Sunday, January 28, 2007

How Big is Your God ?

There is a story recorded in I Kings 20 about a King of Syria by the name of Ben-Hadad.

It appears that one day King Ben-Hadad became restless and wanted the challenge of a battle.
He concocts a plan to provoke King Ahab of Israel into a confrontation but before he throws the first punch he makes sure he has lots of backup – no less than 32 kings. Assuring himself of their support , he sends messengers to Ahab saying, “Thus says Ben-Hadad… all your silver and your gold are mine as are your loveliest wives and children.”
Of course we would expect King Ahab to send the messengers packing with a resounding “NO WAY!” reply back to the King of Syria. But either King Ahab was not at all fond of his family or he was terrified of the King of Syria. The answer he sends back is, “As you wish, my gold, my silver , my wives and my children are yours.”
Seeing that the King of Israel did not take his bait, Ben-Hadad ups the ante hoping that he will goad the king into action with his next message, “You shall send me your gold and silver and your wives and children, but I am also sending my servants to you in twenty-four hours and they will search your house and the houses of your servants and whatever strikes their fancy they shall take ..”
This time the King Ahab's ire is aroused and he calls for his advisors who counsel him not to listen to Ben-Hadad’s demands.
King Ahab, taking their advice , sends back a message to Ben-Hadad. “Your first request I will honour, but I will not consent to anything else.”
The King of Syria on hearing King Ahab’s refusal to comply with his second request, rises up and boastfully declares that when he is through with Samaria there will not even be a handful for dust left for each of his supporters!
Tit for tat , the king of Israel retorts , “Let not the one who puts on his armor boast like the one who takes it off,” implying that he himself would be the victor.
When the news comes back to the King of Syria and the 32 kings still drinking at the command post, the king commands his servants to prepare for battle..

Meanwhile, a prophet suddenly approaches King Ahab with a message , “Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude ? Behold , I will deliver them into your hand today … and you shall know that I am the Lord!!”
Ahab has a question, “By whom will you deliver us?” The Lord replies, “By the young leaders of the provinces.” Ahab questions again , “But who will organize this army ?” God gives him a short answer, “You.”
Ahab gathers together the 232 young leaders of the provinces plus the rest of the army totaling 7,000 – a small band compared to the mighty army of the Syrians.

Back at the Syrian compound the over confident king of Syria and his friends are still drinking. They are interupted by a guard who comes in to inform them that the Israeli army is coming! Ben-Hadad laughs and flippantly answers , “If they come in peace.. take them alive… if they come out for war ..take them alive .”
But the drunk Syrians have underestimated the small Samaritan army and are forced to flee with the Israelites in pursuit. There was a great slaughter but the King of Syria escapes with his cavalry.

Once more the prophet comes to King Ahab and tells him to strengthen his army and prepare because in spring the King of Syria would again come against him in battle.

Puzzling over their defeat, the Syrians come up with a plausible explanation . They tell King Ben Hadad that the reason they lost was because the God of the Israelis is a god of the hills but not of the valleys ,therefore, if they attacked them on the plain it would be an easy victory for them. The king accepts their explanation and regroups , forming as big an army as he had before.

Just as the word of God predicted, in the spring the Syrian army once again comes out against Israel.. King Ahab musters together his army but they look like two little flocks of goats encamped before the great Syrian army that fills the countryside.
God again sends a message to the king of Israel , “Thus says the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, 'The Lord is God of the hills but He is not God of the valleys’ , Therefore I will deliver this multitude into your hand and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
The Israelites win the battle killing 100,000 Syrians in one day, and when the remaining army tries to escape a wall falls on them and kills 27,000 more. Ben-Hadad flees back home and hides in an inner chamber

I love the accounts of the bible stories because we are told not only the historical events of long ago - but we are also given a glimpse into God’s involvement -His thoughts and judgments in the situation. The best way to learn to know someone is to watch what they do as well as what they say. And so when I read the Old Testament I look for God’s actions and reactions in His dealings with man in the circumstances of his life.

The point I want to draw out of this story is the mistake the Syrians made. They did not doubt that the God of the Israelites existed., they just made Him too small.
They limited His power by saying that he was god over the hills but not over the valleys.
God would not allow the heathen to mock Him .
Moses understood this about God . When God was ready in His anger to destroy the disobedient people of Israel, Moses argued that if the Lord were to do that the nations would have cause to say that the God of the Israelites was weak - too weak to fulfill the promise He had made to bring them into the promised land. In response to Moses’ argument God turned away from His wrath and forgave the people. ( Num.14:15,20)

We may think the Syrians foolish in thinking God to be the God of the hills but not the plains. But wait … are we not also guilty ?
Do we not sometimes believe God in one area of our life and then limit Him in another?
We believe that God could perform miracles here … but not there.
We believe that God may answer this prayer but not that one.
Do we not sometimes let God be Lord on ‘Sunday’ but not on ‘Monday’ ? Over our relationships but not our money ? Over our spoken words but not our thoughts?

I challenge you today to search your own heart and life… is God truly God over your hills as well as your valleys?
Is your God big enough to be Lord over every part of your life?

2 comments:

Demara said...

Yes I KNOW GOD IS HERE with me even in my valleys...I guess you could say I lose hope sometimes...my flaw, not doubt though...

...I BELIEVE that even in my valleys you LORD are here with me, coming behind me to push me up the hill...

Thank-you Julie for being such a beautiful messenger of HIS!!!

Lovella said...

let us not think Him too small.
As I was reading your post today, I thought oh how your grand daughters must love for you to tell them stories. You leave me spell binded right to the end. . . and I know how it ends.