Ahab, the king of Israel, was a weak and easily led man. He was no doubt influenced by his father, Omri:
25 Omri committed evil in the Eternal’s eyes. He was more wicked than any wicked king who had lived before him, and there were a lot of wicked kings who lived before him.
He was definitely influenced by his wife Jezebel – a name that has become synonymous with evil.
25 There was no one in Israel like Ahab who sold himself and decided to commit evil in the Eternal’s eyes because his wife, Jezebel, manipulated him to evil.
These things don’t excuse him, he was responsible for what he did. His action and inaction led to idolatry, cults with hundreds of priests to false gods rising up and being destroyed by God through Elijah. But in 1 Kings 20, we see him under siege from the king of Aram who was demanding huge concessions. Ahab is willing up to a point then takes a stand. He doesn’t turn to God for help. Maybe he has no hope or faith despite the miracles he has seen. But God is faithful.
13 About this time, a prophet entered into the presence of Ahab, who was Israel’s king.
Prophet: This is the Eternal’s message: “…. I am going to give you victory over them on this day. Then you will know that I am the Eternal One.
At the end of chapter 21, God has pronounced terrible judgement on Jezebel, Ahab and his house. Somehow, for some reason, this finally impacts the man and he repents with sackcloth and fasting and God forgives him!
There was a prophet called Jonah who had a problem with God’s forgiveness, so big a problem he refused at first to give the prophetic word to Nineveh. Elijah, who has suffered under Ahab’s hand, has neither hesitation nor regret about giving God’s word to Ahab. We don’t read about him griping and moaning that God hasn’t punished this wicked king. He shows us that it’s not up to us to judge what God does or doesn’t do nor to say who he should forgive.
Undoubtedly we can all think of people who are ‘beyond God’s forgiveness’ the things they have done are just too wicked to ever be forgiven. But God’s mercy is not bound by our opinion or understanding. That truth ought to give us incredible hope when we fail to live righteous lives. There’s nothing we can do or not do that is beyond His mercy and grace if we repent.
Instead of taking that mercy and grace and living lives characterised by them – we too often hold on to grievances. We forget ‘forgive us our debts as we forgive…’ and instead hold those sins against people. There is no sin too great to be forgiven by God if we repent and ask Him. But the act of holding unforgiveness towards other people puts a huge block in our walk with God. If we don’t forgive – have we truly understood what forgiveness is?
Ahab was a wicked rebellious idolater and God forgave him when he repented. There’s nothing anyone can do to you or me that compares with the offence we have given to God. His mercy is available for us to both receive and to give to others. Let’s walk in that mercy today and every day both with God and with our neighbours.