1 Kings 21:17-29
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Get up and go to meet King Ahab of Israel, who is in Samaria. He’s in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. Tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you murdered and also taken possession?’ Then tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: In the place where the dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, the dogs will also lick up your blood!’” (21:17-19 CSB)
In the heart of sinful humanity, there lives a delusion that God does not notice the sins of people, or that if he does, he is unable or unconcerned to do anything about it. In contrast with this way of thinking, the word of God says that the Lord will surely bring every person to an accounting for his or her sin (cf. Romans 2:5-11).
In previous posts, we saw how Ahab was filled with jealous greed for Naboth’s vineyard. His wife Jezebel thought up and carried out an evil scheme to get the vineyard for Ahab. After she had Naboth and his sons murdered, Ahab boldly went and took possession of the vineyard with all his military leaders behind him. Will Ahab and Jezebel get away with their sin? Does God care when we sin? Is he able to do anything about it?
God sent the prophet Elijah as a messenger of judgment. Notice that the Lord knew where Ahab would be before the event, and he sent his servant to meet the wicked king there. Consider the basis for Elijah’s message. He acted in obedience to God’s command (21:17, 19). Our final authority is God’s word, in which we may read what the Lord tells us what he wants us to do and what he forbids us to do.
Here are two matters we must clearly understand. First, we dare not have anything else but the Scriptures as our authority. He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules’” (Mark 7:6-7 NIV). To rest on human opinions or reasoning is perilous to one’s soul. Second, we do not need anything else. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV).
Will the Bible tell you how to use the apps on your cellphone? (To some, that is one of life’s great mysteries.) No, because that is not an issue of life or godliness. But it will provide you with guidelines for how you ought to use your cellphone in a godly manner. See Ephesians 4:17-5:16.
How was the message received? Ahab, like anyone else who is ungodly, did not receive God’s messenger with favor. Oh, there may be a restrained civility, but there remains a deep, inner opposition to the word of God and to those who proclaim it. When unsaved people hear a message of judgment, or something else in the Bible that they do not like, they may let you know how much they dislike it, and you for telling them about it.
The message clarified. Ahab said to Elijah, “So, my enemy, you’ve found me, have you?” He replied, “I have found you because you devoted yourself to do what is evil in the Lord’s sight” (21:20 CSB). We should make clear what our purpose in telling God’s message is. We have no personal dislike for the people. All people are made in the image of God, and should therefore be treated with respect. But we are opposed to their sin, and we must warn them of the outcome of continuing in sin.
People applaud those who warn others to get out of burning buildings. We require smoke detectors, fire alarms, exit signs, panic hardware on doors, and emergency lights. Most people will agree, though perhaps some grudgingly, “If it saves lives, it’s a good law.” But let a Christian tell someone how they may avoid eternal fire, and the world goes crazy. Why is this important in our lives? As followers of Jesus Christ, our mission is to speak out for the glory of God and the good of people.
Grace and peace, David