Your enemy writes you a letter saying ?Hey Man, we?re
brothers. Your house is my house, your wife is my wife and your kids are my
kids? How would you answer? I know how I would answer?and it?s not like Ahab
answered. How stupid do you have to be to get this kind of note and send back a
letter saying ?It?s true, man, we?re one and the same?all that I have is
Now, Ben-Hadad the King of Syria (or Aram if you want) was telling the truth as far as that went. You see, back in the day Abraham came from around the same area that his majesty Ben-Hadad ruled over. If you remember Rebekah (Isaac?s cousin who Abraham had sent out to marry his son) lived in Paddan-Aram (Gen 25:20). So sure, Ben-Haddad could say he was physically one with Ahab and as far as that went it was the truth.
That wasn?t the whole truth though. Ben-Haddad was glossing over that little event of Abram, that Syrian, crossing over the water that separated his land from Canaan and becoming a Hebrew?one who crossed over from the other side. If we stopped it there, Ben-Haddad?s claim could still stand since after all it?s just a river separating the two and we all know that blood is thicker than water.
Maybe we can understand Ben-Haddad?s confusion because here he is, this gentile king with his Baal?s and his Asherah?s and now that he had beseiged Samaria he noticed even more idolatry. Indeed, right at his very border where Israel sat sweating, he could peek over and see the same pagan practices. ?Why, they?re not that different from me at all?.
This is one of those times that you can say ?Ahab, you idiot. There is a huge difference between you and those Aramaens. Don?t you remember the mount of the Lord where God spoke to the Children of Israel and covenanted with them after He had displayed His power and rescued them from the bondage of Pharaoh (Exo 19)? Don?t you remember how you were brought into Israel and given the Land flowing with milk and honey?a separate people, a nation of priests?
Apparently he didn?t else he wouldn?t have responded simply to appease that crazy old Syrian. Just send off a note in agreement and he?ll go away? Well, if you?re willing to give that Aramaen an inch he?ll make sure to take a mile. Ben-Haddad writes back that it is all well and good and ?we shall come by and pick up our things around this time tomorrow, good day? (1 Kings 20:5-6).
Ahab didn?t much like the sound of this and called a meeting regarding what he should do. He?s compromised this far and now the door is ajar and the enemy is coming with a few carts and wagons and they?ll be there any second to clean out Ahab?s place. So the elders tell him ?Don?t listen, Ahab. Refuse him.? (1 Kings 20:8) which sounds well to him so he writes back assenting to the concept that they?re brothers and such, but don?t come by and pick anything up please. What is worse, when Ahab finally has Ben Haddad cornered, he embraces him and calls him Brother (20:32-35)
Allow me to make a momentary connection with our own modern day and the enemies that surround us on all sides. John would warn us of our flesh, indeed the enemy behind the walls, but he also warns us of the world?all outside of us but still within sight (1 Jn 2:16; 1 Jn 5:19). How often have we found ourselves in conversations where the words ?what does it matter? We?re all people living on this same planet! It?s about brotherhood, man, not about which religion or system is right. Don?t be so stubborn.?
What do we do with this kind of opposition? Do we embrace it and say ?Yes, we are all the same blood and blood is thicker than water!? What a sad thing it is when Christians forget their redemption, forget the great price that was paid on the cross, and squander their calling for the sake of peace. What invariably happens is that the door is opened and through that small crack of compromise the world decides to take more than was given (1 Cor 5:6-7).
Once a person is down that slippery slope no amount of logic or wisdom will help that person get out. Stupid old Ahab stammering out his boasts while likely shaking in his boots staring at the scowling Syrians as they get in position (1 Kings 20:12).
Thank the Lord that God for Ahab?s example. If that stupid man, sinful through and through, would be delivered when he most needed it (1 Kings 20:13-21), I can thank God knowing that he would deliver someone like you or me. Not relying on our own personal strengths or logic?look where it got Ahab?but rather on the mighty power of the Lord who will answer that prayer ?Lord save me!? when a man finds himself drowning (Matt 14:30,31; 2 Thes 3:3).