Arise: Naboth’s Vineyard, Ahab’s Vice, and God’s Vengeance – Part 2

November 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Posted in Arise, Biblical friendship | 10 Comments
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In Part 1 we met:

I. The Pious Patriarch (Naboth)
II. The Pouting Potentate (Ahab)

Now we will meet Jezebel, the wife of Ahab.

III. The Poisonous Puppeteer

And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.

I Kings 21:7

This is so characteristic of how the devil works. Lacking the ability to know the thoughts and intents of every heart the way God does, he watches and observes… Until it’s time for him to “arise.” He rises like a serpent with its head poised to strike. He finds someone who is saying no to God’s way – someone who loves things more than God – someone who loves self more than God. Then the devil arises, and he strikes, and he tells his servants to arise. Beware of the poison of those who will manipulate you at the behest of the devil.

Jezebel knew just which strings to pull. She injected the poison of greed and covetousness, and she started to put on the devil’s own puppet show.

Take a moment to figuratively look around you right now. Who has hold of your strings today? Are you surrounded by good and Godly friends? People who will hold you accountable in tough love? Who will tell you when you’re sinfully pouting? Or do you have acquaintances who are working for the devil? You can recognize them by the way they always have a soothing word – they’re quick to tell you just what you want to hear. And secretly they are pulling the strings and they are moving your hands away from prayer and the Bible. They are moving your feet away from the church house. They are pulling your eyelids open until the wee hours on Saturday night, and holding them down on Sunday morning. You need to ask God to cut those strings.

When Jezebel started pulling the strings for her devilish puppet show, she played a masterpiece of evil. First, she forged Ahab’s name on a poison pen letter.

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.

I Kings 21:8

Then, she blasphemed God by pretending that someone in Jezreel had sinned against Him and Ahab.

And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:

I Kings 21:9

To be “set on high” was not an honor. It was to be placed in the seat of the accused. Naboth, who had honored God, was being falsely accused of dishonoring God. When the devil says “arise,” there are always plenty of his children eager to do his bidding. Jezebel brought out two puppets to bear false witness.

And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.

I Kings 21:13

Covetousness led to lying, and to blasphemy, and to theft, and to murder. Never kid yourself that the sin of coveting what your neighbor has is a harmless or a minor little fault.

II Kings 9:26 tells us that not only did these sons of Belial, these worthless puppets – playing on the ends of their strings for their evil puppet-master Jezebel – kill Naboth, but they took his little sons out and killed them, too. They did this so that Ahab would not have to contend with any heirs to Naboth’s vineyard.

If you play with sin, sin will play with you. And if sin plays with you, it will wreck your life. If you fool around with sin, sin will make a fool out of you.

Sin will take you further than you wanted to go.
Sin will teach you more than you wanted to know.
It will keep you longer than you wanted to stay.
It will cost you more than you wanted to pay.

So far, we have seen two despicable characters: Ahab, the Pouting Potentate, and his manipulative and evil wife, Jezebel, the Poisonous Puppeteer. We have seen one person in this whole account who has acted honorably: Naboth, the Pious Patriarch. And he and his beloved sons have been killed for their trouble.

Now we will see that when someone arises to the cause of God, and then the devil and his minions arise to do battle, the outlook is not always rosy from start to finish. When the devil says “arise,” sometimes his victims are struck down. But aren’t you glad that, even though Satan has his followers to whom he can say “arise,” God has His man to whom He can say “arise?”

And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.

I Kings 21:17-18

IV. The Pestering Prophet

Elijah was Ahab’s and Jezebel’s old foe. He did not live in a palace like Ahab. He was from the little town of Tish. He did not wear fancy clothes like Ahab. He wore rough clothes. He did not dine on delicacies and herbs like Ahab. He had a strange diet in the wilderness. But underneath his rough exterior, he had a pure heart, a holy devotion to God. Ahab’s fine garments covered a corrupt, rotten heart.

Ahab wandered through the vineyard that Jezebel had got for him with treachery. We might wonder if a shadow suddenly fell across his path: the shadow of Elijah the prophet.

I call Elijah the pestering prophet not because he was a pest in general, but because in the days when Ahab’s wife and yes-men encouraged every frivolous sin he indulged in, Elijah alone was the one voice who would not condone, who not go along, who would not soften his tone, who would not bow before the throne of the wicked.

And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.

I Kings 21:20

Elijah was not really Ahab’s “enemy.” No, he was the only friend he had in all the land. Your best friend is the one who tells you the most truth. Elijah was no more Ahab’s enemy than Christians who are intolerant of sin are the enemies of a nation. We live in a day and age when we are not only allowed to sin, not only tempted to sin, not only encouraged to sin, but praised and honored for being good at sin. We tolerate everything in this world – except intolerance.

Liberalism says that everyone is free to do what he wants – except to tell the Truth about Jesus. We don’t want Christ in anything anymore. We are not supposed to talk about celebrating Christ’s birth in December – we’re just supposed to say “Seasons Greetings.” We are not supposed to celebrate Resurrection Day – we are supposed to have “spring break.” We don’t pray in our schools anymore – we’re too busy reminding our kids that they came from an amoeba or a monkey. A man can fornicate with a man or a woman with a woman – and celebrate it in a parade. But if you stand up and say the Bible says it’s not marriage, it’s sin, then you’re guilty of a hate crime! When a missionary or a pastor or a Christian father or mother who was faithful for 60 years dies, it’s not on the news. Because if it were on the news, it would have to interrupt the spectacular tribute to some idol whose great contribution to society was wearing a sequined glove and walking backwards while pretending to walk forward! According to today’s society it’s narrow-minded, close-minded, “everybody who rejects Jesus is going to hell” Christians who are the only problem we have in this country. And that’s the way it’s portrayed in the media.

Ahab called Elijah “my enemy.” “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” And this wasn’t the first time Ahab had taken this attitude toward Elijah. After Elijah had told Ahab it was not going to rain, he went to see him after three years of drought.

And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?

I Kings 18:17

That’s what the government – that’s what society – that’s what popular culture – is saying to Christians today: “You are the ones who are troubling America.” One day – and it might be soon – they’re going to see just what this world will be like without Christians troubling it – and they’re not going to like it one bit.

I. The Pious Patriarch
II. The Pouting Potentate
III. The Poisonous Puppeteer
IV. The Pestering Prophet

In Part 3, we will examine the Preeminent Precept.

Arise: Naboth’s Vineyard, Ahab’s Vice, and God’s Vengeance – Part 1

October 29, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Arise | 24 Comments
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To “arise” means to get up – to get moving – to stir, and to get busy.

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria…

Matthew 4:18-24

And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

Matthew 8:21-22

When Jesus got ready to recruit disciples, He had been preaching repentance and the Kingdom of God, but when He called disciples, He didn’t give much of a sales pitch. “Follow me,” He said. Have you ever wondered why they did it?

The answer, I think, lies not in the command “follow.” There’s no shortage of people who want to tell you what to do – to give you a command. The answer lies in the “Me” – that short little two-letter Word is more than just the direct object of the sentence. The ME is the King of Glory – the Son of God – the Prince of Peace – the God over all gods – the King over all kings – the Maker of Heaven and of Earth – the Alpha and Omega – the Author of Salvation.

They really didn’t need the “follow” to be convinced. All we really need is the “ME.” When you begin to understand the greatness of Jesus – His infinite worth – you want to – no, you have to – be with Him. And you put the Person – “Me” – together with the “follow,” and you’ve got a Person and a Path.

He says, “Arise. If you want the ‘ME,’ you’re going to have to go places. But it’s okay – because you’ll be going with ME.”

The disciples followed, and it seemed great at first. Matthew 4 says Jesus did miracles. He healed the sick and fed the hungry, and gave sight and the ability to walk. And they became famous, and crowds followed, and people loved them – as if someone said, “Here, free candy – just for coming to church.” Most everybody likes candy. Why? Because it’s sweet. It doesn’t require much effort. It sort of melts in your mouth. But once in a while you get a surprise – a different kind of candy – the kind of candy that, when you say, “Hey, you’re giving me candy, I’ll follow you” – suddenly things turn sour.

Jesus says, If you’re going to follow Me, sometimes things are going to get sour. Sometimes you’re not going to have a bed or pillow or shelter. Sometimes you’re not going to be able to be loved by your family. Sometimes you’re not going to be able to do all the things you want, because you are a follower – and a follower follows a leader – and a leader is in charge – in command.

When a leader says, “Let’s go, you don’t have time to bury your father – let the dead bury the dead – we’re following hard after my Father now…” Do you spit it out? Give up? Too sour? Not what you bargained for? Or do you just keep sucking it up – knowing that one day things will be sweet again – sweeter than ever?

I hope – when things in your life seem too hard – too hard deal with the way a Christian is supposed to deal with them – the way the Bible says to deal with them – that you’ll remember this simple little lesson – you’ll remember Who you are following. Don’t shy away from doing the hard thing. Jesus – if you are really His – loves you even when you taste bad. He is worthy to be loved and followed through any circumstances, trials, troubles, and hardships.

I. The Pious Patriarch

Naboth was the owner of a vineyard in the little town of Jezreel. (A vineyard is a piece of land used for growing grapes.)

So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers.

Numbers 36:7-8

Naboth, years later, was the patriarch of one these families in one of these tribes. A patriarch is the male leader of a tribe. Naboth’s vineyard had come to him, through his forefathers, directly from God. It was really God’s vineyard. Naboth was a steward over it for God, and for the good of those that God had placed into his care. Every one of us are stewards over the gifts God has given us, and we are to use these gifts to help others, so that God is glorified. Naboth had a command from God: Keep this land in your family. He had a blessing from God: You may enjoy this land.

We have every reason to believe that he did enjoy it. Perhaps in his own childhood, he had played there. Perhaps his wife’s family had worked and played in this vineyard. Perhaps Naboth and his fathers and sons had driven out lions and foxes from this vineyard. Perhaps Naboth enjoyed watching his own children frolic in the rows of grapes, and play in the soft fertile dirt. I call Naboth the Pious Patriarch because when there was a strong temptation to do what was easy, Naboth, instead of doing what was easy, did what was right. But he did so because of a devotion to God.

And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.

I Kings 21:1-3

Saying no to a king is a dangerous thing. Saying no to certain people today – saying no to certain things – can seem very dangerous to us. It can be very difficult. Someone might tell you the same thing Naboth was told: “Give up what God gave you, and you’ll get a fair price for it.” Or, “You’ll get something better in return.” How much more popular could you be with your friends if you would sell your purity – your devotion to God? How much more money could you make if not for having to attend, and serve in, church? How much more rest could you get? How many fun and entertaining things could you see and do?

Naboth said no. He didn’t say, “In my childhood I played here. My wife’s family worked and played in this vineyard. My father and sons have driven out lions and foxes from this vineyard. I love to see my own children frolic in the rows of grapes, and play in the soft fertile dirt.” He didn’t say all those things, but he could have. Instead, he let it be known that he feared God more than the king. He loved God more than men.

Do you love God more than men? That’s the question you’re going to have to ask yourself every time someone tells you to give up what God gave you, and you’ll get something better, or you’ll get a fair price. Will you sink down into the muddy pit of conformity? Or will you arise and say, “The Lord forbid it me.”

II. The Pouting Potentate

A “potentate” is someone with “power” – someone who is “potent:” a king, a ruler, an emperor. King Ahab is the “Pouting Potentate” in this account.

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.

I Kings 16:30

… Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.

I Kings 16:33

Ahab married the wicked Jezebel – from Sidon – and, at her prompting, instituted and encouraged the wicked worship of Baal among the groves. The worship of Baal involved sexual debauchery, child sacrifice, and worship of “nature” instead of God. It happened long ago, but it sounds very familiar today. It’s just that we don’t call it “sexual debauchery, child sacrifice, and worship of nature instead of God.” We call it “hooking up, abortion, and environmentalism.” R.G. Lee called Ahab “the vile toad who squatted on the throne of a nation.”

And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard.

I Kings 21:4-6

Ahab, the King of Israel, who had lands beyond number, who had livestock, gold, jewels, money, orchards, palaces, servants, maybe 100 vineyards, was pouting like a spoiled little baby – or an over-indulged teenaged child – because he couldn’t have one little garden of herbs right where he wanted it!

Are we much better? Are we always wanting more? Do we worship things, or do we worship God? What is our energy devoted to obtaining? Clothes? Electronics? Cars? Nicer, more expensive luxuries? Or righteousness?

What could make the king of God’s Own people so depressed? As Christians we have access to the eternal riches of glory in Christ Jesus. And the wonderful thing is that God has made us stewards over everything He has given us, but He remains the Owner! The devil comes to you, and whispers in your ear – the way we will see Jezebel do it in Part 2 of this message – and he says, “Disobey God – just a little – and you can have this – you can enjoy that.”

But you say, “Devil, you can’t give me anything – because I have everything I could ever need or want in Christ Jesus!

He says, “Fine, you can’t be tempted with the promise of gaining something you don’t have – but I’ll take something away from you!”

And you say, “Go right ahead, I don’t own anything for you to take from me – this all belongs to God, not me.”

Vance Havner used to say, “What are you gonna do with a man like that?” You can’t give him anything because he has everything – and you can’t take anything away from him because he doesn’t have anything. You can’t head him off if you cut off his head!

I know the world laughs at this, but “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6:6) I know whom I have believed – though He slay me, yet will I trust Him! (II Timothy 1:12; Job 13:15)

Ahab should have been arising. Rising up to praise God. But instead he was sinking down into a bed of sorrows – discontent, grumpy, pouting.

In Part 2, we will see Jezebel enter the scene.


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