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Ash Wednesday Savior of Coveters Jesus!

February 19, 2015

Ahab Covets

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Ash Wednesday

18 February 2015

 

Catechetical Sermon Series: The Ten Commandments

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

1 Kings 21:1-16 / Commandments 9 & 10

 

His majesty King Ahab craves what he categorically CANNOT have. He flat out covets. His coveting consumes him. He breaks the 9th and 10th commandments. What does his royal heart desire? Ahab desperately covets Naboth’s vineyard. Along the way Ahab will break even more commandments as a result of his cravenous coveting. You’ll see that in a few minutes as we review the story.

 

His majesty wants to plow under the grapery and convert it into a huge organic vegetable garden. Brilliant! Everyone in the kingdom, especially the school children, needs to eat more vegetables. Cut out the fatty foods and sugary snacks and drinks. Help end the elementary and adolescent obesity crisis. Yes, that’s the ticket! More vegetables. And organic to boot! What a king!

 

Surely his neighbor Naboth will agree. As long as it’s for the “children”! His highness did ask nicely too. Ahab offers Naboth a bargain he cannot refuse. His majesty will clinch the deal. Naboth can name his price (the sky’s the limit!). Additionally, in exchange for his family’s grapery, his majesty will give Naboth one of the kingdom’s finest vineyards. Napa Valley-Tuscany-and Bordeaux-like all wrapped up into one!

 

Naboth … categorically declines. Right to the king’s face! “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” Right. The Lord had given the land to Naboth’s family. It was theirs to take care of as the Lord’s instruments. Ahab knew that. Naboth was right. The king, even with all his royal power and authority, could not have what did not belong to him. And it was sinful to want it and try to get it even in a way that appeared right.

 

Ahab goes home. To his bedroom. To pray? To repent? Not hardly. Like a spoiled brat he pouts on his bed. Frustrated and angry. A royal temper tantrum! Punches the pillows. Tears up the sheets. Refuses to eat supper – not even his favorite – prime rib and Mediterranean lobster. Her highness, Jezebel the queen gets wind of what has happened and she gets the skinny from Ahab himself.

 

She’s taken aback. But she thinks quickly on her feet. “Honey, you’re the king. You should have anything you want. Chin up dear! Cheer up love! I’ll take care of it. I’ll get the vineyard for you. Wait and see! Soon you’ll be producing the best organic vegetables for the kids that the kingdom can raise! You’ll be able to write a best-selling veggie recipe book and get all the prime time morning interviews with Matt Lauer, Lara Spencer and Nora O’Donnell. Maybe even Larry King will come out of retirement to interview you! They’ll just gush! Everyone will praise you O King! Behold the king’s organic vegetable garden! This is the king who loves the children! What a reward you’ll get!”

 

So Queen Jezebel schemes. Hatches a plan. A plot. It’s brilliant! Jezebel will set up Naboth. Frame him. Trump up false charges. She’ll get Naboth’s inheritance in a way that appears so right! So kosher! So legitimate! So just! So within the law! So God-pleasing! And Ahab goes along with the plan. He still covets the vineyard. He’ll take it any way he can get it now.

 

She writes letters in Ahab’s name. Puts the king’s seal on them. And the letters are sent to the all the big wigs of Naboth’s hometown, Jezreel. The letters from the king say: “Proclaim a day of fasting [fasting — something must be dreadfully wrong in the kingdom] and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. Seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them testify that he [Naboth] has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out an stone him to death.”

 

You’d think that the elders and nobles of Jezreel would know better. Naboth would never do that! So, there must have been immense corruption, pay offs and bribes going on in that city. The elders and nobles eagerly take part in this wicked, wicked plot.

 

Royal henchmen. Flunkies! Lackeys! Goons! They actually carry out the order! The liars-for-hire passionately and under oath maintain that Naboth has committed unforgiveable crimes. Capital crimes. Punishable by death! “Naboth has cursed God and King Ahab!” they repeat over and over again under examination at the outdoor court.

 

Everyone in town is outraged. Anyone that curses both God and the king must suffer the consequences! No matter how well liked or respected. Cursing God and the king falls under the zero tolerance policy! Naboth must die! So, the Jezreelites surround Naboth. There’s no escape. Like summer thunderstorm hail they hurl, chuck and launch rocks the size of softballs, baseballs, and volleyballs at him until he is graveyard dead. As the law demands. It all played out according to Hoyle! Appeared so God pleasing and so religious! Just as Jezebel planned! Can you imagine her devilish grin?

 

The huge pool of blood from Naboth’s bashed-in brains, unrecognizable face and assaulted dead body had barely cooled when Ahab took possession of the coveted vineyard. And rightly so – it appeared. After all, Naboth had cursed God and the king! So Ahab had the legal right to take the vineyard now! Right?

 

No! Absolutely Not! You know the 9th and 10th commandments: You shall not covet your neighbor’s …

 

Ahab coveted big time! Like all sin it’s spiritually deadly. Coveting is a spiritual cancer that spreads unrelentingly. His coveting gave birth to more cancerous and deadly sin. Devious and well thought out lies (2nd Commandment). Outrageous slander and fanatical false testimony (8th Commandment). Theft (7th Commandment). Cold-blooded murder (5th Commandment).

 

He did all this because he did not fear, love and trust in God above all things (1st Commandment)! Let’s not forget that Ahab was into idolatry big time! He was a hardcore false worshipper! He worshipped many false gods and encouraged his people to do the same. No wonder he broke so many of the commandments and didn’t give a rip. It’s no surprise that he lost no sleep over the outrageous set up and brutal murder of Naboth.

 

What about you? Do you think you’re any better than Ahab? You’re not. Really, you’re not! You’re a sinner too. You covet just like he did. You scheme and plot too to get what you want. And you’d do anything to get what you want. Cheat, lie, steal. Even murder? Yes. Even murder. You may not do it with a gun or a knife but you do it with hate-filled words and an enraged and jealous heart. And just like Ahab you’d be sure to make it all look so right. So legit! So religious and pious!

 

Ahab’s story is your story. The Holy Spirit put this account is in the Bible in order to interpret you! This Old Testament story of Ahab’s coveting is the Holy Spirit’s attack on you the sinner through this divine Word! With Ahab’s coveting and all the other horrific sin that flowed from it the Holy Spirit leads you to recognize your own sin in your own life.

 

God emphatically forbids coveting! No ifs, ands or buts! But you do it anyway. You covet like there’s no tomorrow. 24-7-365. Like King Ahab retreads. As if God doesn’t exist. Or as if God simply cannot be trusted to take care of you So, tonight is the night to repent. A Lenten repentance. Living in and from your baptism into Christ.

 

And that means, unlike Ahab who wouldn’t do it, it’s time to confess that you truly are a sinner and admit that you covet because you do not trust God. Own up to it. Tell the truth.

 

So that, this Ash Wednesday, this Lenten and Eastertide, as well as all your life YOU HAVE GOOD USE OF … JESUS, the Savior of coveters. I’m here to tell you that Jesus died for you Masters of Coveting. Here is the truth: all your coveting and all the other sin that flows from your coveting belongs to Jesus. He wrapped Himself up in all of it so that He was counted as the coveter, slanderer, thief, murderer and idolater par excellence and then He took all of its hellacious damnation. That’s Good Friday. GOD FOR YOU! You are forgiven! That’s His divine promise.

 

And with that – you now desire a gift or a treasure that Jesus says IS YOURS. That He wants you to have. Tonight. Every Sunday. The rest of your life. What’s that? His Body and Blood. Fruit from the vineyard and fruit from the cross! “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sin.” Your heart is content with such a promise! So that you also now want to help and be of service to your neighbor in keeping what belongs to him. Acting as a little Christ. Serving your neighbor in love.

 

Happy Ash Wednesday.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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