1 Kings 16.30
“Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him.”
We are starting a new series that will focus on the life of Elijah. I did this series in 2017, but most of you were probably not following the A Call to Excellence at that time. So I am doing it again, with some updates. Given the many things happening in our nation and the world, I think you will find The Life of Elijah timely and encouraging.
It was around 870 BC in ancient Israel, and several generations had passed since the time of King David. The northern kingdom of Israel was now ruled by an extremely wicked king named Ahab, whom scripture says did great evil.
Whether for good or evil, leadership matters. There is a “leadership pathway” that affects all human institutions: Leaders create the culture that shapes the behavior that produces results. This is true for a company, it is true for a church, and it is true for a nation.
- The good news is that effective leaders create a healthy culture that energizes productive behavior that produces positive results.
- That bad news is that corrupt leaders create a toxic culture that promotes destructive behavior that produces disastrous results.
Tragically, in our generation we are experiencing the bad news in America. We are witnessing the progressive deterioration of our nation because of ineffective leadership in the culture-shaping institutions of our society. For this reason, the story of OT Israel is a cautionary tale that should get our attention. It is a powerful warning.
Ever since the death of Solomon, the northern kingdom of Israel suffered under the reign of corrupt kings, and the wickedness of those corrupt leaders spread into every part of the nation. Bloodshed and assassinations, murder and malice, conspiracy and deception, idolatry and immorality were pervasive.
Ahab, however, was a special kind of evil.
“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.” (1 Kings 16.31-34)
Why does the scripture pause and focus on Ahab’s marriage to Jezebel? Why make a point of telling us the name and lineage of Ahab’s wife?
First, she dominated the marriage. Jezebel really ruled the kingdom. She was the power behind the throne. Jezebel ruled her husband, and therefore she ruled the people of Israel.
Second, she was the one who initiated the worship of the false god Baal. When Ahab married Jezebel, she brought the religion of the Sidonians with her: the idolatrous worship of Baal, whom the Sidonian claimed was the god of rain and fertility, the storm god who controlled the seasons, the crops, and the land.
And when Baal worship entered the kingdom of Israel, bringing its pagan practices and barbaric sacrifices, the wickedness in the land only got worse.
This was a time of deep darkness and despair in Israel. There was a great chasm between God and His people. hen, abruptly and with very little introduction or background, the prophet Elijah appears. In response to the great spiritual chasm, Elijah alone stood in the gap.
More tomorrow …