Monday, March 4, 2013

What we allow - Lessons from Ahab

Ahab by Margot Cioccio
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

1 Kings 16:30
Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.

I have gotten off on quite a turkey chase. I have for some reason been moved to study and consider the lives of both Jezabel and her husband King Ahab. There are probably other things I should be doing but I am gripped by some things about their story. His name comes up 89 times when searched in the Bible. He and Jezebel get a fair amount of ink - I think its worth finding out why. 
I have also been working on computer paintings of characters. This is my painting of Ahab. I think he is a guy who has enjoyed a life of ease and rides of the success of others. There is probably more I could do with this painting. I think he is a conflicted personality. He knows what is right but fails to stand up to those who have stronger personalities. The grapes are a hint of another story about how he got a vineyard but that's a story for another day.

I started by looking up Ahab and what his name means. It means "my fathers brother". I have read all kinds of commentaries about why he would have been named that. It might also mean a "close relation to God", if thats the case he did not live up to his name. Could his father Omri have married his mother, making his son also his brother. I don't think the family would have wanted to play that bit of insest up and giving everyone a constant reminder of something that would generally be kept a secret. I thought I had an a ha moment regarding his name but then realized that I had tangled up the two lines of kings.

I have been bothered in reading about him that it says in 1 Kings 16: 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him.

His father is Omri was a military commander under the 4th king of Israel Elah who ruled for abut 2 years. He is assassinated Zimri the head of the chariot forces. Zimri realizes that he can't hold on to his power and seven days into his reign commits suicide by burning down the palace.  Omri is set up as king by the Israelite soldiers. It is thought that he may have been a paid mercenary and not much is known about his lineage. He had the support of the military her rule for 12 years and began a 45 year dynasty followed by his son Ahab and then two grandsons.  Omri is credited with moving the capital to Samaria. He must have been quite a powerful military leader as well as quite a builder. Archeology in Samaria has found that he built well made buildings and walls that covered over four acres. Not much ink is given to Omri in the bible. We know how he came to power, the length of his reign and that God was not pleased with him because he followed continued the worship of other gods . It seems the people for the most part were happy with the power and wealth that they enjoyed during the Omri dynasty. I was hoping to find out who is brother might have been to unravel why Ahab is named "my father's brother" sadly it remains a mystery.

Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.
So my first thought is how is his marriage to Jezebel any worse that the many wives of David or Solomon both of whom married more than one woman. Solomon married many foreign wives from numerous people groups that were off limites to Israel . Check out 1 Kings 11:1 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.
The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime.

You have to keep in mind that Israel and Judah split and there are two lines of kings. In the line of Judah you get a few good ones. In the line of Israel they are a mixed bag of bad apples.  We are looking at Israels kings, Ahab being the 7th king to rule. His rule lasted for 22 years. God was not pleased with him but the people did not seem to have a problem with him. He did openly what others had done in secret. He is not the first to bring the worship of other god's to Israel. He, with Jezabel's help establishes Baal worship and gives it equal or higher prominence than the worship of Jehovah.She pretty much sets up her own priesthood and prophets to run the religious show.

I still trace the trouble back to David and Solomon and the time before the two kingdoms split. They set a precedence for kings in having multiple wives and Solomon brought in wives from people Israel was forbidden to intermarry. I have to wonder how one woman Jezebel, could possibly do more damage than 700 wives of royal birth from foreign lands that Solomon married. Why does the bible credit to Solomon such great wisdom and Ahab such disdain?  Why would the worship of Baal be any worse than the worship of Ashtoreth, Molek or Chemosh.  Was it simply that during Ahabs day that the worship of Baal was elevated to equal or higher status than Jehovah God? These are the kinds of questions that I have been wrestling with. 
 
He and Jezabel have a daughter who is given in marriage to the king of Judah in an attempt to reunite the two kingdom. Might it be that his daughter Athaliah who becomes the one lone woman ruling queen of Judah, perhaps had it out for her dad for some reason.  Her father is the king of Israel and her mother is Jezebel. How much access did she have to the history books of her day as the queen. Did she have a reason for wanting David and Solomon to look good and Ahab her father to look bad. It is during her reign that all other 70 sons of her father are beheaded. Might she have had some issues with her father. It is during her reign that the line of David is nearly eliminated. I'd say she was a tool in the enemy's hands attempting to destroy the work of God.

I read one commentary that suggested that Ahab was really not any worse than Saul, David or Solomon. That commentary felt that history painted them in a more favorable light and then took all their bad stories and shifted them over to Ahab. I'm not really trying to make a case that he was a good guy, he and his wife Jezebel did some bad stuff in the eyes of God. I think perhaps the warning for us is that we will often tollerate a bad leader if we enjoy military safety and prosperity during their years of power. Just because something is big and prosperous does not necessarily mean it has received the blessing and favor of God. You have to remember that we serve a God who is born in a humble stable, cave. He speaks in parables to the masses but explains them to his followers. He held no military or political or religious office of power. His ways are higher than ours. We need to learn to hate the things that God hates. Often we are clueless because we are trying to solve college level problems with kindergarden understanding of the Word.

What did God hate about Ahab and Jezebel?

He is influenced by her. I think he knew what was right before God but chooses to allow Jezebel to have more power than should have rightfully been hers. You see queens were not regents who had power to rule, in Israel they were simply the wife of the king in power. 
She is allowed more then influence she has power as well. 

She deliberately and intentionally persecutes the prophets and priests of God. To the point that Elija fears for his life and thinks he is one of the last remaining that serve God.   

They did have military power, wealth and considerable renown. I believe they held the favor of the people because of those things. 
 
Again I have to say that the Bible is a treasure trove of amazing stories.
So how does this all mean anything to you? Perhaps its a bit of meat to work your teeth on. Some tough stuff to wrestle with. 

How do you measure success? 

How does God measure success? 

What do you tollerate because it does not interfere with your prosperity or way of life?

Who and what do you continue to allow to influence you and your family, even though you know their message to be contrary to God's ways? 

What sins are you doing in secret that your children will one day follow your example but do so more openly. What will you regret when you see it's destruction in your own children?

What social advantages cause you to ignore God's ways? 

Well that should give you enough to chop on and wrestle with for one day. 

Prayer: Lord open our eyes that we can see the seeds of sin that will grow up in our lives and in our family if we do not root them out. Help us to have the courage to stand up to do what is right in your eyes even if it costs us the comforts of our way of life. 
Help us to be people of your word. Help us to dig into it and wrestle with it as we try to apply it to our lives. Help us to be doers of your word not just ones who hear but never act upon it.
 

 


2 comments:

  1. Visiting from the A-Z list!! :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by JoJo, I am looking forward to this years A-Z.
      Blessings, Margot

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