Mercy and Miracles
1 Kings 20:13-21
13 And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
14 And Ahab said, “By whom?” He said, “Thus says the Lord, By the servants of the governors of the districts.” Then he said, “Who shall begin the battle?” He answered, “You.”
15 Then he mustered the servants of the governors of the districts, and they were 232. And after them he mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand.
16 And they went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, he and the thirty-two kings who helped him.
17 The servants of the governors of the districts went out first. And Ben-hadad sent out scouts, and they reported to him, “Men are coming out from Samaria.”
18 He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive. Or if they have come out for war, take them alive.”
19 So these went out of the city, the servants of the governors of the districts and the army that followed them.
20 And each struck down his man. The Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them, but Ben-hadad king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen.
21 And the king of Israel went out and struck the horses and chariots, and struck the Syrians with a great blow.
During this chapter, we've stepped away from the story of Elijah and Elisha and are getting to witness the incredible mercy of God along with the arrogant stupidity of Ahab. God comes to Ahab through an unnamed prophet and tells him that his enemies, who are gathered in a force much greater than Israel’s, will be defeated by God Himself. Still God offers Ahab mercy and grace in the face of his continued stubbornness and unwillingness to bow before the Lord God. The power and strength of the only True God is visible both to Ahab and to his enemies. What more do they need before they will believe?
And for me, there it is for the day. What more do we need in order to surrender into the hand of the Lord? How many miracles are necessary before we turn from our idolatrous ways and seek the face of God with a humble heart? Surprisingly, the answer is that miracles don’t change a heart – only the Holy Spirit can do that. Think of all the miracles Jesus worked in the presence of those who refused to believe He was the Son of God. Yes, many hearts were changed and hundred believed Him to be exactly who He claimed to be. But there were also so many who refused to give up their own power base and trust Him as Savior. What comes to mind is the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, found in Luke 16:19-31. http://www.esvbible.org/Luke 16:19-31
In this story, Jesus illustrates that if a heart is turned against Him with intentionality all the miracles in the world aren’t going to make a difference. This is tough to hear because it lays the blame for our indifference and our struggles to be close to God directly at our own feet. That’s a bummer, because we would rather blame God for that distance. But, the heart that is soft toward Him is comforted and held closely, just as Lazarus was held in the arms of Abraham. While his life on earth was difficult (to say the least) his heart must have believed, for he found himself in eternity with the Father. Ahab, like the Rich Man, had very little time in his life for God and as a result he was blinded to the miraculous events that were taking place around him. Instead of seeing the victories God gave him through the eyes of faith, he saw them through a heart of arrogance and pride. That view made all the difference in the world, and in the next.