Questions and Response


Later in this chapter, Ahab repents a little. Why does God decide not to follow on the judgment He had Elijah deliver just prior?


The scripture describes Ahab’s reaction to the announcement of God’s judgment in this way:  “When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.” (1 Kings 21:27).  These external actions of Ahab must have been genuine for God to respond with mercy.  Yet, this should not surprise us.  No one is beyond God’s forgiveness.  David, a previous King of Israel, offers this description of God’s heart:  “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17).

God’s response to Ahab’s contrition is a source of encouragement to all who wish to turn from harmful actions to the new life God offers.  The story also reminds us that our relationship with God is fluid.  God is moved by our actions as well as the thoughts and intents of our heart.  There are various incidents in the scriptures where God changes his mind about the harm that is to come on His people. For example, God responds to Moses’ intercession for the people of Israel with mercy as He moves away from judgment.  (Exodus 32: 12-14).

As I reflect on these passages of scripture, I sense God is calling me to follow the example of Moses and particularly Jesus in becoming a more faithful intercessor on behalf of others.  The God we know in Christ doesn’t need our convincing to be merciful.  Yet, the fervent prayers of Christ-followers impacts our world more than we can imagine.  Things happen when people pray that don’t happen when we don’t.  I know prayer moves me away from a fatalistic and skeptical view of people toward one that is more hopeful and grace-filled.  Knowing God’s heart makes me root for the sinner instead of condemning them.

“God is moved by our actions as well as the thoughts and intents of our heart.”

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