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1Kings 21

What is Elijah doing in 1Kings? He's teaching the Israelites the Uniqueness of GOD. Here in 1Kings 21 we find Ahab abandoing himself to a differnt 'god'. False worship leads to false desire (or at least to the desire for the wrong things) False desire leads to false advice on how to obtain those things.  What Ahab plans and does is not pretty, but the real God calls him to account, and even here God shows Himself merciful.

Some of you may have seen the American Sit-com “My Name is Earl".  Earl is this good natured, easy going sort of guy, who after a car hits him and he loses a $100,000 lottery ticket, comes to embrace a belief in Karma, and then he and his offsider Randy set about fixing up all the former mistakes and wrongs that Earl has done by instead doing nice things.  He does this to try to pay back Karma.

Earle’s trouble is that he is surrounded by strange group of people, who invariably make it more difficult for him than it otherwise might at first appear.

The whole show is about him bungling from one botched up ‘good deed’ to the next.  But the reoccurring theme comes though, that what Earl believes influences what he does.

But I wonder is that true?  Does what we believe really influence what we do?

Well you’ve probably already guessed that the answer is yes, and this comes out fairly clearly as we move though this passage in 1Kings 21 with Ahab. You see Ahab has a belief too.  Everyone has some belief in some thing; If people don’t believe in Jesus then they come up with some other belief, either in some organised religion, or else in an eclectic construction of their own, where they are at the centre of their belief.

Ahab’s belief is that the Idols and religious practices of his wife Jezebel are just as legitimate as the claims and practices of YHWH, The real God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Ahab is a very contemporary man.  He’s in a long line of contemporary men, and he’s gotten himself to a point where, he feels he can take or leave religion, that spirituality is just for those who are serious about it, for those who like that sort of thing.

It’s not an issue to him if his wife wants to put to death religious people who claim to be following the real God.

He’s at home doing his king thing, waving to his subjects, putting his royal seal on a few documents, but don’t bother him with the demands of Church and State. Jezebel is a feminist before her time, a very militant feminist, of the kind who is brutal, cruel and Psychotic.  Ahab lets her do her thing.  He’s not concerned, he lives for himself.  That’s his belief.

But as we shall see what you believe does influence what you do. 

Ahab’s managed to settle things down after that fanatic Elijah had stirred up a hornets nest by challenging the religious men who like Baal and the religious men who liked Asherrah to a duel, of ‘my God’s bigger than your God” kind of contest. The trouble was Elijah had won, urged the crowd to turn against the other groups and now Jezebel was really angry.  And she wants to murder Elijah.

There’s been some rain, he’s had a win in battle against Ben Hadad.  But it was all a bit of sport, even though the prophet had told him to finish off the other king, he’s let him go.

But then there was the prophet of YHWH who had persisted in telling him a message from God saying he should have finished off the evil Ben Hadad.

But ‘come on’  what’s ‘evil’ and ‘good’ anyway aren’t they all just relative terms?

You can imagine him strolling along thinking these things over in his mind, when he comes around the palace wall and spots the rows of manicured vines growing next door.

That was Naboth vineyard.  Green and verdant, the soft rich brown soils against the luscious green tendrils, and look at the size of those bunches of grapes, hanging there, waiting to be picked.  In the distance a wine press and white washed buildings, well maintained and probably choc full of the best wines.  Ahab wanted that block.  There was no L.J hooker sign out the front, but he wanted it anyway.

It didn’t matter (he reasons) that the Law in the Ten Commandments passed down to him and his forefathers had said: “Thou shalt not covert anything of thy neighbours”, he wanted that Farm and he’d get it.

A price was offered, but there was a major sticking point, Naboth didn’t want to sell.

Not only did he not want to sell, but under the Law he could not sell his inheritance.  Only in times of extreme poverty were the Israelites allowed to sell the land God had allotted to them, and then it was to come back to them in the year of Jubilee anyway,

Ahab wanted Naboth to sell out, and there was money to be made in the deal, but Naboth was more faithful than Ahab, because he was not willing to break God’s Law just to please the whims and desires of this king.

The trouble with Covetousness is that if you want something that’s not yours bad enough and long enough, you’ll eventually get it illegitimately.

When he’s told that Naboth won’t sell Ahab goes home “sullen and angry”  same way he was described at the end of Ch20

This king is like a poorly trained overweight Doberman, who if he doesn’t get his way goes off and sooks.  He lies on his bed and won’t eat. He’s got the huffs, he’s throwing a tantrum. 

What you believe influences what you do.  This king thinks that you should get what you want, and when that doesn’t work, you throw a tantrum till you do.

Well Jezebel will get it for him.  See believes that the end justifies the means, she believes that human life is expendable for your own pleasures and so she puts a plan into place to get rid of the sticking point of Naboth himself.  She hatches a plot to get him killed. 

And she has her way, she then tells Ahab to get up and go and take position of the field because the owner who refused to sell it to you is no longer alive but dead.

We are not told that Ahab thought anything was wrong with the turn of events, it didn’t seem strange to him that Naboth was now dead.  His wrong belief has led to a calloused conscience.  All that matters is that he’s now gotten his way.

But none of this was hidden from God.  As Jezebel tells Ahab to get up, God tells Elijah to get up and meet Ahab in Naboth’s vineyard (In verse 18).  And notice that God doesn’t refer to it as Ahab’s new vineyard or Naboths’s old vineyard,  he calls it Naboth’s Vineyard.  It belongs to Naboth It doesn’t belong to Ahab.

Ahab wants to walk around his ill-gotten gain, but he is surprised by Elijah.  He doesn’t want to face up to the illegitimacy of what has happened.  The taking of an innocent man’s life.  He says; “so you have found me, my enemy”

Elijah pronounced God’s sentence on Ahab, and towards the end of the chapter it seems as if Ahab was remorseful, as he dresses in sackcloth, and goes around meekly.  God who is always rich in mercy averts the judgment for a time, but the Ahab quickly returns to his old ways.

The passage raises for us a number of Questions:  First; How did Ahab turn out the way he did?  How did he go from just being easy going with other religions, to being an accomplice to murder of one of his own people?

Well the answer comes in verse 25 Ahab, “…sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife.”

He didn’t just fall into sin, he didn’t just get seduced by it like king David did with Bathsheba, No Ahab SOLD himself to do evil.

He wanted Naboth to sell up, and sell out on God, because that’s what he’d already done.

Krisy Hines once sang “I’d sell my soul, for total control, over you.

Recently we have heard in the media the bizarre case of someone selling their kidney to a reality TV Show, but your Soul is much more valuable than your kidneys.

It’s the real you inside there, the you that doesn’t age, the you that feels and experiences and learns and lives, despite how the rest of you may be going.  It’s the little boy or girl in each one of us.  To sell that to the Devil, by converting wrong things and believing wrong things certainly will affect what you do.

We may think;  “O – what’s the harm in looking, sometimes we cant help what we see but looking, ogling, converting , embracing with the eyes such that you start to imagine what it would be like to have that thing, or person, of be that individual, sells out on God.  It says to God you’re not good enough, I’m putting what I’ve got up for sale.

See while there was no L.J hooker sign outside Naboth’s field, there was one outside Ahab’s heart.  He in affect was saying; my soul is up for sale, to the highest bidder, to the one who can get me what I want.

But there is a terrible cost to that isn’t there.  Your soul has its makers mark upon it.  “Created in the image of God”  It’s as though it had what bottlers used to do to ensure that their bottles always came back to them “This bottle always remains the property of…” In Mankind’s case, ‘the living God’  To take that which is of great value and offer it on eBay to the highest bidder in an attempt to get something that is not ours will cause us unimaginable pain.  So don’t sell out in an attempt to get things that are not yours.

But that raises the very practical question; How do we legitimacy purchase things without selling out to covetousness and evil?

First remember that God owns everything, even the things we think we own, are really on loan from Him.  So ask yourself is the thing I have really so bad after all?  In other words don’t be motivated by a desire to keep up with the stuff the neighbour has.  Whether it’s their cloths, their car, their holiday, their, hairdo, or their toolbox.

Second don’t look too hard at it.  Bunion said  a lot of sin comes in through the eyes so don’t look at it to the extent that becomes the subject of your fantasies

Third; Think and Pray.  I know we are supposed to watch and pray, but there are times when we need to think and pray also.  Think about if you really , I mean really need it.  Ask God to show you if you need it.  He is a gracious and kind God, he may give it to you anyway, but Prayer must be involved.

4th Wait till it’s on sale, or at least don’t rush into getting it.  That was one of Ahab’s problems, he was too hasty.  Instant gratification is not the way of wisdom.  There is safety in the multitude of counsellors.

5th  Be prepared to pay a fair price.  That’s what Abraham did when he bought the grave site for Sarah.  The gospel is not promoted when we try to rip people off with the price.  We may feel that we bought for a bargain, but in the process something was sold off from us also too cheaply.

5th If it turns out that you are able to procure it, then A) give thanks to God for it, and B) Commit whatever it is to the Lord.

This comes back to the first principle Everything belongs to God anyway, we are just caretakers of it for Him and for the coming generations.

The final Question this passage raises for us today is:  Why did God, who knows all things avert his judgment on Ahab, if he knew Ahab would just go back to his old ways again?

Answer: God by His very nature is Merciful. He gives Ahab space to turn around.  Even Ahab is given space. God is rich in mercy. We only have to look to Jesus to see that.  Jesus endured the sin of the world upon His shoulders so that sinners like you and I could receive forgiveness. Space to come to God through Jesus is a blessing of incredible worth.  (C) LGS

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