To summarize thus far, Solomon’s son Rehoboam succeeded him as king. Rehoboam arrogantly threatened the people with more labor and taxes when they asked if he would lighten their load. Ten of the tribes of Israel responded by pulling away from Rehoboam and choosing Jeroboam as their king, leaving Rehoboam with kingship only over Judah and Benjamin, collectively known as Judah, the Southern Kingdom, while Israel became the Northern Kingdom.
Rehoboam didn’t obey God and neither did his son Abijah (or Abiram) who succeeded him as king; but when Abijah’s son Asa became king, he made sweeping reforms and he and the people of Judah, plus all those who had deserted the Northern Kingdom and moved to Judah, “entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul” (II Chronicles 15:12, NLT). Asa ruled for 41 years, a record reached by few other kings of Judah or Israel.
Asa’s long reign over Judah stretched through the rule of a number of kings over Israel: Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Tibni/Omri and Ahab. Eventually we’ll hit the highlights of all these rulers.
We know Jeroboam died; then Nadab and the rest of Jeroboam’s family were assassinated by Baasha. First Kings 15:33b-34 tells us that “Baasha reigned in Tirzah twenty-four years. But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of Jeroboam, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.” Not that the Lord didn’t try to get Baasha’s attention:
“This message from the Lord was delivered to King Baasha by the prophet Jehu son of Hanani: ‘I lifted you out of the dust to make you ruler of My people Israel, but you have followed the evil example of Jeroboam. You have provoked My anger by causing My people Israel to sin. So now I will destroy you and your family, just as I destroyed the descendants of Jeroboam son of Nebat. The members of Baasha’s family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the field will be eaten by vultures’” (I Kings 16:1-4).
Baasha lived out the rest of life waiting on God’s judgment to be fulfilled. He died and “his son Elah became the next king” (I Kings 16:6b).
“Elah son of Baasha began to rule over Israel in the twenty-sixth year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. He reigned in the city of Tirzah for two years. Then Zimri, who commanded half of the royal chariots, made plans to kill him. One day in Tirzah, Elah was getting drunk at the home of Arza, the supervisor of the palace. Zimri walked in and struck him down and killed him. This happened in the twenty-seventh year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. Then Zimri became the next king.
Zimri immediately killed the entire royal family of Baasha, leaving him not even a single male child. He even destroyed distant relatives and friends. So Zimri destroyed the dynasty of Baasha as the Lord had promised through the prophet Jehu. This happened because of all the sins Baasha and his son Elah had committed, and because of the sins they led Israel to commit” (I Kings 16:8-13a).
Accountability. Each and every person who claims Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is setting an example, good or bad, for others to follow. And each and every one of us will be judged according to that example. Is your life drawing people to Jesus?
“And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 12:36).