AHAB’S COVETOUSNESS

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[1 Kings:21:1-29].

Lesson No.: 
300
Class: 
Senior
Memory Verse: 

 “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live” (Proverbs 15:27). 

Cross References: 

I The Coveted Vineyard
1. Ahab seeks to buy Naboth’s vineyard, [1 Kings:21:1-2].
2. Naboth’s refusal is in accordance with the Law, [1 Kings:21:3]; [Leviticus:25:23]; [Numbers:36:7]; [Ezekiel:46:18].
3. Ahab pouts, [1 Kings:21:4].

II Jezebel’s Wicked Plot
1. She scorns the restraint of the Law, [1 Kings:21:5-7].
2. She plans murder, [1 Kings:21:8-10].
3. The murderous plans are carried out, [1 Kings:21:11-14].
4. Ahab takes possession, [1 Kings:21:15-16].

III Elijah Announces Ahab’s Doom
1. The word of the Lord comes to Elijah concerning Ahab, I kings:21:17-19.
2. Ahab feels the sting of being caught, [1 Kings:21:20].
3. Ahab hears the doom of his house, [1 Kings:21:21-24].
4. Jezebel is named the instigator of Ahab’s wickedness and idolatry, [1 Kings:21:25-26]; [1 Kings:16:31]; [1 Kings:18:13].
5. Ahab’s humility gains him a respite, [1 Kings:21:27-29]; [Psalms:86:5]; [Lamentations:3:22].

Notes: 

Real Estate Laws
In the light of present-day real estate transactions it would appear that Ahab was making a good offer unto Naboth for his vineyard. Ahab offered to trade Naboth a better vineyard or pay him cash for it. However, the law of Israel differed from ours in that God had commanded, “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me” [Leviticus:25:23]). Thus we see that Ahab was seeking a deal that was contrary to the law of God.

The laws that God gave concerning the land of Israel were economically sound though not always pleasing to the covetous heart of man. If because of poverty a man was compelled to sell his land, it had to be returned to the original owner at the Year of Jubilee, which was proclaimed every fifty years. Thus men could not become lords of vast estates and subject the people to be peasants. Rulers were instructed also concerning this thing: “Moreover the prince shall not take of the people’s inheritance by oppression, to thrust them out of their possession; but he shall give his sons inheritance out of his own possession: that my people be not scattered every man from his possession” [Ezekiel:46:18]). God did not want the rulers of Israel to oppress or take advantage of the people. He has left this advice for the spiritual leaders of today: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” [1 Peter:5:2-3]).

Redemption and Jubilee
When a man sold his land he sold it according to the number of years until the Year of Jubilee; thus, if it were eighteen years until jubilee and the price were N1,800.00, each year the price of the land would be reduced by N100.00 until the Year of Jubilee, when it would be free. At any time the original owner, or his next of kin, desired to do so, he could redeem the land by paying the original sale price less the percentage reduced according to the proximity of the Year of Jubilee.

The story of Ruth gives us a beautiful example of how Boaz, as the next of kin, redeemed the property belonging to Naomi, and accepted Ruth as his bride. Ruth thus becomes a type of the Gentile Bride of Christ. We were sold under sin, until Christ our Redeemer bought us with His own precious Blood and gave us “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” [1 Peter:1:4]). Do you treasure your inheritance as Naboth did his? He said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee” [1 Kings:21:3]).

Covetousness
Because he did not receive what his covetous heart desired, Ahab, like a sulky, sullen, pouting child, lay “down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.” This shows the extreme covetousness of his heart. The tenth commandment that God gave the Israelites was, “Thou shalt not covet . . . any thing that is thy neighbour’s” [Exodus:20:17]). Ahab looked over his palace walls and saw this attractive vineyard and decided that it would be a good place for him to have a vegetable garden. Now it seemed innocent enough to want this piece of land that joined his property, but God had said No. If our neighbour has something good and is enjoying it, that, is his privilege. If he has more than we have, it matters not; it is still his, and we must be careful not to let our eyes cause our heart’s desire to be set on anything that belongs to another.

Covetousness is linked with the oldest sin in history, and is still the downfall of many today. Satan probably had Eve walking around a tree looking at the fruit until she could no longer resist. She took of it and plunged the whole human race into sin. Lot looked over the well-watered plans of Jordan and soon pitched his tent toward Sodom and, in the end, barely escaped with his life. Achan saw among the spoils of Jericho a goodly Babylonish garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold; he took them, but as a result his whole household was stoned. Gehazi saw the gifts of Naaman and ran after them, but ended up with the leprosy of Naaman. Judas had his eyes fixed upon money and sold his Lord for thirty pieces of silver, but ended his life by committing suicide. Is it any wonder that we are instructed: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I [John:2:15-16]).

Treasures in Heaven
We are not left with just a warning against coveting the things of this world, but are told where our affections and treasures should be: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” [Matthew:6:20-21]). “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” [Colossians:3:2]). To the rich young ruler Jesus said: “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” [Matthew:19:21]).

A Christian has eternal life and must look beyond temporal values to those things that shall endure forever. Ahab saw a field. What do you see? Where are your eyes? Abraham “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” [Hebrews:11:10]). He was among those who “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country” [Hebrews:11:13-14]). What are you seeking? Ahab sought a vineyard; Jezebel obtained it for him.

Jezebel
“But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up” [1 Kings:21:25]). An example of Jezebel’s stirring up Ahab is given when she said: “Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite” [1 Kings:21:7]). With these words she plotted the murder of Naboth. She saw the deed carried out, and then sent Ahab down to possess the vineyard. Such cold-blooded, ruthless tactics meant nothing to this painted-face worshiper of Baal. She slew the prophets of the Lord and yet supported eight hundred and fifty prophets of her own. She could murder, under the pretence of upholding the name of her god, and yet be an ardent worshiper of Baal. The shameful practices that have gone on under the name of religion have cast a blight over the history of many generations.

Judgment and Mercy
However, let no one think that God is not mindful of these things; sooner or later judgment will be meted out. God had Elijah on hand to reprove Ahab when he went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard. Elijah told Ahab just what judgments were going to befall him and his house. The dogs were going to eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel, and all Ahab’s posterity were soon to be cut off. Somehow the message of God’s fiery Prophet reached the heart of the wicked king. He put on sackcloth and moved about softly. Oh, the great love of our God who showed mercy even to Ahab when he humbled himself before God!

Questions: 

1. Why did not Naboth sell his vineyard to Ahab?
2. What shows that Ahab was covetous?
3. What does the law say concerning covetousness?
4. Name others who have fallen because of covetousness.
5. How did Jazebel obtain Nahoth’s vineyard for Ahab?
6. What proves Ahab’s guilt in the crime?
7. Who else was guilty in the plot?
8. Explain the law concerning the sale of real estate in Israel.
9. When and where did Elijah meet Ahab?
10. What judgments were pronounced against Ahab?
11. What effect did Elijah’s words have on Ahab?
12. How was God’s mercy shown to Ahab?