Summary: In this passage we look at three different attitudes to life 1.That of Naboth 2.That of Jezebel and 3.That of Ahab Which most nearly describes yours?
Sermon: Naboth’s Vineyard – You can’t buy integrity
Story: A young man went on a week’s silent retreat.
Midway through the week, in the early afternoon on the Wednesday, he was feeling hungry and so decided to sneak down to the shops when he thought no one was looking
Unfortunately as he started to go out of the gate of the monastery, he bumped into the Abbott who said: “My son, where are you going”
The young man was quick with his reply: “The Holy Spirit told me to go down to the shops today”
The Abbott looked at the young man and nodded his head
“Very well, my son” he replied “But I hope you and the Holy Spirit know that it is half day closing”
We claim to be Christians but sometimes we way we act denies our faith
Because as Christians we are called to be different.
St Paul tells us in I Cor. 2:12-16 12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
In our reading today we have three different attitudes to life
1. That of Naboth
2. That of Jezebel and
3. That of Ahab
Our OT reading opens with a seemingly harmless question from King Ahab
"Give me your vineyard, so that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money. (1 Kings 21:2)
And the response to that question shows the three different attitudes of Naboth, Jezebel and Ahab
It looks harmless to us in today’s society.
We buy and sell property trying to get the best price we can for it.
But we have to consider the request Ahab made to Naboth in its historical context
Jewish property law in the 9th Century BC basically said that no one had the right to sell their ancestral family land, because in the final analysis they didn’t own it.
Put in other words – the whole land of Israel belonged to God and those who lived and worked on the land were essentially God’s tenants, not owner occupiers.
You can find the key statutes of the Law on the land in the book of Numbers and in Leviticus.
For example we read in Leviticus 25:23
23 " ’The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.(Lev. 25:23);
We read similar sentiments in the book of Numbers – Numbers 36:7 says
7 No inheritance in Israel is to pass from tribe to tribe, for every Israelite shall keep the tribal land inherited from his forefathers. (Num. 36:7).
Which brings us to the three different attitudes
1. The attitude of Naboth
Naboth was a man steeped in the Old Testament.
He would have been brought up to learn large passages of the Hebrew Bible, because people in those days generally could not read
And he was a man who very evidently took his faith seriously
In other words, he was a God fearer 24/7
Naboth therefore had a serious problem – whether to obey God or obey the king of Israel.
Because in those days – the King was the law.
The King had despotic powers of life and death
But Naboth’s commitment to God was more than his commitment to the King
And in the end it cost him his life.
Perhaps Naboth is one of the people that the writer of the book of Hebrews refers to when he said in Hebrews 11:
“32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned[f]; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. (Heb 11:32-37)