“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)
I’m not exactly sure why God didn’t just do in Ahab and Jezebel right after Mount Carmel-fest 900 B.C. (-ish), but I think it may have something to do with giving us an object lesson on just how bad it gets when the duality in the heart of man over steps its boundaries. Jezebel ain’t got the duality problem, oh no, far from it. She arrives on the scene a flat-out pagan with visions of smashing any worship of YHVH to pieces (maybe she didn’t know about how the Fish-god was smashed to pieces in the presence of The Ark of the Covenant in a pagan temple) but Ahab, there’s a chance he may have known better than to be so dismissive of THE God of Israel.
For instance, as the King of Syria (along with 32 other kings) have Ahab fighting two wars “a certain prophet came to see King Ahab of Israel and told him, “This is what the LORD says: Do you see all these enemy forces? Today I will hand them all over to you. Then you will know I am the LORD.” (1 Kings 20:13) What? Ain’t this the guy who marries the evilest woman in the neighborhood? Ain’t this guy that can’t tell the difference between THE true God of Israel and a wooden pole? Well, it gets better… “And Ahab asked, “By whom?” So he said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘By the young men of the rulers of the provinces.’” Then he said, “Who shall begin the battle?” And he answered, “You.” (1 Kings 20:14)
Even though YHVH showed Ahab grace and mercy during the battles, he’ll still not follow God’s Law afterwards. He’ll make a treaty, because according to Deuteronomy 20:13 when the LORD your God hands over the town over to you, you’re supposed to kill every man in town BUT this is Ahab, so why do that. Instead, let’s receive a yet another warning from yet another prophet that only leaves us vexed, then we can go off, huffin’-n-puffin’ back to the palace in Samaria. Oh look, Naboth has such a pretty garden…
“I asked Naboth to sell me his vineyard or trade it, but he refused!” Ahab told her. “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!” — 1 Kings 21:6-7
Ahab, the spiritual schizophrenic that he is, goes and whines to Jezebel. As if her kind heart would consul her husband’s boo-hoo-hoo’s over Naboth standing his ground on keeping his vineyard…but Naboth wasn’t being stubborn over this was he? Nope, far from it. There’s this little diddy we find in Leviticus 25:23 about being FORBIDDEN to just give up any land inherited when God, Himself, handed out land to the 12 tribes of Israel. Ahab leaves this detail out, and Jezebel plots to have two sons of Belial to accuse Naboth of blasphemy and then stoned to death. Ain’t Ahab and Jezebel the bestest neighbors around? Wait! What’s that knocking on the door? “Jezzie, it’s Elijah. He says he’s got another one of those prophecy messages”
So, what’s the take away? Well, first off, Ahab was gonna plow grapes asunder for a veggie garden. Now there’s nothing wrong with a veggie garden but grapes are part of the symbolism of the nation of Israel, God’s Chosen, so this is a bad idea. In the big picture, what Ahab and Jezebel do to an already disobedient people is enough for YHVH to send Elijah to Ahab one more time and say, “I am going to destroy your family as I did the family of Jeroboam son of Nebat and the family of Baasha son of Ahijah, for you have made Me very angry and have led Israel into sin.” (1 Kings 21:22) And since we serve a God of follow through, Ahab repents but the dogs still had a field day.
Now, in the second case, as I’ve said before, we get this object lesson in the duality of the heart. It ain’t a good idea to brush up on all of God’s precepts and statue’s only to look for holes in them so you can sneak around and do what thou wilt. Eventually God will send an Elijah onto your path to stop you from infecting everyone else and still show you His grace and mercy when you realize the gravity of your sin. There are still gonna be consequences but take heart in this from the old days…
“Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty.” (Exodus 34:6b-7a) Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a husband, a father, has an education in Biblical doctrine and is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy. He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Think About This: “If weakness may excuse, what murder, what traitor, parricide, incestuous, sacrilegious, but may plead I? All wickedness is weakness.” – Samson Agonistes