Nadab, King of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 18, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

After looking at two kings of the southern kingdom of Judah for the last few weeks, this week we turn our attention back to the northern kingdom of Israel. While Jeroboam was king of Israel, Judah had Rehoboam, Abijah, and Asa as kings. In the second year of Asa’s reign in Judah, Jeroboam died and his son Nadab took over as king of Israel.

Nadab had a very short reign of just two years. That may seem insignificant in the history of Israel, but every king is important and contributes something to the nation as a whole, so today we’ll look at what Nadab did during his short time as king. You can read the entire account of Nadab in 1 Kings 15:25-31.

Unfortunately, we see in verse 26 that, “He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the ways of his father and committing the same sin his father had caused Israel to commit.” It is likely for this reason that Nadab’s reign was not long and did not go well for him.

In the second year of his reign, Nadab attempted to capture the Philistine city of Gibbethon. But, during that battle, Nadab was assassinated. Baasha, the son of Ahijah from the tribe of Issachar, had been plotting against Nadab with the motive of becoming king himself. Note that Baasha’s father Ahijah was a different person (with the same name) as the prophet who had advised Nadab’s father Jeroboam. Once Baasha killed Nadab, he seized the throne for himself (1 Kings 15:27-28).

After Baasha took over, he killed the rest of Jeroboam’s family, not leaving one person left alive. This happened to fulfill the prophecy given to Jeroboam through the prophet Ahijah back in 1 Kings 14:14: “The LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who will cut off the family of Jeroboam. Even now this is beginning to happen.” The king who was spoken of in that prophecy was Baasha, who used Nadab to begin the killing spree that was foretold to Jeroboam.

We see how this all happened and why in 1 Kings 15:29-30: “As soon as he began to reign, he killed Jeroboam’s whole family. He did not leave Jeroboam anyone that breathed, but destroyed them all, according to the word of the LORD given through his servant Ahijah the Shilonite. This happened because of the sins Jeroboam had committed and had caused Israel to commit, and because he aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel.”

This raises the question of whether people are punished for the sins of others. Was Nadab only allowed to reign for 2 years and then killed because of the sins of his father Jeroboam? Yes and no. God did prophesy that He would cut off Jeroboam’s entire family due to Jeroboam’s sins, and Nadab was part of that family. But the Scriptures record for us that Nadab also committed evil and did not follow God, which deserves to be punished as well.

But what about the rest of Jeroboam’s family members – other children, wives, etc.? Were they sentenced to death because of Jeroboam’s sins? Again, the answer is likely yes and no. As with Nadab, they were likely committing the same sins as Jeroboam and Nadab in turning against God and worshiping idols.

Worshiping any God except the one true God is clearly a violation of God’s first commandment to the nation of Israel. Exodus 20:1-6 in the Ten Commandments says, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

The last part of that references punishing children for the sins of their parents. God had clearly warned Israel that one of the effects of idolatry would be the children suffering for the sins of their parents. Was this God being unjust and punishing people for sins they did not commit themselves? Not necessarily. Generally speaking, if the parents are committing idolatry, the children will follow that practice as well, thus becoming deserving of the punishment that God gives them for that sin. It can often take many generations to break that sin until something happens to break them out of it, often God intervening in some great way to change the hearts of the leader and then the people follow.

Nadab’s short reign was significant in that it fulfilled God’s prophecy to cut off the line of Jeroboam as a punishment for the many ways he continuously disobeyed God. Jeroboam was clearly not repentant of these sins, and neither was Nadab, so God followed through on that prophecy. If Jeroboam or Nadab had realized their sin and repented of it, then things likely would have turned out differently for them and for their nation. But so goes the leader, so goes the fate of the nation.

What can we learn from Nadab that will help our Christian faith today? The primary lesson is to not only follow God ourselves but to be wise in what our families and those close to us are doing. If a family member is intentionally going down a path that leads away from God, we need to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in how to deal with that family member. Perhaps they need us to speak God’s truth in love to them to bring them back to the right path. Or perhaps we need to steer clear of them so we do not get drawn into their sin and suffer the consequences of it. There is no one “right answer” for every situation, as each person and situation have nuanced details to them. We need to trust that God is sovereign and to follow His leading through the Holy Spirit in our lives.

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