Wednesday, August 03, 2022

2022.08.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Kings 21:1–16

Read 1 Kings 21:1–16

Questions from the Scripture text: Who had what, where, in 1 Kings 21:1? What offer did Ahab make in 1 Kings 21:2? Why wouldn’t Naboth accept (1 Kings 21:3)? How did Ahab respond (1 Kings 21:4)? Who comes to him in 1 Kings 21:5? What does she ask? What does Ahab leave out of his answer (1 Kings 21:6)? What does she tell Ahab that he has (1 Kings 21:7)? But who is actually going to exercise authority? What does she tell him to do? What does she write (1 Kings 21:8)? In whose name? With whose seal? To whom? What does she tell them to proclaim (1 Kings 21:9)? And where to seat whom? And whom else to seat with him (1 Kings 21:10)? And what are they to say about him? And then what would the elders and nobles do? Who act in 1 Kings 21:11? According to what? What do they proclaim (1 Kings 21:12)? Where do they seat Naboth? Who sit with him (1 Kings 21:13)? What do they say? Who take what action upon this testimony? To whom do they report (1 Kings 21:14)? What does Jezebel do, when she hears (1 Kings 21:15)? What does Ahab do (1 Kings 21:16)? 

When a man—or a society—is only superficially moral, how bad can it be? 1 Kings 21:1–16 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these sixteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that great wickedness ensues from only half-heartedly following God’s Word—even among people that make external show of following it.

“Sullen and displeased” in 1 Kings 21:4 connects us back to “sullen and displeased” in 1 Kings 20:43. In chapter 20, the Lord had shown Ahab mercy that brought him to the point of obedience by difficult providence. But then incomplete obedience had displayed that the obedience wasn’t from the heart, and when condemned for it, he went home “sullen and displeased.” 

When a man—or a society—is only superficially moral, how bad can it be? Well, these sixteen verses show that it can be pretty bad. 

Naboth wasn’t just being obstinate toward the king, or sentimentally attached to the property where he grew up. He really believed Yahweh forbade him from selling (1 Kings 21:3, cf. Leviticus 25:23–28, Numbers 36:7–9). Poor Ahab was depressed because he thought this was an obstacle. 

Amateur! Jezebel knows how to get it done. She can use proper government procedure (1 Kings 21:8), religious façade (1 Kings 21:9), proper legal procedure (1 Kings 21:10, cf. Deuteronomy 17:6–7), and Scripture-defined sentencing (1 Kings 21:10b , cf. Leviticus 24:13–16) to procure vegetable gardens. She can even convince Ahab that he rules Israel, when he doesn’t even rule his own house (1 Kings 21:7). It's worth mentioning that a woman teacher in the church of Thyatira also theologized the church into wickedness, and for this she is called Jezebel (cf. Revelation 2:20). 

It is vital that we recognize that proper order and procedure may be followed and the use of it and the outcome still be satanically wicked. Real integrity and righteousness matter!

But there are times when real integrity and righteousness are missing from among the people of God. Here, the city elders and nobles are willing to go along (1 Kings 21:81 Kings 21:11). They even knew (1 Kings 21:14) that it was Jezebel behind this, even though the official documentation said “Ahab” on it. Whether it was the weakness of fear or the wickedness of ambition, their willingness to go along is sadly not unusual in the visible church. In such times, a man who is careful to honor Yahweh (1 Kings 21:3) may be executed for blasphemy (1 Kings 21:13), and indubitably the average resident of Naboth believed it.

Dear believer, watch against half-hearted or part-way obedience! And be prepared, in seasons when the church is brought low, to entrust your soul and your vindication to God alone; for, men may all believe the worst of you and do the worst to you, even in your integrity.

How much of Scripture will you follow if you believe and submit to the Word of God? Why isn’t following proper procedure a guarantee of righteousness in the church? With whom are you assuredly safe?

Sample prayer:  Lord, how quickly Ahab went from incomplete obedience, to rebellion, to complicity in murder! And yet, we have often slouched into our own incomplete obedience. At other times, we have been like the elders of the city, either so weak by fear or so eager for approval as to go along with something wrong. Forgive us, Lord, and deliver us from both the guilt and the power of our sin, through Christ, in Whose Name we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH1B “How Blessed the Man”

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