First Kings 15:25-16:28 record five wicked kings who ruled over the nation of Israel. We are going to read the text and observe the actions of these kings. By reading this section of the scriptures there are four important questions that we need to ask ourselves.
Why Will We Not Learn From Our Family’s Sins and the Sins of Others?
Notice the continuing of sin from generation to generation when we read these kings. Each king is judged for the same reason.
He [Nadab] did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin which he made Israel to sin. (1 Kings 15:26 ESV)
He [Baasha] did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his sin which he made Israel to sin. (1 Kings 15:34 ESV)
Thus Zimri destroyed all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke against Baasha by Jehu the prophet, for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah his son, which they sinned and which they made Israel to sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols. (1 Kings 16:12–13 ESV)
And when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house over him with fire and died, because of his sins that he committed, doing evil in the sight of the LORD, walking in the way of Jeroboam, and for his sin which he committed, making Israel to sin. (1 Kings 16:18–19 ESV)
Omri did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did more evil than all who were before him. For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in the sins that he made Israel to sin, provoking the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger by their idols. (1 Kings 16:25–26 ESV)
At what point does not one of these children rise up and realize to no longer following in the sinful footsteps of their parents? King after king is being killed and the reason why is explicitly clear. Each one did evil in the sight of the Lord and followed in the sins of Jeroboam. Perhaps after seeing grandfather struck down, and father struck down, that the son would decide to turn from sin and seek the Lord. But such is not the case with these kings. This contrast is more notably made when the author is the book points out with each king that Asa is still ruling as king over Judah. Asa was a good king and followed the Lord. His reign was established because of his faithfulness to the Lord while these kings were killed one after another because they did not turn to the Lord.
How often we will continue in the sins of our parents? We see their sins and yet we so easily walk down the same path. For example, we saw how they raised us as children and we want to do better, yet we often commit the same errors as them. We see their anger, lack of love, inappropriate behavior, and the like and we imitate them rather than changing our lives. We must have the wisdom to see their errors and apply God’s word to our hearts so that we will live the way God wants us to live. These kings did not learn from the example of those before them. Make sure we learn from our past. Make sure that we learn from the experiences of others. Make sure we learn from the lives of those stories recorded in the scriptures. How foolish to perpetuate the sins and mistakes of others!
Why Will We Not Learn From Our Sins?
Not only did they not learn from their parents’ sins, but they did not learn from their own sins. In the life of each king we are reading about the years and years of wreckage that is caused by sinful living.
What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:22 ESV)
We need to appreciate the nature of sin. Sin is difficult to eradicate once it takes root. Sin spreads and grows. Yet we still return to our sins. Even as we experience the guilt and deal with the consequences of our sinful activities, we continue to sin. We seem to think that our sins will be not judged against us. No one will know and we will not pay any consequence for our sins. This is the darkening of our understanding that occurs as we continue in our sins. Our judgment is so clouded that we cannot see the devastation our sins are causing in our lives.
What Are We Doing With God’s Grace?
Notice what God condemns of Baasha in 1 Kings 16:2.
“Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have made my people Israel to sin, provoking me to anger with their sins…. (1 Kings 16:2 ESV)
God tells Baasha that he made him a king out of nothing. Baasha was not from the lineage of Jeroboam. God gives the nation of Israel over to Baasha and a new dynasty begins through him. But rather than learning from the error of Jeroboam and his sons whose dynasty was eradicated because of their sins, Baasha continues these sins so that his dynasty will also be utterly destroyed. God is shaking his head at this. God took Baasha from the dust and made him king. Yet you repay the graciousness of the Lord by plunging into sin!
What are we doing with the grace of God? It is by God’s grace that we live, breathe, have family, have relationships, have provisions, wealth, and prosperity. What are we doing with God’s graciousness? What will we do with the opportunities, wealth, and privileges given to us? We can continue in sin or we can turn to righteousness.
Our lives can easily look like the life of Omri. Omri was more concerned about building fortresses and capitals than spiritual strength. Omri is accomplishing great things. He makes the city of Samaria the new capital of Israel. But God treats this news with a “so what!” All our achievements and accomplishments amount to nothing before God. Omri did not care about what God cared about. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did more evil than all who were before him. He had no concern for the spiritual decay of the nation or of his own heart. When sins were committed under the Law of Moses, an expensive animal was to be sacrificed, its blood given, to atone for sins. This should have caused a sorrowful heart toward sin. How much more that our sins have nailed Jesus to the cross and we do not care about the spiritual decay in our hearts!
What has happened to us that we allow ourselves to compartmentalize God in our lives? We treat God as just one of many things scheduled instead of a person who we are passionately desiring to know. Can you imagine treating your spouse or your boyfriend or girlfriend you are dating that way? Don’t treat your spouse as a person. Just treat your spouse as a checklist of time that needs to be fulfilled. Yet we treat God like this all the time. Living for anything other than a love for Jesus and God’s glory will leave us totally empty. Worse, we are throwing away God’s grace so that we can pursue our own idols which will bring judgment against us. Are our passions God’s passions? Are we pursuing what God is pursuing?
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1–2 NIV 2011)
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. (Psalm 63:1–4 NIV 2011)
What are we doing with God’s grace?
Whose Footsteps Are We Following?
One of the repeated phrases in this section is that “he walked in all the way of Jeroboam.” Who do you think you are following? Who are you actually following? Are we following the ways of our parents? Are we following the ways of our friends? Are we following the ways of our family? Are we following Jesus? Are we paying any price to know him deeply?