Sunday, September 11, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "Thus Saith the LORD!"

“Thus Saith the LORD!”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
September 11, 2016 :: 1 Kings 21:1-29  

Our series is called “The King of Kings in the Books of Kings,” and we’re almost done with the first book of kings! By next week, we’ll probably have it all wrapped up.

In this first book of kings, we’ve been introduced to a whole bunch of kings both good and bad.

And we’ve learned that:

When these kings are at their best, they remind us of Jesus.
And when they are at their worst, they reminds us of why we need Jesus.

And we’ve already learned about 13 kings so far between the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.

David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Jeroboam, Abijah, Asa, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Tibni (if you count him), Omri, and last and worst so far, Ahab.

And while we’ve been learning about Ahab, the focused shifted for about 3 chapters away from the kings and onto a particular prophet: Elijah.  We learned about the days of Elijah who was a man just like you and me and whom the LORD used in a mighty way to reveal that He is God.

And then, last week, the focus shifted back onto King Ahab.

Was King Ahab thumbs up or thumbs down?

We’ve been calling him 6 thumbs down.

He was the absolute worst so far.

The LORD has prophesied his downfall.

And we learned last week that these last 3 chapters of 1 Kings are about the Last Days of Ahab.

Last week, in chapter 20, the LORD helped Ahab win two big victories over Ben-Hadad his Aramean armies. But Ahab went home a sore winner, sullen and angry because he had disobeyed the command of Yahweh to dispense justice on his enemy. And the LORD had called him on the carpet for it.

This week, we see the same sullen and angry Ahab, the spoiled brat of a king who does what is wrong when he doesn’t get his way.

And we see once again how the Lord responds to Ahab.

And when we see God’s response, we get to know God better.

Last week, the message was all about how the Lord wants to be known.

He wants us to relate to Him, to know Him.

He doesn’t want to be the best kept secret in the universe.

He wants us to know Him and to make Him known.

And we know that because our God is a speaking God.

He doesn’t stand aloof and alone above all things and silent.

He speaks.

He tells us through His actions and His words Who He really is.

So here’s today’s sermon title. It flows right out of that:

“Thus Saith the LORD!”

I’ve always wanted to call a sermon that. That phrase appears over and over again in our Bibles, but I’ve never used it as sermon title before.

The reason I picked it for today is that it occurs twice in the key verse of this chapter, verse 19.

The NIV translates it, “This is what the LORD says....” but most of us still remember the Old King James English way of saying it, “Thus Saith the LORD.”

Thus Saith Yahweh.

Our God is a speaking God, and when He speaks, He tells us Who He really is.

Our story begins at the ancestral land of a man named Naboth.

Naboth appears in the Bible in just this chapter and a follow-up to this chapter in 2 Kings 9.

Naboth was an honorable man who had the distinct misfortune to own some land adjacent to a royal palace belonging to Ahab in Jezreel.

It was a “misfortune” for Naboth because weak and wicked King Ahab wanted his land. Let’s read about it. 1 Kings chapter 21, verse 1.

“Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth, ‘Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.’”

Now, if Naboth wanted to sell that land, this was a pretty good offer.

Ahab obviously wants it badly because he’s got generous terms. Name your fair price, he says.

But Naboth does not want to sell this land, and in fact, feels that it would be an affront to his family name. This land was probably allotted to his family during the conquest under Joshua. Remember that at the end of Joshua when they doled out the land to the tribes?

If Naboth was really hurting financially, he could have sold the land, but the Mosaic Law favored the family keeping the land within the family as an inheritance. V.3

“But Naboth replied, ‘The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.’”

In other words, “No deal! I know my rights as an Israelite, and I don’t care about the first law of real estate–location, location, location–what I care about is my family inheritance, so I’m going to stand up to the king and keep my land, thank you very much.”

And this does not sit well with King Ahab. V.4

“So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, ‘I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.’ He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.”

Ever know anybody like that?

Every been somebody like that?

I know I have. Those words “sullen and angry” in verse 4 are the exact same Hebrews words from last week’s chapter 20, verse 43.

This is how Ahab deals with disappointment in his life. “Sullen and angry.”

Do you know anybody that is sullen and angry?

Do you have to live with them?
Are they are your friends (so to speak) on social media?
Are they passive/aggressive?

It’s a really ugly response to disappointment in life.

When we get like this, we feel all righteous and put-upon. We don’t think about justice. We don’t think about others. We just think about ourselves. And what we want.

Ahab is a royally spoiled brat. But Jezebel; she is something worse. V.5

“His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, ‘Why are you so sullen? Why won't you eat?’ [Why didn’t you come to dinner?] He answered her, ‘Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, 'Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.' But he said, 'I will not give you my vineyard.'’”

He might not have sounded like that in his voice, but that’s what it sounded like in his heart.


Wanting what someone else has.

Greed. Envy. Ahab was consumed by covetousness.

Notice that this is all about a vineyard! Just a piece of land.

And look how tied in knots Ahab is over it.  But it gets worse.

Jezebel does not respect the law of Moses.
She only respects one law, the law of power. V.7

“Jezebel his wife said, ‘Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! [“Mr. Whiney pants,”] Cheer up. I'll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.’ [Just you watch!]

So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth's city with him. In those letters she wrote: ‘Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people.

But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them testify that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.’”

This is a secret conspiracy in the halls of power to deny a man his rights and his very life. ... And she gets away with it. V.11

“So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth's city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, ‘Naboth has cursed both God and the king.’ So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. Then they sent word to Jezebel: ‘Naboth has been stoned and is dead.’ As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, ‘Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.’ When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth's vineyard.”

She won.

Her plan worked.

Ahab won. He got what he wanted!

They pulled off the crime. And all it took was sending out a few little letters.

Does that make you angry?

It should, I think.

This is true injustice, right here.

It’s wrong and foul and bad.

And God let it happen that day.

We see a lot of injustice in the world today.

Sometimes, it’s hard for us to recognize or adjudicate, but other times, it’s blatantly obvious.

And most of us here have experienced injustice on some level ourselves.

Something bad has been done to us, and it seems like the perpetrators got away with it.

And it might seem like God does not care.

After all, He let it happen.

Injustice is real, and followers of Jesus Christ can expect to experience it.

The Apostle Peter told us that experiencing injustice is normal for Christians. Normal. He said to persecuted Christians, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

It’s normal. It’s not strange for Christ-followers to get a raw deal.

You can expect it.

Our Lord did. Our Lord Jesus experienced the greatest injustice of all time. Like Naboth, he had false witnesses stand up and accuse of Him of things He never did.

And they believed them!

Jesus knows injustice. On a human level, the Cross was the height of injustice.

So don’t be surprised if it comes your way, too.

But don’t believe for a minute that God does not care.

It’s in this moment of injustice that God speaks.V.17

“Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite [Boom! Elijah comes back on the scene.]: ‘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.

Say to him, [Thus saith the LORD!] '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!'’”

#1. “I AM JUST.”

“I am righteous. I love justice. I know what is right and what is wrong. And I care about it. I care about justice. I love justice. And I will bring justice.

I am just.”

Do you see how verse 19 is saying that?

The LORD sends Elijah all the way to Jezreel to deliver this message. Look at verse 19 again.

“Say to him, [Thus saith the LORD!] ‘Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?'”

In other words, “I saw you.”

“You thought you got away with it, but I was watching.”

“Jezebel thinks she’s so smart, but you can’t pull the wool over my eyes.”

“I know what happened. I know that it was wrong. And I care about justice.” v.19 again.

“Then say to him, [Thus saith the LORD]: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, dogs will lick up your blood–yes, yours!'’”

Now, that’s gruesome, but it’s a promise of justice.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, blood for blood, a lick for lick. [Peter Leithart says something like this in his commentary on 1&2 Kings.]

The Lord is saying to Ahab and to us, “I am just.”

And that’s good news.

Because it’s hard enough to live in a world that is unfair and inequitable and unjust temporarily, but it would be utterly maddening to know that God is like that, too.

God is just. That’s Who He is.

And He will bring justice.

You might have to wait. Maybe what seems like a long time. Maybe until after you die, but justice is coming.

The Bible promises it.

Listen to 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”

The Lord is just. Isn’t that good news?

You can trust in His judgment.

His timing may be different than yours or mine, but it is perfect.

Don’t interpret the delay in getting justice as God’s indifference to what is right. He cares. And He will act.

We’re going to see this verse come true right before our very eyes next Sunday.

Because God is just.

That should encourage us if we are going through a period of persecution or mistreatment.

It should also cause us to ask ourselves if we are just. If we love justice ourselves.

I think of these leaders at Jezreel. Nobody blinked. They just mindlessly did what the Queen asked. And nobody stood up for poor Naboth.

Nobody said, “That’s not right. That’s not the Naboth I know.”

They just stood there and let him die.

Do you and I love justice?

Micah 6:8 says, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly...”

Like the Lord.

It might seem right now like Al Qaeda or ISIS or (some other radical Islamic terrorist group) is getting away with murder. Quite literally.

But they are not. The LORD is just.

And more than that. He is jealous.

#2. “I AM JEALOUS.” v.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. 'I am going to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel–slave or free. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin.' [Justice] ‘And also concerning Jezebel the LORD says: 'Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.' ‘Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country.’

[Why? V.25] (There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.)”

Most of those verses just say that justice is coming and spell it out a little bit.

But that last verse shows the deepest injustice, the greatest wrong that Ahab committed. It wasn’t theft and it wasn’t even murder.  It was idolatry.

“He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.”

God hates idolatry. It’s the greatest injustice because God truly deserves all of our worship. So when we give it to idol, we are committing a travesty of justice.

God is jealous.

The first and second commands in the Decalogue, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:3-6).

Ahab’s worst sin was not theft or murder. It was leading the people of Israel to worship false gods.

Of course, that always leads to things like theft and murder! But it’s the heart of the matter that we raise other things in our hearts above our Lord God.

It doesn’t sound good to our ears that the LORD is jealous.

But think about the opposite. Think about what if God didn’t care whether or not we loved and worshiped and related to Him?

If He was indifferent to His glory.

What if God, the most glorious being in the universe, stopped caring about the most important thing in the universe?

Everything would come undone.

And He is jealous for our hearts.

He wants to be first our hearts.

Imagine if He didn’t care about your heart or my heart?

If He didn’t care if David had a heart for the heart of God?

“Oh well.”

That’s not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is a properly jealous God. Jealous for all the right reasons and in all the right ways.

He wants to be first in your heart and mine.

Is He?

Or has something crept in there to occupy the place where He belongs?

Is there some idol of the heart in your life that needs to be toppled?

Just about anything could become a false god for us today.

Money, popularity, entertainment are ones that we often point to.

But safety, security, comfort–those can be idols, as well.

Who or what runs and rules your life?

Answer that question honestly, and you’ll know Who your god is, for good or ill.

Who or what runs and rules your life?

Ahab allowed gods named Baal and Ashtoreth to run and rule his life.

But more than that.

Ahab allowed Jezebel to run and rule his life.

Ahab allowed his greedy desires to run and rule his life.

“(There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites [did! The ones...] the LORD drove out before Israel.)”

And then he repented.

No, really. He actually took a step back at this point. V.27

“When Ahab heard these words [“Thus saith the LORD”], he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.”

What’s going on?

Is this some kind of an act?

It can’t be for real. Ahab is the worst, and after all of what has happened, it finally got through to him? V.28

“Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite [again]: ‘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.’”

It was for real!

No, it doesn’t last. It’s only temporary.

He goes back. Perhaps we should say that it wasn’t repentance, but it was genuine remorse. Serious remorse for his sin.

This, my friends, is Ahab’s best moment. Chapter 21, verse 27. Ahab humbled himself.

And what does God say about Himself?


Ahab’s punishment is postponed.

The LORD shows grace and mercy to humbled King Ahab.

Let me ask you a question.

Does that bother you?

When you read verse 29, does it kind of get under your skin and make you feel a little off kilter?

Like, “Why He’s doing that?”

“Does He know what Ahab deserves?”

Of course He does. He just said all of the bad stuff that was going to happen to Ahab because of justice.

But now He does this?

That doesn’t seem fair.

I think we’re supposed to feel that.

Because grace is not fair.

Mercy is not fair and equitable.

Grace is giving someone what they do not deserve.

“But God they don’t deserve a second chance.”

And God says, “No, they sure don’t. And that’s why I’m giving it to them.”

God is gracious.

And it’s scandalously beautiful.

You know it is.

Or you don’t know what your salvation is.

Because it was at the Cross where God’s justice and grace met and mingled perfectly and bring us salvation.

Like that song we sing by John Newton:

Let us wonder grace and justice 
Join and point to mercy’s store 
When through grace in Christ our trust is 
Justice smiles and asks no more 
He Who washed us with His blood 
He Who washed us with His blood 
He Who washed us with His blood 
Has secured our way to God

You don’t want a God who is all justice and no grace.

Because what perfect justice demands you and I cannot meet.

Only Jesus can and what He did for us on the Cross.

When through grace in Christ our trust is 
Justice smiles and asks no more 

Have you come to trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins?

He is gracious. He died on the Cross for justice, to meet the demands of perfect divine justice for ours sins.

But because He’s done that, we can experience His grace.

We don’t deserve it!
We don’t deserve a second chance.

But if we did, it wouldn’t be grace.

I invite you to trust in Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

And to put Him first in your life. Because He’s jealous for you.

What did Micah tell us that Lord wants from us?

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

First and foremost.

He loves you.

You don’t deserve it, but He loves you.

Trust Him, love Him back, serve Him, put Him first.

Believe in His justice and His jealousy and His graciousness.

Trust everything He says about Himself.

Because that’s Who He really is.

“Thus Saith the LORD.”


Messages in this Series:

01. Who Will Be King?
02. The Wisdom of the King
03. The Temple of the King
04. The Incomparable King of the Temple
05. A Breathtaking King
06. The Turned King and the Torn Kingdom
07. The Two Kings and the Tearing of the Kingdom
08. The Word of the LORD
09. In the Eyes of the LORD
10. The LORD Lives
11. The LORD Is God!
12. The LORD Is Still God.
13. “You Will Know that I am the LORD”