Devotion: 1 Kings 16:29-34The emergence of the prophet Elijah was preceded by the rise of King Ahab. Ahab, the son of Omri who had defeated Tibni in the power vacuum left after Zimri's failed coup attempt, was about as bad as bad could be. The author of the account goes out of his way to contrast just how much worse Ahab was than any of his predecessors--none of whom, we should note, were described positively.
Ahab sits at the bottom of a downward spiral, exemplifying everything that was wrong with the northern kingship. Just the read the description of his ascent to the throne:
"In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun. " -1 Kings 16:29-34 ESVAhab not only encouraged the use of the golden calf shrines (like Jeroboam), he also married a foreign bride and brought her religion, Baalism, into the mainstream in Israel. Ahab built a temple to Baal right in the capital city of Samaria and put alongside it a shrine to Baal's consort, Asherah. Further, Ahab allowed and enabled the rebuilding of Jericho, sacrificing two of his own children, Abiram and Segub, to accomplish the task. In short, Ahab was as bad as bad could be.
So what do we do with a tyrant in the biblical narrative? I think we need to learn from him and recognize his ilk in the world today. Ahab, at base, was unconcerned with truth and goodness. He was chiefly concerned with his own power, desires and whims (as will be clearly demonstrated throughout his reign). Ahab was not afraid to sacrifice children to accomplish his aims. In short, he saw his own will as absolute and absolutely perfect.
The inability to be self-critical is dangerous. Fanaticism emerges when we believe our views are not the only best, but the only good and true views anyone should have. The fanatic becomes a tyrant regarding opposing views with regularity. Since the fanatic is, by self-reference, correct, then everyone else is wrong. Attempting to sway or persuade the fanatic becomes an exercise in wasting breath. Ahab is a fanatic of his own power. It will take God working through the ministry of the prophet Elijah to knock Ahab on his heels and reveal that this tyrant is not as powerful as he imagines himself to be.
We all need to be knocked on our heels and face disaster when we approach tyranny and/or fanaticism. God's Word still has that power to do just that, pointing out our faults and failures and calling us to repentance ever and again through faith in Christ Jesus. Beware of someone who cannot see his own faults--especially if that someone is you. There is good news, God still speaks the prophetic word in our lives to call us to be radically honest about our faults and find perfection in Christ alone.
The song is "Draw Near (Psalm 69)" by Wendell Kimbrough.
News for You:
- CPC's annual Trunk-or-Treat event is Tuesday, October 31st from 4-7 p.m. We are looking for volunteers to bring/decorate vehicles, donate candy, or bring/cook hotdogs. There is a sign-up sheet at the Welcome Center at CPC.
- We still have some available spots for Small Groups that launch next week.
- We will not have Sunday School Remix October 2 or Sunday School October 7 due to the pastor being away.