“And the battle continued that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died. And the blood of the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot.” (1 Kings 22:35)
Ahab, the king of the northern kingdom of Israel and Jehoshaphat, the king of the southern kingdom of Judah, have forged a rare alliance to go to battle against the Syrians, to help Ahab retake the town of Ramoth-gilead. All the Syrians want is to kill Ahab, so he wears ordinary clothes, while Jehoshaphat wears his royal robes to distract the enemy. Their scheme works until a random arrow finds a way through Ahab’s armor, and he is mortally wounded. Ahab is propped up in his chariot to inspire his troops. But eventually, he bleeds out and dies.
I don’t remember learning that story in Sunday School! And I know why. The horrors of war are horrible. We want to keep them from our children as long as possible. The thing is, God’s people are often at war in the pages of scripture. ln those wars, thousands of lives are lost. Sometimes they win. Sometimes they lose. But battle is never pretty. And it is always bloody.
Later, Jesus would speak about war, violence, persecution, famine and pestilence. His depiction of the world before his return is terrifying. But if you think of the cross as Jesus’ chariot, where he does battle with sin, death and the devil, it all comes together. The blood flows from that chariot until the battle is done. The king is willing to give it all up for us, so we can win this battle.
Thank you, Lord, for the blood and the victory! Amen.