1 Kings 21 … Consider His Sweeping Wrath

“Behold, I will bring evil upon you, and will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free in Israel;” (21:21).

Here we go. Often, we can read a passage like this and then find some comfort with a thought that sounds something like, “Oh that’s the Old Testament God, the God of wrath and judgment.”

But it is then we must remind ourselves, He has not changed; He does not change, He will never change. In the Old Testament and in the New Testament, He is forever the same.

God is not human, that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19).

“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty” (Malachi 3:16).

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadow, (James 1:17).

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever, (Hebrews 13:8).

This phrase translated, will utterly sweep you away,” grabbed my attention. I wondered if it suggested the same inference as our modern-day slang, “to totally clean house,” meaning “to eliminate or discard what is undesirable.”

Well, I discovered in a sense, yes. But it is so much more. Take a look at translations from other versions.

NIV: wipe out …
NKJV: take away your posterity…
HCSB: sweep away your descendants…
CSB: eradicate your descendants…
ESV: utterly burn you up…
NLT: consume you…

While some versions translate this phrase utilizing the idea of “cleaning house,” others speak of a consuming or burning. To me, there’s a difference, so I visited Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to shed some light.

“1197. בָּעַר bāʿar: I. A verb meaning to burn, to consume. The verb indicates the process of combustion. It describes fire itself flaming up… It is used figuratively of the Lord’s anger burning and consuming Jacob and Israel (Isa. 6:13; 30:27; 42:25) and the wicked (Ps. 106:18; Jer. 44:6)… A verb meaning to remove… It describes dung being consumed or perhaps swept away [emphasis added].”

So the picture emerges; His Sweeping Wrath burns and consumes wickedness, as a fire consumes dung that is then swept away. And throughout His Word He reveals His Sweeping Wrath that empties and eliminates evil, declares and demonstrates His Deity, hails and heralds His Holiness, protects and purifies His people and even, manifests and magnifies His Mercy.

Consider His Sweeping Wrath

  •  His Sweeping Wrath empties and eliminates evil.
    • You love evil more than good,
      Falsehood more than speaking what is right. Selah.
      You love all words that devour,
      O deceitful tongue.
      But God will break you down forever;
      He will snatch you up and tear you away from your tent,
      And uproot you from the land of the living,
      (Psalm 52:3-5).
  • His Sweeping Wrath declares and demonstrates His Deity.
    • I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes; and they will know that I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance on them,” (Ezekiel 25:17).
  • His Sweeping Wrath hails and heralds His Holiness.
    • So the common man will be humbled and the man of importance abased,
      The eyes of the proud also will be abased.
      16 But the Lord of hosts will be exalted in judgment,
      And the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness,
      (Isaiah 5:15-16).
  • His Sweeping Wrath protects and purifies His people.
    • “I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and not be moved again; and the wicked will not waste them anymore as formerly,” (1 Chronicles 17:10).
  • And, His Sweeping Wrath manifests and magnifies His mercy.
    • “Behold, I will bring evil upon you, and will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free in Israel;25 Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him… 27 It came about when Ahab heard these words, that he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently. 28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his day…” (21:21, 25, 27-29).

How are we to respond to His Sweeping Wrath?

The amazing thing to me in this account is His mercy extended to the likes of Ahab: “there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the LORD.” But as a result of the pronouncement of His Sweeping Wrath, Ahab was humbled; and it had to be genuine, since God sees the heart. And the LORD was moved to mercy.

But the verdict still stood; and His Sweeping Wrath would, in fact, be realized. Sin absolutely does have consequences. We must never take sin lightly. God certainly never does.

If we have placed our faith in the finished work of Christ on our behalf, then we will be saved from His Sweeping Wrath.

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him, (Romans 5:9).

 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; (Ephesians 2:8).

But we must never forget, He has not changed and neither has His view on sin and evil. Grace is never an excuse for sin.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! (Romans 6:15).

Today, as we consider His Sweeping Wrath, may we be so grateful for His amazing grace that we would be moved to “clean house,” and sweep away anything that may displease Him, that we would grow in our salvation.

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls, (James 1:21).

But we know we are incapable of sweeping ourselves. But as we grow in gratitude for His great grace delivering us from His Sweeping Wrath, as we seek Him in His Word and depend on His Holy Spirit, He will strengthen us to live by faith and “clean house.”

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me, (Galatians 2:20).

that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth, (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside… (Colossians 3:5-8).

As we sincerely consider His Sweeping Wrath, may we grow to understand the serious ramifications of sin, that we would live as His children of light, always trying to learn what pleases Him.

for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord, (Ephesians 5:8-10).

Let’s Grow Together!

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