As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you killed and also taken possession?”’ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”’”
Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel.” I Kings 21:15-21 ESV
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV
In the United States in the 1930s, there were a number of very dangerous criminals, such as Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, and Pretty Boy Floyd. These criminals committed horrible crimes like bank robbery, kidnapping, and murder. They often were able to get away with their crimes because if they could get across a state line, the police couldn’t do anything to catch them or bring them to justice. One of these criminals was Machine Gun Kelly. He kidnapped a wealthy oil man from Texas named Charles Urschel and held him for a ransom of $200,000. The money was delivered and Urschel was released, and he was able to give the authorities enough clues so that Machine Gun Kelly was found and captured, and sentenced to life in prison. One reason Kelly was captured was that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, usually called the FBI, was given more power and the ability to get involved in crimes that crossed the state lines. Criminals like Machine Gun Kelly were brought to justice because they had to face a higher authority than a state that they could so easily escape from.
Ahab thought he could kill and take possession of Naboth’s vineyard because he didn’t think there was any authority above him who could call him to account for his actions. It was easy to get away with murder and stealing for someone who was the king! But Ahab had forgotten that he was under God’s authority and was accountable to God’s judgment. Elijah met Ahab just as he was taking possession of Naboth’s vineyard. Ahab called Elijah his enemy, and he wasn’t happy to see him at all! He knew that Elijah would have words of judgment for what he had done. Elijah told him that he would die a violent death for his sin, and that his dynasty would be brought to an end.
We all will have to face the judgment of God someday, and not only our actions, but our words and even our thoughts will be brought out into the open before God. That’s a very scary thought, because we all sometimes live as if we are the boss of our own lives, and that there’s no God who has authority over the way we live. We would be condemned as Ahab was, but God had mercy on us and sent Jesus to die for us. Jesus took all our sins on himself, and paid the penalty for them on the cross. Because he did this, we don’t have to worry about facing God’s judgment. We are accountable to God for the way we’ve lived our lives, but Jesus has balanced the account in our favor by his life and his death for us.
Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for us so that our sins could be forgiven and that we won’t be condemned in the last judgment. Amen.