Baasha, King of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 25, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

If you’ve been following along in my series on the kings of Israel and Judah, we’ve already discussed Baasha a couple of times as he’s shown up in the stories of two other kings. But today, we’ll still dig deeper into who Baasha was and why his reign is important.

First, Baasha showed up in the life of King Asa of Judah. Asa and Baasha went to war, and Baasha tried to take control of Judah by cutting off trade routes and communication between Judah and Israel (1 Kings 15:16-17). Asa did end up defeating Baasha and taking back the city of Ramah in Judah.

Baasha also shows up in the life of King Nadab of Israel. In fact, Baasha was the one who plotted against King Nadab so that Baasha could take the throne for himself. Baasha became king through a successful assassination (1 Kings 15:27-28).

Baasha reigned as king of Israel for 24 years. Asa was the king of Judah during Baasha’s entire reign (and longer). As with many of the kings of Israel, Baasha’s reign can be summarized as in 1 Kings 15:34: “He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.” Unfortunately, the ways of Jeroboam (the first king of the northern kingdom of Israel) are continued by many of the kings who came after him. It doesn’t help that Baasha began his reign in disobedience to God by killing Nadab.

God sent the prophet Jehu to Baasha to reprimand him: “I lifted you up from the dust and appointed you ruler over my people Israel, but you followed the ways of Jeroboam and caused my people Israel to sin and to arouse my anger by their sins. So I am about to wipe out Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat. Dogs will eat those belonging to Baasha who die in the city, and birds will feed on those who die in the country” (1 Kings 16:2-4).

We don’t know at what point in Baasha’s reign Jehu delivered this message, but clearly, Baasha showed no intention of changing his ways on his own. Recall that God wiped out Jeroboam’s line of successors on the throne, and now God is proclaiming the same fate for Baasha. Not only would God wipe out him and his house, but dogs and birds would eat them! This shows the amount of anger that God clearly felt toward Baasha’s continuing the idolatry of the kings before him.

Interestingly, it appears that he died of natural causes. 1 Kings 16:6 tells us that “Baasha rested with his ancestors and was buried in Tirzah.”

Many Hebrew names have interesting meanings associated with them, and Baasha’s name is no exception. It could mean wicked, evil, or displeasure. Or it could mean boldness, offensive, the one who lays waste, to compress, or to cause confusion. Baasha definitely seemed to live up to the wicked and evil meanings of his name, based on the prophecy that God gave concerning him and his house!

Unfortunately, not much is known about Baasha. The two items reported about him in the Biblical text are the war with King Asa of Judah and the prophecy quoted above. The section on Baasha is summarized in 1 Kings 16:7: “Moreover, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Jehu son of Hanani to Baasha and his house, because of all the evil he had done in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger by the things he did, becoming like the house of Jeroboam—and also because he destroyed it.”

What can we learn from the life of Baasha, even if we don’t know much about him? God is a God of second chances, but not necessarily infinite chances. God gave Baasha an opportunity to repent from his evil ways and to lead the nation in following God instead of pursuing idolatry. Had Baasha listened to Jehu and worked to change his ways, things would have likely turned out differently for him and his family. However, at least based on the Biblical accounts we have, Baasha only got that one prophetic warning before God decided that he and his house would be destroyed.

When God gives us a second chance in life, we need to recognize it and do everything in our power (and utilize the power of the Holy Spirit) to change our ways to be more obedient to God. He does often give us multiple chances to repent and change, but those chances will not necessarily go on forever. Take a look at your life and discern where God may be asking you to change your ways that don’t honor Him, and then ask God to help you make the necessary changes in your life.

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