I Kings 21, 22
There are several ways to discover it is dangerous to jump off a ten story building. You can read about the law of gravity in a book. You can learn from the sad experience of someone who jumped. Or you can jump! Each option provides you with the information but the amount of pain involved in learning this differs greatly in each situation.
In our passage today, God had a lesson for King Ahab, a lesson that we ought to learn through Ahab’s life rather than our own experience. God is the Lord and His Word is to be obeyed! Have you learned this lesson?
As we look at the passage, we see first the king and the farmer (I Kings 21:1-4). Ahab was a very wicked king who ruled Israel during the divided kingdom. His palace was in Samaria but he had a summer residence in Jezreel, a verdant swath stretching from Mt Carmel to the Jordan River. Ahab had witnessed Elijah defeat the 450 false prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel (chapter 18) and had defeated the Syrians twice (chapter 20). God had been patient with Ahab but Ahab still refused to bow to God’s sovereignty.
On the other side, Naboth stood for the Lord, refusing to compromise at a time when most Israelites were bowing to Baal (19:18). Ahab’s offer for Naboth’s vineyard seemed fair: market value or a better vineyard elsewhere. Was Naboth just stubbornly resisting change or holding out for a better offer? No, his decision was based on God’s Word (Numbers 36:7). This ancestral inheritance was to stay within the family. Ahab didn’t need more garden space—he was covetous and greedy! He displayed his childishness by pouting when he didn’t get his way. How you respond to rejection and disappointment says a lot about you.
Next we see the King and the Queen (I Kings 21:5-16). Queen Jezebel was a wicked woman who dominated her weak husband. She introduced Baal worship to the nation and was on a campaign to paganize Israel. Her name means fornication. All the poison of Jezebel’s personality was poured into this wicked plan. She had no regard for God’s commands nor for private property. It was autocratic power that was at stake in her mind. Her wicked plan violated many aspects of the law. She committed forgery when she, not the King Ahab, wrote the letters. She hypocritically proclaimed a religious fast in order to frame Naboth. She paid two scoundrels to lie under oath and she organized the murder of Naboth and his sons. When the sordid news reached the court, the royal couple waltzed into their new garden. Was this the perfect crime? Was there no justice? Where was God?
Well, next we see the king and the prophet (I Kings 21:18-25). Sin does not go unnoticed. Ahab and Jezebel ignored the truth of Solomon, who said, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). God sees everything! Remember that the next time you are tempted to do evil. Ahab was basking in his new vineyard when he was startled by a man clothed in camel hair and eyes ablaze with the fire of God. “Have you found me O mine enemy?” (21:20). Elijah says, “I have found you because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord.”
Sin does not go unpunished. God issued the consequences of Ahab and Jezebel’s horrific deeds. Every male child of Ahab’s would die (21). His reign would come to an abrupt end (22). Jezebel would be eaten by dogs in Jezreel (23). Dogs would lick up the blood of Ahab (19).
Finally, we see the king and God (I Kings 22:29-38). Three years passed and the threat of judgment seemed idle. Ahab convinced Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to join him in the fight to regain land from Syria. Ahab rode off confidently deceived by an evil spirit (22:19-24). An arrow shot “at random” was actually guided by God to the one vulnerable spot in his armor just below the breastplate (22:34). Was that a lucky shot? No, it was a divine bulls-eye! The nameless, aimless archer from Syria had no idea that he was the fulfillment of prophecy and the avenger of Naboth’s life. The Bible records, “And the dogs licked up his Ahab’s blood” (38). God said it and it came to pass! Twelve more years passed and the widowed Jezebel remained unscathed, although she probably jumped every time she heard a dog bark! For fifteen years God kept Jezebel’s sin in an escrow account drawing the interest of divine wrath. Sin always has a payday someday! Longfellow wrote:
Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small;
Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.
No one tramples God’s Word without paying a heavy price. Ahab defied God and it cost him and his family dearly. We can learn from Ahab’s bad example, submit to and obey God, and avoid the terrible consequences of sin.