28 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.’” (1 Kings 20:28)
In a previous post, I talked about Solomon’s faulty reasoning that he could keep his foreign wives away from the Temple and still be good with God. Solomon mistakenly drew a dividing line between the sacred (Jerusalem) and the secular (everywhere else).
In today’s reading, we see Syria’s Ben-Hadad making the same mistake. He had gone out to battle once against Ahab, king of Israel, and had been routed. In the after-action report, Ben-Hadad and his generals misdiagnosed the reason for their defeat:
23 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. (1 Kings 20:23)
Ben-Hadad perhaps believed that the Syrian chariots were his greatest advantage, and that they would be more effective on the plain than on the hills. What he didn’t count on was that Israel’s greatest advantage was that Yahweh is not confined to the mountains, or the plains, or the sea, or the sky. He was defeated worse the second time than he was the first time, proving once again that there is nowhere God isn’t.
What is the lesson for today? It’s this: the Spirit of God knows no limits. No boundaries, no barriers, no limitations. He goes where He wants; He works where He wills, and wherever He works, He wins.
I heard a missiologist point out one time that of all the world’s religions, Christianity is the only one whose geographic center has shifted over time. Think about it: When you think about Judaism, you connect it to Israel. When you think about Hinduism, you think about India. Buddhism, Japan. Islam, the Middle East.
But Christianity is not bound by geography. At first, the center of Christianity was Jerusalem. But it quickly shifted to Europe, and for the first thousand years of its existence, Christianity was identified with Europe.
But where are we now? According to a 2022 LifeWay research report,
In 1900, twice as many Christians lived in Europe than in the rest of the world combined. Today, more Christians live in Africa than any other continent. By 2050, Africa will be home to almost 1.3 billion Christians, while Latin America (686 million) and Asia (560 million) will both have more than Europe (497 million) and North America (276 million).
Watch this amazing video to track the spread of Christianity from the first century to the present:
Ben-Hadad learned the hard way that the One True God is not bound by geography. God continues to demonstrate that every single day. He is the God of the city. He is the God of the country. He is the God of the Northern Hemisphere; He is the God of the Global South. There is truly nowhere God isn’t.
There are no godforsaken places on earth, but there are some church neglected ones.
Which means, if we truly want to join God in what He is doing in the world, it may be time to renew your passport.