Winning Through Intimidation

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This morning as I listened to the Daily Audio Bible I heard the story of how King Ahab (one of the worst kings of Israel) fought with Ben-Hadad II, the king of the Aramean people  (from modern day Syria).  In warfare, the best way to win is to so intimidate your enemy that they give up without a fight.

Ben-Hadad assembled a large army with 32 other kings and besieged Samaria. Imagine for a moment what that must have looked like as a huge force of troops, horses and chariots surrounded the city. Imagine the terror as you contemplate a long siege with nothing but starvation awaiting you.

Then comes the message from the enemy king

He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine! And your best wives and children are mine as well!'” (1 Kings 20:2-3 HCSB)

I realized how this is like the battles that I face with temptations. Those battles that seem unwinnable, where my record of defeat seems to show that there is no hope. Sin comes along and says to me

  • Your money is mine.
  • Your family is mine.
  • Your life is mine.
At first glance it seems that he is right. And all too often like Ahab I reply

Then the king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king: I am yours, along with all that I have.” (1 Kings 20:4 HCSB)

In other words, I give up without a fight.

The messengers then returned and said, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘I have sent messengers to you, saying: You are to give me your silver, your gold, your wives, and your children. But at this time tomorrow I will send my servants to you, and they will search your palace and your servants’ houses. They will lay their hands on and take away whatever is precious to you.‘” (1 Kings 20:5-6 HCSB)

Isn’t that the way sin works? It comes to take away whatever is precious to me. What will I do? Ahab, for once in his life, did a good thing. He called for help.

Then the king of Israel called for all the elders of the land and said, “Think it over and you will see that this one is only looking for trouble, for he demanded my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold, and I didn’t turn him down.” All the elders and all the people said to him, “Don’t listen or agree.” (1 Kings 20:7-8 HCSB)

Ahab called for the elders of the land. He didn’t try to go it alone, he asked for help and got some very good advice “Don’t listen”.  When I’m discouraged and tempted, I need to do the same thing. I need people in my life that I can turn to… people who can tell me things like.

  • Don’t listen to sin when it says you are already defeated
  • Don’t agree to what it wants you to do (Romans 6:12)
  • Remember that God says you are dead to sin (Romans 6:6-7)
  • Jesus came to set you free (John 8:32)
  • God will provide a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13)

When Ahab decided to fight, the Lord went into action.

A prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Do you see this entire great army? Watch, I am handing it over to you today so that you may know that I am Yahweh.'” (1 Kings 20:13 HCSB)

Just when it felt like they were on the verge of defeat, God moved and gave them the victory.

Then the king of Israel marched out and attacked the cavalry and the chariots. He inflicted a great slaughter on Aram. (1 Kings 20:21 HCSB)

Unfortunately, Ahab would later end up quite badly. This just goes to show that one battle does not win (or lose) the war. I am confident that with God’s help things will end much better for me because of what Christ has done for me.

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