Evil Kings in the North
“The word of the LORD came by the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha and his house, both because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam, and also because he destroyed it” (16:7).- 1 Kings 15:25–16:7
Asa ruled over Judah for forty-one years, and during his time as king of the southern kingdom, several kings came and went in the northern kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 15:9–10). Today we will look at the reign of two of these northern kings who ruled during the time of Asa.
In about 909 BC, Nadab, the son of Jeroboam I, succeeded his father as king of Israel, ruling for two years (v. 25). Nadab did not learn from Jeroboam’s mistakes. He “walked in the way of his father, and in his sin which he made Israel to sin” (v. 26), namely, the idolatry Jeroboam introduced into the northern kingdom (12:25–33; 15:29–30).
Nadab ruled briefly because Baasha of the house of Issachar conspired against him while Israel was trying to take Gibbethon, which belonged to the tribe of Dan, back from the Philistines (15:27; see Josh. 19:44). Seeing an opportunity to take the throne for himself, Baasha killed Nadab and wiped out all of Jeroboam’s descendants, fulfilling the prophecy that the Lord would end Jeroboam’s line (1 Kings 15:28–30; see ch. 14). This pattern of kings ruling for a short time before being overthrown would characterize much of the northern kingdom’s history. In Judah, however, kings tended to reign for longer periods, and at least some of them obeyed God.
The change in rule did not, however, bring a change in worship during the reign of Baasha. As 1 Kings 15:33–34 indicates, Baasha continued in the same idolatry as Jeroboam and Nadab. Though his reign was longer than Nadab’s, eventually he died as well, and Jehu the prophet predicted that Baasha’s line would likewise not endure on Israel’s throne (16:1–6).
Strikingly, 1 Kings 16:7 indicates that Jehu prophesied the fall of Baasha both for his idolatry and for destroying the house of Jeroboam I. In Scripture, God often uses evil men to judge other evil people and then condemns the same evil men for carrying out His judgments. For instance, the prophet Habakkuk tells us that God condemned Babylon for destroying Judah even though the Lord brought Babylon against Judah to judge Judah for the nation’s sin. Our Lord can do this righteously because He evaluates people’s intentions. Baasha brought destruction on the house of Jeroboam and Babylon burned down Jerusalem not because they wanted to fulfill the Lord’s words but because they wanted to take gain for themselves. God’s purposes were holy, but theirs were not.
God uses evil individuals to judge other evil people, but that does not absolve His instruments of judgment for their sin. That should remind us that we cannot be excused of evil motives for actions that end up causing good things or for evil motives behind actions that outwardly conform to God’s will. The Lord sees our hearts and evaluates our intent, so if we want to please Him, our good actions must have good motives behind them.
Passages for Further Study
1 Samuel 16:7
1 Timothy 1:5