In Eze 18 we have the principle of freedom of moral choice declared quite clearly. The wicked can turn from their wicked ways and be saved:
V21-23 - But if the wicked man turns from all the sins he has
committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is just and right, he
will surely live; he will not die. None of the transgressions he has
committed will be held against him. Because of the righteousness he
has practiced, he will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of
the wicked? declares the Lord GOD. Wouldn’t I prefer that he turn from
his ways and live?
Equally, the righteous can turn away and be lost:
V24 - But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and
practices iniquity, committing the same abominations as the wicked,
will he live? None of the righteous acts he did will be remembered.
Because of the unfaithfulness and sin he has committed, he will die.
The sequence of events with Ahab was as follows:
- 1 Kings 17:30, 31 - Ahab son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. And as if it were not enough for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he even married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and he then proceeded to serve and worship Baal.
- 1 Kings 17 - Drought and famine in Samaria for 3½ years
- 1 Kings 18 - Mt Carmel experience that breaks the drought - Elijah's life threatened
- 1 Kings 20 - Ahab allows Ben-hadad to live and even makes a treaty with him, rather than destroying him, which draws condemnation from God's prophet
- 1 Kings 21 - Ahab condemns the innocent a draws another prophet's condemnation and prophecy that dogs would lick Ahab's blood (which is very insulting!).
All this drew the following summation from the chronicler:
1 Kings 21:25, 26 - Surely there was never one like Ahab, who sold
himself to do evil in the sight of the LORD, incited by his wife
Jezebel. He committed the most detestable acts by going after idols,
just like the Amorites whom the LORD had driven out before the
As a result of the prophecy in V19 and 21-24, Ahab repented and the LORD relented:
V27-29 - When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on
sackcloth, and fasted. He lay down in sackcloth and walked around
meekly. Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying:
“Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has
humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the calamity during his
days, but I will bring it upon his house in the days of his son.”
Despite the temporary reform, Ahab continued to be sinful as the egotistical and narcissistic battle in 1 Kings 22 betrays - Ahab had not fully reformed his life.
- The prophecy about dogs licking Ahab's blood (1 Kings 21:19, 21-23) was delayed by many years
- Ahab still died an ignoble death because of the battle that he should not have fought
- Ahab, when he died, had his blood licked by dogs, 1 Kings 22:38
- Ahab's royal line was not terminated with his death but that of his grand-son, Joram who was killed by Jehu, 2 Kings 9.
According to Eze 18, all this would have been avoided by Ahab, if he had fully committed his heart to serving the LORD God.