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June 30, Day 182 – Sin’s Relentless Grip on Man

Updated: 10 hours ago

1 Kings 22 takes us to the end of this book. In this chapter, we see that, as with many leaders whose positions “go to their heads,” Ahab was caught in the relentless grip of sin. He shamelessly exalted himself and totally disregarded all the counsel of God. Here, we observe that Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, paid a visit to Ahab, the king of Israel, and they created an alliance to retake Ramoth Gilead from the king of Aram. We read that Ahab “brought together four hundred [evil] prophets who told Ahab that the Lord would give it into his hand” (verse 6). By contrast to Ahab, Jehoshaphat desired and sought the will of God before executing his plans. He asked Ahab, “Is there not a prophet of the LORD?” (verse 7). Yes – there was one – Micaiah, but Ahab “hated him because he never prophecies anything good about him” (verse 8). Is that a good reason to avoid him? We see that Ahab’s prophets adversely advise him to go into the battle, and Micaiah sarcastically agrees with them (verse 15). However, Ahab realizes the sarcasm of the prophet, who then says, in all seriousness, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd” (verse 17). Micaiah also shared a vision of God, in which he saw the Lord’s “decree of disaster for Ahab” (verse 23). Nevertheless, Ahab and Jehoshaphat go up to fight the battle – Ahab in disguise – and Jehoshaphat in his “royal robes” (verse 30). One wonders why Jehoshaphat would even listen to foolish Ahab, but when the Arameans realize that Jehoshaphat is not the man for whom they are looking, “they stopped pursuing him” (verse 33). In this chapter, we see that Ahab made a foolish choice that ended in his death, and this event illustrates the truth of our Proverbs for today - that God will “establish our plans if we commit them to Him,” and “He will work out everything to its proper end, even for the wicked in the day of disaster” (cf., Proverbs 16:3-4). Interestingly, Ahab’s death was the result of a “randomly shot” arrow … but that arrow had Ahab’s name divinely inscribed on it. The sovereign God of the universe arranged miraculously - not randomly - for that arrow to find Ahab. Chapter 22 concludes with God’s contrasting commentary on the two kingdoms; Judah was characterized by Jehoshaphat’s righteousness, but Ahaziah’s kingdom in Israel was known for its wickedness.

Proverbs 15:31-16:7 says that “those who disregard discipline despise themselves,” and that “humility comes before honor.” These principles are important because they reveal God’s thoughts and desires about how we should live. Lacking a life of order, an undisciplined person dishonors himself and the God Who created him or her. God promotes and exalts whomever He will, largely because the people He exalts are godly and humble; they genuinely realize in their hearts that, apart from God, they are otherwise helpless and have nothing. Notice, “the LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: they will not go unpunished” (verses 5-6). This is always God’s starting point for us, and if we ignore, deny, or disregard it, we – like Ahab - show arrogant contempt for our Maker. In such a state, we quickly find ourselves where we don’t want to be - on the slippery slope of our own making.

We pick up the narrative of Acts 19:14-41 with Paul in Ephesus, where we see “seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest. They were commanding evil spirits to come out of those so possessed” (verse 14). Apparently, they were doing this – perhaps for gain – but certainly without divine authority. We read that, “one day, the evil spirit did not recognize their authority, and “the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them, overpowered them, and gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house - naked and bleeding” (verses15-16). In our day and age, we observe many, so-called Christian workers doing all kinds of things without the real authority of the Scriptures or the Holy Spirit. This passage should serve to warn us that the paganism of the spiritual realm is real, and believers should be vigilant about it. We see here the resultant power of God over the power of Satan in that “many believed and openly confessed their evil deeds – even burning their scrolls” (verse 17). These scrolls contained magic formulae and incantations for practicing “sorcery, and they were valued at 50,000 drachmas” (verses 18-19). In the last section of the chapter, we see the riot at Ephesus over the loss of business related to the worship of Artemis. Once again, we see the potential dangers associated with crowds – “the assembly was in confusion - most of the people did not even know why they were there” (verse 32). Our readings today reveal the relentless grip of sin on mankind.

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