1 Kings 21:1-29 (Part 2) – The Apostle Paul vs. Jezebel

Posted: March 13, 2019 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 21:1-29 (Part 2 of 4)

Naboth’s Vineyard

During the past several weeks, our life group has been studying the book of Ephesians from the point of view that it is the church where we connect together with one another to grow in Christ, to seek unity in Christ, to work together to sharpen each other toward greater spiritual maturity and likeness in Christ, to gain greater understanding of Scripture so that we are stronger as a church, to work together to serve others so that Christ is glorified, and to truly begin to become a family of believers through prayer for one another and for our church. Paul desired the church to be a collection of vastly different people that find unity in our love for Jesus Christ. That was the wild thing about running across this chapter, 1 Kings 21, this week as we are in the midst of this study in our life group. What a contrast you will find between what Paul seeks in Ephesians and the character of Jezebel in this passage.  

The church is to be different from the world around it just by the nature of what we are there for. We are gathered together to love each other and to love God. In that love of God we submit our desires to what is best for giving Jesus Christ glory both within our walls and out in the world. The culture around is all about me-me-me, but the church is to be a bunch of me’s submitted to the authority of Jesus Christ. However, because Satan cannot stand what happens when a church becomes powerfully submitted to Christ, he will send his best attacks on those churches that are beginning to gain momentum through their unity in and submission to Jesus Christ. He best weapon is the spirit of divisiveness. The most famous biblical character that has this spirit of divisiveness was Jezebel. Today, we are reading in a passage that shows her spirit most clearly.

In my last post, we were talking about pouting children and compared that to Ahab, the king of the northern kingdom of Israel. Today, we are going to look at Jezebel. Because of the dominant influence of Christianity over the Western world over the centuries, characters from the Bible and their traits became part of the culture and everyday common conversation. Jezebel is one of those characters from the Bible that does not come off so good. To have a “Jezebel spirit” is not a flattering thing to say about someone else. Though such a description is often associated with women (since Jezebel was a woman), having a “Jezebel spirit” can be a description for a person of either sex. Though it is not commonplace, now, to give that moniker to someone in the culture at large because of the growing marginalization of Christians in our culture and the resulting biblical illiteracy in our culture, we still find that description sometimes given to people within the church. What is a Jezebel spirit in the church?

One trait is her obsessive passion for domineering and controlling others, especially in the spiritual realm. When she became queen, she began a relentless campaign to rid Israel of all evidences of Yahweh worship. She ordered the extermination of all the prophets of the Lord (1 Kings 18:4, 13) and replaced their altars with those of Baal. Her strongest enemy was Elijah, who demanded a contest on Mount Carmel between the powers of Israel’s God and the powers of Jezebel and the priests of Baal (1 Kings 18). Of course, God won, but despite hearing of the miraculous powers of the Lord, Jezebel refused to repent and swore on her gods that she would pursue Elijah relentlessly and take his life. Her stubborn refusal to see and submit to the power of the living God would lead her to a hideous end (2 Kings 9:29–37).

The second incident, seen in our passage today, involves a righteous man named Naboth who refused to sell to Ahab land adjoining the palace, rightly declaring that to sell his inheritance would be against the Lord’s command (1 Kings 21:3; Leviticus 25:23). While Ahab sulked and fumed on his bed, Jezebel taunted and ridiculed him for his weakness, then proceeded to have the innocent Naboth framed and stoned to death. Naboth’s sons were also stoned to death, so there would be no heirs, and the land would revert to the possession of the king. Such a single-minded determination to have one’s way, no matter who is destroyed in the process, is a characteristic of the Jezebel spirit.

The sad thing is that Jezebel, though she died a horrible death long ago in Old Testament times, she still lives on today because her type of personality, her spirit, lives on today and finds its way into our churches. That’s what I thought of this morning as I read through this chapter, 1 Kings 21, for a second time. Let’s read the passage/chapter and see the Jezebel spirit in action:

21 Now there was a man named Naboth, from Jezreel, who owned a vineyard in Jezreel beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. 2 One day Ahab said to Naboth, “Since your vineyard is so convenient to my palace, I would like to buy it to use as a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or if you prefer, I will pay you for it.”

3 But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance that was passed down by my ancestors.”

4 So Ahab went home angry and sullen because of Naboth’s answer. The king went to bed with his face to the wall and refused to eat!

5 “What’s the matter?” his wife Jezebel asked him. “What’s made you so upset that you’re not eating?”

6 “I asked Naboth to sell me his vineyard or trade it, but he refused!” Ahab told her.

7 “Are you the king of Israel or not?” Jezebel demanded. “Get up and eat something, and don’t worry about it. I’ll get you Naboth’s vineyard!”

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal, and sent them to the elders and other leaders of the town where Naboth lived. 9 In her letters she commanded: “Call the citizens together for a time of fasting, and give Naboth a place of honor. 10 And then seat two scoundrels across from him who will accuse him of cursing God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”

11 So the elders and other town leaders followed the instructions Jezebel had written in the letters. 12 They called for a fast and put Naboth at a prominent place before the people. 13 Then the two scoundrels came and sat down across from him. And they accused Naboth before all the people, saying, “He cursed God and the king.” So he was dragged outside the town and stoned to death. 14 The town leaders then sent word to Jezebel, “Naboth has been stoned to death.”

15 When Jezebel heard the news, she said to Ahab, “You know the vineyard Naboth wouldn’t sell you? Well, you can have it now! He’s dead!” 16 So Ahab immediately went down to the vineyard of Naboth to claim it.

17 But the Lord said to Elijah,[a] 18 “Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He will be at Naboth’s vineyard in Jezreel, claiming it for himself. 19 Give him this message: ‘This is what the Lord says: Wasn’t it enough that you killed Naboth? Must you rob him, too? Because you have done this, dogs will lick your blood at the very place where they licked the blood of Naboth!’”

20 “So, my enemy, you have found me!” Ahab exclaimed to Elijah.

“Yes,” Elijah answered, “I have come because you have sold yourself to what is evil in the Lord’s sight. 21 So now the Lord says,[b] ‘I will bring disaster on you and consume you. I will destroy every one of your male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel! 22 I am going to destroy your family as I did the family of Jeroboam son of Nebat and the family of Baasha son of Ahijah, for you have made me very angry and have led Israel into sin.’

23 “And regarding Jezebel, the Lord says, ‘Dogs will eat Jezebel’s body at the plot of land in Jezreel.[c]’

24 “The members of Ahab’s family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the field will be eaten by vultures.”

25 (No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel. 26 His worst outrage was worshiping idols[d] just as the Amorites had done—the people whom the Lord had driven out from the land ahead of the Israelites.)

27 But when Ahab heard this message, he tore his clothing, dressed in burlap, and fasted. He even slept in burlap and went about in deep mourning.

28 Then another message from the Lord came to Elijah: 29 “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has done this, I will not do what I promised during his lifetime. It will happen to his sons; I will destroy his dynasty.”

In today’s look at this chapter, we must learn about the Jezebel spirit because it is alive and well in the 21st century church. As pastors and leaders of the church, we must be discerning about this kind of spirit invading our churches. As the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians, the goal of the church is for us to be united in Christ. God desires that we be unified in pursuing Christ. Does this mean that we do not have disagreements in church? Of course not! Since we all are limited and flawed human beings and lack the omniscience and omnipresence of God, we are all always going to come at issues in the church from different directions. God wanted us all to be different so that there would be a full range of talents and resources within the church. However, in our differences, we must submit to the authority of Christ over each one of us. Thus, we may have differences and may even argue over issues but we must always remember and ask ourselves, do these arguments cause us to get to a place where God is glorified.

When we have that as our goal, we will be able to work toward solutions that are best for demonstrating God’s glory. That means we may have to give way to God’s way and set aside our personal desires and preferences. That means that we must look at situations through a God lens rather our own lenses. Is my desire here in line with that which brings God glory? Is my fellow church member’s position one that brings God glory? When we have to challenge each other in church, are we burning bridges with a scorched earth policy or are we eyeing restoration and working toward unity? Do I want to destroy a person or a church initiative because of my own preferences rather than look at what the church is doing from a perspective of “does it give God glory?” We must analyze everything we do and what others do from a perspective of that question. Another question and way to phrase that would be “does it make disciples?” or “does it draw people unto Christ in a deeper way?”

The biggest weapon we have against the Jezebel spirit in the church is remembering what we are here for. We are here for two reasons. One is to give God glory through everything that we do. The second is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. So, even when we disagree with each other, the aim is to move to a solution that gives God glory and deepens our individual and collective relationships with Christ.

Let us continue to make Satan angry through our unity, a unity that comes from our submitting our own personal desires to that which gives God glory and deepens relationships with Christ. Jezebel, be gone. You are not welcome around here.

Amen and Amen.

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