Tag Archives: Pastor David Frampton

Ahab: A Man of Wickedness (Part Two)

1 Kings 16:29-34

And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him (16:31-33 ESV)

As leader of God’s people, Ahab, king of Israel, was in a position to lead the people away from God. The Holy Spirit in this section explains the evil spiritual situation that Israel fell deeper into. Previously, we observed that Ahab, surpassed all his predecessors in wickedness, and he broke through barriers in his pursuit of sin. What else did Ahab do to wreak spiritual havoc in God’s nation?

Ahab married an evil woman (16:31). We must recall the Lord’s concern for Israel’s purity in the marriage covenant. During the time of the law covenant, God had forbidden intermarriage with any of the Canaanite people (Deuteronomy 7:1-6). He had good reasons for this prohibition. He wanted his people to be separate from the nations, and avoiding close relationships, like marriage, would promote their devotion to the Lord. This same principle is true for the new covenant believer, though the intermarriage forbidden is different under the new covenant (1 Cor 7:39; 9:5; 2 Cor 6:14-16). People in God’s new holy nation are only to marry people who are also part of that group, meaning followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first question to ask before beginning any romantic involvement is this: “Is this person I am interested in a true follower of Jesus Christ?” If not, avoid romantic entanglements.

Jezebel was from Sidon, a Canaanite city (Judges 1:30-32). Therefore, Ahab had no right to marry her. Did Ahab care what God’s said in the Torah? Not at all! He had contempt for God, but his refusal to obey God did not grant him immunity from judgment.

This woman, Jezebel, became notorious for her wickedness. She became so infamous, that her name became a prophetic symbol for wickedness (Revelation 2:20-22). Notice her way of life:

  • Her cruelty. 18:4. We have enough sorrow from the murders committed by those involved in drugs and gangs. How much worse when the government persecutes the righteous?
  • Her idolatry. 18:19; 2 Kings 9:22.
  • Her involvement with witchcraft. 2 Kings 9:22.

With a queen like this at wicked Ahab’s side, Israel was in for trouble.

To make matters much worse, Ahab established the worship of Baal in Israel (16:31b-33). What is meant by Baal? The word itself means “lord” or “master” or “husband”. It was used to refer to a number of false gods in ancient times, for example, Numbers 25:3; Joshua 2:11-13. Here it refers to the Baal of Tyre, Melkarth [Melqart], who “was the kind of god that required the burning of innocent children as oblations upon his altar” (Wycliffe Bible Commentary). He was considered to be sort of the “weather or fertility god” of the land. His worshipers would engage in various debauched practices to induce him to send good weather.

Ahab was devoted to his new god. He began to worship and serve Baal, and soon he was promoting his new faith. To do this he built a temple and an altar for Baal, and made an Asherah pole. Asherah, “the Lady who treads on the sea” was believed to be the mother of Baal and wife of El, the chief of the gods, and the goddess of the sea. In this way he again transgressed the instruction of the law covenant (Deuteronomy 7:5). Here is a recurring theme in pagan thought: the worship of a god and his mother. Does this sound familiar?

Ahab provoked the true and  living God to anger. Even though others before him, like Jeroboam, had sinned grievously, Ahab gave himself over to evil to a greater extent than anyone before him had. Listen to what the Spirit says. Still, there was no one like Ahab, who devoted himself to do what was evil in the Lord’s sight, because his wife Jezebel incited him (1 Kings 21:25 CSB). What happens next demonstrates that God was not indifferent to Ahab’s sin. He was provoked to anger by it. Consider Romans 1:18. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (NASB). But how did God act? The stage is set for the appearance of Elijah. But we close with a couple lessons.

  • When people depart from the worship of the true God, they often get involved in the worship of what has been created (Romans 1:21-23). Humans have sought to fill the vacuum in our souls by polytheism, evolutionism or pantheism. It is amazing to see how modern, technologically advanced humanity has descended to worship the “forces” in nature.
  • God’s wrath is against all those who get involved in such pagan practices. The church must take its stand against the adoption of such things though they are called by different names.
  • The only way to approach the true and living God is through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NLT).

Grace and peace, David

Ahab: A Man of Wickedness

1 Kings 16:29-34

Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat… (16:30-31a NIV).

God’s word is always relevant to the human situation, because God and mankind are the same as when the Bible was written. Yes, our technology has changed, but the hearts of people are the same. The human race rejects God as God, refuses to love God first of all, and rebels against God and his laws. The text before us answers the question that everyone seems to ask in their time, “It can’t get any worse, can it?” Yes, it can get worse in any nation and all nations. Consider the example of Israel. Jeroboam I, the son of Nebat, invented a new religion for Israel, and the next five kings gladly walked in his ways. The warnings of God through his prophets were unheeded, and Israel provoked the Lord to anger by their worthless idols. But as bad as that was, let us see what happened when Ahab became the new ruler.

The rest of the book of 1 Kings is a contrast between Ahab, a man of wickedness, and Elijah, a man of faith. From a human perspective, Ahab should have had all the advantages in this comparison. He was the absolute ruler of his country, and Elijah had nothing. Ahab lived for self-satisfaction, and Elijah lived to deny himself pleasure for the glory of God. In this brief opening section (16:29-34), the Holy Spirit provides us with God’s evaluation of Ahab. After setting Ahab in history, the Spirit tells us about Ahab’s character and preferences.

Ahab surpassed all his predecessors in wickedness. At least three factors combined to produce Ahab as he was.

  • The wickedness of his own heart. In every person there is a foul spring of what the Bible calls sin; that is, rebellion against God, the transgression of his laws, the “bentness” of the inner person of the heart. Listen to God’s word: For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander (Matthew 15:19 NIV). The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV). Never underestimate the radical corruption (total depravity) of mankind. Being dead in sins, people are capable of the worst crimes against each other and the most obstinate rebellion against the true and living God.
  • The plots of Satan. Listen to the word again: The apostle wrote about the human situation this way. People are caught in the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26 NIV). Humanity has a tireless enemy that wants us all dead, and he is always alert for ways to bring this about. He had an “absolute ruler” under his thumb, and he found the perfect time to strike.
  • The religious decline in Israel. Where believers do not shine as lights, darkness increases (Matthew 5:14-16). If anyone doubts the power of true Christianity to transform a nation, consider England before and after the First Great Awakening. England was morally ruined, until the good news of justification by grace through faith in Christ was clearly proclaimed.

Ahab broke through barriers in his pursuit of sin. He disregarded the examples of God’s anger against his predecessors (15:30; 16:7,13 , 19). Instead of considering God’s judgment on them, he attempted to succeed where they failed. The fear of God had no place in his heart. What resides in the hearts of all people (There is no fear of God before their eyes, Romans 3:18 ESV), was life-dominating for Ahab. He considered all the sins of Jeroboam to be trivial. “Why only break the second command of the covenant? Let’s go all the way, and break the first one, too.” Let’s call this “an Ahab attitude.”

When a ruler desires to surpass all their predecessors in evil and chooses to break through any barriers to do that, you know that trouble is sure to come! Ahab chose to lead his kingdom on the path to hell, and he quickly learned the bitterness of that choice. Let’s avoid his high-handed sins.

Grace and peace, David