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Before we read more about Elijah, we need to look at the other things going on in Israel and Judah at around the same time. (You’ll need the time chart – Chart004 and Map013 – see last study)

Remember that following the death of King Solomon (David’s son), the kingdom divided. Judah in the south with Jerusalem, the Temple and many priests, was generally ruled by godly kings. Israel in the north, was generally ruled by Kings who had turned from God and the most ungodly so far was Ahab (with Jezebel his queen).


Last time we were looking at the prophecy that Elijah had to pronounce against King Ahab after Naboth had been killed for his vineyard. Before we move on into 2 Kings it is perhaps interesting to see what God actually said, and what actually happened.  I Kings 21: God said (v29) ‘I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son’.


The disaster he is talking about is the second half of the prophecy from verse 21 to 24:

21 ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 22 I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin.’

23 “And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’

24 “Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country.”


The first part of the prophecy, concerning the manner of Ahab’s death, will remain v19 ‘This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’


And that part of the prophecy is about to take place. But before we continue

we need to notice that sometimes a king’s name is used when talking about his son, and sometimes a son would begin to assume power even though his father was still alive (a co-regency).


From the chart we can see that Jehoshaphat of Judah was reigning at roughly the same time as Ahab (From 870bc).

What was he like? Read 2 Chronicles 20:31-33


 31 So Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem for twenty-five years. His mother’s name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. 32 He walked in the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. 33 The high places, however, were not removed, and the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their fathers.


What does this tell us about the character of the people?

What does it also suggest about the attitude of the King? He didn’t feel it was his job to influence the beliefs of his people, even though he was a king appointed by God to do just that.


How much should we actively seek to influence the beliefs of others?


We are now at about 855bc and there was trouble brewing again to the north-east of Israel.

Look at map 13: Ramoth Gilead was a town situated on the junction of the main international trade routes: the North-South incense route ‘The King’s Highway’; and the route to the Phoenician ports of Acco, Tyre and Sidon.


Control of this town, and these routes brought much needed revenue. The Arameans of Damascus were a force to be reckoned with. Thirteen battles are recorded in the Bible between Israel and the Arameans, many of which were over Ramoth Gilead,


Since the agreement made by Ahab with the king of the Arameans, there had been an uneasy peace. It seems that part of the agreement meant that the Arameans still held Ramoth-Gilead. But Ahab wasn’t happy with that.

 

1 Kings 22:1-53

1 For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel.2 But in the third year (854bc) Jehoshaphat king of Judah went down to see the king of Israel. (Indicate on map – it’s confusing – I would have said went up! But Jerusalem is approx 700 meters above sea level and the town of Samaria was built on a hill 443 meters above sea level, and surrounded by plains so it’s logical.)


It seems that this started as just a goodwill visit. But prior to his visit:

3 The king of Israel had said to his officials, “Don’t you know that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us and yet we are doing nothing to retake it from the king of Aram?”


Obviously it was annoying Ahab that this strategic town was not under his control, so he took advantage of the visit of Jehoshaphat to suggest a joint venture:


4 So he asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?”

Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”


In our dealings with non-Christians how easy is it to go along with their suggestions?

How difficult do we find it to persuade them instead to do something we would prefer?

Is it easier to be pulled down than for us to pull others up?


Would we ever say to our non-Christian friend ‘I must pray about it first’?


Good King Jehoshaphat knew he had to enquire of the Lord first, so:

5 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the Lord.”

6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”

“Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”


Who were these four hundred prophets? Look again at

1 Kings 18:19

19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”


Now we know that the prophets of Baal were all killed, and also that the prophets of Asherah stayed away from Carmel. We also know that it was unlikely that Ahab would enquire of the true prophets if he could help it, and Jezebel’s prophets were easily available.


But Jehoshaphat obviously realised that these were not prophets of the Lord.

1 Kings 22

7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the Lord here whom we can enquire of?”


How can we tell when things are not of the Lord?


8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man through whom we can enquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

“The king should not say that,” Jehoshaphat replied.

9 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.”


Why did Ahab not suggest Elijah? (I Kings 21:22-24!)


10 Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing-floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. 11 Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what the Lord says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’ ”

12 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

13 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, as one man the other prophets are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favourably.”

14 But Micaiah said, “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.”

15 When he arrived, the king asked him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”

“Attack and be victorious,” he answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

16 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?”


How did Ahab know he was lying? (v18)


17 Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’ ”

18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”


How should Jehoshaphat have replied?


Jehoshaphat had specifically asked to enquire of the Lord. Ahab had said Micaiah’s first response was a lie. So his second prophesy must have been truth. So how should he now respond?


29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead


Who wasn’t listening to God? Actually Ahab was paying attention to what Micaiah was saying – v20 ‘  .  .  .  and go to his death there.


30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.


Is Jehoshaphat thick or what?

Is there a danger that we could ever enquire of the Lord but then deliberately ignore what he says?


The Aramean King had a special SAS force of Chariot commanders. He singled them out and tasked them to get Ahab. Remember, Jehoshaphat was dressed like a king, but Ahab was in disguise.

31 Now the king of Aram had ordered his thirty-two chariot commanders, “Do not fight with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel.” 32 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, “Surely this is the king of Israel.” So they turned to attack him, but when Jehoshaphat cried out, 33 the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel and stopped pursuing him.


34 But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armour.


By chance, and acting against orders, and the arrow found the only weak spot in the armour where a mortal blow could be struck.  Was that a coincidence?

The king told his chariot driver, “Wheel round and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded.” 35 All day long the battle raged, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran onto the floor of the chariot, and that evening he died. 36 As the sun was setting, a cry spread through the army: “Every man to his town; everyone to his land!”

37 So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there. 38 They washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed), and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared.

39 As for the other events of Ahab’s reign, including all he did, the palace he built and inlaid with ivory, and the cities he fortified, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 40 Ahab rested with his fathers. And Ahaziah his son succeeded him as king.


(Show on map) Meanwhile, Jehoshaphat escaped, and returned with his army to Judah. And the Arameans still retained control of Ramoth Gilead.


What was the new king Ahaziah like?


52 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, because he walked in the ways of his father and mother and in the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. 53 He served and worshipped Baal and provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger, just as his father had done.


Now let’s go to 2 Chronicles 20 from v35:


35 Later, Jehoshaphat king of Judah made an alliance with Ahaziah king of Israel, who was guilty of wickedness.


It appears that this alliance was cemented in the traditional way with Ahaziah giving one of his daughters (Athaliah) to be the wife of Jehoram, who was Jehoshaphat’s eldest son and soon to be king in Judah. (2 Kings 8:16-19, 26)


36 He agreed with him to construct a fleet of trading ships. After these were built at Ezion Geber, 37 Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made.” The ships were wrecked and were not able to set sail to trade.


Down in the south-east there was also trouble brewing for the King of Judah – the people of Edom were getting restless, it seems that they were waiting for Jehoshaphat to die before they launched a full-scale rebellion.


So let’s continue in 2 Chronicles 21:


1 Then Jehoshaphat rested with his fathers and was buried with them in the City of David. And Jehoram his son succeeded him as king. 2 Jehoram’s brothers, the sons of Jehoshaphat, were Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariahu, Michael and Shephatiah. All these were sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. 3 Their father had given them many gifts of silver and gold and articles of value, as well as fortified cities in Judah, but he had given the kingdom to Jehoram because he was his firstborn son.

What was Jehoram Like? Look at the next three verses

4 When Jehoram established himself firmly over his father’s kingdom, he put all his brothers to the sword along with some of the princes of Israel. 5 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem for eight years. 6 He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord.


7 Nevertheless, because of the covenant the Lord had made with David, the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David. He had promised to maintain a lamp for him and his descendants for ever.

8 In the time of Jehoram, Edom rebelled against Judah and set up its own king. 9 So Jehoram went there with his officers and all his chariots. The Edomites surrounded him and his chariot commanders, but he rose up and broke through by night. 10 To this day Edom has been in rebellion against Judah.

Libnah revolted at the same time, because Jehoram had forsaken the Lord, the God of his fathers. 11 He had also built high places on the hills of Judah and had caused the people of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves and had led Judah astray.


Now skip to verse 20:

Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem for eight years. He passed away, to no-one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.


2 Chronicles 22

1 The people of Jerusalem made Ahaziah, Jehoram’s youngest son, king in his place, since the raiders, who came with the Arabs into the camp, had killed all the older sons. So Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign.

2 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem for one year. His mother’s name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri.

3 He too walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong. 4 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done, for after his father’s death they became his advisers, to his undoing. 5 He also followed their counsel when he went with Joram son of Ahab king of Israel to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead.


Just to complete the story, Hazael had eventually become king of the Arameans two years previously; Ahaziah (Judah) only reigned one year before he was killed by Jehu; Ahaziah’s mother Athaliah (granddaughter of Ahab) became queen in Judah;

and Jehu killed Joram so becoming king of Israel.






1 Kings Elijah 191 Kings Elijah 17








ELIJAH 18   1 Kings 21:21-29, 22:1-53
Death of Ahab. Other kings

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