Ahab and Jezebel–slow to learn!
Scripture reading for April 9: 1st Kings 20-22
Learning lessons in the school of life can be fun and rewarding. God places us in a family so that we might learn from those parents who are older and wiser. Learning from those with wisdom is an easy way to gain understanding. God may also place a mate in our life. A mate may be a great blessing or may lead us astray. God also sends people to us who will speak the Word of God into our lives. The Old Testament called them prophets. They were sent to give warning, direction, and advice for living God’s way. Heeding their word resulted in a victorious life; rejecting their word brought trouble and defeat.
As we think back on the lessons God has already given Ahab and Jezebel, we remember the drought of three years that began at the word of the Lord through Elijah. (1st Kings 17:1) We remember the cause of the drought was Jezebel killing the Lord’s prophets and feeding 950 prophets of Baal and Asteroth at the king’s table. Elijah confronted them with this truth and demonstrated God’s power in the contest on Mt. Carmel. (1st Kings 18:18-19) He then killed the false prophets and prayed for rain again on the land and God sent a storm! God demonstrated his power and correction to this couple through the prophetic ministry in a way that was sure to make an impression!
In the course of time, God sent another prophet to Ahab with instructions on how to defeat his enemy, Ben-Hadad, king of Aram. (1st Kings 20:13) God worked a miracle and the enemy was defeated soundly but Ben-Hadad appealed to Ahab, and Ahab made a treaty with him. He didn’t even consult the Lord! God sent another prophet to speak to Ahab a word of judgment. (1st Kings 20:41-43) Ahab responded with anger and sulking! Out of this response, Ahab turns to coveting a neighbor’s vineyard to build a garden for himself. The neighbor, Naboth, refuses to sell or trade the family property. Ahab sulks to his wife, who promptly sets in motion a plan to get the vineyard through lies and manipulation. Naboth is killed and the vineyard is secured for Ahab. God is not pleased, and sends Elijah the prophet to speak another word of judgment. This time Ahab is humbled and goes about mourning.
What’s the point of all this prophetic intervention and correction? Why was God so gracious and long-suffering with this king and his wife? God always gives each person time to repent and to grow in grace. He is working out purposes that are bigger than one person, but He cares for each person, too. He understands our weaknesses and tries to work with us. But, there is a point where patience runs out. We can harden our hearts and miss the grace of God. Jezebel was worldly, manipulative, and lived for the present. She refused correction when God made it plain! Ahab knew what to do, but allowed his wife to direct him instead of taking charge himself. When corrected, he was often not teachable but grew angry and sullen. Would that we would be quicker to learn!