1 Kings 21-22: Justice
June 13, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The story of Naboth’s vineyard is notorious for its evil and despicable callousness—and for good reasons. Ahab wants a vineyard that lies next to his palace (21:1). He has building plans and expansion ideas. So he goes and offers Naboth a deal (21:2). But Naboth refuses (21:3). This is his father’s land, and he is not selling it for any price. The practice of “eminent domain” had not yet been enshrined, and in any case this was a personal pet project of Ahab, not a public work opportunity for the country. So Naboth’s refusal is fair and just.
But Ahab complains to his wife, Jezebel, who decides to act in any case for the the advantage of her husband (21:5-7), and the death of Naboth. She arranges a fast, has Naboth honored at the fast, and then publicly has him accused of speaking treacherous words against the king; therefore, with such perjury against Naboth, an excuse is given to have him killed (21:8-14). She then informs Ahab, who surely knew that something fishy had happened, but who asks no questions and simply acquires the extra land (21:15-16).
God will have none of it. He sends a prophet, Elijah again, who confronts Ahab and tells him what will happen to him as a consequence (21:17-24). It appears that Ahab repents (21:27), but as we shall see, that repentance is only skin deep, not real, and so the judgment against Ahab will in the end still stand.
There is peace between Israel and Judah, so they decide to join forces to go to war with the king of Syria (22:2-4). They devise a battle plan, but first wish to go through the motions of asking for God’s message to them about this plan (22:5). False prophets then tell the kings exactly what they want to hear (22:6, 10-12), until in the end the king of Judah insists on hearing from a real prophet (22:7-9). Micaiah is brought in, who first pretends to agree with the other prophets (22:13-15). The king of Israel, Ahab, not mentioned at this point in the story by name, believes that Micaiah is always out to get him (22:8) and recognizes the duplicity of his pretending to agree with the other prophets (22:16). Micaiah then gives the true prophecy: Ahab will die (22:17-28).
The battle goes ahead anyway. Ahab disguises himself (22:30), thinking thereby to outwit God, but an apparently random arrow finds its way through his armor and kills him (22:34). And, as prophesied, his blood is licked up by dogs (22:35, 37-38).
God is not to be toyed with. Repent of your sins today, genuinely and truly. His justice will come—even if it is long delayed. We can take comfort in that justice, if we are his, hidden by faith in Christ with his righteousness as our shield. And if we are not yet his, if we do not yet follow him, it is time today to put that right.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
To receive God Centered Life devotionals directly in your inbox, as well as other resources, enter your email address in the form at the bottom of this page and click "subscribe."