Read 1 Kings 16
16 Then the word of the Lord came to Jehu son of Hanani concerning Baasha: 2 “I lifted you up from the dust and appointed you ruler over my people Israel, but you followed the ways of Jeroboam and caused my people Israel to sin and to arouse my anger by their sins. 3 So I am about to wipe out Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat. 4 Dogs will eat those belonging to Baasha who die in the city, and birds will feed on those who die in the country.”
5 As for the other events of Baasha’s reign, what he did and his achievements, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 6 Baasha rested with his ancestors and was buried in Tirzah. And Elah his son succeeded him as king.
7 Moreover, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Jehu son of Hanani to Baasha and his house, because of all the evil he had done in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger by the things he did, becoming like the house of Jeroboam—and also because he destroyed it.
Elah King of Israel
8 In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah son of Baasha became king of Israel, and he reigned in Tirzah two years.
9 Zimri, one of his officials, who had command of half his chariots, plotted against him. Elah was in Tirzah at the time, getting drunk in the home of Arza, the palace administrator at Tirzah. 10 Zimri came in, struck him down and killed him in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah. Then he succeeded him as king.
11 As soon as he began to reign and was seated on the throne, he killed off Baasha’s whole family. He did not spare a single male, whether relative or friend. 12 So Zimri destroyed the whole family of Baasha, in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken against Baasha through the prophet Jehu— 13 because of all the sins Baasha and his son Elah had committed and had caused Israel to commit, so that they aroused the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, by their worthless idols.
14 As for the other events of Elah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?
Zimri King of Israel
15 In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned in Tirzah seven days. The army was encamped near Gibbethon, a Philistine town. 16 When the Israelites in the camp heard that Zimri had plotted against the king and murdered him, they proclaimed Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that very day there in the camp. 17 Then Omri and all the Israelites with him withdrew from Gibbethon and laid siege to Tirzah. 18 When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and set the palace on fire around him. So he died, 19 because of the sins he had committed, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord and following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.
20 As for the other events of Zimri’s reign, and the rebellion he carried out, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?
Omri King of Israel
21 Then the people of Israel were split into two factions; half supported Tibni son of Ginath for king, and the other half supported Omri. 22 But Omri’s followers proved stronger than those of Tibni son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri became king.
23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned twelve years, six of them in Tirzah. 24 He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver and built a city on the hill, calling it Samaria, after Shemer, the name of the former owner of the hill.
25 But Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord and sinned more than all those before him. 26 He followed completely the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit, so that they aroused the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, by their worthless idols.
27 As for the other events of Omri’s reign, what he did and the things he achieved, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 28 Omri rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. And Ahab his son succeeded him as king.
Ahab Becomes King of Israel
29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 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. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.
34 In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken by Joshua son of Nun.
Murder. Arson. Drunkenness. Suicide. Assassinations. Idol worship. Palace intrigue. Divine judgment and punishment, resulting in unburied dead bodies lying about in the streets, consumed by wild dogs and birds. While the names and places of 1 Kings 16 might seem unfamiliar to Westerners, this passage reads like a modern-day Netflix drama. Despite living in a post-modern world, are things any less wicked today? King Solomon writes repeatedly in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” As we read through the chapter, it’s impossible to miss the extent and depravity of the human condition. In this passage alone, we are told five times (v. 2, 7, 13, 25, and 33) that the anger of the Lord was aroused against His people for their evil deeds.
Continuing this theme into the New Testament, the apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In our reading today, we find sin to be on full display, and God promises to “wipe out” (v. 3) those committing evil, especially those responsible for leading others into sin (v. 2, 13). As we see throughout Scripture, God does not “wink” at sin. Paul writes in Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
Baal was the lord of the Canaanite religion and was worshiped as a fertility and weather god. In the Old Testament, Baal is mentioned 90 times and proved to be a great temptation for Israel. An Asherah pole was a wooden pole erected to serve the fertility goddess Asherah. The Lord God forbids the worship of false gods. In Exodus 20:3, God states that “you shall have no other gods before me.” The Lord took great exception to idol worship and punished those who did. In response to idols, in Deuteronomy 7:5-6a, we read that Moses commanded the children of Israel to “break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.”
Webster’s Dictionary defines an idol as “an object of extreme devotion, a false god, a form or appearance visible but without substance.” Anytime we place our faith and trust in anything other than God, we are leaning on a thing without substance. While today, we might not worship idols fashioned in the image of creatures, deities, or mounted on poles, we do worship bank accounts, retirement portfolios, fame, fortune, prestige, job titles, celebrities, worldly success, homes, cars, fit bodies, clothing, and any number of other unsubstantial things. Let us commit ourselves to being a holy people who only worship and place our trust in the one true God.
- Are you currently “winking” at sin in your life?
- What are the modern-day idols in your life? What does “worshipping” those idols look like for you?
- Are you worshiping God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? If not, what’s preventing you from doing so?
“Dear God, please forgive me of my sins. Point out any idols I may be worshiping. Please make me hyper-aware of those idols as I go about my day today. Help me to fall more deeply in love with You, and to serve only You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Amen.”
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