As 1 Kings draws to a close, we’ve gone around 80 years since the kingdom was split in two, up to around 853 B.C. The recent stories have taken place in and around the northern kingdom of Israel, where Ahab was king. For the past twenty years Jehoshaphat, whom you’ll meet today, has been ruling in the southern kingdom of Judah.
The strength and relative wealth of both Israel and Judah point to an era of peace in the region. For decades North and South had warred with each other. A series of coups rattled Israel, and Rehoboam and his son had short, turbulent reigns in Judah. But Judah found faithful kings in Asa and Jehoshaphat, and Omri and Ahab, for their profound apostasy at least provided political stability for Israel.
However, much of that peace will be rattled today. Ahab and Jehoshaphat ally on a project to reclaim Ramoth-gilead, formerly a City of Refuge belonging to the tribe of Gad, but now in the hands of Syria. But the foray is ill-fated, and will bring about Ahab’s prophesied end.
However, Ahab’s demise does not come soon enough for Naboth, who owns a piece of land that Ahab covets. Jezebel coaches her husband to behave even more like every other king, orchestrating Naboth’s elaborate execution on trumped-up charges. Elijah reemerges from hiding to confront Ahab with the word of the LORD: “…Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD…I will bring disaster upon you.”
Then in chapter 22 we come to the foray in Ramoth-gilead I referenced earlier. In preparation for battle, Ahab and Jehoshaphat call prophets to seek the LORD’s intentions. All the prophets predict, in the LORD’s name, a great victory.
But Ahab calls for one more prophet, one whom he curiously trusts to give him a straight answer: Micaiah. What follows is one of the more curious dialogues in a book full of curious prophetic exchanges. Micaiah promises the LORD will give Ahab the victory; Ahab doesn’t believe him; so Micaiah proclaims that Israel will lose its shepherd; Ahab is incensed, the other prophets are furious, and Micaiah gets thrown in jail, to be dealt with when Ahab returns.
One of the many details to catch here is that Micaiah first tells Ahab that he will triumph, with the LORD blessing, when he clearly will not. Was Micaiah deliberately misleading Ahab? Was the LORD? Or was Ahab judged for his lack of trust in the LORD? Read thoroughly, keeping in mind that we’re talking about Ahab, who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like no one else.
Our verse for this week is 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
1 Kings 21 and 22. Now let’s read it!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.