This week’s lesson is the last lesson within the first unit of lessons for the summer quarter.  We have been taking a look at people of valor, and will continue to do so throughout this quarter of lessons.  Now, the first unit of lessons have specifically been focusing on people of courage.  I mentioned Elijah in last week’s lesson and rightfully so because he was certainly a bold and courageous man of faith that had great valor. We are going to be taking a look at both Elijah and King Ahab in our lesson this week.  This week’s lesson is being taught from 1 Kings 21:17-29.

Task for Elijah

Our lesson this week opens with God giving Elijah the task of delivering a message to Ahab (vss. 17-18).  Ahab was the king of the northern kingdom of Israel during the divided kingdom years.  Scripture tells us that Ahab did evil in the sight of God more than all the kings who came before him (1 Kgs. 16:30, 33)He was married to Jezebel who was the daughter of the king of the Sidonians – gentile people.  Jezebel worshiped Baal and it was nothing for Ahab to join her in serving and worshiping Ahab (1 Kgs. 16:31).

Now, let us note that this was not the first time that Elijah had been in Ahab’s presence to deliver a message to him.  Elijah first delivered a message to Ahab when he pronounced the three year drought (1 Kgs. 17:1).  Elijah faced off with Ahab again at the contest on Mount Carmel when he challenged the prophets of Baal.  So, what would make Elijah’s appearance to Ahab this time be so courageous?

Well, after the contest at Mount Carmel, Elijah executed the 450 prophets of Baal which infuriated Jezebel.  Jezebel threatened revenge on behalf of those prophets against Elijah and so Elijah fled Jezebel for his life.  So, going before Ahab this time around would be after the threat on his life which means this would be a troubling predicament for Elijah.

Message to deliver to Elijah

Elijah is told, “ ‘Thus says the Lord: “Have you murdered and also taken possession?” ’ And you shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, dogs shall lick your blood, even yours (v. 19).” ’ ”  So, from this message, we can see that this message from the Lord was against the life of Ahab.  We are going to see it in a moment that the Lord’s message to Ahab is not only going to be about his life.

Ahab desired a vineyard that was next to his palace but it belonged to Naboth.  So, Ahab went to Naboth about the land and tried to get it from Naboth but Naboth refused to give Ahab the land because he inherited the land from his father.  So, Ahab became sad and sullen about not getting what he wanted and told Jezebel about it.  Typically when I share this story about Ahab, I describe him more like a big baby that went home and pouted to his wife about what he couldn’t get.  So, Jezebel then had Naboth stoned to death all because he would not give up land which by law belonged to him (1 Kgs. 21:1-14).

When Elijah came to Ahab, Ahab’s response to see him is very interesting.  In a way, he doesn’t seem too surprised at Elijah’s visit as I would have expected.  I would have to imagine that Ahab would likely be thinking he was about to receive some bad news because Elijah never had good news to share with him.  Notice that Ahab calls Elijah his enemy (v. 20.)  This tells you a lot about Ahab because Elijah was a man of God, so if he considered Elijah his enemy, he was also considering God to be his enemy as well.  

He says to Elijah, “you have found me,” because he was not in his palace but was in Naboth’s vineyard.  In a way, Ahab seems to be coming off as a bit nonchalant in this moment – he’s riding high on getting the land he wanted.  Now that high that Ahab was on was about to plummet and it was about to do so quickly.  Elijah delivers the message to Ahab, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord:  ‘Behold, I will bring calamity on you. I will take away your posterity, and will cut off from Ahab every male in Israel, both bond and free (v. 21).”  

Consequence to doing evil

Because of the evil that Ahab had done in the sight of God, “calamity” was to be brought on Ahab.  Calamity is a disastrous event marked by great loss and lasting distress and suffering.  The calamity, we are told, is that Ahab would lose his posterity – meaning his future seed (generations).  

It is expressed that God was going to do to Ahab what had been done to Jeroboam and Baasha, two kings that had previously done evil in the sight of God.  Both the houses of Jeroboam and Baasha were wiped out completely and there was no seed leftover from Jeroboam and Baasha.  Because Ahab had done evil in the sight of God, his seed was being completely cut off by the Lord.

You will also see that Jezebel does not escape for her role in the evil she had done.  Scripture says, “concerning Jezebel the Lord also spoke, saying, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’ The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Ahab and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the field (vss. 23-24).”

Again, prior to delivering this message to Ahab, the other messages weren’t nearly as personal.  So, you can certainly understand why it would take a great amount of courage for Elijah to carry out this task.  In fact, if you pay close attention, after the Lord gives Elijah this task, scripture immediately jumps to Elijah carrying out the task.  In fact, we never really see Elijah hesitate when it came to doing what God had commanded.  He had moments where I believe he would be depressed, but often in scripture, Elijah is shown to be a very bold and fiery man for the Lord.

Ahab humbled

We could expect that Ahab would be enraged after hearing the message from Elijah.  His response, in my opinion, however, seemed to actually fit his character.  As I showed you earlier, Ahab went and cried to Jezebel about not being able to get his way – he was a man that had grown used to getting his way as king.  

We are told that after hearing the message, Ahab tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his body.  We often see this done in scripture when someone is grieving or has been hurt.  I think of Job and how he tore his clothes and poured ashes over his head when he was mourning.  Jacob did the same thing at the thought of Joseph, his son, being dead.

The Lord remarked to Elijah, “See how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the calamity in his days. In the days of his son I will bring the calamity on his house (v. 29).”  Ahab had humbled himself in that moment and maybe he was remorseful for the evil he had done.  Because of this, the calamity was delayed to the days of his son.

I do want to point out that Ahab did not truly repent of his evil.  To repent of our sins we have to first acknowledge the wrong we have committed to the one (God or another person) that we have wronged.  In this case, Ahab would have had to acknowledge his transgressions against God.  Then, after we have acknowledged our transgressions, we must commit ourselves to not doing such again.  So, for example, the repentant Christian commits him or herself to the way of Christ and is never again obedient to the way of sin.

Ahab’s disdain for God

Ahab never truly repented of his transgressions against the Lord.  He was humble in that moment after hearing about losing his life and his seed being entirely cut off, but he never committed himself to living for God.  In fact, outside of our lesson, we can see Ahab’s disdain for God again.

Three years later, Ahab wanted to battle the Syrians for Ramoth Gilead in alliance with Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah.  Jehoshaphat, a man of God, desired to hear from the Lord about this idea of going against the Syrians.  So, Jehoshaphat asks Ahab to get the prophets to consult with God about this, but Ahab had lying prophets that would always tell him what he wanted to hear which is exactly what they did (1 Kgs. 22:6).

Jehoshaphat, not buying what the lying prophets had to say, asked Ahab if there truly was a prophet of God in the northern kingdom – there happened to be one.  Ahab did not care for what that prophet had to say because that prophet never told him what he wanted to hear.  He said of that prophet, “I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil (1 Kgs. 22:8).”  

Again, this is essentially the same feelings he shared about Elijah, a true prophet of God.  This shows you the disdain that Ahab had for the Lord and the Lord’s word.  When the prophet spoke on God’s behalf against going into battle against the Syrians because it would lead to Ahab’s death, Ahab had him thrown in prison and then went into battle.  Ahab died in that battle.

Courage to speak to the Ahab’s of today 

There are many Ahab’s living in our world today – they are wicked in their ways.  The Lord has commissioned us to share His word with those people as well.  To some, this may be a terrifying idea.  To others, this may seem like a waste of time because they might do like Ahab and continue living in their way.  Yet, at the same time, some of them may actually repent from their ways and turn to the Lord.  We cannot take that option off the table from them – that is not our call!

We must show the same courage as Elijah and the other prophet and put aside any fears we have in speaking to such a person.  Like Elijah, we must not hesitate to share God’s word with anyone.  So, let us dedicate ourselves to diligently fulfilling the commission that God has given to us about sharing His gospel with all people.


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