Ahab’s Reign: Murder in a Vineyard and the Sinkhole of Sin
A sinkhole is a hole in the ground that can appear without warning but often evolves over time from some erosion deep within the soil. Jeroboam’s sin begins a deadly erosion that slowly sinks Israel in the days of Ahab.
King Ahab ascends the throne with this introduction: “Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him” (1 Kings 16:29-30). Ahab takes Jeroboam’s idolatry to another level by marrying Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal--the king of the Sidonians and a priest of Baal (1 Kings 16:31-33). Under Ahab, Israel grows bolder in forsaking God’s covenant. Here, the Chronicler gives the example of Hiel the Bethelite: 1 Kings 16:34 states that in Ahab’s days Hiel the Bethelite rebuilds Jericho. Either ignorant, indifferent or distrusting of God’s Word, the man lays the foundations of Jericho at the loss of his firstborn son and sets up its gates at the loss of his youngest--thus fulfilling the prophecy of Joshua 6:26. Indeed Israel and her children were sinking in the days of Ahab.
Ahab’s biggest fan in sin was his wife, Jezebel. Jezebel was a devotee of her father’s gods and a vicious woman. Just consider the gripping tale of Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21:1-16. Naboth was an Israelite with a lush vineyard adjoining Ahab’s palace in Samaria. Like David on his roof, there comes a day when Ahab sets longing eyes on his neighbor’s possession (2 Samuel 11:1-27). He decides to make the vineyard a vegetable garden and offers Naboth a purchase price. Unfortunately for Ahab, faithful Naboth rejects the deal on the basis of God’s Law. Leviticus 25:23 says this: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine.” God, the ultimate landowner, had allotted certain plots to specific families as His divine inheritance (Joshua 13-21). He forbid the selling of the land--for to sell was to disinherit oneself and descendants from your God-given ancestral home. Knowing this, Naboth refuses with these words: “God forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers” (1 Kings 21:3). When told, Jezebel is moved, not to respect God’s Law but, to murder Naboth. False charges are laid at the feet of Naboth and he and his sons are stoned to death (1 Kings 21:8-14; 2 Kings 9:26). Sinkholes can swallow both the upright and the wicked.
As we reflect on the narrative, we do well to consider the “little sins” we flirt with, justify and excuse that can begin a “sinkhole” in our faith. Ephesians 5:3 states: “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” While always imperfect on this side of eternity, Christians are to guard against the smallest hint of sin. We do so with the help of the Spirit, knowing that--even when we trip--our security rests in the man who, like Naboth, was falsely charged and killed, yet rose again for our justification (Romans 4:25). He is able to keep you from falling and will present you faultless (Jude 1:24).
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