His name is a name that is famous in the scriptures. As children we even learn about the wickedness of this evil man. He was one of the kings of Israel and he was the worst king Israel ever had. The man of infamy is King Ahab. One of the ways we learn how to live our lives is to examine the people who lived in the past who are recorded in scriptures. Not only should we examine the lives of the righteous, but we can learn much from the lives of wicked. We are going to do a mini-series on the life of Ahab as one of the messy lives of the Bible. The account of his life is recorded for us in 1 Kings 16:29. Studying the choices Ahab made will help us avoid making the same mistakes.
Destroying Your Children (16:30,33)
To say that Ahab did more evil than all who were before him is a monumental statement. How did this happen? How could Ahab be so wicked when he is supposed to be a king in submission to God. The reason why is because these very words were also said of his father, King Omri. 1 Kings 16:25 states that Omri did more evil than all who were before him. But that was nothing to Ahab. Ahab saw what his father did and took it up another notch. In case this was not strong enough language, the point is repeated in verse 33. “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” Ahab learned from his father, walked in the same paths of sin as his father, and even did worse than his father.
Application: You are teaching your failures to your children. What you are doing in your life, your depth of faith, and your attitude are being taught to your children. They are learning from you. Most of the time your children will model you. If you are shaky in your faith, do not be surprised if your children are also shaky in their faith. If you downplay the need for assembling by coming to worship services infrequently, when it is convenient, or when there is not something else that must be done, then your children will the learn the same thing. But in many cases your children will take it to the next level. If you faith is weak, your children may not have faith at all. You are teaching your failures to your children. If you live a hypocritical life, your children will likely reject God completely. The choices you are making in your life make repeated, powerful impressions on your children. They learn your behavior. They mimic your attitude. They mirror your faith. Think about what you are teaching your children when homework, school, sports, boy scouts and girls scouts, and other activities are placed ahead of the gathering of the Christians for Bible class or worship. Think about what this shows your children. If you don’t read the Bible with them, they won’t read the Bible. If you don’t pray with them, they won’t pray. If you don’t serve others, they won’t serve anyone. You are teaching your failures to your children and your children will take those failures to the next level.
What will be your impact on your children’s children 100 years from now? How will you have impacted your family spiritually 100 years from now? In the prophecy of Micah, spoken 100 years after the life of Ahab, we read the condemnation of the nation of Israel. Listen to the condemnation: “For you have kept the statutes of Omri, and all the works of the house of Ahab; and you have walked in their counsels, that I may make you a desolation, and your inhabitants a hissing; so you shall bear the scorn of my people” (Micah 6:16; ESV). One hundred years later, the impact of the life decisions and faith of Omri and Ahab were still having an effect. Will the souls of your grandchildren and great grandchildren be lost because of your own personal weaknesses and failures toward God today? We must think longer term and think about the impact of our sins upon the subsequent generations.
Destroyed by Marriage (16:31)
Notice how the scriptures explain Ahab in verse 31. If these sins were not enough, Ahab committed more wickedness. He married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal king of Sidon. This was a violation of God’s law against marrying outside of the nation of Israel. God commanded that the people did not marry foreigners. Further, the kings were not to marry the daughters of other kings in political alliances. Political alliances between nations was also condemned and an alliance was typically sealed by the king of one country marrying the daughter of the other country in the alliance.
Jezebel was not helpful to Ahab. Jezebel only encouraged the wickedness. Notice that Ahab’s marriage to Jezebel is tied to serving and worshiping Baal. This was the very reason that God did not want the people of Israel to marry foreigners because they would bring their idols and false religion. And normal people want to please their spouse. So if Jezebel worships Baal, then Ahab is going to assist in that and even join in. Not only did Ahab serve and worship Baal, he also erected an altar to Baal and built a house of Baal for worship to occur. If these things were not bad enough, Jezebel turned out to be a worse individual that Ahab. In 1 Kings 21:25 we read, “There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.” Ahab was the most evil king and Jezebel helped him become it.
Application to the Single: Be careful who you marry. The person you marry can influence you to do things that you know are wrong, but you want to be pleasing to your spouse. Find a person who is going to incite you to do good. Choose a person who strengthens your faith, not a person that could drag you away from God.
Application to the Married: Propel one another to do good. Be a spiritual leader. Influence your spouse for good. If your spouse is not spiritually strong, do not bemoan the fact but help change that reality. Pray together. Read the Bible together. Have spiritual discussions. Initiate these kinds of spiritual activities to help promote righteousness.
How sad it is that couples are often a drag on each other’s faith rather a catalyst for growing and strengthening our faith.
Thumbing Your Nose At God (16:34)
The last verse of chapter 16 may seem out of place. But the author is describing the problem that existed in the heart of King Ahab and the people during his reign. Under the authority of Ahab, a person named Hiel began to build Jericho. In the process of building Jericho he lost his firstborn and his youngest son. Why is this here? The author is assuming our knowledge of the book of Joshua.
Joshua 6 records the fall of Jericho, the first city of the Israelites conquest of the land of Canaan. Recall that Rahab and her family were spared from the invasion because she had the faith to protect the spies. Joshua 6:24 records that the city of Jericho was burned along with everything in it. Only the valuable items were kept and they were devoted to the Lord and put in the Lord’s treasury. Verse 26 is the important verse we need at this point.
Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho. At the cost of his firstborn shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates.” (Joshua 6:26 ESV)
Now we understand what the author of First Kings is recording for us. This is the spiritual condition of the people and of the king: a total disregard for the word of the Lord. When we thumb our noses at the principles and the commands of God, then we will spiritual lose our families. No one wants to listen to the way God says to have a marriage or to raise our children. We have television shows and books that tell us what to do. So we listen to Dr. Spock, the British nanny, Dr. Phil and anyone else that claims to know what to do, except the One who created us. So we wonder what happened. We wonder why we have problems in our families. Apparently no one cared to know that the word of the Lord had cursed anyone who rebuilt Jericho. Hiel and Ahab ignored God’s command. Perhaps they thought the word of the Lord was irrelevant. Perhaps they thought that the word of the Lord was hundreds of years old and nothing would happen. Perhaps they just did not care. Whatever the case, the price was paid for not listening to the voice of the Lord.
You are sacrificing your marriage and sacrificing your children when you refuse to obey the voice of the Lord. When we reject the plan of God things are going to go very badly. Let me conclude this lesson with just a few words from God on how to have a godly, joyful family.
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:33 ESV)
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7 ESV)
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22 ESV)
To deliver you from the adulteress, from the sexually loose woman who speaks flattering words; 17 who leaves the husband from her younger days, and forgets her marriage covenant made before God. 18 For her house sinks down to death, and her paths lead to the place of the departed spirits. 19 None who go in to her will return, nor will they reach the paths of life. (Proverbs 2:16–19 NET)
For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, 4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; 6 she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it. (Proverbs 5:3–6 ESV)
Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, 19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. 20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? 21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths. 22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. 23 He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray. (Proverbs 5:15–23 ESV)
Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? 28 Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? 29 So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished. (Proverbs 6:27–29 ESV)
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 ESV)
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15 ESV)
Don’t fail to discipline your children. They won’t die if you spank them. (Proverbs 23:13 NLT-SE)
A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but children left to themselves disgrace their mother. (Proverbs 29:15 TNIV)
Let us listen and follow the word of the Lord.