By Robin Sam
THE STORY of the confrontation between Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, and King of Ahab of Israel unfolds in 1 Kings 20 verse 1 onwards. Ben-Hadad led two expeditions against Israel. In the first, he had 32 kings with him in his battle march against Ahab. We’re not told about the size of the Syrian army with its affiliates, but it must have been predictably huge. We, however, know what Ahab mustered up to face up to the oppressors. The Bible says he mustered 232 young leaders of the province along with 7,000 Israelites. Obviously, that would not have sufficed, but then Ahab was not going in his own strength. He was in the battle but the battle itself was not his but the Lord’s. Hallelujah!
When the Lord of Hosts sides His children in the battle, there’s no doubt about the outcome. ‘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. Then the king of Israel went out and attacked the horses and chariots, and killed the Syrians with a great slaughter’ (verse 20, 21).
As soon as the battle was over, God sent a prophet to Ahab. He told the king that although victory was his, he was not to rest on his laurels because the king of Syria would launch another attack on Israel the next year.
Sometimes, when we secure a little victory we tend to think the enemy is annihilated. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Dear child of God, hear what the Spirit of God is telling you. Sometimes, God will tell you: ‘The Egyptian that you see today, you shall see no more’ (Exodus 14:13). But then, there are also times when God will tell you: ‘The enemy is not annihilated, he’s only wounded. He’s going to come back.’ Some illnesses and troubles go away but some remain only to return.
King Ahab received a warning and a word of instruction from the Lord through the prophet. ‘Go, strengthen yourself; take note, and see what you should do…’
‘See what you should do.’ That’s an unusual command. God did not give Ahab any specific instruction about what he ought to do. ‘See what you should do.’ That was a general instruction. So why did God not give Ahab a specific instruction about how to handle the enemy?
I’ll tell you why. Right from the time of Moses, God’s instruction to the Israelites was have no truck with the idolatrous nations around them but to utterly destroy them (Deuteronomy 7:2; 12:2; 20:17). That was also Israel’s resolution before the Lord (Numbers 21:2). That has always been the command of the Lord. God says in Malachi 3:6, ‘I am the Lord, I change not.’ God had neither changed His person or His power or His word. Ahab knew it. So, when Ahab let Ben-Hadad slip away from the battle God foretold him about enemy’s imminent return and left the next course of action to Ahab’s discretion.
Dear child of God, when you shut your eyes to God’s specific statutes He will start giving you general instructions. That’s what happened in Ahab’s life.
When God speaks to you, do you look the other way? Are you in the habit of paying no heed to God’s directions for your life? Do you stifle the voice of your conscience? If you do, then you are treading on thin ice. Return to God and He will return to you, says the Lord of Hosts (Zechariah 1:3).
When the Syrian king returned the second time, he came with a new strategy and greater number of forces. Israel, the victor in the first battle, still had no mighty force. They were few in number. Verse 27 says, ‘Now the children of Israel encamped before them like two flocks of goats, while the Syrians filled the countryside.’
The Syrians thought Israel won the first battle because the Lord their God is the God of the hills. So this time, they strategized to take on Israel in the valleys. Little did they know that the Lord is not only the God of the hills and the valleys but the entire universe!
However, the God who did not give a specific instruction to Ahab was gracious enough to prophesy the outcome of the second battle to him.
Dear child of God, God has foretold the end of Satan to us. Revelation 20:10 says, ‘The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.’ The enemy who goes about like a roaring lion is actually a fallen angel, a total failure who’s counting his last days. You need not fear him.