We are near the end of 1 Kings. Chapter 21 contains one of the last recorded assignments from God that Elijah carried out. Again, we are reading about King Ahab who was amazed at God’s display on Mt. Carmel that resulted in Him bringing rain and an end to a three-year drought. He saw the God of the Israelites on display and yet again, we see Ahab back to his old ways. Of course, with his godless, wicked wife Jezebel still on the scene, living for one’s own desires no matter the cost would again be the way life was lived in the palace. How quickly man forgets God.
Let’s start in verse 1 to establish the setting, “Now there was a man named Naboth, from Jezreel, who owned a vineyard in Jezreel beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. One day Ahab said to Naboth, ‘Since your vineyard is so convenient to my palace, I would like to buy it to use as a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or if you prefer, I will pay you for it.’” (1 Kings 21:1-2, NLT) Ok seems fair. Ahab made Naboth a fair offer for his vineyard. Going on in verse 3, “But Naboth replied, ‘The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance that was passed down by my ancestors’” Basically, Naboth refused to sell because He was honoring the Lord’s Word (Leviticus 25; Numbers 36:7-9). In his heart Ahab was really coveting Naboth’s property. We will see this play out as the story continues.
Ahab returned home angry. He even refused to eat! I kind of picture him stewing, steaming, and pouting because he didn’t get what he wanted. He ‘wanted what he wanted!’
Well, as you would expect, his wife, Jezebel, asks him why he is so upset. Ahab tells her what happened and how Naboth refused his offer to buy the vineyard. Jezebel’s response? Perhaps it was, ‘Now, I am sure you can find another property to buy for your garden. It’s not the end of the world.’ No, that was not her response. Verse 7, “Are you the king of Israel or not?” Jezebel demanded. “Get up and eat something, and don’t worry about it. I’ll get you Naboth’s vineyard!”
Imagine that. She was as greedy, self-centered, and arrogant as Ahab was! The difference? She was not going to take “no” for an answer. What a pair!
Scripture records in verses 8-14 Jezebel’s scheme that she devised to get Naboth’s land. Interesting what someone will do when they are driven by their selfish, greedy desires. She arranged for false witnesses to accuse Naboth of “cursing God and the king” Of course, the story was fabricated to get Naboth killed and out of their way.
When the news of Naboth’s death reached Jezebel, verses 15-16 (NLT) tell us she said to Ahab, “You know the vineyard Naboth wouldn’t sell you? Well, you can have it now! He’s dead!” So Ahab immediately went down to the vineyard of Naboth to claim it.”
No hesitation. No questions asked. He took it for his own.
Being fully aware of what was happening, God then said to the prophet Elijah, (vs. 18-19, NLT) “Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He will be at Naboth’s vineyard in Jezreel, claiming it for himself. Give him this message: ‘This is what the LORD says: Wasn’t it enough that you killed Naboth? Must you rob him, too? Because you have done this, dogs will lick your blood at the very place where they licked the blood of Naboth!’” Standing for the truth in a difficult situation. God needed Elijah to stand in the gap for the truth and confront the evil of Ahab and Jezebel.
Of course, when Elijah arrived, Ahab had his typical response, “So my enemy you have found me!” Almost like he knew Elijah would eventually come. Elijah conveyed the message of the Lord concerning the destruction of Ahab’s family for the evil they had carried out against Naboth.
As I was reading this chapter, I was actually quite surprised by Ahab’s response – he recognized his sin, mourned, and humbled himself before God. God held off the immediate punishment and spared his family for the moment. The grace of God on display.
There are many things we could learn from this passage. What I want you to take away is, ‘God has the final word… always.’ He is just and will punish sin. A holy God must, or He would not be truly holy. But He will also be gracious if there is confession and repentance. Why? Because He is loving and wants man to come to repentance.
In the uncertain and evil days in which we live. When it seems the world has ‘gone crazy’ and is rebelling against its Creator (when it comes down to it), God is gracious and slow to anger. He desires that man be saved. Possible even in the darkest of times. But if man does not turn to Him, He will still have the final word and sin will be punished. For that we can be sure.
Walking with you,