Today’s passage is 2 Chronicles 18:1-34. Let’s go!
2 Chronicles 18:3 (NIV) 3 Ahab king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?” Jehoshaphat replied, “I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will join you in the war.”
On verses 1-3: This chapter is full of irony. The first irony is that Jehoshaphat, one of the godliest kings in Judah’s history, becomes allies with Ahab, possibly the wickedest king in Israel’s history. Their alliance came by marriage when Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram marries Ahab’s daughter Athaliah. This alliance would prove to be a huge mistake for Jehoshaphat’s family, one that would cause much pain and suffering for his family and the nation of Judah. The first proof that this alliance was a mistake was here when Ahab influences Jehoshaphat to attack Ramoth Gilead, something God did not want Jehoshaphat to do.
What can we learn from this? Be careful whom you partner with. When you partner with someone who does not trust the Lord, the chances are high that that partner will lead you to do things that do not please the Lord.
2 Chronicles 18:6 (NIV) 6 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?”
On verses 4-7: Before Jehoshaphat fully commits to Ahab’s plan to attack Ramoth Gilead, he advises Ahab to first seek the Lord for guidance. Ahab brings together 400 prophets, most likely prophets that worshiped the idol Baal since Ahab and his wife Jezebel were devout Baal worshipers. The 400 Baal prophets in unison say that God will give Ramoth Gilead into Ahab’s hand. Jehoshaphat, however, insists that he and Ahab consult a prophet who worships the Lord. Ahab, who was famous for killing the prophets of the Lord, says that there is still one prophet of the Lord left — Micaiah son of Imlah – but that he hates Micaiah because he never prophesies anything good about him. But at Jehoshaphat’s insistence, they summon for Micaiah to prophesy.
What can we learn from this? When you ask God for guidance, be open to God giving you directions that are different from what you want to hear or what you have planned. Otherwise, why are you seeking God’s counsel in the first place? If you’re only looking for God to rubberstamp your pre-set plans, then are you really following the Lord, or are you just erroneously expecting the Lord to follow and bless whatever you have already decided to do? Blessed are those who are humble enough to let God say whatever He needs to say, and who order their lives around what He says.
2 Chronicles 18:13 (NIV) 13 But Micaiah said, “As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what my God says.”
On verses 9-13: Despite being pressured to approve Ahab’s plans, Micaiah insists that he can only prophesy what God tells him to prophesy. Like Micaiah, may you be more concerned about pleasing God and being faithful to Him than pleasing people or gaining a dishonest advantage.
2 Chronicles 18:27 (NIV) 27 Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!”
On verses 14-27: When Ahab asks Micaiah whether he should attack Ramoth Gilead or refrain, at first Micaiah sarcastically repeats word for word what the prophets of Baal have been saying. Sensing Micaiah’s sarcasm, Ahab asks again, and Micaiah shares a vision that he saw. This vision was meant to show that the prophets of Baal were being influenced by a lying spirit and that God’s plan was actually to have Ahab die while attacking Ramoth Gilead. Both Ahab’s charismatic chief Baal prophet Zedekiah and Ahab himself respond with anger. Zedekiah slaps Micaiah and Ahab puts Micaiah in prison. Despite Micaiah’s warning, Ahab and Jehoshaphat proceed with attacking Ramoth Gilead.
What can we learn from this? When you receive a word from the Lord that is not what you want to hear, you have two choices. Your first option is to ignore that word, disparage the messenger who sent it, and do whatever you want to do anyway. Your second option is humble yourself, ask the Lord to search your heart, and seek His help even more to make the right decision. Unfortunately for Ahab, Ahab chose to ignore God’s Word.
2 Chronicles 18:33-34 (NIV) 33 But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told the chariot driver, “Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded.” 34 All day long the battle raged, and the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot facing the Arameans until evening. Then at sunset he died.
On verses 29-34: Ahab and Jehoshaphat attack Ramoth Gilead. To avoid being recognized, Ahab disguises himself when he goes into battle. Nevertheless, someone (we aren’t told who exactly, maybe a rookie soldier) draws his bow at random and hits King Ahab right in between the sections of his armor, wounding him fatally.
What can we learn from this?
You can try to run and hide from God, but you can’t. God’s sovereign plans will always end up catching up to you.
Interestingly Ramoth Gilead was originally a “city of refuge”, that is, a town where a person could flee to safety if he unintentionally killed someone (see Deuteronomy 4:43). Ironically, someone unintentionally kills King Ahab while he is trying to attack this city of refuge. It reminds me that Jesus is our city of refuge, the one we run to for safety when we sin. If we insist on trying to attack that city of refuge, we will be the ones who end up getting hurt.
Heavenly Father, may I be careful not to partner with those who don’t trust in You. May I be humble to welcome You speak, even if it means hearing something I don’t want to hear. Jesus, thank You for being my city of refuge, the One I run to. Rather than attacking You, may I be a faithful defender of You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!