If you’ve paid attention to earlier books of the Old Testament, you’ll remember that many of them begin with someone’s death. Joshua begins with Moses’ death. Judges begins with Joshua’s death and there are others. 2 Kings continues that pattern. The first verse says, “After the death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel.” When Walton begins his commentary on this verse he wants to remind us of Ahab and his contribution to the life of Israel during his reign. Walton writes, “Ahab had ruled Israel along with his Sidonian wife, Jezebel (1 Kings 16:29–22:40), and died around 852 b.c. Our biblical writers credit Ahab with opening the door to the worship of the god Baal in Israel through his marriage to Jezebel (16:31), and much of the material in 1 Kings that offers us a portrait of Ahab’s reign is focused on the conflict at this time between Yahwism (championed predominantly by the prophet Elijah) and Baalism (championed predominantly by Jezebel, yet supported also by Ahab). This conflict is itself seen as extending far beyond Ahab’s reign and drawing in other members of the Omride dynasty.”[1]

“The Moabites were the descendants of Lot’s grandson Moab (Gen. 19:30–38). Their land was immediately east of the Dead Sea and shared an indefinite border with Israel to the north at approximately the point where the Jordan River enters the Dead Sea. Moab was a powerful enemy of Israel until the time of the judges, when, under the leadership of Ehud, it was subdued ( Judg. 3:30). It continued under Israel’s subjection until Ahab was defeated at Ramoth Gilead. At that time, taking advantage of Israel’s temporary weakness, Moab rebelled.” This rebellion, led by Moab’s king Mesha, is going to be described in more detail in 2 Kings chapter 3. With Ahab’s death, the rebellion takes place when Ahaziah was king.”[2]

The Moabite rebellion mentioned here is not against Ahab, but against his son Ahaziah, who took his place. Ahab was famous for his idolatry which was to lead to the deterioration of the power of Israel as a nation. As Hobbs says, “The significance of these events is that they show, after the death of Ahab, the disintegration of the Israelite empire.”[3] As we know the Nation of Israel is on its way off the map of world history. It will be conquered by Assyria in 721 B.C.  I believe the US is facing a similar fate. Our problems, however, are not from external threats. The decline of this nation (just as the decline of every other nation) is due to spiritual factors. The political, economic, and social problems we encounter are the symptoms of the spiritual deterioration of a nation. One web writer rightly observed, “Our problem is that we don’t really learn from history. George Santayana said that ‘those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.’ The philosopher Hegel said, ‘What experience and history teach us is this: that people and government never have learned anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it.’ Or as Winston Churchill said, ‘The one thing we have learned from history is that we don’t learn from history.’”[4] As we support killing our citizens in the womb, all kinds of sexual aberrations, as well as a legal system that does not punish criminals, all I can say to America is “Watch out!”

[1] Walton, John H. 2009. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament): 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. Vol. 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Dilday, Russell, and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. 1987. 1, 2 Kings. Vol. 9. The Preacher’s Commentary Series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.

[3] Hobbs, T. R. 1985. 2 Kings. Vol. 13. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[4] http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/decline.html