2 Kings 20:23-30 - Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, “Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we; but rather let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they. 24 “Do this thing: remove the kings, each from his place, and put captains in their place, 25 and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they.” And he listened to their voice and did so. 26 At the turn of the year, Ben-hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 The sons of Israel were mustered and were provisioned and went to meet them; and the sons of Israel camped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Arameans filled the country. 28 Then a man of God came near and spoke to the king of Israel and said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because the Arameans have said, “The LORD is a god of the mountains, 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.’” 29 So they camped one over against the other seven days. And on the seventh day the battle was joined, and the sons of Israel killed of the Arameans 100,000 foot soldiers in one day. But the rest fled to Aphek into the city, and the wall fell on 27,000 men who were left. And Ben-hadad fled and came into the city into an inner chamber.
We are transitioning to a new series from our studies in Kings to a topical series on our Distinctive Doctrines. In this series we want to address several key topics that are important for our community of churches: worldview, worship, children, headship, and eschatology. In the first sermon I want to address the subject of Christian worldview. There are several things to note about the concept of a worldview:
Definition - A worldview is the set of beliefs, assumptions, and presuppositions that frame and inform our minds on the nature of reality.
Necessity - A worldview is an unavoidable backdrop to one’s view of reality. Everyone has a worldview, the real issue is whether one’s worldview is grounded in truth. Are those beliefs about reality true? Are the assumptions or presuppositions that fill in the gaps of our knowledge based on truth?
Epistemology (how we know what we know) - That leads to the inevitable question of where may we find such truth about reality. What is the source(s) for our knowledge? Could we obtain all this truth by our own discovery of it?
Empirical (knowledge through sense-perception) - For example, I could view my backyard and ask whether there is limestone underneath the dirt even where I can’t see limestone. In order to clear up my assumption, all I need is a shovel. But we can’t go dig all kinds truth ourselves.
Revelation (knowledge through divine disclosure) - For example, I can’t go dig up some facts about what the purpose of my life is or what will happen after I die or if there is a going to be a resurrection in the future. For this and almost all of the important and ultimate questions, I need a source of authority. Christians believe that God has revealed Himself in nature and the special revelation of Scripture.
Alternative Worldviews - Other worldviews that are influential in our day are a) materialism (atheism) dependent on the claims of modern science to explain reality and b) Eastern mysticism (inclusive of Hinduism and forms of Buddhism, new ageism) which claim that reality at base is monistic (one thing), such that all the diversity in the world we empirically sense is actually an illusion. The intrusion of the Eastern mystical worldview has been fueled in the West by the interesting and non-mechanistic conclusions of Quantum theory/mechanics. Prior to the development of Christianity in the West, most of the world held to a poly-theistic pagan worldview which viewed the world as unexplainable, full of lesser deities and demons which regionally controlled rivers, hills, or plains and which could be placated through religious activities (like blood sacrifices). This is the worldview evident in our text.
As I have thought much about the books of Kings, this passage (1 Kgs 20) came to mind as the epitome of a non-Christian worldview. The context is the ministry of Elijah when evil Ahab is king (son of Omri). The drought in Israel is proclaimed in ch. 17; ch. 18 is the defeat of the prophets of Baal on the Mount Carmel; and ch. 19 is the aftermath of God speaking to Elijah in the “still, small voice.” Now in ch. 20, Arameans/Syrians have formed an alliance with small kingdoms (against Assyria), but are abusing Israel and threatening to completely destroy the central city, Samaria. Like many others, the e