The Expository Files

 It Was Only a Trivial Thing

1 Kings 16:25-33

Ahab was a king in Israel who led the people further away from God. The people had been drifting. Their kings had forsaken the commandment of  God. God sent two prophets, Elijah and Elisha, to Israel during the time of Ahab. Ahab and his queen, Jezebel, plunged Israel to new lows both spiritually and morally. Ultimately, the nation would be destroyed for their infidelity and treachery.

Ahab Became King In Israel
Ahab was the son of the previous king of Israel by the name of Omri (1 Kings 16:28). Omri had been worse than all the kings that were before him. "Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, and acted more wickedly than all who were before him. For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat and in his sins which he made Israel sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel with their idols." (1 Kings 16:25-26).

Ahab did more to provoke God than all the kings before him, including his father, Omri. Concerning the reign of Ahab, the Bible says, "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." (1 Kings 16:30-32). From this passage we learn that Ahab:

1. Walked in the sins of Jeroboam (vs. 31). Jeroboam was the first king of Israel after the division of the kingdom between Israel in the north and Judah in the south. While the descendants of David continued to reign in Judah at Jerusalem, Israel had it's own kings, priests and religion.

2. He married a foreign woman, Jezebel (vs. 31). She heavily influenced Ahab and the nation to engage in idolatry.

3. He served and worshipped the pagan god, Baal (vs. 31).

4. He built an altar and house to Baal (vs. 32).

5. He made the Asherah, a female idol (vs. 33).

Slipping Down the Slope
Evil accepted in one generation will likely grow in the next. Limits of the previous generation are pressed further by the next. Once Jeroboam had departed from the way of the Lord, though he retained many things, each following generation digressed further. We have seen similar trends in our own nation today. There may not often be great changes from one day unto the next, but over generations the changes have been significant. Consider the public school system, for example. At one time, the Bible was a textbook. The men who wrote the constitution recommended its use in the public schools, but now, the very document they wrote is being interpreted to exclude the Bible. The words of the constitution are the same, but society's
attitude toward God has changed. No great change has occurred from one day to the next, but over time the change has been great. Yesterday's grievous sins become today's "trivial" matters.

It takes great courage for men and women of faith to continue to be faithful during such times. Paul wrote the following about this: "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come." and "Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." (2 Timothy 3:1; 10-13). He also said, "I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." (2 Timothy 4:1,2). Our message and standard is the same, though society's standard constantly shifts.

An Imperfect Match Made in Hell
There are married couples who seem to be matches "made in heaven" but Ahab and Jezebel's was not one of them. Ahab was not faithful to begin  with, but marrying Jezebel put an end to any hope he might ever be. He had at least a nominal respect for God, but she had absolutely none. He was weak to begin with, and she brought him the rest of the way down (1 Kings 16:31).

Whom we choose to marry will influence every aspect of our lives, including our service to God. Though Jezebel's evil influence on Ahab and the nation was significant, this must not be thought of as exonerating Ahab. Ahab is responsible for Ahab. We can do the bidding of evil men and women and suggest it was their influence that is the blame for our decisions. We are accountable. Ahab will answer to the Lord for his deeds, as Jezebel will for hers. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10).

God is Patient
The amazing thing is not that Israel would be destroyed for her lack of faith, but how many prophets with warnings God sent to her over two centuries to try and get her to repent! Israel had so much time to change her course. During Ahab's reign we read of Elijah and later Elisha's efforts. But there were also hundreds of others, many driven into hiding by severe persecution because they were calling the people back to Jehovah (1 Kings 18:4).

As is often the case, as judgment came upon the nation, Israel complained that it was not fair and it was too harsh. "But the house of Israel says, "The way of the Lord is not right.' Are My ways not right, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not right? "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct," declares the Lord GOD. "Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become
a stumbling block to you. "Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? "For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares the Lord GOD. "Therefore, repent and live." (Ezekiel 18:29-32).

That same message is true today. God is still patient. He wants us well and saved in eternity. His word will lead us to victory. Many in the world view not living according to the teachings of the Scripture as a "trivial thing" The Bible says concerning Ahab, "It came about, as though it had been a trivial
thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam…" (1 Kings 16:31). Do not let it be a trivial thing to you.

By  Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 10.4; April 2003