Morning. My name is David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
We are just a little over a month away from the Grand Opening of Renovation Church.
I know what you’re thinking, “Wait, aren’t we already open?”
But as we’ve said a number of times the last 6 months, when we opened the building in February, many people weren’t ready to come out in public yet, and we knew it would be bad press for the church to advertise a large event during that time.
So we opened it up and have lived off of Word of Mouth since.
But now we want to advertise (everywhere that you can think of) that this building is open and we want to invite everyone in to hear about Jesus
So we are going to do a Grand Opening on September 19th
And that day is going to kick off, what we’ve been calling a second wave of God’s movement in our church in 2021
We’ve already been in the first wave.
Over 150 of you are new just in the last few months…all just be word of mouth…that’s incredible!
But now we need to prepare for a second wave.
But we’re not ready yet.
In preparing for the first wave back in February…SO many of you from our church…stepped up to serve.
It was pretty amazing.
And part of the reason so many have stuck here, and met Jesus here, is because of what you did.
Thank you for that (clap)
But now, we need those of you that are new here…to step up too
So we can be ready for the many, many people God is going to bring in this fall.
Many of which will know hardly anything about Jesus.
WE NEED YOU
God wants to use you!
When you came in this morning, there were 2 sheets on your chair.
One has descriptions of all of the ways you can start serving here, and the other is a sign-up form.
Would you do me a favor?
If this is your home church, and you’re not serving yet, would you fill that out right now?
As we often say here, Renovation Church is not a cruise ship, it’s a row boat.
We want you to pick up an oar and change the world with us.
Go ahead and fill it out right now.
You can also fill it out digitally through the Connect Tab of our app
If you fill out the paper, please drop it in the connection card boxes on your way out, or just leave it on your chair.
Thank YOU…God is going to use you!
THE MESS OF DISCONTENT
All right, let’s get back into our Life of Elijah teaching series.
If it’s your first time here, let me give you some background on where we are in history and the Bible.
Elijah, whom we’re studying, lived about 850 years before Jesus in the nation of Israel.
God used Elijah to confront the wicked King Ahab & Queen Jezebel who were leading Israel to bow down to idols.
But the Royals don’t like being confronted by Elijah, and Queen Jezebel even threatens to kill Elijah
Let’s grab our Bibles and see what is going to happen next
(1 Kings 21 if you brought your Bible)
When we last left Elijah in chapter 19, he was appointing his future successor, Elisha
Chapter 20 focuses on King Ahab and Elijah is not discussed, so we are jumping ahead to chapter 21 today.
Let’s take a look
(1 Kings 21:1-4) – NIV
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. 2 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.”
3 But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.”
4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.
Let’s pause for a second and give some context
King Ahab is at his palace in Jezreel, (which, by the way, is his SECOND palace)
And he decides he just HAS to HAVE Naboth’s vineyard, because it would be a GREAT spot to grow a vegetable garden!
But Naboth refuses
And it’s not because he’s stubborn.
He says, “The Lord forbid!”
And that’s because according to the law of the Old Testament, Israelite land was given to certain tribes, and then to certain families by God.
And land, therefore, always belonged to your family.
So Naboth is saying, “I realize you’re the king of Israel, but the King of Heaven says I shouldn’t sell this to you. It’s meant to be my family’s land”
And then King Ahab goes home and throws a toddler tantrum.
Enter Queen Jezebel (let’s keep reading)
(1 Kings 21:5-16) – NIV
5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”
6 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.’”
7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
8 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. 9 In those letters she wrote:
“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”
11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 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. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.”
15 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.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.
This is brutal. Pure evil.
Jezebel has the town elders proclaim a day of fasting, which people often did when some great sin was happening in Israel.
And then, they make up lies that Naboth is the reason why!
And then, King Ahab, rather than being shocked at his wife’s devious and murderous dealings, gets up, and heads down to Jezreel to get started on his…vegetable garden.
In a lot of ways, I think this passage shows what we might call “The Mess of Discontent”
Ahab has pretty much everything the world can offer him.
He has two palaces (TWO!) for goodness sake’s!
But he decides that he can’t be happy unless he can get the perfect vegetable garden
Sinful hearts are always chasing after things…and are stuck saying, “I can’t get no satisfaction” as the Rollings Stones once sang.
Ahab is chasing satisfaction…and he can’t find it.
He’s so desperately looking for it, that he’s willing to kill for better vegetables.
I find much of our culture is stuck in the same spiral today.
People are more confused than ever.
And they’re trying to find contentment in all sorts of things.
Money, sex, new identities, more and more drugs, Instagram hearts…you name it
And it never satisfies. NEVER
And our striving after it only creates a mess.
And that, after all, is the deepest teaching of this passage
Just when Ahab thinks he gets what he wants, the consequences of sin have found him.
Let’s keep reading.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF SIN WILL FIND YOU
(1 Kings 21:17-26) – NIV
17 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.)
Look at what Ahab first says to Elijah…it’s in verse 20
Ahab is there, probably with his servants, telling them where to plant the first vegetables…
And over his shoulder, he hears that familiar, intense voice of Elijah, “This is what the LORD says!”
And what does Ahab say?
“So, you have found me”
He knows what he is doing is wrong.
And he’s been caught.
And now, he’s told that justice for his sins will eventually catch up to him
Elijah tells Ahab in verse 20 that Ahab has “Sold himself to do evil”
Jesus Himself uses similar language
(John 8:34) – NIV
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
This is what happens when we don’t find our identity in God…
When we don’t find our deepest meaning in being a Child of God…
We choose sin instead…thinking it will give us satisfaction.
And when it doesn’t, we still keep living, often irrationally, like its slave…
Thinking the next thing will give us satisfaction.
Ahab’s actions almost seem like that of an addict, do they not?
Addicts will sell their friends or family’s own possessions to get the next fix.
They’ll do anything, irrational or not.
They’re a slave to their addiction.
Listen, Killing to get a vegetable garden is insane…
But that’s where sin will lead us when we let IT be our master instead of God
And there’s more…because sin also leads to consequences…
The Apostle Paul explains it this way in the New Testament:
(Galatians 6:7-8) – NIV
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
If you sow (or plant) sin into your life, eventually you will reap (you will harvest) are the consequences of sin.
That is what is happening to Ahab.
God is going to bring justice on him
This is principle that isn’t taught very much in the church nowadays, as we have an overemphasis on God’s love (which people know a lot about), but we don’t know much about God’s Justice or God’s Wrath (which the Bible ALSO talks a lot about)
If you sin, there are consequences.
The Bible doesn’t just teach, “If you become a Christian, you can go to heaven and God will cancel your sin.”
But God’s Word also teaches you that if you continue to plant sin in the garden of your life, what you will harvest and pull up are both natural consequences and God’s discipline
And often, just like a real harvest, that consequence is delayed.
Sowing and reaping don’t happen on the same day.
Even Ahab thought things were going to be fine.
He and Jezebel had Naboth murdered, and he was probably whistling on the way to planting his vegetables.
But don’t mistake a delay in God’s justice as a sign that it’s not coming.
Sin never works long term.
In the Book of Numbers (which is more than just Numbers), Moses says this to the Gadites and Reubenites who are thinking of sinning:
(Numbers 32:23) – NIV
23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.
Just pick a sin and interview someone who’s tried to play it out long term.
Maybe it’s sexual sin.
Maybe it’s greed
It won’t work long term.
Here me, as a pastor who has met with many people who have “reaped a harvest of destruction” (in other words, their lives eventually feel apart because of their choices)
I assure you your good feelings you’re having right now because of sin won’t last.
It won’t last. It’s an illusion. It will crash down.
Trust God not sin.
Where is it in your life that you’ve been choosing sin lately because it feels better in the moment?
Or you think it will get you ahead in the short term?
Can you trust God when he tells you that planting sin in your life it will lead to a messy and painful harvest?
This is part of why we talking about “Fearing the Lord” as Christians.
We are to have a healthy fear and respect that if we live in ways that are contrary to what God has laid out for us…
…we should literally fear that it’s going to come crashing down…because it will.
And even for those cases where (at least to our outsider’s perspective) it doesn’t look like life came crashing down…
There is of course an eternal aspect to this as well.
There is a judgment day, where we will face eternal judgment for the sins we committed here on earth.
AHAB’S RESPONSE AND THE GOSPEL
So how does King Ahab respond to the Lord’s pronouncement of judgment on his sin?
(1 Kings 21:27-29) – NIV
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.”
Which is exactly what happened
Ahab’s son (who chose to live an evil life) was literally killed in Naboth’s vineyard (2 Kings 9)
But look at this. Look at this!
God says he is willing to have mercy on Ahab, one of the vilest of humans in the history of the world
Let’s think hard on this.
God is a God of Justice AND Love and this chapter explains it beautifully.
As we say here sometimes:
You are far more sinful than you ever dared believe, and yet far more loved by God than you ever dared imagine.
God takes sin seriously.
And we’ve largely forgotten that in America.
But God hates sin.
You may bristle at the statement, but trust me, a God who doesn’t hate sin is not a God you want to worship!
Biblical Scholar N.T. Wright speaks of the Biblical God of Justice and Love by saying this:
The Biblical doctrine of God's wrath is rooted in the doctrine of God as the good, wise and loving creator, who hates—yes, hates, and hates implacably—anything that spoils, defaces, distorts, or damages his beautiful creation, and in particular anything that does that to his image-bearing creatures. If God does not hate racial prejudice, he is neither good nor loving. If God is not wrathful at child abuse, he is neither good nor loving. -- N.T. Wright
In this passage, we see a God who takes sin seriously.
And when His justice is pronounced upon Ahab…and we almost root for it.
We find ourselves satisfied, like when the villain in the movie gets killed or thrown in jail.
God made you to want to hate sin and see it be rightfully punished.
God made you to understand and crave justice for the sinful!
But the great challenge of the human life is to see yourself in the way you see others.
That your sin also is deserving of God’s holy justice
Most people don’t want to go there.
We rationalize and brush off our sin instead.
But by doing so, we rob ourselves from understanding the depth of God’s love
See, the less you understand how much God hates sin, yes, even your sin, the less you will understand his depth of love for you.
Can you see it in Ahab?
Boy, does God HATE Ahab’s sin!
He is going to bring justice down upon him.
But then what happens?
Ahab humbles himself.
He’s completely torn up about it.
And what does God do?
Does He say, “Too late! You’ve sinned! My justice will rain down on you!”
No, God is willing to have mercy, on one of the worst humans to walk the face of the earth.
And that’s the same way God treats us:
We are far more sinful than we ever dared believe, and yet far more loved by God than we ever dared imagine.
Our sin is absolutely deserving of God’s holy punishment.
What we deserve is not heaven, it’s hell.
It’s justice for all of the wrong we’ve done.
And yet, God accomplished that justice not by automatically sending us all to hell, but by sending His Son to die on the cross.
Here we were “killing for vegetables…”
Maybe not literally…but we’ve spent much of our lives doing all sorts of things to get ahead in life, or feel more pleasure, or carve our own way…all for what?
What has it gotten us? Vegetables? Has it been worth it?
We’re killing for vegetables, deserving of absolutely nothing…
And God, in return….allows His own son to be killed for us.
To satisfy justice.
And so when we believe that Jesus died for us, taking the wrath of God upon Himself…in our place…
…We are forgiven.
God LOVES us so much that He’s willing to let His own Son die in our place.
That’s love…and justice.
Have you received that gift from God?
Have you asked God into your life?
Have you told Him that you believe that He died in your place…and that you want Him to be the Leader of your life?
You may be here today and feeling the weight of your sin, your mistakes.
And that’s real.
Sin is serious.
But so is God’s love.
And He’s calling you today to leave that life of sin, and to start walking with Him.
To let Him forgive you
If you’ve never received that forgiveness from God before and told him that you want to become His follower…a Christian.
That’s what a Christian means…a follower of Christ
I want you to think about it during this next song…
And if you need to give your life to Jesus today…
I’m going to ask you to respond after this song.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.