dependant son in her care. It would seem heartless for a strange man to demand a portion of a widow’s last meal, but Elijah, by the hand of God had a plan that required great faith of the widow. Upon feeding the prophet, her supply of flour and oil was continually replenished until the end of the famine.

Faith and trust in God bring many blessings—some seen and others unseen. When the widow’s son got sick and died, Elijah performed the first recorded miracle of restoring life to a dead person.

After a period of more than three years, Ahab and Jezebel had committed great atrocities against God and His prophets. Obadiah, who was in charge of Ahab’s house, was secretly a God fearing man. He had hidden and cared for one hundred of God’s prophets in two caves during that time of persecution. He feared for his life as his faith was further tested when Elijah told him to report to Ahab that, “Elijah is here.”

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May 12. Ahab Becomes King of Israel; God Sends Elijah

I Kin. 16:29-17:7

About three years before the death of Asa in Judah, Ahab followed his father Omri to the throne of Israel. Each succeeding king from Jeroboam became move evil than his predecessor. Ahab married Jezebel, the daughter of the Sidonian king. She was a wicked woman. He set up an altar for the god, Baal in the temple of Baal and also made a wooden image of the god. That was a blatant disregard of the commandment to refrain from setting up a god before the true God. The Canaanites put great faith in the god, Baal because they thought that he blessed them with rain. Ahab also allowed the city of Jericho to be rebuilt in direct disregard to the warning of dire consequences by Joshua.

In response to Ahab’s grievous sins, God sent the prophet Elijah, who was also a resident of Gilead in Israel to deliver an important message from Him. “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” That was a direct challenge to the power (or lack thereof) of their rain god, Baal.

A devastating drought would come upon the land, but God would care for Elijah. He commanded him to retreat to the Brook Cherith where he would have water and would be fed by the ravens. That arrangement continued until the brook dried up because of the lack of rain.

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May 11. Asa’s Battles with Israel

I Kin. 15:16-24; II Chron. 16:1-14

Asa had been king of Judah about two years when Baasha became king of Israel. His period of relative peace came to an end as he and Baasha continually disputed and warred over the boundary north of Jerusalem. In time, Baasha began to fortify Ramah to prevent his people from entering Jerusalem to worship.

The king of Judah made a treaty with Ben-Hadad of Syria to return Ramah to the control of Asa. With that being completed, Asa’s people began to remove the fortifications that had been placed by Baasha.

There was a huge problem with Asa’s action. The Lord sent Hanani the seer to inform the king of his mistake. He had relied upon assistance from another source instead of seeking help from God as he had done previously during the attack from Ethiopia. As a result, he would continue to be plagued by wars during the remaining time of his reign as king of Judah. He died from a disease of his feet ending a reign of forty-one years.

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