The following is a reflection on 1 Kings 16:7: “…because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.”
My soul, do not be mistaken: as surely as “the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Ps 103:8), so does He likewise hate sin, and it angers Him when one does what is evil in His sight.
When Jesus walked into that temple-turned-marketplace, He went and made a whip.
When God laid eyes upon the golden calf, He desired to destroy the people of Israel.
And so here we have 5 kings, and 5 times we hear that their actions provoke the Lord to anger (1 Ki 16:2, 7, 13, 26, 33), and 5 times we hear that they did what was evil (v.7, 19, 25 twice, 30). Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab alike all feed the Lord’s anger, living in unrighteousness and dwelling in evil, the tents of darkness.
Oh my soul, how easy it is to look upon these kings and think, “I am better than they. I did not, as Zimri, strike down my master, nor did I, as Ahab, erect an altar to Baal or make an Asherah or take in vile Jezebel as my wife.” But my soul, the issue goes deeper than that: the Lord hates sin! It matters not how much sin there is: whether you have killed a hundred innocent men or unfairly looked upon one man in anger, whether you have 700 wives and 300 concubines or have gazed upon one woman with lustful eyes… the Lord hates your sin. Do not be mistaken, the Lord loves you – and without a doubt the Lord is just and will judge sins according to the measure of their atrocity – but let not His love for you nor His heftier punishments on others more vile than you cause you to be comfortable in your sin, lethargic to its manifesting presence within you, fostering up a hard heart against the ways of the Lord.
So greatly does the Lord despise sin that He would sacrifice His own Son to end it; He would take on flesh Himself and endure unearned blows and unmerited stripes for your sake, that you might be freed from the very thing He despised. Our God is so holy and righteous and good and beautiful, and sin is the very antithesis of who He is: it is profane and common, unrighteous, evil, and ugly. Sin is all that which departs from God (anything not done in faith, Rom 14:23), and so He cannot approve of it, cannot stand it, cannot even entertain the desire of it (God does not tempt, Jas 1:13). Our Jesus cried out in the garden, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me” (Mt 26:39), yet the cup did not pass, for so dire was the need to abolish sin and so holy is God that the only manner to atone for sins once and for all – the only proper and fitting and worthy sacrifice to get the job done – was through a perfectly righteous, unblemished Lamb. So pure and so holy is our God that He embodies love and chooses to love sinners, but so pure and so holy is our God that He could not give us His full love without abolishing that within us which He hated, those things that made Him desire to vomit due to the stench they placed in His nostrils.
The option, then, was to either abandon us to our sins or in some way be rid of sin once and for all, and so gracious and kind and loving is He that He did not take the easier option and forsake us, but rather took on human flesh and endured every temptation Himself.
He was rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…
He was unfairly captured, unjustly tried, and unrighteously condemned…
He was beaten and flogged and stripped and nailed to a tree, where He became a curse on our behalf.
And from that tree, He cried, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani,” the psalm of a righteous man being unfairly persecuted, condemned, hated. Where He could have forsaken us, instead He chose to be forsaken, and when HE cried, “It is finished!” the debt had been paid. When He bowed His head and that veil tore, so too should our hearts tear open as we bow our own heads in prayer, weeping and wailing. So vile were our sins that we crucified the Son of God, and so great was His gated for sin that He allowed us to do it, out of love for us.
Yet three days later, His buried body began to breathe, His stilled heart began to beat, the blood that brought us peace with God began flowing through His veins once more, and Jesus arose with our freedom in hand, having declared victory over sin and its child, the grace!
Oh my soul, do you not see how much the Lord hates sin and yet how much He loves you, how much He went through simply so that you might be His once more? He loved you and loves you so dearly that He could not allow you to remain the same…when, then, do you still choose to sin? Is your love gof God merely a string of words spoken in vain, or is there substance to your sonnets, veracity and vivacity to your vows?
And my soul, if you love God, why do you continue to do those things which He hates? If you love God, why do you willingly allow your heart to wander, even when you know you are opposing Him whom you proclaim to love? My soul, you must ask yourself, who do you esteem more greatly, yourself or your God? What do you desire most, yourself or your God? Who do you trust, yourself or your God? Let your words on this page be not the empty verse of a deceiving and impulsive and flighty romantic, but the weighty pledge of one who speaks sincerely and truly, who loves God not merely with intention, but with action, with active faith. Faith cannot be divorced from works, if that faith is true: What you do bears evidence to whom you trust, whom you serve, and what you desire most of all.