What does it say?
Baasha’s long reign and dynasty ends as it began – by murder (1Ki 16). Baasha’s son Elah is killed by one of his military officers, Zimri. Zimri reign lasts only a week as Omri rallies forces to oppose him and Zimri, realizing that he cannot prevail, chooses suicide rather than defeat. Tibni attempts to thwart Omni, but civil war is avoided as Omri’s superior forces prevail. Omri settles in for a long, powerful and evil reign in Israel. Omri’s son Ahab follows him and marries the infamous Jezebel.
2Chronicles 17 passes over these events in the northern kingdom and marks the transition from Asa to Jehoshaphat in the south, one of the good kings of Judah. He promotes worship and orders Levites to teach people God’s law. Jehoshaphat strengthens the kingdom and gains the respect of surrounding nations.
What does it mean?
1Kings 16:5-7 gives insight into key themes of the kingdom history. With the fulfillment of Jehu’s prophecy, we see that God’s word dictates history. Not only are there other prophetic utterances in the kingdom period, but also God’s words through Moses are a continual witness to divine control over history. Second, Jeroboam and Baasha are condemned for using their political authority to promote themselves instead of glorifying God among the people. Though God is sovereign over history, this text demonstrates cause and effect rather than a fatalistic determinism, as both of these men had opportunity to return to God’s covenant, yet their poor choices result in them becoming self-serving despots, not reformers.
Jehoshaphat’s reign is another reminder of God’s mission. He strengthens the kingdom and gains the respect of surrounding nations. This is God’s plan – that his people dwell among the peoples of the world and faithfully represent his grace and truth.
How will I respond?
I am in the midst of people who need God. Do I have a history of making self-serving choices? What is an important decision that I need to take in the near future? How can I take that decision in a way that results in greater glory for God and a better witness for the foreigners in my midst that need him?