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Jericho Ridge Community Church

When God says "Enough!"

August 20, 2017

Jericho Ridge

 

Elijah: Bold Faith

 

Let me tell you a fable about Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Fox.

  • Life in the forest was good on the day that Mr. Rabbit decided to invite Mr. Fox over for a nice dinner.
  • Rabbit had the gift of hospitality and went to great lengths to prepare a delicious meal.
  • It was Mr. Fox’s first invite to Mr. Rabbit’s home and he was pleasantly surprised by the inviting ambience.

 

  • As dinner progressed, Mr. Rabbit, being an avid reader and philosopher, engaged Mr. Fox in conversation,
  • “Fox,” he said, “I’ve been thinking about life in the forest and while it’s rather good, I think it could be even better if every animal in the forest had the right to exercise its own prerogative. You know, do things as they want, get what they really want.  I get what I want … you get what you want.
  • Fox was intrigued and listened intently between bites; and while he didn’t find Rabbit’s argument totally convincing, he did begin to visualize an appealing application of Rabbit’s reasoning.

 

  • As Rabbit sipped the last of his wine and summed up his theory, he asked Mr. Fox what he thought.
  • Fox, wiped his mouth with his napkin, leaned back in his chair and said, “Rabbit, I think such matters are best considered after dessert.”
  • And with that, Mr. Fox sprang over the table … and ate Mr. Rabbit for dessert!

 

Poor Mr. Rabbit!

  • He had come to believe that life could be improved if each animal could simply have the freedom to do as it pleased.
  • How ironic … and how commonplace is such a belief!
  • But friends, if you subscribe to Mr. Rabbit’s aspirations, don’t be surprised when such logic consumes you…

 

  • Which is exactly what King Ahab found out in 1 Kings 22, as we continue in our series on Elijah…

 

It may be an unpleasant and unwelcome topic to address; but we need to know what the Bible tells us about divine judgment…

  • Can we really just do whatever we want; however we want to?
  • Does God have limits/boundaries in how we live our life?
  • And what happens in that moment when God declares, “Enough! No more!”
  • These are often miscalculated and painful moments for us; but the truth is, there are consequences to the misuse or abuse of the life God has given us.
  • And King Ahab is a prime example of someone who finds this out the hard way.

 

 

I Did it My Way

 

Turn with me in your Bibles/devices or follow along on the screen … 1 Kings 22

 

For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel. Then during the third year, King Jehoshaphat of Judah went to visit King Ahab of Israel. During the visit, the king of Israel said to his officials, “Do you realize that the town of Ramoth-gilead belongs to us? And yet we’ve done nothing to recapture it from the king of Aram!”

 

Then he turned to Jehoshaphat and asked, “Will you join me in battle to recover Ramoth-gilead?” Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “Why, of course! You and I are as one. My troops are your troops, and my horses are your horses.” Then Jehoshaphat added, “But first let’s find out what the Lord says.”

  • Jericho, what do we want have as our first response in every life situation?! (Prayer)

 

So the king of Israel summoned the prophets, about 400 of them…

  • If you recall 1 Kings 18 and the showdown on Mount Carmel…
  • Elijah asked King Ahab to come to the mountain with all 450 prophets of Baal and Jezebel’s 400 prophets of Asherah.
  • But only the 450 prophets of Baal showed up … they were the ones who danced all day and cut themselves trying to get Baal to send fire to burn up the offering on the altar.
  • They were also the ones that failed and were killed.
  • But what ever happened to the 400 prophets of Asherah who didn’t show up on Mount Carmel?
  • In all likelihood, we find at least some if not all of them here, in 1 Kings 22, in Ahab’s court, giving him “prophetic advice.”

 

So the king of Israel summoned the prophets, about 400 of them, and asked them, “Should I go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?” They all replied, “Yes, go right ahead! The Lord will give the king victory.” But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.”

 

The king of Israel replied to Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.” Jehoshaphat replied, “That’s not the way a king should talk!  Let’s hear what he has to say.”

 

So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Quick! Bring Micaiah son of Imlah.”  10 King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah, dressed in their royal robes, were sitting on thrones at the threshing floor near the gate of Samaria. All of Ahab’s prophets were prophesying there in front of them.

 

11 One of them, Zedekiah son of Kenaanah, made some iron horns and proclaimed, “This is what the Lord says: With these horns you will gore the Arameans to death!”  12 All the other prophets agreed. “Yes,” they said, “go up to Ramoth-gilead and be victorious, for the Lord will give the king victory!”

 

13 Meanwhile, the messenger who went to get Micaiah said to him, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure that you agree with them and promise success.”

  • If anyone can get what he/she wants, the King of a nation is probably best positioned to do so.
  • And clearly, King Ahab is used to getting what he wants.
  • So much so that his own “prophets” just tell him what he wants to hear.
  • And while King Ahab does have free will to pursue what he wants … Micaiah approaches life quite differently.

 

14 But Micaiah replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, I will say only what the Lord tells me to say.”  15 When Micaiah arrived before the king, Ahab asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should we hold back?”  Micaiah replied sarcastically, “Yes, go up and be victorious, for the Lord will give the king victory!”

 

16 But the king replied sharply, “How many times must I demand that you speak only the truth to me when you speak for the Lord?” 17 Then Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.’”

  • Okay, that is not what King Ahab wants to hear!

 

18 “Didn’t I tell you?” the king of Israel exclaimed to Jehoshaphat. “He never prophesies anything but trouble for me.”  19 Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the Lord says!  I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left.

 

20And the Lord said, ‘Who can entice Ahab to go into battle against Ramoth-gilead so he can be killed?’  “There were many suggestions, 21 and finally a spirit approached the Lord and said, ‘I can do it!’  22 “‘How will you do this?’ the Lord asked. “And the spirit replied, ‘I will go out and inspire all of Ahab’s prophets to speak lies.’ 

 

“‘You will succeed,’ said the Lord. ‘Go ahead and do it.’ 23 “So you see, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all your prophets. For the Lord has pronounced your doom.”

  • Friends, there is a much greater reality to life than what I want, how I want it.
  • And in previous moments of impending doom, we have seen King Ahab acknowledge this by humbling himself before God and asking for mercy.
  • And God, who is patient and compassionate, pours out a generous amount of mercy on the king.
  • But this time, such an opportunity does not present itself.

 

24 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah walked up to Micaiah and slapped him across the face. “Since when did the Spirit of the Lord leave me to speak to you?” he demanded.  25 And Micaiah replied, “You will find out soon enough when you are trying to hide in some secret room!”

 

26 “Arrest him!” the king of Israel ordered. “Take him back to Amon, the governor of the city, and to my son Joash. 27Give them this order from the king: ‘Put this man in prison, and feed him nothing but bread and water until I return safely from the battle!’”  28 But Micaiah replied, “If you return safely, it will mean that the Lord has not spoken through me!”  Then he added to those standing around, “Everyone mark my words!”

  • So here we have a clear counter-stance to King Ahab’s “tell me what I want to hear” and “let me do as I want to do” philosophy of life.
  • Micaiah is willing to risk his reputation and life, not for what he wants, but for what God is saying to him.

 

29 So King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah led their armies against Ramoth-gilead. 30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “As we go into battle, I will disguise myself so no one will recognize me, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle. 

 

31 Meanwhile, the king of Aram had issued these orders to his thirty-two chariot commanders: “Attack only the king of Israel. Don’t bother with anyone else!” 32 So when the Aramean chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat in his royal robes, they went after him. “There is the king of Israel!” they shouted. But when Jehoshaphat called out, 33 the chariot commanders realized he was not the king of Israel, and they stopped chasing him.

 

34 An Aramean soldier, however, randomly shot an arrow at the Israelite troops and hit the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. “Turn the horses and get me out of here!” Ahab groaned to the driver of his chariot. “I’m badly wounded!”

 

35 The battle raged all that day, and the king remained propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran down to the floor of his chariot, and as evening arrived, he died. 36 Just as the sun was setting, the cry ran through his troops: “We’re done for! Run for your lives!”

 

37 So the king died, and his body was taken to Samaria and buried there. 38 Then his chariot was washed beside the pool of Samaria, and dogs came and licked his blood at the place where the prostitutes bathed, just as the Lord had promised.

 

39 The rest of the events in Ahab’s reign and everything he did, including the story of the ivory palace and the towns he built, are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel. 40 So Ahab died, and his son Ahaziah became the next king.

The King and I

 

If you recall, one of the very first things we read about King Ahab was that he was a very evil king.

  • And his story in these chapters certainly bears this out.
  • Not only was he an evil king in a long line of evil kings, but he was the worst of the lot.
  • And one of the first things we will read about his son, King Ahaziah, is that he’s a chip off the old block.

 

  • And our natural reaction to these evil kings is to compare ourselves with them, which by the way, “What is up with these evil kings of the holy nation? Why can’t they get it together? One after the other … evil, evil, evil.”
  • Even you or I could have done a better job! We would never be like Ahab or the other evil kings!”

 

  • And you would probably be right … but friends, let’s not be fooled into believing that because our reputations aren’t as dark as Ahab’s, that we can ignore how God deals with disobedient/sinful humanity.

 

 

The sinful state of humanity applies equally to all of us in terms of its reality and presence.

  • No one is without sin.
  • No one escapes divine judgment on their own merit.
  • So we need to understand how God deals with us.
  • Looking at King Ahab’s demise, we can see 3 timeless principles concerning divine judgment:

 

  1. God always acknowledges humility … and we shouldn’t minimalize it.
  • You can’t get any more evil than Ahab.
  • 1 Kings 16,

30 But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. …33 He did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him.

  • 1 Kings 21,

25 No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel. 26 His worst outrage was worshiping idols just as the Amorites had done—the people whom the Lord had driven out from the land ahead of the Israelites.

 

  • There should have been no hope for Ahab.
  • But because at one point 21:27 Ahab … tore his clothing, dressed in burlap, and fasted… before the Lord, God responded with mercy.

28 Then another message from the Lord came to Elijah: 29 “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before me?  Because he has done this, I will not do what I promised during his lifetime.  It will happen to his sons; I will destroy his dynasty.”

 

  • Unfortunately, Ahab’s humble attitude was short-lived and his tendency to invoke God’s wrath continued.
  • But, we can and should find hope in God’s generous response to Ahab’s momentary humility.

 

  • Chuck Swindoll says, “Although evil reduces our stature before God, we are never as tall as when we humbly reach for God’s mercy, acknowledging and confessing our sins to him.”
  • Friends, every time we do this, God acknowledges our humility with the presence of his mercy and grace.
  • This is absolutely true for every person and for every generation!

 

  • But should we choose to forgo this transformational truth…

 

  1. There is an end to God’s patience … and no one knows when it will come.
  • This too is true for everyone; an end will come for those who reject God’s ways and God’s warnings.
  • In His time and in His means, He will implement judgment and say, “It’s enough! No more!”

 

  • Who would you rather be in 1 Kings, the King or a Prophet?
  • Elijah responded with obedience every time God gave him an assignment or a word to speak (his life was far from palace comforts, prestige and power).
  • And then there’s King Ahab, (who had all those things and more) but refused to listen to Godly counsel, repeatedly heard God’s voice of warning … and ignored it time after time (after all, he’s the king of his domain).
  • Only one is recorded as having a place of honor in God’s story…

 

  • As clear as if Elijah the Prophet was standing here today, I can say, if you or I choose to ignore the voice of God in our lives, be forewarned…
  • …There is an end to God’s patience and you cannot predict when it will come.

 

  1. Friends, God keeps his promise … and no one stops it (that’s our 3rd principle of divine judgment).
  • Even though God gave Ahab (and Jezebel) every opportunity to repent, they ignored his patience and abused his mercy.
  • They took it to mean that they could get away with anything for as long as they wanted to.
  • King Solomon summarizes this philosophy in Ecclesiastes 8,

11 When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong. 12 But even though a person sins a hundred times and still lives a long time, I know that those who fear God will be better off.

 

  • Do not be fooled!
  • God is not somehow lax or slack in dealing with sin/evil.
  • He does not allow his patience and mercy to be abused.
  • He will enact and fulfill what he promises, and no one, not even a king, can stop him.

30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “As we go into battle, I will disguise myself so no one will recognize me … 34 An Aramean soldier, however, randomly shot an arrow at the Israelite troops and hit the king of Israel between the joints of his armor … 37 So the king died, and his body was taken to Samaria and buried there. 38 Then his chariot was washed beside the pool of Samaria, and dogs came and licked his blood at the place where the prostitutes bathed, just as the Lord had promised. 

 

Friends, Ahab was a king living as if there was no offending God … living as if God didn’t matter and quite frankly didn’t exist.

  • After all, if anyone has the means to live however he pleases, wouldn’t it be a king?
  • Then the likes of Elijah and Micaiah inject a heavy dose of God’s truth into the king’s life.
  • But he didn’t like it, so he ignored it and even openly rebelled against it.
  • And God waited, waited for his child/his chosen one/his leader, to hear his voice and respond.
  • God waited, invited and re-invited Ahab to come back into relationship with him.
  • That’s who God is … and he is a God who is always faithful, a God who always keeps his promises.

 

You may not be a king with the means to do whatever you want … and you’re most certainly not the most evil of your peers…

  • But when God speaks truth into your life…
  • When God taps you on the proverbial shoulder for a course correction…
  • When God prompts you through his Word, another believer, a prophet, his Holy Spirit…

 

  • Don’t resist… don’t ignore… don’t defy… don’t test God’s patience because he will keep his promises.
  • Galatians 6,

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

  

As Tammy and the worship team come up, you may be processing something in your life that God has been or is speaking to you about and a part of you just wants to:

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