Continuing the theme of Elijah, I am intrigued by Barth’s comment that Ahab’s great sin was passivity (CD IV/1, 456), and I wrote up an Our Daily Journey post about it. I wonder about lumping heretics with Nazis under the broad heading of evil, but 1 Kings 21:25 does say that of all the evil acts that Ahab committed, his “worst outrage was worshiping idols.” So it seems that God is okay with it, but I’m wondering if you are. Any constructive comments are appreciated.
Evil doesn’t need numbers. History’s most horrific acts were committed by only a handful of perpetrators. These agents of evil didn’t persuade others to join in their sin, they only convinced them to go along. Most Germans didn’t hunt down and kill Jews, but they allowed their government to do it. Most Americans didn’t own slaves, but they permitted their neighbors to do so. Evil doesn’t have to win most people to its side. It only needs a silent majority who sees what is happening and does nothing.
Passivity was Ahab’s problem. He cowered before his wife, Jezebel, a foreign queen who pushed him to worship Baal (1 Kings 16:31). When Elijah slaughtered the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, Ahab ran home to Jezebel and told on him. It was Jezebel, not Ahab, who promised Elijah that she would get her revenge (1 Kings 19:1-2). Ahab merely went along.
When Naboth refused to sell his vineyard, “Ahab went home angry and sullen” and told on him. Jezebel replied, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll get you Naboth’s vineyard!” (1 Kings 21:4-7). And she did. Ahab merely went along.
Ahab was passive but he wasn’t innocent. God declared that he was the most wicked of all the wicked kings of Israel. He may not have pulled the trigger, but he allowed Naboth’s murder and Israel’s idolatry to occur.
This should give us pause: what evil might we be silently tolerating? Do we sit on our hands when others are bullied or abused? Do we say nothing when professing Christians dismiss the foundational truths of our faith? We may feel bad for challenging them, but given that Ahab’s greatest sin was idolatry, how can we not speak up for God and his true Word?
Evil doesn’t need you to stand with it. It wins whenever you don’t take a stand.