Destroying False Boundaries (1 Kings 20:23, 28)

1 Kings 20:23, 28 – And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.”

And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’”

King Ahab of the northern kingdom was at war with the king of Syria. God chose, for his own reasons, to rescue Israel from the Syrians, even though the Israelites were unfaithful to him. After the first victory that Israel won over Syria, the Syrian army returned home and made plans to return the next year.

It is very interesting to note why the Syrians thought they would be able to defeat Israel. As we read above, the Syrian army commanders believed that Israel served some sort of deity over the hill country. They believed that they could defeat Israel in a battle if they could simply lure them out into the plains. This view, which was a common belief of the nations surrounding Israel, basically stated that all gods are limited to specific areas. If the link between the god and the land was broken, the people of that land would be defeated. (By the way, this is very likely the false belief that Jonah had when he fled from God in Jonah 1).

The Lord, however, is not like the false gods of the nations. He is truly God, and God over all the heavens and earth, mountains and valleys, land and sea, heights and depths. He is by no means limited by any limitations that we can imagine. God is also jealous for the glory of his name. Thus, as we read in verse 28, God would not allow the Syrians to have a victory in the plains, because such a victory would allow them to believe that God was not God over the plains too. Consequently, as the chapter closes, God gives a great victory to Israel over the Syrian army in the plains, proving that the Lord truly is God over all.

While it is not common for us to believe that God is limited by national or geographic boundaries, we do often allow our minds to falsely separate things as God’s domain and not his domain. For example, many people live as though God is very important on Sunday morning at church, but then live as though he has no authority over them at their place of business. Many people are willing to trust God to save their souls from damnation, but are unwilling to trust him to provide for their needs in daily life. Many people are willing to say that God’s word is authoritative in matters of religion, but are unwilling to believe that God’s word is authoritative on issues of human sexuality, gender roles, counseling, parenting, or 21st century ethics. Many are willing to say that we should obey God in our lives, but not if that obedience might cost you a job, a raise, a potential future mate, or your life. All such views are very similar to the pagan notion that limits a nation’s god to its geography, and all such positions do not describe the true God.

It is time to be certain that you are not thinking about God like the Syrians of 1 Kings 20. Today, ask God to reveal to you any area in your life that you have not surrendered to his lordship. Ask him to show you where you have tried to put up a boundary that he is not allowed to cross. Ask him if there is ay place in which you are living as a practical atheist instead of as a disciple of Christ. Then, when you see such an area, be it personal or public, confess that sin to God, seek his forgiveness, and repent. Only when we live out our belief that God is God over all the world and over all our lives will we honor him rightly.

Dear Lord, I confess today that you are God over all things. You are Lord of every area of my life. Please make known to me any place in which I have not fully surrendered my will to yours. I do not want to live like an atheist in any part of my life. I surrender to you as Lord. Please help me to no longer live in any sort of rebellion or behind any false boundaries. You are God over all areas of my life, and my life is yours to command. Help me, I pray, to live for you in every area, so that I might better give honor and glory to your name in all things.