A Matrix Of Evil

Series: Days of Elijah: God’s Righteous Mountain Man


Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd

Cortland Church of Christ / January 07, 2018

Happy New Year!  Let us all aim to draw closer to the Lord and one another in this new year.

This morning we are beginning a new sermon series.

I have titled this series, “Days of Elijah:  God’s Righteous Mountain Man”.

Next Sunday we will introduce Elijah.

This morning, however, we want to examine the historical backdrop that gave rise to Elijah.

“When you study the lives of individuals, you must also study history…

you cannot separate people from the context of their times.” / Swindoll, Elijah, pg.3

Presently, I am reading three biographies (concurrently) - - one on George Washington (my second); one on

 Thomas Jefferson; and one on Leonardi Da Vinci.  I actually have a fourth one due to arrive soon, Stonewall Jackson. 

All of these men were a product of their times.

There is a never-ending debate, “does a man makes the times or do the times make the man?”.

Although it’s the easy way out, I’m comfortable answering that question with one two words:  “It’s both!”.

Next Sunday, when we have a first encounter with Elijah in 1Kgs.17, you will surely be impressed.

But for now, let’s begin our study of Elijah by addressing the times in which he lived.

Elijah’s name first appears in the Old Testament in 1Kgs.17:1, but that verse begins with “and”

or “now”  which points us backwards if we’re wanting to get the fuller picture of the days of Elijah.

To do this we will need to turn back a few chapters to 1Kgs.12.

(I have requested that all of us read 1Kgs.17 thru 2Kgs.2 (just eight chapters) - - repeatedly throughout this series.


In 1,000 B.C. (125 years before we meet Elijah) the nation of Israel was in its heyday, spiritually and politically.

King David had stretched the borders of Israel (a nation made up of twelve tribes) far to the north and the south.

Because the Egyptian Empire was in decline and because the Assyrian Empire was still in an embryonic state - - during

this rather brief window of time - - Israel came to be one of the most powerful and influential nations in the world. 

After King David, King Solomon erected a magnificent temple.  He also established a strong navy that controlled

major trade routes to both India and Africa and King Solomon devoted himself to farsighted public works projects.

Having kings was not what God willed for His people, but He permitted the kings to come to power.

Israel requested a king (1Sam.8:4-9); Samuel warned the people about the negatives of having a king (1Sam.8:10-18);

Yet the people of Israel refused to listen and stated rather adamantly, No, but there shall be a king over us (1Sam.8:19).

God knew Israel’s request for kings would bring trouble, heartache and hardship, as well as apostasy, but sometimes a  loving Father allows his children to learn the hard way.  God abandons men so that they can see what life is like without Him.

After Solomon things fell apart - - a civil war took place and the united kingdom of Israel split:  the north and the south.

In the south, Rehoboam began to reign in the footsteps of his father, but the northern tribes of Israel seceded from the union, rebelling against Rehoboam’s harsh and hard-headed leadership.  Rejecting the advice of his elders, Rehoboam angered many by declaring his intentions to make even more stringent demands than those of his father (1Kgs.12:15).

Thus a seismic rift took place resulting in a sadly tragic and permanent division. 

The Southern kingdom was comprised of two tribes:  Judah and Benjamin, and came to be known as Judah.

The southern kingdom would last for 345 years before being taken into captivity by the Babylonians in 586 BC.

During these 345 years Judah would be governed by 17 different kings:  8 good ones and 9 wicked ones.

The Northern kingdom (a.k.a., Israel) was comprised of the other ten tribes: 

Dan…Asher…Naphtali…Zebullum…Issachar…Manasseh…Gad…Ephraim…Reuben…and Simeon.

The southern kingdom would last for about 210 years before being taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 BC.

During these 210 years or so Israel would be governed by 19 different kings - - all of them wicked.

As we’ll see next Sunday Jehovah God chooses to send the prophet Elijah to give a warning to the northern kingdom.

But before he arrives here is what had been happening in Israel during the first eight decades following the split.

Israel’s first king - - Jeroboam - - reigned for 22 years

1Kgs.12:28-31a / So the king consulted and made two golden calves, and he said to them, ‘It is too much

for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.’

And he set up one at Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.  Now this thing became a sin

For Jeroboam, good politics trumped good religion.  His aim was to keep the northern tribes at home to avoid any possible contrary influences from the southern kingdom.  That strategy was destined to produce some bitter fruit.

The second king - - Nadab - - ruled for 2 years

1Kgs.15:25-26 / Now Nadab the son of Jeroboam became king over Israel…and reigned for two years.

And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father and in his sin which he made Israel sin.

Nadab was assassinated by Baasha, who, just to be safe and eliminate rivals also killed the rest of Jeroboam’s family.

The third king - - Baasha - - reigned for 24 years

1Kg.15:33-34 / In the third year of Asa king of Judah, the son of Ahijah became king over all Israel

at Tirzah, and he reigned for twenty-four years.  And he did evil in the sight of the Lord,

and he walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his sin which he made Israel sin.

Although Baasha’s reign last for two and a half decades it was quite inglorious.

Israel’s fourth king - - Elah - -  reigned for 2 years

1Kgs.16:8 & 13 / In the twenty-six year of As king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha became king

over all Israel at Tirzah, and reigned for two years…for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah his son,

 which they sinned and which they made Israel sin, provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger with their idols.

Elah was a worthless carouser and was slain while in a drunken stupor by one of his own military leaders.

This military leader Zimri, like Baasha, proceeded to massacre all of Elah’s relatives and friends.

The fifth king - - Zimri - - reigned for just 7 days

1Kgs.16:19 / because of his sins which he sinned, doing evil in the sight of the Lord,

walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, making Israel sin.

Zimri hardly had time to adjust his crown, when one of his military men (Omri) marched against him.

Zimri responded by torching the king’s palace while he was inside, thereby cremating himself .

The sixth king - - Omri - - reigned for 11 years

1Kgs.16:25 / And Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, and acted more wickedly that all who were before him.

Omri survived infightings and with shrewdness managed to build a new ivory palace in Samaria.

King Omri very likely orchestrated the marriage of his son Ahab to Princess Jezebel of Sidon.

This strengthened an alliance with the Phoenicians and opened up additional trades routes to the Mediterranean.

Israel’s seventh king - - Ahab - - reigned for 19 years

1Kgs.16:30 & 33 / So Ahad the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him

Ahab also made the Asherah.  Thus Ahad did more to provoke the God of Israel than all the king of Israel before him. 

These first seven kings of the northern constitute a genuine HALL OF SHAME.  Not a single one was good and godly.

Actually we’re not even halfway through Israel’s 210 years of darkness - - eleven more wicked rulers are yet to come.

The nation of Israel is spiraling downward.  Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they descend still further.

This is what I have come to call A MATRIX OF EVIL.

A matrix is defined as a situation or surrounding substance within which something originates, develops or is contained.

It is a womb of sorts.  At this juncture this womb/matrix has served as a breeding ground for EVIL for eight decades.



At this point in time King Ahab is labeled by God as “the worst of the worse”.

During Ahab’s reign, 1Kgs.16:31 notes, And it came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk

 in the sins of Jeroboam…that he married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians, and went on

to serve Baal and worship him.  So he erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria.

Here we see that EVIL was not only tolerated, it came to be celebrated.

When such happens to any nation (even the good ole U.S.A.), serious trouble and the judgment of God is in the offing.

I can’t sing the song, Day Is Dying In The West, without thinking that it could well be a prophetic description of America.

Paul may have been thinking of this low point in Israel’s history when he penned Rom.1:32 - -

Although they knew the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death,

they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Leon Wood in Elijah: Prophet Of God, writes (p.9) - -

“…The northern kingdom had grown but (it) was filled with GROSS SPIRITUAL DARKNESS.”

A large and significant part of that darkness was fueled by Ahab’s wicked wife, Jezebel.

There’s a reason that this name is seldom ever given to newly-born baby girls.

Jezebel was wicked spelled with a capital “W”.  She was the wicked witch of the west!!

If Ahab had considered this marriage to be only a diplomatic nicety, he was not only naïve, but sorely mistaken.

¢ This is a lesson to all, young and old, it can make an enormous difference who you marry. ¡

Don’t think for one moment that Jezebel did not influence Ahab regarding the worship of Baal.

Remember - - Jezebel father’s name was Ethbaal (1Kgs.16:31). 

Now, as we close, I want us to ponder these circumstances all week long.

J. Oswald Sanders writes, “Elijah appeared at ZERO HOUR in Israel’s history…

Like a meteor, He flashed across the inky blackness of Israel’s spiritual night.”

Imagine how you would respond if God directed you to deliver a dire judgment to King Ahab and Jezebel.

Plan to join us again next Sunday as we shed some light on God’s Righteous Mountain Man and how he responded.

Next Sunday our sermon will help to “flesh out Elijah” but our primary focus will be upon 1Kgs.17:1-2.

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