Avoiding Costly Mistakes at All Costs - Costly Habits
I Kings 20:1-11
Pastor Don Jones
West Glendale Baptist Church
In the early years of the 20th century, a woman’s movement took the states by storm. Their cause was not equal rights, but rather the prohibition of a common product: alcohol. It was called the "Temperance Movement" and it was built on the belief the booze was the cause of many social ills and was a hindrance to civilized society.
• One of every eight Americans has a significant problem with alcohol or drugs, with 40 percent of the group having a "dual diagnosis," or concurrent mental/nervous disorder;
• Approximately 27 million Americans either use illicit drugs regularly or are "heavy drinkers." Of these almost 16 million are estimated to need immediate treatment;
• By age eighteen, almost 12 percent of all young people are illicit drug users;
• An untreated alcoholic’s medical costs are approximately 300 percent higher than non-alcoholic’s medical costs;
• Approximately 70 percent of illegal drug users are employed and contribute significantly to workplace absenteeism, accidents and injuries, decreased productivity, increased insurance expenses, employee turnover costs and on-the-job violence;
• The estimated annual direct cost to our society resulting from substance abuse is more than 250 billion dollars;
• It is generally accepted that chemical dependency, along with associated mental health disorders, has become one of the most severe health and social problems facing the United States.*
* Source: SAMHSA (U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
Amazing isn’t it. This only includes illegal drugs and under age drinking, and not prescription drug abuse. Let me give you some research involving our teens.
Alcohol and Youth Facts
Alcohol is a leading cause of death among youth, particularly teenagers. It contributes substantially to adolescent motor vehicle crashes, other traumatic injuries, suicide, date rape, and family and school problems.
Every day, on average, 11,318 American youth (12 to 20 years of age) try alcohol for the first time, compared with 6,488 for marijuana; 2,786 for cocaine; and 386 for heroin.
Alcohol is by far the most used and abused drug among America’s teenagers. According to a national survey, nearly one third (31.5%) of all high school students reported hazardous drinking (5+ drinks in one setting) during the 30 days preceding the survey.
Children who are drinking alcohol by 7th grade are more likely to report academic problems, substance use, and delinquent behavior in both middle school and high school. By young adulthood, early alcohol use was associated with employment problems, other substance abuse, and criminal and other violent behavior.
Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin drinking at 21.
More than 1,700 college students in the U.S. are killed each year—about 4.65 a day—as a result of alcohol-related injuries.
The "Temperance Movement", were they merely crazy ladies? Were they just looking to pick on the men of the day or were they really on to something? The statistics involving not only alcohol, but other drugs both legal and illegal, indicate that these women were on to something.
Today we are going to look at the third costly mistake part one: costly habits. This is one of those gray areas in scripture. Not addiction, it is a clearly forbidden in scripture, but consumption is not a black and white issue. But I hope you walk out with a better understanding of the freedom Jesus brings and the responsibility you have to other believers at the end of part two.
Cue slide - The Players and Problem
It involves three key players God, Ben-Hadad, and Ahab. First let’s look at Ben-Hadad. He was at the verge of becoming the most powerful men on earth. He was the leader of an alliance of 32 kings and approximately 130,000 fighting men. They had the latest technology of war including horses and chariots. I realize that this is not much of a threat today, but he was in possession of all the latest weaponry of that day. Verse 1-3 gives us his purpose. It says.
Now Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria and attacked it. 2He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: 3‘Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.’”
The battle had not taken place. Before anything had happened, including the battle, he was giving Ahab, the king of Israel, terms of surrender. He wanted all the valuables plus all the beautiful women. An old eastern proverb says, "Let not the one who starts the fight boast prematurely". We would say, "Don’t count your chickens before they hatch". Ben-Hadad was counting his win before it happened. Unfortunately for him, he was not aware of or he was ignoring the power of God.
Before we go on, let’s look at Ahab. You probably know him best because of his wife. All wicked women were called by here name at one time, Jezebel. We sometimes use her name today to describe unscrupulous women. She is not involved here, as far as we know, and she is not directly involved with the costly mistake so we will leave her out of the account. I will say Ahab was a man who was controlled by his wife. She influenced him to commit idolatry, supported 400 prophets of Baal, and she spoke against the prophets of God including Elijah. He was definitely a whooped man. But he was also king of Israel. Unfortunately for him his army was only 7000 strong and did not possess the latest technology. If there were a "Las Vegas" in Samaria betting on who would win this battle, the odds would be 1000 to 1 against Ahab. He was sure to lose this one and he knew it. Ahab sent this reply (considering the odds). Verse 4 says,
The king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.”
He gave up! He knew he couldn’t win and he probably didn’t want to die. I hope he didn’t want to see the entire nation destroyed. Notice though, he didn’t go before God to seek an answer to the problem before him. We are looking at an evil king in Ahab, one of the worst kings in the history of Israel. Unfortunately for him, there was a response from Ben-Hadad. Verses 5-6 say,
The messengers came again and said, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘I sent to demand your silver and gold, your wives and your children. But about this time tomorrow I am going to send my officials to search your palace and the houses of your officials. They will seize everything you value and carry it away.’”
He wanted to take inventory to make sure he got everything. He insulted the integrity of the king (not that it was not true). In response, Ahab finally summons the elders of the nation for advice and the elders and the people gave the advice, “Don’t listen to him or agree to his demands.” They knew that there would be no appeasing this king. He was what we would call a bully. Our world is dealing with some of them today. The response from Ahab enraged Ben-Hadad and his 32 kings. He was furious. He says,
“May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if enough dust remains in Samaria to give each of my men a handful.”
He was going to completely destroy the nation of Israel and all that were there. It was a scorched earth policy and Ben-Hadad was mad enough to carry it out and leave all of it ruined. Not only that but he was willing to walk away with nothing. Ahab answers back with a barb of his own. If you’re going to be destroyed at least get in a parting shot, what does it matter at that point. He says in verse 11,
“Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.’" In other words, "It ain’t over till its over".
Cue slide - The Costly Mistake
The next few verses are the key to all that follows. Ben-Hadad gives the order to prepare for attack, but notice where he and the kings are. Instead of preparing for battle and prepping the troops, they are in the tent drinking. They were well on their way to getting drunk by noon. Verse 12 says,
Ben-Hadad heard this message while he and the kings were drinking in their tents, and he ordered his men: “Prepare to attack.” So they prepared to attack the city.
They are all talking and boasting and getting drunk while preparing for battle. I guess they were so confident that they thought there didn’t have to be any planning at all. I am sure they got their battle plans from "the Art of War" by Johnny Walker and Jim Beam. They were honestly acting like many of the drunks I have known in my life. They boast was 100 proof right out of the bottle. This is "the" costly mistake.
Ahab on the other hand was receiving a message from the Lord. As bad as Ahab was, the Lord was unwilling to see the nation destroyed. Verse 13-14 says,
Meanwhile a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know that I am the LORD.’” “But who will do this?” asked Ahab. The prophet replied, “This is what the LORD says: ‘The young officers of the provincial commanders will do it.’” “And who will start the battle?” he asked. The prophet answered, “You will.”
God was preparing not only to start the war but finish it as well. Ahab would have made any promise, any agreement, just to survive the battle. Ahab, with the odds stacked against him, listened to the message of the Lord. With 130,000 against your 7,000, I think all of us would have listened to the Lord. It was a fox-hole confession. Ahab would have made any promise, any agreement just to survive the battle.
I am amazed at Ben-Hadad. Look at verse 16. It says,
They set out at noon while Ben-Hadad and the 32 kings allied with him were in their tents getting drunk.
It was noon and they were already drunk. I believe they had a problem with alcohol, don’t you? I imagine you can guess the result of this battle and the one that follows.
Let me summarize the other verses for you. There were two battles that followed and in both, Ben-Hadad loses. 64 kings and 260,000 men lost their lives for a drunkard. I would say that makes this a very costly mistake.
You might say, "Well no one can stand against the Lord". You would be right. No one can stand against the Lord, no one. But perhaps Ben-Hadad was to be the king, even before Cyrus or Darius to bring judgment upon the nation, but God would not suffer a drunk. We will never know. I do know that his costly mistake involving alcohol cost him his kingdom and the lives of his men.
Jesus said in John 14:6,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
He also said in John 8:32,
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Are you bound by a costly habit? It doesn’t have to be drugs or alcohol. It can be anything that controls your life to the point you are no longer able to make good decisions or to the point that it provides a comfort that replaces God. Jesus said He was truth and the truth will set you free. Trusting and believing in Him will set you free. Do you have a costly habit? Let Jesus set you free.
Avoiding Costly Mistakes 9-3 -2006
I Kings 20:1-35 WGBC
Costly Habits Part 1
Most powerful king of the time
Allied with 32 other kings
Commanded 130,000 men plus chariots & horses
One of the "evil" kings of Israel
Wife’s name is Jezabel
Heavily involved with idolatry
Commanded 7,000 men who are lightly armed
3, The Problem
Ben-Hadad has besieged Ahab
Odds are stacked against Ahab, no hope
Ahab listens to the LORD
4. The Costly Mistake
Ben-Hadad starts drinking in the a.m.
Is drunk by noon
Battle plan based on arrogance and pride
5. The Result
Ben-Hadad loses it all to Ahab