26 January, 2017

I Kings 21:27–29—“… because [Ahab] humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days …”



And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house (I Kings 21:27-29 KJV).


COMMON GRACE ARGUMENT:
The first point of common grace, particularly the well-meant offer, teaches that in the preaching of the gospel God evinces His general love to all the ungodly, His pleasure in their lives, and His willingness to save them all; that in the preaching there is a temporal blessing for all men, also for those who are not saved.

In this particular case, it is said of Ahab that he repented as a result of Elijah’s preaching and subsequently his punishment was temporarily postponed and he was temporarily saved from destruction.


(I)

Rev. Herman Hoeksema

[Source: The Rock Whence We Are Hewn (RFPA, 2015), pp. 38081]

[The theory of common grace] teaches that in the preaching of the gospel God evinces his general love to all the ungodly, his pleasure in their lives, and his willingness to save them all. [It also] teaches that in the preaching there is a temporal blessing for all men, also for those who are not saved. [Examples suggested in favor of this idea often include] Ahab, who repented and whose punishment was postponed as a result of Elijah’s preaching, and [also] Nineveh, which repented as a result of Jonah’s preaching and was temporarily saved from destruction.

This is a minor point and I can dismiss it with a few remarks.

True, final judgment was postponed in Ahab’s case. But note, first, that the postponement was not under the preaching of the gospel but under the announcement of most terrible judgment. Second, it was not a postponement of judgment for one who utterly refused to listen to the word of God but for Ahab insofar as he still trembled because of God’s terrible wrath. Third, Ahab was not blessed by everything that took place in his case. Ahab’s house was not destroyed in his time, but the final execution of judgment was transferred to the next generation. Thus postponement was entirely in harmony with God’s righteousness. Final judgment cannot come until the sinner has shown himself to be utterly hard. Ahab still feared and trembled under the announcement of God’s judgment. He seemed to be repentant. Hence that God might appear perfectly just and righteous when he judges the final judgment was postponed until the next generation. Fourth, Ahab did not personally escape punishment at all, for he died, and the dogs licked his blood.


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(II)


Rev. Herman Hoeksema

[Source: Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, vol. 2, no. 1, December 1968]

A second illustration of common grace referred to is Ahab. To all his wickedness Ahab had added the crime of shedding Naboth’s innocent blood and depriving him of the inheritance of his fathers. Elijah is sent to Ahab to announce God’s punishment upon him. What is the punishment announced? Complete destruction, the extermination of Ahab and his house. Jehovah threatens to make the house of Ahab like that of Jeroboam and Baasha. The punishment threatened is final and therefore presupposes that the measure of iniquity is full.

When this final punishment is announced, Ahab humbles himself and wears sackcloth and ashes. He does not come to repentance; it is not his sin that troubles him. No, the hard blow of Jehovah, as announced in Elijah’s prophecy, simply crushes him. He is broken. This reveals that the wickedness of Ahab and his house has not reached its culmination. It is not fully ripe. He still fears Jehovah’s judgments. The sin of Ahab’s house would become ripe in his son. For that reason the threatened extermination, the final punishment of Ahab and his house, is postponed until the next generation. Then the measure of iniquity will be full, and the time for final punishment will have arrived.

In other words, the passage teaches what is taught in all Scripture—that final punishment will be inflicted when the measure of iniquity is full. Thus it was with the flood. Thus it was with Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus it will be at the end of the world. The sign of the fullness of this measure of iniquity will be that the world will not be frightened and humbled anymore, even under the threats of severest punishment. Thus it was with the prediluvian world. Thus it was with Sodom. Thus, according to the Lord Jesus, it will be at the end of the world. People will continue to live unconcernedly, marrying and giving in marriage, even though a thousand Noahs are preachers of repentance and righteousness. Sin develops gradually and ripens along the historical, organic line of the development of the human race, and when it is fully ripe final punishment will be inflicted.


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(III)


More to come! (DV)




            

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