25: The Sins & Judgments of the Northern Kingdom
1: Jeroboam to Ahab
The Transfer of Power to Jeroboam
God's Judgment on Jeroboam
The kings between Jeroboam and Ahab
The Reign & Judgment of Ahab
have arrived at the point of Israel 's history in 1
Kings where, post-Solomon, the nation of Israel is
divided into the northern kingdom of ten tribes with Samaria
as their capital, and the southern kingdom of two tribes with
Jerusalem as their capital.
are two things we need to say by way of reminder. The first
is to remind ourselves what we said in an early chapter in Part
1, that ‘judgments' are not merely the acts of destruction or
discipline, but they are also the heavenly ‘court rulings',
the reasoning behind what is happening and why God decides to
act as He does.
second thing is to focus us on what can only be considered crass
stupidity of so many individuals in our studies because the
more sin is revealed, the more the Lord's grace shines. One
of the reasons I wrote this book was because I counter the ignorance
that results in foolish things being said about God. Some make
Him out to be a hard God, a callous God and a capricious God,
but I hope, even in the last two chapters on David and Solomon
you will have seen how He is exactly the opposite of those descriptions.
we continue working through Israel's history, for that is what
the Old Testament is, we will now focus on the northern kingdom
for two chapters, and then in three subsequent chapters the
southern kingdom. In this chapter we will go as far as King
the lengths of their reigns)
The Transfer of Power to Jeroboam
division of the nation was clearly God's doing; that we have already
seen, but what we will now do is focus a little more on just what
went on in that transition as far as the northern kingdom was concerned.
Because Jeroboam's history stretches from chapter 11 to chapter 14
we will only summarise in note form what actually happened.
encouragement of Jeroboam
have already seen how Jeroboam, even before the division, had Abijah
the prophet come to him with a word from God (1 Kings 11)
to tell him that
was going to give him ten tribes to rule over (v.31)
will do this because Israel were worshipping three other gods (v.33)
and had abandoned Him
will take Jeroboam and make him king of the ten tribes (v.37)
will be conditional on Jeroboam sticking close to the Lord and following
His ways and His laws (v.38)
he does this his family will continue to reign long after him (v.38b).
the course of time this all takes place, the kingdom is divided, and
Jeroboam rules over the northern ten tribes.
is then, in 1 Kings 12 , that Jeroboam's folly is
King 12:26 Jeroboam
thought to himself.
thought – he did not consult God. He reasoned and he left God out
of the equation.
worried and thought, “The kingdom
will now likely revert to the house of David. If these people go up
to offer sacrifices at the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem , they
will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah
. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam." (1
speaking it was a fairly reasonable bit of logic, but not in the light
of the prophecy from Abijah. In fact Jeroboam's godless attitude is
revealed in what follows.
Kings 12:28-33 After
seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people,
"It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem . Here are your
gods, O Israel , who brought you up out of Egypt ." One he set
up in Bethel , and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin;
the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there. Jeroboam
built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts
of people, even though they were not Levites. He instituted a festival
on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in
Judah , and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel
, sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed
priests at the high places he had made. On the fifteenth day of the
eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on
the altar he had built at Bethel . So he instituted the festival for
the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings.
you see what he does? He
two golden calves, one located at the south of the kingdom and the
other at the north to act as religious focal points for the people
to worship God without having to go down to Jerusalem.
build secondary places of worship on high places
appointed his own priests to administer the new religion (for that
is what it was)
instituted a substitute Feast of Tabernacles and offered sacrifices
at Bethel in the south.
he produced a duplicate or replica religion of that in the south,
it was not instigated by God
priests were not of God's choosing
images acted as substitutes to the Ark of the Covenant
was not in it!
find immediately following this (chapter 13) a man
of God comes with God's word to Jeroboam as he is sacrificing on the
altar at Bethel and
judgment on the altar (v.2a)
that a future king named Josiah will clear it all up (v.2)
that that day the altar would be split (v.3) which happens (v.5)
Jeroboam's hand is shrivelled as he points in rejection at the man
of God (v.4)
is much more to the story but this is sufficient to point to Jeroboam's
chapter 14 we learn that Jeroboam's son is seriously
ill and so
- he sends his wife in disguise to Ahijah
the prophet to enquire what would happen to the boy (v.1-3)
is warned by the Lord that she is coming (v.5) and so
she arrives he has a message for her to pass on to Jeroboam (v.7)
Lord first reminds Jeroboam that He had raised him up (v.7,8)
“You have done more evil than all
who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols
made of metal; you have provoked me to anger and thrust me behind
your back.” (v.9)
is a clear strong judgment against Jeroboam. This part of the judgment
is simply the statement of guilt. What will follow? What action will
God take against him?
God's Judgment on Jeroboam (1
more fully and accurately understand the Lord's character, we need
to see both the judgment and the fulfilment of it in respect of this
first king of the northern kingdom.
In respect of Jeroboam (v.10,11)
of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam.
will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel --slave or free.
I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is
all gone. Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the
city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country.
The LORD has spoken!'
respect of his son (v.12,13)
for you, go back home. When you set foot in your city, the boy will
die. All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only one
belonging to Jeroboam who will be buried, because he is the only one
in the house of Jeroboam in whom the LORD, the God of Israel , has
found anything good.
respect of his wider family (v.14)
LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who will cut off
the family of Jeroboam. This is the day! What? Yes, even now.
In respect of Israel as a whole (v.15,16)
the LORD will strike Israel , so that it will be like a reed swaying
in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave
to their forefathers and scatter them beyond the River, because they
provoked the LORD to anger by making Asherah poles. And he will give
Israel up because of the sins Jeroboam has committed and has caused
Israel to commit."
what is not surprising here is the judgment against Jeroboam but what
is surprising for two reasons is the judgment against Israel, the
northern ten tribes, because
Lord clearly sees they are set in their ways of idolatry and there
is no hope of change in the long-term future so He speaks NOW of their
future destruction, but
destruction does not take place for roughly two hundred years!
might suggest that that long period before their end was simply the
Lord showing us and the rest of the world that despite being given
all that time to repent, they never did.
cannot help but bring to mind the apostle Peter's words in the New
Pet 3:8,9 With
the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are
like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand
slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but
everyone to come to repentance.
should also note in passing that although this word is spoken against
Jeroboam, the record indicates he still reigned for 22 years (v.20).
After this, if anyone dares suggest that the Lord is hasty or capricious,
they simply declare their ignorance to the world!
The Kings between Jeroboam and Ahab
have focused on Jeroboam because of his importance in taking control
of the north and creating a separate 10-tribe northern kingdom referred
to as Israel . The next northern king who has many pages of scripture
given over to him is Ahab, but between the two there are a number
of kings who do not receive much coverage and so we will tabulate
them as follows:
did evil in the eyes of the LORD, walking in the ways of his
father and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit.
did evil in the eyes of the LORD, walking in the ways of Jeroboam
and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit
sins .. Elah had committed and had caused Israel to commit,
so that they provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger
by their worthless idols.
Zimri (1 weeK)
evil in the eyes of the LORD and walking in the ways of Jeroboam
but probably bad.
it will be useful to observe in a little more detail what went on.
Fulfilment of God's Word Against Jeroboam
Lord's word against Jeroboam's family was fulfilled through Baasha
(1 Kings 15:27-30)
Baasha took over Nadab , one of Jeroboam's sons ruled
for 2 years, and merely has a two verse reference in 1 Kings (1 Kings
15:25,26) and “ did evil in the eyes
of the LORD, walking in the ways of his father and in his sin, which
he had caused Israel to commit.” (v.26) and was then killed
by Baasha. (v.28)
sin and the Judgment against him
we should note, was obviously godless and had a long reign but did
nothing about the plight of the land. In fact we read, “He
did evil in the eyes of the LORD, walking in the ways of Jeroboam
and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit.”
the Lord does not leave it there. He sends another prophet to speak
Kings 16:2-4 "I
lifted you up from the dust and made you leader of my people Israel,
but you walked in the ways of Jeroboam and caused my people Israel
to sin and to provoke me to anger by their sins. So I am about to
consume Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like that
of Jeroboam son of Nebat. Dogs will eat those belonging to Baasha
who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who
die in the country."
‘ways of Jeroboam' were to keep the two calves and the counterfeit,
word faces Baasha with his sin and declares he and his family would
Fulfilment of the Judgment
eventually dies and son Elah takes over and rules for two years (1
see the word fulfilled by Zimri who rose up and
first killed Elah , Baasha's son, (1 Kings 16:9,10)
and then all of Baasha's extended family (16:11), all in accordance
with God's word (16:12,13)
The subsequent chaos following Baasha
soon committed suicide (16:18) “because
of the sins he had committed, and had caused Israel to commit.”
(16:19) i.e. he was no different to the others before him!
only ruled for a week (16:15)
, another army commander takes
over and although civil war breaks out, Omri prevails against a competitor,
Tibni, and we read:
Kings 16:25,26 “Omri
did evil in the eyes of the LORD and sinned more than
all those before him. He walked in all the ways of Jeroboam son
of Nebat and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit, so
that they provoked the LORD, the God of Israel , to anger by their
is surprising is that Omri reigned for as long as 12 years.
he dies (we don't know how) and his son Ahab succeeded him (16:29)
and he reigned for 22 years.
word of judgment was spoken against Jeroboam (1
son Nadab reigned for two years after him but was
killed by Baasha who also killed the rest of Jeroboam's
family in accordance with God's word.
similar word of judgment was spoken against Baasha (1 Kings 16:2-4)
dies but his son, Elah who followed him, and all
of Baasha's family, are killed by Zimri
commits suicide and is followed by Omri , (killing
his competitor Tibni)
eventually dies and is succeeded by his son, Ahab.
The Reign and Judgment of Ahab
is interesting in what follows is the amount of detail we are given
about Ahab, perhaps because it is intertwined with the account of
Elijah the prophet one of the greatest prophets recorded in Israel
Kings 16:30-33 Ahab
son of Omri
did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him.
He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son
of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of
the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up
an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria .
Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the LORD, the
God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him.
on we read:
Kings 21:25,26 (There
was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes
of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest
manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out
before Israel .)
these are the records of the recorder and not the judgment of God,
which is surprising for with this amount of ‘bad news' about Ahab
you might have expected him to incur the wrath of God in a dramatic
fashion. Why not?
on the land
Kings 17:1 Now
Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As
the LORD, the God of Israel , lives, whom I serve, there will be neither
dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word."
Kings 18:1 After
a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah:
"Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the
is intriguing is that there was a three year drought but Ahab is so
ensconced in his sin that he refused to repent – or at least there
is no sign of it.
wonders why the Lord did not continue the drought and the only thought
that comes to mind is that for the sake of the people of the land
He did not want it to get worse.
spiritual state of the land is revealed when we hear of, “four
hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four
hundred prophets of Asherah , who eat at Jezebel's
table." (1 Kings 18,19) although this may be more
of a reflection on the royal family than upon the people of the kingdom.
queen provides for all these false prophets because they support these
Lord helps Ahab
won't take space to cover Elijah's activities but simply note that
no word came against Ahab. In fact after Ben-Hadad of Aram comes against
them (1 Kings 20) the Lord sends encouragement to Ahab:
Kings 20:13 Meanwhile
a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, "This is
what the LORD says: `Do you see this vast army? I will give it into
your hand today, and then you will know that I am the LORD.' "
are subsequently defeated and God's word
comes yet again:
Kings 20:22 Afterward,
the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, "Strengthen
your position and see what must be done, because next spring the king
of Aram will attack you again."
Kings 20:23 Meanwhile,
the officials of the king of Aram advised him, "Their gods are
gods of the hills.
they give conflicting advice
there is major unbelief in the land
this why the Lord allowed it to drag on, to reveal the extent of this
is theirs, but WHY? Why does the Lord support Israel in the midst
of this reign of gross paganism? The answer can only be because He
wants to show that even in the midst of the reign of the worst king
of Israel, He was there seeking to draw his heart back to Him.
1 Kings 20:28 The
man of God came up and told the king of Israel, "This is what
the LORD says: `Because the Arameans think the LORD is a god of the
hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army
into your hands, and you will know that I am the LORD.' "
He does but the king of Israel enters into a treaty with Aram and
so the man of God comes again:
1 Kings 20:42,43 He
said to the king, "This is what the LORD says: `You have set
free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your
life for his life , your people for his people.' " Sullen
and angry, the king of Israel went to his palace in Samaria
1 Kings 21 we have the incident of Ahab stealing
Naboth's vineyard and find:
Kings 21:17-19 Then
the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: "Go down to
meet Ahab king of Israel , who rules in Samaria . He is now in Naboth's
vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. Say to him,
`This is what the LORD says: Have you not murdered a man and seized
his property?' Then say to him, `This is what the LORD says: In the
place where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, dogs will lick up your
blood--yes, yours!' "
twice Ahab had been warned that his life has been forfeited.
Repentance by Ahab
judgment against Ahab continues:
Kings 21:20-24 "because
you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD.`I am going
to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut
off from Ahab every last male in Israel --slave or free. I will make
your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son
of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel
to sin.' "And also concerning Jezebel the LORD says: `Dogs will
devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.' "Dogs will eat those
belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds of the air will
feed on those who die in the country."
of his family will be wiped out
will die as will Ahab's family
note Ahab's response:
Kings 21:27 When
Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and
fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.
Lord responds immediately:
Kings 21:28,29 Then
the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: "Have you noticed
how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself,
I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on
his house in the days of his son.”
death despite warning
years pass (1 Kings 22:1) and we come to a strange incident. The facts
are as follows:
king of Judah , unwisely visits Ahab (1 Kings 22:2).
wants to reclaim some land from the Arameans and asks him to fight
with him against Aram (v.3,4)
suggests they enquire of the Lord and to cut a long story short, Micaiah
the prophet reveals that contrary to the words of the false prophets,
he has seen into heaven and seen a lying spirit being sent to entice
Ahab into battle where he will die. (v.5-23)
thinks he can outsmart God and goes into battle in disguise (v.30)
but a stray arrow struck him down and he died (v.34-38).
what is remarkable about this is that the Lord gave clear warning
to Ahab of his intentions but Ahab has clearly relapsed back into
unbelief and ignores the warning or, as we said above, thinks he can
outsmart the Lord.
Kings ends as follows:
Kings 22:51-53 “
Ahaziah son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria
in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah , and he reigned
over Israel two years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, because
he walked in the ways of his father and mother and in the ways of
Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. He served and worshiped
Baal and provoked the LORD, the God of Israel , to anger, just as
his father had done.”
History Covered & Sins observed
have started to outline the history of ‘Israel', the northern ten
tribes, from the point of the breaking up of Solomon's kingdom, (about
930BC) to the destruction of Samaria (722BC), roughly a 208 year period.
In this chapter we have covered the reigns of Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha,
Elah, Omri and Ahab. In the next chapter we will consider the post-Ahab
each chapter we will itemize by way of summary, the activities of
the kings under consideration in table form:
received prophetic help from the Lord in becoming king as well
as the warning to stick close to the Lord.
ignored that help and when he became king he established a replica
religion with idols.
idol worship & killed by Baasha
nothing to improve Israel 's spiritual state and was thus condemned
by prophet Jehu. Judgment came from Zimri on his wider family
idol worship & killed by Zimri
but committed suicide in palace fire
was worse spiritually than the others
did seem to come a period late in his reign when he appeared
was worse than any others. He died trying to outwit the word
of God by being killed by a stray arrow in battle.
that will follow
any thinking person working their way through the pages of 1 and 2
Kings, there are a number of things that stand out,
about Israel and
about God and
of the interaction of those two sets of data, questions must arise.
The temptation is here before me, to take those questions straight
away but I think they will be made even more clear after you have
gone through the following chapter where we will consider, in outline
at least, the remaining kings of the north. Forgive me, therefore,
if I simply ask you to go straight on to the next chapter to finish
our contemplation of this period of the history of one part of those
people we call Israel , the northern kingdom. We will consider the
southern kingdom in the chapters that follow that.
to top of page