Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Naboth's Vineyard - Youth Sunday School Lesson on 1 Kings 21



Historical Context:  The last time we saw Elijah, he was running away from Ahab and Jezebel.  Things had not gone the way he expected after his victory over the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel.  But God graciously refreshed his soul and now Elijah is ready to confront the royal couple once more.  This portion of our history takes place in approximately the year 876 B.C.

Authorship:  The Book of the Kings was written mostly by Jeremiah the prophet during Israel’s exile in Babylon.  It was compiled from the writings of various other prophets and books of history.  It was later edited and completed by subsequent prophets and Levitical (Israel’s) priests.

Read 1 Kings 21


Notes and Discussion Points:
Ahab – King of Israel

“The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers”

Jezebel – Queen of Israel, original reason for Ahab’s worship of Baal (1 Kings 16:31-33), tried to exterminate all the prophets of God (1 Kings 18:13), treated the false prophets as royalty (1 Kings 18:19), and tried to kill Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-2)

“I’ll get you the vineyard.”

Elijah” – Hebrew for “The Lord is my God”

“The elders and nobles…did as Jezebel directed.”      

“The word of the Lord came to Elijah (verses 17, 28). 

“Have you not murdered a man?” 

“You have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord.” 

The extreme nature of the punishment prophesied for Ahab and Jezebel. 

Jeroboam (See 1 Kings 11:26-14:20) and Baasha (See 1 Kings 15:33-16:7) were two wicked kings in previous Israeli history. 

“Because he has humbled himself…”  Does Ahab’s repentance really change God’s plans?  Or did God give Ahab the warning so that he would repent?

“The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers” – Old Testament Law forbade the permanent sale of land, in order to prevent poverty (Leviticus 25:8-24)

Jezebel – Queen of Israel, original reason for Ahab’s worship of Baal (1 Kings 16:31-33), tried to exterminate all the prophets of God (1 Kings 18:13), treated the false prophets as royalty (1 Kings 18:19), and tried to kill Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-2)

“I’ll get you the vineyard” – Jezebel fraudulently declares a day of fasting, which would normally mean that a great sin had been committed and that God was about to inflict punishment on the community if the wrongdoer was not exposed (see the contexts of Judges 20:26, First Samuel 7:5-6, and Second Chronicles 20:2-4).  She instructs two persons to act as witnesses against Nabaoth because Old Testament Law required that someone only be convicted of a crime if two or three witnesses testify to it (Deuteronomy 19:15).  The charge of cursing God is suggested by Jezebel because it was a serious crime, punishable by being stoned to death (Leviticus 24:15-16).  The point is that Jezebel is knowingly twisting and perverting the Law of God to achieve her own sinful desires.

Elijah” – Hebrew for “The Lord is my God”

“The elders and nobles…did as Jezebel directed.”       Jezebel used her position of authority to do wrong.  The elders and nobles of the town used their authority to do wrong.  Power is dangerous.  We cannot obey any person unconditionally.  Rather, we must serve God before any earthly authority.

“The word of the Lord came to Elijah (verses 17, 28).  Here is our evidence of God communicating with man.  He speaks to Elijah directly.  He speaks to Ahab through Elijah.  He speaks to us through His Word, the Bible.  God speaks to man every day.  All we have to do is listen.

“Have you not murdered a man?”  Ahab did not kill Nabaoth.  The elders and nobles of his town did.  Nor did he order that he be killed.  Jezebel was calling the shots in Nabaoth’s murder.  This passage, however, shows that because Ahab did nothing to stop the murder, he is just as guilty as everyone else who played a part in Nabaoth’s death.

“You have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord.”  Selling has to do with the exchanging of one thing for another.  Ahab has given up his right relationship with the God of the universe, his dignity as a human, and the respect owed to a king, in order to gain a little piece of land for a vegetable garden.  Sin is not worth the price we pay.

The extreme nature of the punishment prophesied for Ahab and Jezebel.  God considers sin to be a very serious matter.  He is not afraid to show His attitude toward sin in equally serious punishments.  The killing of animals in the Old Testament in order to atone for sin is extreme.  The death of Christ in the New Testament to atone for sin is extreme.  There is also probably a desire to make the royal couple an example.  In order to deter others from sin, God shows the very negative effects that sin causes.  Thirdly, it must be noted that God alone, as the Giver of Life, also has the right to take it when, where, and how He pleases.

Jeroboam (See 1 Kings 11:26-14:20) and Baasha (See 1 Kings 15:33-16:7) were two wicked kings in previous Israeli history. 

“Because he has humbled himself…”  Does Ahab’s repentance really change God’s plans?  Or did God give Ahab the warning so that he would repent?  This is an open question, one dealing with the fixity of God’s plans and His omniscience.  The things that we must affirm are that God does have a plan for everything that happens.  He is in complete control.  He also knows everything that will occur beforehand because He has planned it.  But the Bible often conveys the idea of God changing His mind when someone repents or prays in a sincere fashion.  The question is whether God is actually changing His mind or if the Bible simply uses this type of language to make the point of our responsibility for our actions.

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