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Jezebel

1 Kings 21:1-4

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“So Ahab went to his palace resentful and angry, because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had told him. He had said, “I will not give you my fathers’ inheritance.” He lay down on his bed, turned his face away, and didn’t eat any food.” (HCSB)

 What a pretty picture this is!  Ahab, the King of Israel is reduced to a pouting child who goes to bed without his supper.  What was the catastrophic event that could possibly have this type of impact on him?  He made an offer on a piece of land adjacent to his own that was turned down.  Verses 1-3 say, “Some time passed after these events. Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard; it was in Jezreel next to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. [2] So Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard so I can have it for a vegetable garden, since it is right next to my palace. I will give you a better vineyard in its place, or if you prefer, I will give you its value in silver.” [3] But Naboth said to Ahab, “I will never give my fathers’ inheritance to you.”

 As you might expect, King Ahab lived on a beautiful piece of land—nothing less than the best for the king, right?  His palace was located atop a hill surrounded by beautiful vistas.  Jerusalem was to the south, the Sea of Galilee to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the Jordan River to the east.    His palace built by his father Omri and was adorned with beautiful ivory carvings.  Some refer to it as “Omri and Ahab’s ivory house.”  Archeological excavations (1908–10, 1931–35) have uncovered this palace and it had “ivories probably made by Phoenician artists.” (http://www.bartleby.com/65/sa/Samaria.html)  But something was missing.  Ahab wanted a vegetable garden.  Next to his land was a piece of property was a vineyard that he thought would make a dandy garden, so he did the reasonable thing, he talked to his neighbor to see if he’d sell it to him.  Ahab offered to pay fair market value for the land or to give Naboth one of his vineyards—a better vineyard—in exchange for the land. But the negotiations came to a standstill when Naboth refused to sell his land to the King. 

 For Ahab, it was a simple business deal, but not for Naboth.  To Naboth, it was personal. This wasn’t just a prime piece of land with a gorgeous view; it was some land he inherited from his father.  Its value wasn’t in how much it cost him or in how much he could sell it for—it had an inherent value that couldn’t be quantified by money.  But beyond the sentimental attachment he had to the land, selling it to Ahab would have been breaking God’s commandments. Numbers 36:7 says, “An inheritance belonging to the Israelites must not transfer from tribe to tribe, because each of the Israelites is to retain the inheritance of his ancestral tribe.” (HCSB) and beyond that, the king had no right to take it from him.  Ezekiel 46:18 says “The prince must not take any of the people’s inheritance, evicting them from their property. He is to provide an inheritance for his sons from his own property, so that none of My people will be displaced from his own property.” (HCSB)  Like a good wife would, Jezebel noticed her husband’s sullen mood and asked him, “Why are you so upset that you refuse to eat?” (1 Kings 21:5 HCSB)  Let’s return to our text to see what happens next.  We’re reading 1 Kings 21:6-7. “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite,” he replied. “I told him: Give me your vineyard for silver, or if you wish, I will give you a vineyard in its place. But he said, ‘I won’t give you my vineyard!’ ” [7] Then his wife Jezebel said to him, “Now, exercise your royal power over Israel. Get up, eat some food, and be happy. [For] I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” (HCSB)

 Jezebel is one determined woman.  She goes into action to see that her wimp of a husband gets his miserable piece of land.  In the first part of verse seven, she tells him to get up and start acting like the sovereign King of Israel, but then in the last part of the verse, we find out who really wheels the power in the land when she says, “I will give you the vineyard…” 

 Using the King’s name, she wrote a letter ordering his subordinates to proclaim a fast and bring Naboth before the people and have two wicked men bring accusations against him that he blasphemed against God and the king.  Then they were to take Naboth outside the city gates, as the law prescribed and stone him to death.

 Everything went off as Jezebel planned, except for one minor detail—God was watching.  God dispatched Elijah, His prophet to meet up with Ahab at Naboth’s Vineyard.  Of course, as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth died, he crawled from behind his wife’s skirt and went to take possession of the land so he could have his vegetable garden.  Elijah took the word of the Lord to Ahab.  His sin would cost him his posterity, just as Naboth had lost his inheritance. But the wrath of God wasn’t quenched with this punishment; it also extended to the wicked wife of the wimpy king. She too would suffer a similar death as Naboth. When Elijah confronted Ahab, he humbled himself and repented before the Lord for his wickedness, and God’s mercy showered down upon him, delaying his judgment

Instead of spending time detailing the judgments they received, I just want you to make note of some scripture passages so you can read it later today.  You can read about the details of Jezabel’s death in 2 Kings 9:30-37 and of Ahab’s judgment in 1 Kings 22. 

God’s judgment was delayed, but it was delivered.  In R.G. Lee’s famous sermon on this text, “Pay-day—Someday!” he said, "Pay-day--Someday!" God said it-- and it was done! Yes, and from this we learn the power and certainty of God in carrying out His own retributive providence that men might know that His justice slumbereth not. Even though the mill of God grinds slowly, it grinds to powder. Yes, the judgments of God often have heels and travel slowly. But they always have iron hands and crush completely.” (Payday Someday, R.G. Lee, p. 60)   Galatians 6:7 says, “Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap,” (HCSB)

Know for sure that you will be judged for the evil you commit, but you will also be judged for the evil you influence others to do too. 1 Kings 21:25 says, “But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up.” (NKJV)

 A few years ago, a man mistakenly swiped his driver’s license through the self pay pump at a gas station in Pittsfield, Michigan.  To his surprise, he was able to fill up his car with gas.  Instead of reporting the glitch to the owner of the gas station, he told his friends about it who told their friends about it.  Before the pirating was discovered, more than 100 people took advantage of the situation and stole gas from the station.  Police say some of the customers returned up to 15 times. They also say, they will not have a problem finding the pirates. The gas station's computer stored the driver's license information from each of the people who stole the gas. (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

One person discovered the glitch, and then invited others to join in an illegal activity. Everybody has influence. The only question is, will we use our influence for evil or for good—the choice is ours. 

Jezebel used her influence for evil, and in the end, she suffered greatly because of it.  Secretary of State, Condolezza Rice recently said, “Power is nothing unless you can turn it into influence.” (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)What are you doing with the power you have because of your position, education or friendships to influence others to follow Christ?   Remember the words of Mordecai to another queen, Queen Esther "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14 NASB)

 Esther was a great asset to her husband and served him well resulting in God’s blessings upon their lives.  Jezebel was a wicked, evil, woman who used her power to destroy those around her.  Each of us must decide how we will use the influence we have.  Hebrews 10:24 says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." (NIV)


 
 

 

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