King Ahab and Jezebel, Part 1
When you consider the history of Israel, how that nation was created by God to be a theocracy (directly ruled by God), but then God gave them a human king because the people of Israel demanded it, and ultimately how bad most of those kings were for Israel, it should give us reason to pause and reflect about God’s graciousness toward us. It’s even more fascinating when you consider that after Israel split into two separate kingdoms, the northern kingdom of Israel did not have one good king, while the southern kingdom of Judah had only a few.
We need to remember that Israel was specifically created by God for the purpose of being salt and light to the rest of the world. It was God’s design that the priesthood would be the group that communicated God’s will to the people and represented the people to God. It was also God’s design that ultimately the Deliverer would be born into this world in order to live a perfectly holy life, upholding all of God’s commands, and be found worthy to offer His life as a ransom for many. This was accomplished in Jesus, God the Son, and because of it, salvation is offered to all. Unfortunately, as we know, not all who hear the gospel receive it and too many die in their sin only to wake to the horrors of an eternity not only without God in Christ, but to the reality that they will experience God’s wrath forever and ever.
Most of us are well aware of Israel’s idolatrous history, a history that is filled with one failure after another. While the people were quick to pledge their loyalty to Jehovah God who led them out of captivity under Moses, it seemed that no sooner had they pledged that loyalty than they quickly abandoned their promise by chasing after other gods.
The temptation to serve Baal, Dagon, or Molech was never that far away and too many Israelites saw no problem trying to worship Jehovah and these other false gods. Of course, the reason they did so is the same reason people find reasons to not worship God today. It is easier to worship a god that you can control. Whether that god is Baal, some New Age entity, or money, people who reject the God of the universe do so because they either have a very difficult time believing they actually need salvation or because they want a god they can control, a god who will serve their needs.
Israel of old got too often carried away with idolatrous rebellion, seeking anything but God. Too many of Israel’s kings simply provide witness to us of how not to be, how not to live, and how not to rule. As mentioned, most of them were terrible kings, evil to the core. Yet, it is to be understood that the overwhelming majority of Israelites simply didn’t care. They had their human king, their guy whose duty it was to protect them in the time of war. The rest of the time? The people wanted to be left alone to go through the motions of worship and to appear outwardly as though they were obeying Jehovah God.
In this short series, I ultimately want to focus in on one particular king, his wife, and the prophet with whom they were forced to deal. The king’s name is Ahab. His wife was Jezebel. The prophet? Elijah. If it could be done correctly, this period in the lives of all three would make a fine movie or visual mini-series, but I have absolutely no faith in movie-makers to make such a movie that would accurately portray what God reveals to us in His Word so we will have to be content with that and we’re going to be looking at 1 Kings 16 – 21 in this short series. This series will ultimately be about Elijah and how God conquered through him.
I also want to say that I’m not trying to use this study as a commentary on today’s political arena, though parallels will probably be seen. As a student of history and the Bible, I truly enjoy learning more about His Word and how He has chosen to work. There are lessons for us today.
We learn of King Ahab in 1 Kings 16:29. Chapter 16 provides information regarding the kings that led up to Ahab becoming the king over Israel. This is one of the things I enjoy about Scripture. It builds on itself. It connects the dots and provides a through line whenever possible.
As we note in 1 Kings 16:1, Jehu son of Hanani hears a word from the Lord. The Lord reminds Jehu that He created him (Jehu) to be king. Unfortunately, as we learn, God is not at all pleased with Jehu and the way he has handled himself as king over Israel.
2 I raised you up from the dust and made you ruler over my people Israel. Yet you followed in Jeroboam’s footsteps and encouraged my people Israel to sin; their sins have made me angry. 3 So I am ready to burn up Baasha and his family, and make your family like the family of Jeroboam son of Nebat. 4 Dogs will eat the members of Baasha’s family who die in the city, and the birds of the sky will eat the ones who die in the country, (1 Kings 16:2-4).
Jehu used his free will to “encourage the people of Israel to sin,” instead of using his free will to encourage them to worship the one, true, living God. Nonetheless, God’s ultimate purposes will prevail, so He tells Jehu what is in store for him and Baasha. It’s really not a pretty picture, as Jehu’s family will follow in the footsteps of Jeroboam’s family.
Baasha reigned from 909–886 B.C., a period of 24 years. One wonders why God put up with Baasha if he was such a bad king? Grace. It is interesting to also note that Jeroboam had a dynasty in which Jerobaom II ruled for 41-years, the longest of any king of Israel. Regarding Baasha, Constable tells us the following (p. 64):
Baasha had an outstanding opportunity to lead Israel back to true covenantal worship after he had killed Nadab and terminated Jeroboam’s dynasty. However, he chose not to do so. He evidently regarded his elevation from a lowly origin (v. 2) to Israel’s throne as an opportunity to fulfill personal ambition rather than to glorify Yahweh. For Baasha’s failure, God announced that He would cut off his line as He had Jeroboam’s (vv. 3-4; cf. 14:11). God ended Baasha’s reign for two primary reasons: his continuation of Jeroboam’s cult, and the motive and manner with which he assassinated Nadab (v. 7).
Constable adds some more information that’s important for us to see.
Besides providing information on Baasha’s death, these verses [16:5-7] reemphasize the author’s theological approach to history. Three issues deserve mention. First, God’s word dictates history, a fact Jehu’s prophetic rebuke and prediction divulges. Second, Jeroboam and Baasha are judged unfavorably because they use their God-given political authority to preserve their own position rather than to glorify God among the people. Third, the text stresses cause and effect, not fatalistic determinism. God gives both Jeroboam and Baasha the opportunity to follow the covenant. Baasha eliminates Jeroboam’s family, as God said would happen, yet becomes like Jeroboam, which makes him a murderer, not a reformer.
It’s not as though God did not provide Baasha with opportunities to turn around in repentance either. So Baasha’s rule was ended and eventually Jehu’s rule also came to an end. This brought us to Elah’s reign over Israel (vv. 8-14). He was murdered after only two years on the throne (v. 10), by Zimri, who replaced Elah as king. Zimri ultimately fulfilled what God had predicted by killing Baasha’s entire family (vv. 11-12), even his friends. He apparently wanted no stone left unturned. So if God predicted that this was what would happen to Baasha, was Zimri accountable for it? Wasn’t he simply doing God’s bidding? I’m sure you know the answer to that. Zimri used his free will to murder all those people. God simply knew it would happen and allowed it as punishment for Baasha’s sins. Yet, Zimri was accountable for the action the same way Judas was accountable to betraying our Lord.
Following Zimri’s reign of seven days (v. 15), he died during a revolt of the people after setting the palace ablaze, which killed him. Why did this occur?
This happened because of the sins he committed. He did evil in the sight of the Lord and followed in Jeroboam’s footsteps and encouraged Israel to continue sinning, (v. 19).
Our sins eventually catch up with us. Even for Christians, we need to remember that we are not above God’s law. If we continue in known sin, that sin will be our undoing. While God certainly will forgive (if we ask in true humility), He is under no obligation to spare us from the consequences of our sin.
We’ll be back with more next time and remember that we are laying the groundwork to lead up to the situation between King Ahab (and his wife Jezebel), and Elijah. It’s a fascinating study so join me next time!
Entry filed under: eternity, israel, Judaism, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: 1 kings 16, baasha, jezebel, king ahab, naboth, zimri.