Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Sin and Judgment

Devotion: 1 Kings 15:33-16:14

Sin is open rebellion against the will of God. While other biblical images of sin emerge over time, including the often cited example of 'missing the mark,' it is rebellion that really carries the freight. God's will for His creation is the only criteria for life that matters. God's will gives meaning, purpose, point, goal, aim and end to any and all who listen to His will and carry it out to glorify Him.
Now, the question that 1 Kings addresses here in the midst of rapid dynastic change is if someone who does not worship YHWH (i.e. a pagan) or one who worships YHWH improperly by either creating a false image of YHWH, worshiping in a way YHWH did not expressly command (or even strictly forbids), or mixing the worship of YHWH with the worship of idols--can such a person still glorify the Lord by doing His will without repentance and faith? In other words, can you do God's will, and thus glorify Him, and still be responsible for sin? Last week we saw how the Lord can use sin to accomplish His purpose(s) without being the root or creator of sin. This week we need to wonder what happens to the sinner who accomplished God's will, but still sinned. Enter King Baasha:
"In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha the son of Ahijah began to reign over all Israel at Tirzah, and he reigned twenty-four years. He 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 15:33-34 ESV
Baasha had rebelled and destroyed the House of Jeroboam, ending his dynasty with the death of Jeroboam's son, King Nadab. Baasha was, in essence, the tool the Lord used to fulfill His prophetic word to Jeroboam. This does not, however, mean that Baasha was a dutiful servant of YHWH anymore than Jeroboam was. These men did the will of YHWH, but that is not to be construed as these men being righteous or that these men were somehow not responsible for the sin they did. Baasha reigned from Tirzah, a city east of Samaria, perhaps because the people of Samaria were fond of Nadab.
Despite Baasha being the agent employed by the Lord to carry out His will, Baasha leads the people into the same sins of idolatry that had entangled Jeroboam. Baasha ended the previous dynasty and then reconstituted the very practices he had been used to stop. So the Lord sent a prophet to pronounce his judgment:
"And the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, “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, behold, I will utterly sweep away Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the heavens shall eat.” " -1 Kings 16:1-4 ESV
Baasha had made the mistake of assuming that his will was in a one-to-one correspondence with the will of God. This happens when we begin to see our views, opinions and desires as holy, right and good since we have a relationship with the Lord. The king had forgotten, or perhaps not learned, that the king serves at the leave of the Lord. Baasha, having disposed of the dynasty of Jeroboam, must have believed he was somehow anointed and could do not wrong to fall into the same trap as his predecessors.
The result of this mistaken view is the judgment of God. Baasha, however he was of use to God previously, has sinned and was, therefore liable to God's wrath. What's more, the House of Baasha would meet the same end as the House of Jeroboam. Who you are does not matter when it comes to sin. There are no special passes, no special privileges, and no special persons vis-a-vis sin. Baasha had sinned and so his House would fall as the judgment of God.
"Now the rest of the acts of Baasha and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? And Baasha slept with his fathers and was buried at Tirzah, and Elah his son reigned in his place. Moreover, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha and his house, both because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam, and also because he destroyed it. " -1 Kings 16:5-7 ESV
The final words of verse 7, "and also because he destroyed it," lets us know that Baasha's treatment of the House of Jeroboam (namely, utterly destroying it), while accomplishing the will of God, was sin and he was liable for it. God's sovereignty means that all things work together for good, but it does not alleviate human responsibility for sin. God can use sinful actions by human beings to accomplish His good ends, but that does not excuse, justify or anoint the sinful action. Sin is still contrary to God's will and those who sin are liable to judgment for it. Baasha ended the dynasty of Jeroboam (God's expressed will) by killing all the members of his House (sin). God's will was done, but Baasha was still guilty of sin.
Baasha would be followed by his son Elah. Elah would meet a quick end (reigning only two years) at the hands Zimri, the grandfather of Ahab. So why did Elah fall?
"In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha began to reign over Israel in Tirzah, and he reigned two years. But his servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him. When he was at Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, who was over the household in Tirzah, Zimri came in and struck him down and killed him, in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place. When he began to reign, as soon as he had seated himself on his throne, he struck down all the house of Baasha. He did not leave him a single male of his relatives or his friends. 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. Now the rest of the acts of Elah and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?" -1 Kings 16:8-14 ESV
Elah was not an innocent sufferer. In his short two-year reign he continued the idolatrous practices of his father. So the Lord fulfilled His Word through the prophet Jehu and ended the reign of Elah. God's chosen agent this time was Zimri, who had been a commander of chariots in Elah's army. Zimri caught Elah while he was drunk and put an end to his life. Zimri then ascended the throne and proceeded to destory the House of Baasha, killing all of its members to cement his own rule. If this sounds familiar, it ought to.
Jeroboam, Baasha and Zimri (more on him next week) all were used by God, but were sinners none-the-less. We cannot assume that just because we are accomplishing the will of God that we are not sinning at the same time. Removing the previous regime does not automatically make the next regime righteous, especially when the next regime, once in power, returns to the same sinful policies that ended the previous regime. Tearing down sinners does not make us righteous ourselves.
If Jesus is your king, you can be assured that he will lead you only to true worship and in the way of righteousness. If we continue to sin as we did under the old regime, we are responsible for that sin and thanks be to God that Jesus has taken that responsibility to himself on the cross that we may be forgiven and receive mercy and not what our sin deserves.

The song this week is "Feel the Night" by Strahan.

News for You:

  • Due to the uncertainty of smoke the church picnic has been postponed. Look for more details coming soon in the bulletin.
  • The Service Team is looking for volunteers to staff our outreach booth at the Okanogan County Fair. Sign-ups can be found at the Welcome Center at CPC.
  • We are still on the hunt for Small Group Leaders for our Fall series in Romans. If you are interested, e-mail Pastor Bill.
  • Sunday School will kick off our next series in the Westminster Confession of Faith beginning September 16 at 9 a.m. Sunday School Remix will resume September 18 at 1 p.m. in the library at CPC.

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