An evil plan, a death and the Conquering God
“Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food. But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?” And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” And Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city. And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.” As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you killed and also taken possession?”’ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”’” Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. And I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin. And of Jezebel the Lord also said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.’ Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat.” (There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the people of Israel.) And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. And 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 disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.””
(1 Kings 21:1-29 ESV)
In this portion of Scripture we see four main characters: Ahab the king of Israel. Jezebel the wife of Ahab. Naboth an Israelite and Elijah the prophet of God. We also see worthless fellows as the text indicate, false accusers.
Ahab as the text said sold himself to do evil in God’s sight. And Ahab’s wife Jezebel did much to make him a worse individual. They erected Baal statues in the land of Israel and they worshipped Baal. They were instrumental to lead the nation of Israel into much idolatry. But through Elijah God judged the Baal prophets at Mount Carmel. We see how the story played out in 1 Kings 17. God showed in that story that He was the true King and God of the Universe and that He should be worshiped alone. God showed that He has omnipotent power and that He does miracles. However, even after the display of God’s power at Mount Carmel Ahab was not persuaded to leave his service to Baal.
He wanted the inheritance of an Israelite. He wanted the vineyard of Naboth. So in this story we see Ahab going to Naboth and asking him to give him his inheritance, his vineyard, for money or for another one. On the surface it didn’t look like evil. Ahab offered him a bigger vineyard and Ahab wanted the vineyard because it was next to his palace in Samaria. It looked like a good deal. But Naboth refused, because he believed that God had given him his inheritance and to sell it would have gone against his conscience. He said to Ahab: “The Lord forbid that I give you the inheritance of my fathers.” Ahab became dejected and depressed because he could not get what he wanted. Then his wife Jezebel came and asked him why he was dejected. Ahab told her. And what did Jezebel do? She devised an evil plan to get Naboth’s vineyard.
Let’s look at this story more closely. Why has God given us this story in the Bible? What can we learn from it? Was it given simply to tell us what evil women and men with power can do? Was it simply to tell us how evil people can get what they want when they want something? Surely not! We know that evil people exist and that evil people throughout history have devised evil plans to get what they want. But what is the intention of the Holy Spirit in this story? How is it relevant for us in this age?
- An evil king representing an evil enemy
The Bible says in this story that there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil. Ahab and his wife Jezebel were evil people who served false gods. They were real people in the history of Israel. But they also represent Satan in this story. Satan was an angel of God who wanted authority over God in the beginning of history, but because of his pride God cast him out of heaven (See Luke 10:18,19). And even though he thinks that he owns this world, he doesn’t. He has been cast out of the eternal inheritance of God. This earth belongs to God and its fullness (Psalm 24:1). But because he isn’t yet destroyed in the lake of fire he roams around in the world like a roaring lion and the sinful world is in the sway of the evil one (1 John 5:29).
In this story we see Ahab wanting something that was not rightfully his. He wanted the inheritance of someone else. Yes, he wanted to buy it which was not wrong, but he wanted something which was not his. We call that greed. We also as believers in Christ should learn that we should be content with what God has given us. We shouldn’t covet things like Ahab did. We should be satisfied with and thankful for the land or possessions and things God has given us. We also shouldn’t make alliances with evil people like Ahab did. He married a godless woman, Jezebel. He was unequally yoked with an unbeliever and idolater. And then led to his downfall. Jezebel incited him to do much evil. Evil company corrupts good morals.
But further we learn that Ahab was like Satan. He became king of Israel but having gotten to this lofty position he wanted more. He wanted the inheritance of Naboth. Even though God gave Satan a high position in heaven he lost it and his inheritance. Ahab wanted things which was not rightfully his and so did Satan in heaven. He wanted God’s place.
Though Satan lost his high position in heaven he is seeking to make God’s inheritance on earth his own. He believes that this world or this earth belongs to Him. In a sense the kingdoms of this world does belong to him, but not ultimately. Because all the kingdoms of this world will be destroyed. Satan has no lasting and eternal inheritance except for suffering in hell! Satan will not succeed in making God’s inheritance his own. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it. And God gives his inheritance to whom he wills. Our God is the Sovereign Ruler.
2.A death for an inheritance
Naboth was caught in between the king’s greed and Jezebel’s cruelty and mercilessness. Naboth believed in God. He said to Ahab: “The Lord forbid that I give you the inheritance of my fathers.” He knew that God had given him and his forefathers an inheritance. God gave the land of Israel to the Israelites, the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Naboth was not willing to give his inheritance to a godless King. That would have been a great sin in his eyes!
What Jezebel did was the worst sort of crime: She ordered two worthless fellows to falsely accuse Naboth, namely of cursing Ahab and God. She ordered the execution of an innocent man in the name of religion and God!! She used the Name of the Lord in vain. And she eventually did not go unpunished. Not only did she use the Name of Jahwe in vain, she used the Name of the Lord to execute an innocent man in order to get a piece of land that her husband coveted. Here we find a woman in the Bible who not only sought to kill the prophets of God, and succeeded to some measure, but she was at the forefront in leading King Ahab and the whole of Israel to be idolaters. What she did in this story was the ultimate evil. She used the Name of Jahwe to lie, murder and steal.
What Jezebel did is not an isolated case among unbelievers. In the Name of Christ or God many true Christians have been murdered. We only have to look back a few centuries in Europe where the Roman Chacholics burned alive and excecuted thousands of Protestant believers in Christ. Or we look back at the bloody history of Islam where millions of Christians and others have been murdered in the name of God. God will not hold them quiltless who misuse His Name for selfish gain! Do we not find this in today’s so called ‘Word of faith’ movement where church members who are poor are encouraged to “sow a seed in faith” so that God can bless them. Many so-called faith preachers has enriched themselves and even caused the death of sick members in the church promising them health and wealth if they just “sow enough seed” to the pastor!! Many people still today enrich themselves by using the Name of God just as Jezebel and Ahab did. Many people still represent Satan on earth and are rightfully called children of the devil. Because of Ahab’s greed Naboth was murdered!
If we read this story carefully we see many parallels and analogies between Naboth and Jesus Christ, the Savior!
- Naboth refused to give his inheritance to another because He inherited it from his fathers and God. Jesus Christ has an inheritance in heaven. In fact the elect of God is his inheritance. Jesus Christ refused to bow down to Satan and lose his inheritance (Matthew 4:1-11).
- Naboth was falsely accused of cursing the king and God because he held on to his inheritance. Jesus Christ was falsely accused on grounds of blasphemy because he was unwilling to deny the truth and forfeit his inheritance in the saints.
- Naboth died because of his inheritance. Jesus Christ died for His inheritance. Jesus Christ layed down his life for the salvation of his sheep.
We see further that Ahab did not condemn what Jezebel did but went forth to take possession of this inheritance and vineyard of Naboth. We also see this in the world playing out. Evil men attempt to disinherit God’s people from their inheritance. Evil men put stumbling blocks in the way of God’s people to destroy them. They try to take God’s people’s possessions by force, by murdering and lying and stealing what does not belong to them. Satan attempts also to take what rightfully belongs to God through his human agents on earth. Satan even now wants to rule over the earth.
But Jesus died for the sins of believers so that they may have an eternal inheritance with Him in the new heavens and the new earth where righteousness will dwell. Jesus Christ left his throne in heaven, was falsely accused by the Jewish leaders. He was crucified, died a criminals death, just as Naiboth, so that we can inherit the eternal inheritance of the Holy Spirit within us. God has given us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance to come (Ephesians 1:13,14).
Jesus Christ came so that we can have an eternal possession in God. Satan cannot steal that from the children of God. He can kill God’s children. He can do them much harm. He can devise plans to get to our inheritance but he cannot steal it and he cannot destroy God’s people.
- God pronounces judgement on evil people
We see in this story that God used Elijah the prophet to go to Ahab to pronounce judgement on him. Elijah represented God in this story.
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you killed and also taken possession?”’ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood” (1 Kings 21:18-19).
Ahab was a thief and a murderer. And we are sure that he did many more evil things things that the Bible didn’t even record. For the Bible says that he hunted the prophets of God to kill them and that he sold himself to do evil. But God’s judgment came upon him eventually. Ahab was taken out. We see that in the next chapter of 1 Kings. Not only he but his whole family was going to be destroyed.
Elijah said to Ahab “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. And I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin.” These words of God are utterly terrifying: “I will utterly burn you up” (1 Kings 21:20-22). Not only was God going to kill him but he was going to go to hell, because of his sins. He was going to a place where the worm does not die and where the fire will not be quenched.
God’s judgment will eventually come upon idolaters and murderers and thieves as the Bible says. No idolater, no homosexual, no adulterer, no liar, no greedy person or extortioner or thief will inherit the kingdom of God! (1 Corinthians 6:9,10). Although Ahab lived a while after this evil act and his idolatries, judgement eventually came upon him. We see this in the next chapter in the book of 1 Kings. And although evil people have lofty positions in society, and although they enjoy comfort in this world or the comfort of their sins, judgement will eventually come upon them. God is not mocked. What a man sows that he will reap.
4.Suspended judgment on worldly repentance
But then we see something strange in this story. We see that Ahab repented. He fasted and put sackcloth upon his head. What should we make of Ahab’s repentance? Was it genuine? Was it lasting? Was it Biblical repentance that lead to his salvation?
I will argue which I believe Scripture makes clear, that his repentance was of a worldly sort. The Scriptures distinguish between godly and wordly repentance (See 2 Corinthians 7:10-14).
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV).
We find many examples in Scripture of worldly grief. Cain who killed Abel had wordly grief. So did Esau who sold his inheritance to Jacob. King Saul had wordly grief after he didn’t obey God’s command to kill the Amalakites whom God devoted to destruction. So did Judas the disciple after he betrayed Jesus. They had sorrow over their sins. They regretted the evil that they done. But their sorrow was short lived. They had no genuine repentance unto salvation!
Ahab was sad because he got news that his whole family would be wiped out and killed. He got news that the birds of the air and the dogs will feed on them. How horrible! Who wouldn’t be dejected after hearing such news!?
And even though God took notice of his repentance, God didn’t change his plan to wipe out his family and kill his wife and himself. We see later in 2 Kings how Jehu was raised up by God to kill the descendents of Ahab (his sons) and to kill Jezebel. Ahab’s repentance was of a worldly sort. His repentance was of a temporary sort. We also find a temporary repentance described in Matthew 13:1-20.
In the parable of the sower the seed which represents the word of God is sown in different kinds of soil. Some seed fall on the ground but because it it shallow the seed quickly withers. Other seed are sown and it comes up but the seed is choked by thorns and thistles. When Jesus explains this parable to his disciples he tells them some people have a short lived faith or repentance. It looks like that there is spiritual life. It looks like they have joy over the word and they accept the word of God. But then we see the seed does not bring forth fruit. The same happened to Ahab. He felt sorry over his sins. He had sorrow. But his repentance was not lasting and enduring.
Did Ahab’s repentance bear lasting fruit? Did he destroy the Baal and Asherah poles and false religion in Israel like King Hezekiah and Josia did? We have no record that he did! He had some good qualities in his repentance but it was shot-lived! In the next chapter in the book of 1 Kings we see how God sought out a way to get rid of Ahab. No! This man was still sold out to do evil! He was sorrowful that God would kill him and in the way God was going to do it and how his sons and his wife would be judged. But judgement was only suspended in the case of Agab.
And so judgement is only suspended for worldly people who are as bad as Ahab and worldly and ungodly people who serve and worship other gods: like Pornography, money, fame, lusts, greed and themselves. The full force of judgement is suspended for Satan and his angels. It is suspended for evil people who live now on earth, but judgement will come and judgement will be excecuted on the godless and the faithless in God and those who sell themselves to do evil.
Friend have you genuinely repented of your sins? Let us examine ourselves to see why we want Christ as our Savior and Lord. Do we want him because we don’t want a violent death? Do we want Jesus Christ merely because we don’t want to suffer in hell? Do we want Jesus because we have been caught out sinning and because of the shame it caused in our lives? Or do we want Christ for the Treasure that He is? There is a repentance that leads to death as in the case of Ahab, as in the case of Esau, as in the case of Judas etc. There is a repentance towards God that is not lasting and real and of the genuine sort.
Do you have the real deal? Have you repented unto life?
Naboth died for his inheritance God gave him. He was stoned to death and so throughout history many children of God have died for the sake of God to receive an inheritance that is unfading, undelifed and incurruptable that is kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:3-11).
Are you willing to die for God’s inheritance in heaven like Naboth was willing to die for God’s inheritance? Are you like Naboth who was unwilling to bend the knee to evil rulers and evil people? Are you willing to die for the honor of God’s Name and God’s people?
Jesus Christ sacrificed his own life so that we can have an eternal inheritance in heaven with Him. He died so that the Holy Spirit can make his home within us forever! What a Savior we have!
Have you accepted God’s sacrifice on your behalf? Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior who was willing to die for God’s honor and to secure an inheritance in heaven for you?
God’s judgement will come and it will be severe to those who commit themselves to do evil! God’s judgement is suspended for the ungodly but it will come in full force! God in the end will conquer over his enemies!