"Judgments of a Loving God" - Chapter 25





Chapter 25: The Sins & Judgments of the Northern Kingdom

Part 1: Jeroboam to Ahab



Chapter 25 Contents


25.1 Introduction

25.2 The Transfer of Power to Jeroboam

25.3 God's Judgment on Jeroboam

25.4 The kings between Jeroboam and Ahab

25.5 The Reign & Judgment of Ahab

25.6 Summary-Conclusions



25.1 Introduction


We 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.


There 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.


The 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.


As 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 Ahab.




The Northern Kings

(and the lengths of their reigns)

1.Jeroboam (22)

2.Nadab (2)

3.Baasha (24)

4.Elah (2)

5.Zimri (1 week)

6a.Tibni (unknown)

6b.Omri (12)

7.Ahab (22)


8.Ahaziah (2)

9.Joram (12)

10.Jehu (28)

11.Jehoahaz (17)

12. Jehoash (16)

13.Jeroboam II (41)

14.Zechariah (6m)

15.Shallum (1m)

16.Menahem (10)

17.Pekahiah (2)

18.Pekah (20)

19.Hoshea (9)




25.2 The Transfer of Power to Jeroboam


The 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.


God's encouragement of Jeroboam


  • We 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
  • God was going to give him ten tribes to rule over (v.31)
  • He will do this because Israel were worshipping three other gods (v.33) and had abandoned Him
  • He will take Jeroboam and make him king of the ten tribes (v.37)
  • This will be conditional on Jeroboam sticking close to the Lord and following His ways and His laws (v.38)
  • If he does this his family will continue to reign long after him (v.38b).


In the course of time this all takes place, the kingdom is divided, and Jeroboam rules over the northern ten tribes.


Jeroboam's Folly


It is then, in 1 Kings 12 , that Jeroboam's folly is revealed:


1 King 12:26 Jeroboam thought to himself.


Jeroboam thought – he did not consult God. He reasoned and he left God out of the equation.

He 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 Kings 12:26b,27)


Humanly 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.


1 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.


Do you see what he does? He

  • Creates 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.
  • He build secondary places of worship on high places
  • He appointed his own priests to administer the new religion (for that is what it was)
  • He instituted a substitute Feast of Tabernacles and offered sacrifices at Bethel in the south.


i.e. he produced a duplicate or replica religion of that in the south,

  • except it was not instigated by God
  • the priests were not of God's choosing
  • the images acted as substitutes to the Ark of the Covenant
  • God was not in it!


God's response


  • We 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
  • Pronounces judgment on the altar (v.2a)
  • Warns that a future king named Josiah will clear it all up (v.2)
  • And that that day the altar would be split (v.3) which happens (v.5)
  • And Jeroboam's hand is shrivelled as he points in rejection at the man of God (v.4)


There is much more to the story but this is sufficient to point to Jeroboam's wrong heart.


In 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)
  • Ahijah is warned by the Lord that she is coming (v.5) and so
  • when she arrives he has a message for her to pass on to Jeroboam (v.7)
  • the Lord first reminds Jeroboam that He had raised him up (v.7,8)
  • but “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)


It 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?



25.3 God's Judgment on Jeroboam (1 Kings 14:10-16)


To 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)


Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam.

I 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!'


In respect of his son (v.12,13)


"As 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.


In respect of his wider family (v.14)


"The 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)


And 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."

  • Now 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
  • The 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

that destruction does not take place for roughly two hundred years!


One 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.


One cannot help but bring to mind the apostle Peter's words in the New Testament:

2 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.


We 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!



25.4 The Kings between Jeroboam and Ahab


We 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:


King (+reign)



2. Nadab (2)

1 Kings 14:20


He 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.

3. Baasha (24)

1 Kings 15:27-

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

4. Elah (2)

1 Kings 16:6-14

the 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.

5. Zimri (1 weeK)

1 Kings 16:9-20

doing evil in the eyes of the LORD and walking in the ways of Jeroboam

6a. Tibni (?)

1 Kings 16:21,22

Unknown but probably bad.

6b. Omri (12)

1 Kings 16:23-

See below


However it will be useful to observe in a little more detail what went on.


The Fulfilment of God's Word Against Jeroboam


The Lord's word against Jeroboam's family was fulfilled through Baasha (1 Kings 15:27-30)


Before 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)


Baasha's sin and the Judgment against him


Baasha, 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.” (15:34)


But the Lord does not leave it there. He sends another prophet to speak against him:


1 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."

  • the ‘ways of Jeroboam' were to keep the two calves and the counterfeit, ‘replica' religion.
  • God's word faces Baasha with his sin and declares he and his family would perish.


The Fulfilment of the Judgment


  • Baasha eventually dies and son Elah takes over and rules for two years (1 Kings 16:6,8)
  • We 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


  • Zimri 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!
  • He only ruled for a week (16:15)


  • Omri , another army commander takes over and although civil war breaks out, Omri prevails against a competitor, Tibni, and we read:


1 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 worthless idols.”

  • What is surprising is that Omri reigned for as long as 12 years.
  • Eventually he dies (we don't know how) and his son Ahab succeeded him (16:29) and he reigned for 22 years.


To Summarise


  • God's word of judgment was spoken against Jeroboam (1 Kings 14:10-16)
  • His 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.
  • God's similar word of judgment was spoken against Baasha (1 Kings 16:2-4)
  • Baasha dies but his son, Elah who followed him, and all of Baasha's family, are killed by Zimri
  • Zimri commits suicide and is followed by Omri , (killing his competitor Tibni)
  • Omri eventually dies and is succeeded by his son, Ahab.



25.5 The Reign and Judgment of Ahab


What 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 's history.


Ahab's sin


1 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.


Later on we read:


1 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 .)


Note 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?


Judgment on the land


1 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."

1 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 land."


  • What 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.
  • One 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.


  • The 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.
  • The queen provides for all these false prophets because they support these two gods.


The Lord helps Ahab


We 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:


1 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.' "

Aram are subsequently defeated and God's word comes yet again:


1 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."


1 Kings 20:23 Meanwhile, the officials of the king of Aram advised him, "Their gods are gods of the hills.

  • and they give conflicting advice
  • clearly there is major unbelief in the land
  • Is this why the Lord allowed it to drag on, to reveal the extent of this unbelief?
  • Victory 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.

And so
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.' "


Condemnation of Ahab


This 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


In 1 Kings 21 we have the incident of Ahab stealing Naboth's vineyard and find:


1 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!' "

  • Thus twice Ahab had been warned that his life has been forfeited.


Repentance by Ahab


The judgment against Ahab continues:

1 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."

  • all of his family will be wiped out
  • Jezebel will die as will Ahab's family

Now note Ahab's response:


1 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.


The Lord responds immediately:

1 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.”


Ahab's death despite warning


Three years pass (1 Kings 22:1) and we come to a strange incident. The facts are as follows:

  • Jehoshaphat, king of Judah , unwisely visits Ahab (1 Kings 22:2).
  • Ahab wants to reclaim some land from the Arameans and asks him to fight with him against Aram (v.3,4)
  • Jehoshaphat 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)
  • Ahab 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).


Now 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.


1 Kings ends as follows:

1 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.”


Nothing has changed!



25.6 Summary-Conclusions


The History Covered & Sins observed


We 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 period.


In each chapter we will itemize by way of summary, the activities of the kings under consideration in table form:




Not so good

1. Jeroboam (22)

He received prophetic help from the Lord in becoming king as well as the warning to stick close to the Lord.

He ignored that help and when he became king he established a replica religion with idols.

2. Nadab (2)

Nothing good noted

Followed idol worship & killed by Baasha

3. Baasha (24)


Nothing good noted

Did nothing to improve Israel 's spiritual state and was thus condemned by prophet Jehu. Judgment came from Zimri on his wider family

4. Elah (2)

Nothing good noted

Followed idol worship & killed by Zimri

5. Zimri (1w)

Nothing good noted

Ditto, but committed suicide in palace fire

6a. Tibni (?)

Nothing good noted

No mention

6b. Omri (12)

Nothing good noted

Omri was worse spiritually than the others

7. Ahab (22)

There did seem to come a period late in his reign when he appeared to repent

Ahab was worse than any others. He died trying to outwit the word of God by being killed by a stray arrow in battle.


Questions that will follow


For any thinking person working their way through the pages of 1 and 2 Kings, there are a number of things that stand out,

    • things about Israel and
    • things about God and

out 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.


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