This is a brief summary of this morning’s teaching at Grace Anglican Church, Sunday June 16th (Proper 6, Year C).
The story of King Ahab, Jezebel, and Naboth’s vineyard is a great story to illustrate how sin happens, step by step.
The Temptation (verses 1-4)
The primary sin was not actually Ahab’s coveting Naboth’s vineyard, but his scorning of the Inheritance Law. The King was upset because Israel was “supposed” to be free from Judah’s Law of Moses. He resents the Law being imposed on him externally.
The Enactment (verses 5-14)
Jezebel functions in this story as the world, the flesh, and the devil: she feeds Ahab’s desire to break the Law. Ahab functions in this story as the will, which ultimately must consent in order for the sin to take place. Once given permission, Jezebel basically takes over.
The Enjoyment (verses 15-16)
Part of sinning is enjoying it. Notice how, in this story, when the prize is won, the enjoyment is fleeting!
The Penalty (verses 17-26)
The penalty here is death for both Ahab and Jezebel. Continuing the earlier analogy, this points to the reality that sin leads to the complete death of the human person, body and soul.
The Redemption (verses 27-29)
King Ahab (still representing the will) repents! This ultimately leads to his salvation, though he still undergoes the death penalty as promised. Notice Jezebel (the flesh) fails to repent, and thus gets no such reprieve.
By way of a summary lesson, a key word is repeated twice towards the end of this story: “sold.” In verses 20 and 25, Ahab is described by God as having “sold himself.” When we sin, we’re selling ourselves to other masters. That’s why the prostitute is such a common image in the Bible for a sinful people or nation. And sometimes, in our conservative knee-jerk reactions, we jump on that image of sexual sin and make it sound like it’s the end of the road, the ultimate sinner.
Yet God uses that very image to describe his own beloved people – Israel – and follows it up with a desire to redeem them. The prostitute is transformed into a faithful wife – the pure spotless bride of Christ! We would do well to remember that no amount of sin is beyond redemption. It’s the same with King Ahab in this story; he had been one of Israel’s least godly kings, and here he heartily repents and God has mercy on him. It doesn’t erase his past, nor does it erase all the consequences of his past, but his identity in God’s eyes is redeemed into something new and good.