Ahab and Jezebel: Abuse
of Authority Lesson 11 September 15, 2007
Ahab and Jezebel: Abuse of Authority
September 15, 2007
With surprisingly graphic language, the Adult Sabbath School Study Guide expresses the partnership of Ahab and Jezebel as “a marriage made in hell! When you take one weak-willed king and add to him a power-hungry and conniving woman, the result will not be good.” The Bible joins in this negative assessment, saying that Ahab “did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him” (1 Kings 16:20). Is there anything we can learn from this couple?
1. Immediately after recording Ahab’s marriage to Jezebel, the text of 1 Kings reports Ahab’s worship of Baal and his consort Ashoreh. Ahab also set up a temple so that others might join in the worship of this god.
* What do we know about Baal? What was Baal said to control?
* Why was the worship of Baal such a continuing and powerful temptation to Israel?
* While most of us are not tempted to worship a literal idol, what would be the modern-day equivalent of Baal worship? How often have we worshiped this contemporary Baal?
2. In the midst of the account of Ahab and Jezebel’s evil, 1 Kings 17 records the way in which God provided for Elijah by means of ravens and a poor widow of Sidon.
* God used ravens! What are some of the other astonishing “tools” that God has used to accomplish his mission on earth? Is it significant that, when humans fail, God manages to find animals that support his purposes?
* God sends Elijah to a widow in Zarephath of Sidon. Ironically, this is the territory ruled by Jezebel’s father (16:31). Why would God have sent Elijah there? Is this perhaps an indication that God has obedient people everywhere–even in the midst of apparently enemy territory?
* What is the significance of the Elijah’s resurrection of the widow’s son in context of Ahab and Jezebel’s reign?
3. It seems clear that Ahab and Jezebel encouraged Baal worship at least partly because it might be a way for them to consolidate power.
* Why is it that tyrants so often attempt to employ religion as a means to further their own political agenda? In what ways do we see this happening around the world today?
* Critics of religion often point out how religion has been used to oppress and enslave people. Are they correct? Is religion, as it is practiced in the world today, a force for good or evil? Why is it that the most religious also seem the most prepared to persecute others who see things differently–or is this not a fair assessment?
4. On Mount Carmel, Elijah sets up a direct confrontation with the prophets of Baal. Instead of quiet humility and confidence in the LORD, Elijah openly taunts his opponents.
* Is there a place for power encounters such as these? Should Christians be more or less confrontational as they combat the forces of evil in the world?
* What are the dangers of such confrontations?
5. Is there any ruler who can faithfully exercise kingly power? When dealing with humans, does power always corrupt?
Department of Theology - Walla Walla College
Zdravko Stefanovic, Professor of the Old Testament, and Carl Cosaert, Professor of the New Testament. Paul Dybdahl, also a member of the School of Theology at WWU, is moderator and author of this study guide.
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