Summary: The last of the seven deadly sins: envy. Greed and lust are forms of envy but focused on specific areas: sex and money. Envy is basically coveting, which is wanting something that isn’t yours. One of the “Big Ten” commandments was an instruction by God no
June 29, 2008
Here we are at the last of the seven deadly sins: envy. Greed and lust are forms of envy but focused on specific areas: sex and money. Envy is basically coveting, which is wanting something that isn’t yours. One of the “Big Ten” commandments was an instruction by God not to desire or covet something that your neighbor has that you would like to get. Greed would be seeking more and more money (and power) in order to get something just like or better than what your neighbor has. Or envy could simply be (as I talked about with the kids) wanting to be like someone or just to be liked by someone. But what happens when what you want can’t be bought? You can set the desire aside and move on or you can give in to envy and begin to scheme how to get what you want. That is the case with an envious king named Ahab found in 1 Kings 21.
Before we begin, I want to share with you a picture that characterizes envy… “Can I have one? Just one? Pleeeeeaaaassssse?”
Ok, Ahab was a king in Israel (this is not the same guy who went looking for Moby Dick). This Ahab was a vile man. In fact verse 25 & 26 in 1 Kings 21 says,
(There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.)
He actually was the perfect fulfillment of a prophecy that a guy name Samuel uttered when the Israelites demanded that they have a human king like the other nations instead of having God as their king. Samuel said that this human king would take their land and their sons & daughters for his own. (1 Samuel 8 – read about it this week and think about what this may imply).
Ahab was an awful human and the worst king. Instead of being a model and example of doing what was right, he was the worst example of selfishness and living opposed to the life-giving ways of God.
One day Ahab noticed a vineyard owned by Naboth that was close to the palace. This vineyard was part of Naboth’s inheritance. God had instructed the people that the land that God gave them was to stay in the family. Even if problems came such as a drought and the land had to be sold, in the year of the Jubilee, all land was to go back into the hands of the original family. But this was never practiced.
However, Naboth considered keeping the land as not just a right but as a moral obligation. Ahab thought he could buy it. Naboth declined the offer basically telling Ahab that no amount of money could buy it.
Interestingly, Ahab acts like a child. He pouts and hides away. He refuses to eat. Finally his wife, Jezebel, comes to see him. Now she seems to be even worse than he is. She is Cruella Da Vil and the wicked stepmother rolled into one and multiplied by 12.
She tells Ahab, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll get you your vineyard.” So she throws a party for the community to celebrate Naboth. During that party, she plants two people at his table who will stand up and testify that Naboth has blasphemed God and king. This was a mandatory and immediate death sentence by stoning. And because there were two witnesses, something that God has put into the law to help protect the innocent but Jezebel has twisted, Naboth is killed.
When Ahab went to take possession of his vineyard that he so desperately envied, a man of God named Elijah was been given the message to tell Ahab that God has seen what has happened and that both Ahab and his wife are going to die horrible deaths while their family line is wiped out.
Hear then from verse 27 (we heard verses 25 and 26) what happens:
When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.
Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: "Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son."
Now Ahab is an evil man. He has done so much wrong but seems to be repentant so God offers him mercy. He doesn’t completely remove the consequences of Ahab’s decadence because Ahab has done so much damage to God’s people. But God offer him mercy and delay the judgment that is to come.