17
Nov
15

The Father’s Heart

1 Kings 21:17-29 (NIV)

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. 19 Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood,dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’”

20 Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!”

“I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. 21 He says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 22 I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.’

23 “And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’

24 “Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.”

25 (There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. 26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.)

27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.

28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

 

Naboth was an Israelite who owned a vineyard near king Ahab’s palace.  Ahab wanted Naboth’s vineyard and offered to buy it or trade Naboth for another one.  Naboth refused and Ahab went home to his palace and pouted.  Ahab’s wife, queen Jezebel, wanted to know why her husband was so upset.  He explained how Naboth had refused to give him his vineyard.  Jezebel said that this was no way for the king to act.  So she set out to get him the vineyard.  She set Naboth up and, to make a long story short, ended up having him stoned to death by making up lies about him.  Then she told Ahab to take the vineyard.

Elijah shows up and accuses the king and queen of murdering Naboth and stealing his vineyard, which was true.  He then prophesied a similar fate for Ahab and Jezebel and their descendants.  Ahab was grief stricken and filled with sorrow over Elijah’s prophecy.  He humbled himself before the Lord and repented of what he had done.  God chose to spare Ahab because of his humble repentance.  This, in spite of the author’s note a few verses earlier that said that Ahab was the most vile king in Israel’s history.

I am convinced that even the vilest of people, if they truly repent and turn to God, can be forgiven.  God said that Ahab’s descendants would not be spared, but was it because of their father’s wickedness or because of their own?  God’s heart beats with forgiveness for everyone.  God wants to forgive people!  God wants people to have an eternal, loving relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus.  We’re all sinners and we’ve all committed vile sins of every kind.  Yet God, in His grace and mercy, has made forgiveness possible by believing in Jesus, repenting of one’s sins and turning to God for forgiveness, confessing one’s faith and being baptized.  Our sins are washed away and we have God’s promises of eternal life with Him.

We’re more like Ahab than we care to admit.  We turn away from God and pursue the things of this world.  We try to self-righteously justify our sins, but we cannot.  We’re all in need of forgiveness and, praise His name, God is a God who forgives.  Will we humbly turn to Him each day and cry out, “Have mercy on me, O God!”?  There’s mercy and grace at the cross.  And as the old hymn says, “There’s room at the cross for you.”

PRAYER: Father, help me to truly repent of my sins.  Have mercy on me for I am a vile sinner.  Assure me of the salvation and forgiveness that You alone can offer by Your grace.  Thank You for loving and for forgiving me through Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

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