Evil Ahab

King Ahab

Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him.” “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:30, 33).

These statements are rather incredible. When we look back at the number of evil kings over Israel up to this time, Ahab was the worst. Why was he so evil and what can we learn from his bad example? The passage where these verses are found gives us a few reasons for the statements.

Now Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him.

It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him. So he erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria. Ahab also made the Asherah. Thus Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:29-33).

There were four factors that contributed to Ahab being classified as the most wicked king. Each one is something we must guard against in our own life.

He Failed to Learn from His Father’s Sins

Omri, Ahab’s father, was a wicked king. So much so that the Scriptures say he “acted more wickedly that all who were before him” (1 Kings 16:25). Yet Ahab exceeded the wickedness of his father (1 Kings 16:30).

Fathers have the responsibility to lead their children in a godly direction (Deuteronomy 11:18-19; Ephesians 6:4). But regardless of how well a father teaches or how well a child listens, each one will stand alone before the Lord. “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).

While we understand this responsibility of parents to raise their children to know and love the Lord, there is also the reality that some are not blessed with godly parents. Ahab certainly was not. But this is not an excuse, as the verse in Ezekiel 18:20 points out. If this is your circumstance, learn from your parents faults as Ahab should have done. Ezekiel’s prophecy speaks of a wicked man who “has a son who has observed all his father’s sins which he committed, and observing does not do likewise” (Ezekiel 18:14). Children are to obey their parents “in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1). If your parents are not raising you according to the Lord’s instructions, learn from their sins and do not do likewise.

Sin was a Trivial Thing to Him

The text says of Ahab, “It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat” (1 Kings 16:31). We read earlier of Jeroboam’s sins – setting up idols for worship, making priests of all the people, instituting his own feast to rival the Lord’s feast in Jerusalem, burning incense/sacrifices (1 Kings 12:28-32). Jeroboam became the standard of wickedness. We are also told of Omri’s wickedness: “He walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat and in his sins which he made Israel sin” (1 Kings 16:26).

Ahab exceeded this level of wickedness. He “did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him” (1 Kings 16:30). This included Jeroboam. But the text says that it was a “trivial thing” for him to walk in these sins. Ahab reached the point in which committing sins like these was of no concern.

We must understand that sin is never trivial. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). Sin is the reason Jesus had to die on the cross (1 Peter 3:18). Sin is the reason for future punishment (Hebrews 10:26-27). Many today have come to see sin as a trivial thing. They act as though they need no divine authority for their deeds even though Paul said, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). They live so that they may fulfill their own lusts despite the fact that Peter said we are to “abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). When sin is thought to be trivial, wickedness will abound. This is what we see with Ahab. We must not let it be found in our lives.

He Allowed Himself to be Influenced by Evil

Ahab “married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians” (1 Kings 16:31). Jezebel is one of the most infamous characters of the Bible. Her name has become synonymous with evil. We also learn from this passage that she was the daughter of a foreign king. The Israelites were specifically warned about marrying such a person. “Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons” (Deuteronomy 7:3). Yet Ahab married this evil woman and she went on to encourage him in the paths of sin.

We are not to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). This passage is not exclusively talking about marriage, but it is certainly included. The point of this verse is that we must not allow evil influences to have control over us. In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul warned: “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Instead of being influenced by evil, we must be positive influences for good (Matthew 15:13-16). Ahab did not do this. He allowed wicked people – first his father Omri, then his wife Jezebel – to exert a strong influence on him.

He Engaged in Idolatry

After marrying Jezebel, Ahab “went to serve Baal and worshiped him. So he erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria. Ahab also made the Asherah” (1 Kings 16:31-33). Ahab was doing just as the Lord said would happen. After warning about intermarrying with the nations around them, the Lord said, “They will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods” (Deuteronomy 7:4). The Israelites were to have “no other gods” and were not to “make…an idol” or “worship them or serve them” (Exodus 20:3-5). But this is what Ahab chose to do.

Even today, we are to watch for the threat of idolatry. John closed his first epistle with the warning, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). There are many things that can be idols, besides the images carved out of wood or stone. We could treat things like money, people, fame, careers, and so on, as idols by elevating them to a level equal to or higher than God. We must guard ourselves from these things today.

Conclusion

Ahab’s wickedness exceeded all the kings who were before him. Yet as we read about him in this passage, he is not much different than many people today. He failed to learn from other’s mistakes (most notably his father’s). He ignored the severity of sin and treated it lightly. He allowed himself to be influenced by evil people to sin. And he followed after other gods rather than devoting himself wholly to following the Lord.

Of all the people you know, how many would have at least one of these in common with Ahab? Likely, you could think of many. So this is not far-fetched for people to fall into these same traps today.

Now, take an honest look at your own life. Could any of these things apply to you? If so, correct them. Do not follow the path that Ahab took. Follow the Lord in all things.


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