“Repent And Receive Some Days Of Grace!”(I Kgs 21:17-28).
It is common parlance that “what goes around comes around” – meaning one’s action will eventually have consequences that one has to deal with, sooner or later.
So it is good news when we read that God sent prophet Elijah to promise damnation to king Ahab.
But let us digress to raise this question – even though it is a question of theodicy: “Why would God allow a devilish scheme against an innocent Naboth to be accomplished before coming in to pronounce his wrath? Perhaps the common answer is that by his seeming nonchalance the evil in the hearts of the perpetrators are exposed before punishment.
When a king dies he is given a king’s burial full of pomp and pageantry! But in the case of Ahab God told him, “In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood – yes, yours! And to Jezebel, “Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.” “Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country…” What a royal disgrace! This does not look like something buried in the annals of ancient tales! An old Mungaka folksong recounts a prince, how when he died in exile it was the ants that buried him and the flies that brought back news of his demise. Papa Ahidjo, Mobutu, Amin and others, even down the rungs of the political, ecclesiastical and judicial ladder, just within the continent. The God who raises up from grass to grace also brings down from grace to disgrace!
Of Ahab, Elijah said, “…you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD…” And of Ahab and Jezebel, the chronicler puts in parentheses, “(There was never a man like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols…”
“Urged on by Jezebel his wife…” Wives should be the mirror where the husband checks his actions, but how bad it can be for a people when a leader is urged on by his wife to perpetrate evil! Again this is not a fairytale culled from the past; we live the reality of this in various walks of life! How sad!
However, dear friend, our focus is about how genuine repentance can gain for us some days of grace.
When Ahab heard the hard words of punushment, “he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly. Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah…‘Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”
In our minds we are more like Jonah. We do not want to go to Nineveh because we know that if the people accept and act on our message, God will not do what he says he will do. We are sometimes angered that God is a “gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity…”(Jon.3:5-4:3).
God is pleased with the contrite and penitent heart. Hence he calls sinners to meet him to reason together. And though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow(Is.1:18).
Note however that it is best not to engage in evil than to say, “I’ll ask God and he will forgive me!” Such pardon does not gain for us again the fullness of what would have been ours. God did not say that because Ahab repented he would no longer be punished. God only postponed the punishment to the time of Ahab’s son.
And like mother and father, so like son, Ahaziah, Ahab’s son ruled for only two years. “He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, because he walked in the ways of his father and mother…who caused Israel to sin. He served and worshipped Baal and provoked the LORD…to anger…”(I Kgs 22:51-53).
My friend, beware the kind of tree you plant today, because it will produce the fruit which your offspring will harvest and eat in years to come!
God is watching; yet with sufficient grace!
Prayer: Oh LORD, give me a contrite and obedient heart and put a right spirit within me. Amen!
Have a blessed day! Peace be with you!
Rev Babila Fochang.