1 Kings 16:15-34

15 In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned seven days at Tirzah. Now the people were camped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines. 16 The people who were camped heard [f]it said, “Zimri has conspired and has also struck down the king.” Therefore all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp. 17 Then Omri and all Israel with him went up from Gibbethon and besieged Tirzah. 18 When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house over him with fire, and died, 19 because of his sins which he sinned, doing evil in the sight of the Lord, walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, making Israel sin. 20 Now the rest of the acts of Zimri and his conspiracy which he [g]carried out, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

21 Then the people of Israel were divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king; the other half followed Omri. 22 But the people who followed Omri prevailed over the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath. And Tibni died and Omri became king. 23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king over Israel and reigned twelve years; he reigned six years at Tirzah. 24 He bought the hill [h]Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver; and he built on the hill, and named the city which he built [i]Samaria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill.

25 Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, and acted more wickedly than all who were before him. 26 For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat and in his sins which he made Israel sin, provoking the Lord God of Israel with their [j]idols. 27 Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did and his might which he [k]showed, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 28 So Omri slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria; and Ahab his son became king in his place.

29 Now Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. 30 Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him.

31 It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him. 32 So he erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made the [l]Asherah. Thus Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him. 34 In his days Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho; he laid its foundations with the loss of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.

We could put a lot of blame on the kings here, but one thing becomes apparent throughout this story, which is that the Israelites were in a free fall, running as hard as they could from God. Zimri lasts seven days before they make Omri king, and Zimri kills himself when the rest of Israel attacks him. Then some folks decide Omri is no good and Tibni should be king, but he gets killed too.

We’re told Omri was worse than anyone before him, and then his son Ahab is the worst when he starts worshiping Baal. In none of this do the leaders ever consult God, they want things their way and aren’t interested in what God might have to say. Hiel takes it one step farther, knowing there is a curse on Jericho, he rebuilds it anyway at the loss of two sons. He may as well have sacrificed them to some idol, but with all the idols Israel was serving, it’s entirely possible that child sacrifice was already a thing.

All this started because Jeroboam was nervous about letting his people worship at the temple of God. He setup the first idols, and it snowballed from there. In none of this do we see any of the leaders, really anyone except the prophets, trying to turn the tide, or speak against the kings who were leading them down a destructive path. They followed blindly, like sheep to the slaughter.

All that to say, don’t be like sheep! If a leader is telling you to go somewhere you know isn’t right, find out what God wants you to do instead. Take responsibility for your actions, and don’t try to pin the blame on the leader for being bad or evil. You can’t necessarily change what they are doing, though a good leader would listen to correction, but you can change what you are doing. Your life is your responsibility, don’t give that right to anyone else on this earth.

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