Summary: Part 11 in Elijah series - how God dealt with Ahab, the worst of the worst
1 Kings 16:29-33; 21:1-29 – A Lost Cause?
A very small, mousy man was hired as a bartender in the Old West. The saloon owner advised him, "If you ever hear that Big John is coming to town, drop everything and run for your life."
The bartender worked for six months with no problems. Then one day a cowboy rushed in shouting, "Big John’s a-comin’!" In his hurry to get out, he knocked the small bartender to the floor. Before the bartender could recover, in came a giant of a man with a black, bushy beard. He rode in through the swinging doors on the back of a buffalo, using a rattlesnake for a whip. The man tore the doors off of their hinges, knocked over tables, and slung the rattlesnake into the corner.
"Gimme a drink," he yelled as he split the bar in half with a pound of his massive fist. The bartender nervously pushed a bottle toward the man. He bit off the top of the glass bottle with his teeth, chugged the contents in one gulp and turned to leave. Realizing that the man wasn’t hurting anyone, the bartender asked if he’d like another drink.
"Ain’t got no time," the man roared. "Big John’s a comin’ to town."
Today, as we continue our Sundays through the life of Elijah, we come to a pretty mean hombre, King Ahab. Ahab was the man Elijah called the troubler of Israel. In fact, Ahab’s own word for Elijah was “enemy”. Ahab and Elijah were very much at odds with each other. And just for a few minutes, I’d like to look at Ahab’s life, and perhaps get a glimpse of God at work. Maybe we can learn how to be a bit more like God as we see how God dealt with a man like Ahab. READ 16:29-33.
So Ahab was the son of Omri. Now, Omri did not take kingship by family rights. No, the previous king, Zimri, died after 7 days in office. Zimri had killed the previous king, and word got out about this assassination. Omri, the commander of the army, rose up against Zimri, and out of fear, Zimri burned himself alive in the royal palace. And Omri became the king, eventually passing the throne to his son Ahab. This was a disgraceful method of becoming king, and his whole life continued that same pattern. The Bible says Ahab was more evil than any of the kings before him. Idol worship, manipulation, sacrifices, marrying a non-Jew… and we come to the story in 1 Kings 21.
This is actually a sad story. We can see the king and queen, puffed up with pride. Time and again God had spoken through His prophets, and yet, Ahab and Jezebel were still running the country. You can see why they thought they could do it whatever they wanted. After all, even God Almighty couldn’t or wouldn’t touch them. Let’s read 21:1-3.
So you see what’s happening here. Naboth has a prime piece of land, carried on through his family for years, perhaps one of the original land grants of a couple hundred years before. The man had no price. He could not be bought or sold. He remained true to his heritage, and ultimately, to God, because land grants were meant to be considered a gift of God, not to be bought or sold.
So the reaction of this strong, proud, arrogant is… pouting. V4-6. You understand that it’s not just the poor who want more. It’s the middle class like you and me. And it’s the rich as well. Contentment is not about how much money you have or don’t have. Contentment is a condition of the soul to be happy with whatever you have.
Well, Jezebel didn’t see any need why her hubby had to pout. After all, he was the king. Why shouldn’t he have whatever he wants? She devised a simple but effective plot: v7-15. Naboth was simply framed for trumped-up charges, and died because of it. Granted, Jezebel did the planning and execution, but Ahab fully accepted the prize: Naboth’s coveted vineyard.
This did not sit kindly with the Lord. He gave a message to Elijah: v19. The fact that Elijah actually found Ahab seemed to surprise the king, v20a, as if he was hidden from God’s sight, as if God was unable to find him. Rather, no sin is hidden. Whatever you do in secret, God sees anyway. And I find Elijah’s words interesting: v20b. Elijah knew where Ahab was because of his sins. His sins pointed him out. And the prophet gave the king the words of God: v21-24. Harsh words. A condemnation from God. The natural result of sin. It’s the same as we try to teach our kids: “If you do this, this will happen.” God had spoken.