To whom it may concern? ∙
A Syrian soldier, however, randomly shot an arrow at the Israelite troops and hit the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. – 2 Chronicles 18:33
1 Kings 21:17-20
17 But the LORD said to Elijah,
18 “Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria.”
19 “Give him this message: ‘This is what the LORD says: Wasn’t it enough that you killed Naboth? Must you rob him, too? Because you have done this, dogs will lick your blood at the very place where they licked the blood of Naboth!’”
20 “So, my enemy, you have found me!” Ahab exclaimed to Elijah. “Yes,” Elijah answered, “I have come because you have sold yourself to what is evil in the LORD’s sight.
Job 1:21 The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away.
There are many definitions of stray bullets. One defines a stray bullet as a bullet that leaves the immediate area of where it was shot and injures a human being. Another definition refers to a bullet that hits an unintended target. Stray bullet injuries and deaths result from missing targets when hunting or sport-shooting, accidental or negligent discharges, getting caught in a crossfire, or celebratory gunfire. They are considered a freak accident or an act of God. The casualty was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” They cannot be predicted, controlled, or prevented.
The probability of accidental death from stray bullet about 1 in 8500 (www.iii.org). To put this in perspective the odds of dying from heart disease 1 in 6, cancer 1 in 7, suicide 1 in 86, opioids 1 in 98, automobile accidents 1 in 106, drowning 1 in 1121, choking on food 1 in 2618, sunstroke 1 in 7770, cataclysmic storm 1 in 54,669, dog attack 1 in 118,776, lightning 1 in 180,746 (NSC, 2018). The odds of getting bitten by a shark 1 and 3,750,000 (Insider, 2018).
What about stray arrows?
The Scriptures contain stories that you just can’t make up. So it is with the story of Ahab, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. This story takes place during the time of the divided kingdom after the reign of Solomon. The 10 northern tribes are called Israel and the two southern tribes are called Judah.
Jehoshaphat king of Judah was a good king, while Ahab king of Israel was an evil king. Regrettably, Ahab convinces Jehoshaphat to ally and they join forces in battle.
Micaiah the prophet of the Lord told Ahab that he would surely die. He was a doomed man.
2 Chronicles 18:16-18
16 Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.’
18 Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the LORD says! I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left.”
REFLECT & PRAY
Things happen that are beyond our control. Mere humans cannot predict them nor prevent them. But the Father knows the future before it occurs. He demonstrates that He is in control by prophesying specific events in advance.
Father thank You that You are sovereign. There are no random arrows. We can outlive the best-laid traps of our enemies. While our enemies cannot escape your predictions.
Ahab took the Father’s prediction delivered by Micaiah to heart and did everything he could to save himself, except quit the battle and leave immediately for home. He employed deception, deceit, disguises, and camouflage. Ahab did everything short of painting a sign on Jehoshaphat’s back, “I am the king of Israel, kill me if you can.”
2 Chronicles 18:29 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “As we go into battle, I will disguise myself so no one will recognize me, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle.
All of Ahab’s efforts were to no avail. What appeared to be a freak accident was nothing of the kind. The kill shot was predicted and guided. The Father had the final word. There are no stray arrows, only those that appear to be. “The random arrow shot by an anonymous archer was guided by the Lord to its target, and Ahab was mortally wounded” (Thompson).
2 Chronicles 18:30 Meanwhile, the king of Syria had issued these orders to his chariot commanders: “Attack only the king of Israel! Don’t bother with anyone else.”
2 Chronicles 18:31,32
31 So when the Syrian chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat in his royal robes, they went after him. “There is the king of Israel!” they shouted. But Jehoshaphat called out, and the LORD saved him. God helped him by turning the attackers away from him.
32 As soon as the chariot commanders realized he was not the king of Israel, they stopped chasing him.
Amid all the confusion, the Father fulfilled the prophecy delivered by Elijah concerning King Ahab. A Syrian archer fired an arrow in the general direction of the Army of Israel. Everyone present would have thought the arrow had written on it “to whom it may concern.” But in fact, Ahab’s name was written on it. The arrow penetrated the area between the joints of Ahab’s armor. Ahab was mortally wounded and died the same day
The Father heard Jehoshaphat’s prayer for help. He turned away his attackers and spared his life. But the Father had some choice words of confrontation for Jehoshaphat.
2 Chronicles 19:2 King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the LORD.”
How could King Jehoshaphat not have realized what Ahab was up to? If Ahab had painted a target on Jehoshaphat’s back, he could not have made it easier for the enemy to kill him! But the Father is sovereign in all things. He protected Jehoshaphat. While simultaneously directing the arrow into the vulnerable opening in Ahab’s armor. “Ahab was disguised and yet was killed, while Jehoshaphat was in his royal robes and never touched” (Wiersbe).
1 Kings 22:37-38
37 So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried the king in Samaria.
38 They washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood . . . According to the word of the LORD which He spoke.
“The Lord helped Jehoshaphat out of a tight spot that he never should have been in. God’s grace covers a multitude of our sins” (Stanley).
When it comes to the fulfillment of the Father’s will in general and prophecy in particular, there are only three logical possibilities regarding what happens: The Father is in control, people are in control, nobody’s in control, everything is random.
Isaiah 48:5 I told you what would happen; I told you beforehand what I was going to do.