In his article, “Evolving Ideas of Sin,” Rich Barlow observes: “’Sin’ is in the eye of the beholder, and our society is richly multiperspectival: we don’t have a single definition of anything, ‘sin’ included.” What happens when we do not believe God defines right and wrong?
We see the answer in the life of King Ahab. During his 22-year reign “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him” (v. 30). After marrying Jezebel, a Sidonian princess, Ahab formally sanctioned Baal worship in Israel. Jezebel was a Baal worshiper and Ahab supported her to the point of constructing a shrine for Baal and an Asherah pole (vv. 32–33).
It is hard to ignore the impact of this moment on Israel’s history. The nation was teetering on a knife edge. None of its kings had been righteous—not a single one! Its history had been characterized by violence, chaos, and increasing theological drift. Now their king was partnering with his wife to draw Israel into worship of a rival deity.
Baal was worshiped by the nations in the eastern Mediterranean, in particular the Canaanites and Phoenicians. They believed Baal controlled life, fertility, the weather, and more. They worshiped him in ceremonies and activities that were an affront to the God of Israel. This was one of the religions God commanded Israel to eradicate. They failed to do so during the days of the judges and now Baal worship was becoming a regular part of life. These were dark days indeed. It is no surprise that God would take extraordinary measures to bring His people back to him!
>> We don’t talk a great deal about evil in our modern world. We tend to see things in shades of gray, rather than black and white. But God has clearly stated what is right and what is wrong. We should learn from Ahab’s example never to compromise when it comes to sin.
“The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous... By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Ps. 19:9–11).