Summary: we live in a world of many choices but we can not pick and choose our god or ways of worship.
May 18, 2002
Trinity After Dark
“The consequence of Bad Choices”
One thing I love about being in America is the number of choices we have. Every time I sit down to watch the television I have 80 channels to choose from. I can’t decide on any one so I end up watching all 80 stations at once. Think of the enormous array of makes of cars we can choose, fast food outlets to eat at and consider all the brands of soaps we can buy. In all these areas I am free to choose. But when it comes to God, God’s people are not free to choose.
This sermon series is about the prophet Elijah, through the end of 1 kings and the start of 2 Kings, covering 7 chapters in total. This series title is from Elijahs’ very words “If the LORD is God, follow him.”
Elijah demanded that God’s people choose one way or the other. They had to decide who was god and worship him. They were not to hedge their bets and choose a cocktail of religions. This is an important message to us who face a tide of growing pluralism. Pluralism is the belief that there are many ways to God and no one religion can claim to have a monopoly on saving truth. This is not only a predominant belief among non Christians, it has now come to dominate the thinking among those who claim to be Christians. A recent Gallup poll showed that 3 out of 4 Americans believe all religions have at least some elements of truth. The Presbyterian church of the USA rejected a statement declaring Jesus is the only savior and Lord” at its recent convention.
I want us to study the message of Elijah, because our confident trust in the God of our Lord Jesus Christ being the only true god is under attack. The other reason for choosing the Elijah narratives is because I want us to have a healthy diet of Scripture from all parts of the Bible. This way we receive the full counsel of God. Last year we did a New Testament letter, then a Gospel, then Ralph took us through a topical series, and so it’s now time for an Old Testament narrative.
1 Kings 16. contains the record of the Kings of Israel. There existed 2 kingdoms, the Northern kingdom was known as Israel and the Southern as Judah. The book of Kings alternates between the stories of the Northern Kingdom and the Southern.
In chapter 16:29 we meet a king called Ahab. He was a king of Israel. Verse 30 gives us a great deal of information about this King. 16:30 “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him.” This is certainly not a very flattering description, but as you read through the book of Kings this seems to be a description given to many of the kings. Take for instance King Baasha, who was the 4th king preceding Ahab 15:34 “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord” And we can read about Zimri, “he did evil in the eyes of the Lord. And then there was Ahab’s Father Omri, 16:25 “But Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD and sinned more than all those before him” In other words, we can see a spiraling downwards in the quality of the kings of Israel, with each king out doing each other in evilness. Now we come to the rock bottom. This king, Ahab, was more evil than all the rest.
Sin is like that, unless there is repentance, it spirals downward, getting worse and worse. Whether it be the sins of nations, or those of individuals, if we keep practicing sin we end up wallowing in a cess pit of sin, which we somehow become blind to.
The question could now be raised: What was so evil about King Ahab? Firstly he was an apostate. Verse 31 says: “He considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat.” This may not jump out at you as very serious, but that depends on who Jeroboam was and what he did. Jeroboam was a king of division. After Solomon’s death there was disagreement among God’s people. So Jeroboam took the 10 tribes and formed a new kingdom in the North, it took on the name Israel. That left 2 tribes which formed the Southern kingdom called Judah. Israel was split in 2 and never united again.
Secondly Jeroboam was an imposter. Jeroboam was made king of the Northern kingdom while the Southern kingdom continued to operate under the kingship of the true kingly line of David. Through assassination and military coup, the Northern kingdom (Ahab’s kingdom) had nine different dynasties, whilst Judah only ever had one, that of David.