1 Kings Chapter 21: Naboth’s Vineyard, Elijah prophecies of Jezebel’s death

Dec 15th, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Kings, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Kings Chapter 21: Naboth’s Vineyard, Elijah prophecies of Jezebel’s death

 1 Kings 21:1 And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.

1 Kings 21:2 And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.

1 Kings 21:3 And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.

1 Kings 21:4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.

Ahab pouted like a child because Naboth refused to give him the vineyard.

Comment: Again Ahab was “heavy and displeased” or “vexed and sullen,” as stated in the RSV, but this time his reaction was for selfish reasons (compare 1 Kings 20:43).

Here we have a completely different situation, a separate episode, with Ahab (representing civil power), Jezebel (picturing Catholicism), Naboth’s vineyard, and eventually the appearance of Elijah, who prophesied after Naboth’s death.

What does Naboth’s vineyard represent? We are inclined to think it was the Lord’s vineyard before Constantine’s day because Naboth was betrayed and Jezebel was involved in the acquisition of his vineyard and death (verse 15). Naboth himself represents the Lord’s true people, who had custody of the vineyard. We are reminded of the vineyard in Song 1:6. Naboth was betrayed and slain as an individual. The Elijah picture commences in A.D. 539, the beginning of the 1,260 years, whereas the Naboth class existed earlier. Constantine called together various religious groups and took advice from pagan priests. The result was that Arius and his followers were considered heretics and lost their role as representatives of the Christian religion. Those who professed to be Christians after Constantine’s day were really the nominal Church, and true Christians became a distinct minority as time went on. They were persecuted and during the Dark Ages had to flee for their lives. In the beginning at our Lord’s First Advent, Christians were bona fide, and they more or less hewed to the line in the first (or Ephesus) stage of the Church. But little by little, the nominal (or man of sin) element developed in the Church and took over. In the eyes of the nations, those who were considered Christians held positions of prestige; they were recognized by the emperors and had large cathedrals. During that same period, true Christians had to flee, and they met in homes as little nobodies.

The Church started out as a woman clothed with the sun, but then a man-child was born who grew up to be the man of sin and was representative of the nominal Church. Thus the Lord’s vineyard was taken over, and the wheat field became a tare field. Stated another way, the vineyard went from Naboth to Ahab. Jezebel was very influential in causing this change.

Q: Certain elements of the Naboth type seem to be common with the experience of the feet members at the end of the age—the feast, the false witnesses, the accusation of blasphemer and traitor, and Naboth’s being put to death. Could Naboth also have an end-of-age fulfillment?

When the feet members are put to death, Jezebel will think she has taken over the vineyard.

A: Although the beast, dragon, and false prophet will be involved at the end of the age, we still believe Naboth is a picture of the earlier Church. We think a review is being given of the entire Gospel Age leading up to the time of the end because Papacy has already taken over the vineyard. What do we have today that would interest the nominal Church other than our being off the scene and not being a thorn in the flesh? The death of the antitypical Jezebel and Ahab will take place at the end of the age, but we think the sequence here is a different picture. Ahab coveted the vineyard of Naboth, and Constantine coveted the Christian religion, for he thought it would be a unifying power to his empire. Thus Constantine adopted Christianity as the official religion of the empire. He got the vineyard, as it were.

1 Kings 21:5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?

1 Kings 21:6 And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard.

1 Kings 21:7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.

1 Kings 21:8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.

1 Kings 21:9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:

1 Kings 21:10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.

1 Kings 21:11 And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them.

1 Kings 21:12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.

1 Kings 21:13 And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.

1 Kings 21:14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.

1 Kings 21:15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.

1 Kings 21:16 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

1 Kings 21:17 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

1 Kings 21:18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.

1 Kings 21:19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.

1 Kings 21:20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.

1 Kings 21:21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,

1 Kings 21:22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.

1 Kings 21:23 And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.

1 Kings 21:24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.

1 Kings 21:25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.

1 Kings 21:26 And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.

1 Kings 21:27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.

1 Kings 21:28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

1 Kings 21:29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.

Elijah was to give a message to Ahab, condemning the seizing of Naboth’s vineyard and telling the king his destiny. “Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.” In regard to his posterity, it was prophesied, “Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.” And of Jezebel, it was said, “The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.” From a historical standpoint, these prophecies led up to a future judgment to show the guilt of Ahab and Jezebel personally and a pending judgment upon what they represent. When Jezebel was slain by Jehu, he said, “This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel: And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel” (2 Kings 9:36,37). The destiny of Jezebel, as pronounced by Elijah earlier, was then fulfilled.

The point is that chapter 21 gives a history of the relationship of church and state as it existed from Constantine on, leading up to present circumstances, which will be covered by Micaiah the prophet in chapter 22. The Micaiah prophecy tells of a future coming battle, namely, World War III. Chapter 21 is not as difficult to understand as the preceding chapter. If chapter 20 is meant to be understood as a type, we trust the Lord will provide the understanding in due time. Thus chapter 21 reviews the guilt that has been building up and the responsibility of Ahab and Jezebel. Indeed the civil and religious powers have been wanting down through the Gospel Age.

Q: What is the time setting for verse 29? When did Ahab humble himself?

A: Ahab represents the civil powers. In the Holy Roman Empire, both the dragon and the beast ruled with a high hand. That arrangement ceased, but it will briefly reoccur, for Europe wants to be united as in its former days of glory. Today the persecutions of the past are forgotten, but there was a period of time after the French Revolution when many nations were aghast at what had been done in the name of God and country with man’s inhumanity to man. And so a desire for democracy has been fostered in Europe and westward. Thus, although there was a time when the civil powers were ashamed of what had happened, they have now chosen to be mum about the subject and do not want a review of history. As a result, the populace as a whole is quite ignorant of what took place in the past.

The dragon (civil power) will not die until the end of the Gospel Age. The dragon pursued the woman (the true Church) into the wilderness, but since it was not successful in eliminating her entirely, it made preparations to attack “the remnant of her seed”(Rev. 12:14-17). The dragon cast water out of its mouth with the intention of overwhelming and drowning her, but instead the earth drank up the water. The dragon was frustrated, and the woman survived. There was shame back there over what had been done, for the dreadful type of persecution was exposed.

No wonder people do not want to hear about the persecution and the history of the misdeeds, especially those of the Roman Catholic Church! Similarly, Germany would like to hide what its people did to the Jews in the Holocaust.

Q: Does Elijah represent the feet members in exposing Papacy’s sins?

A: That could be. The feet members will pick up what others have said to a certain extent.

Many Christians in past ages—the Elijah class—foresaw the doom of mystic Babylon and the powers that be, as well as their replacement with Messiah’s Kingdom. Should we get in a position of convenience and providence, we would do what Micaiah did; that is, we would have to speak out against the church-state union and say it is doomed. We will not want to join or have anything to do with the ecumenical movement because God’s Word condemns it. Thus the voice of the Elijah class has not been stilled but carries on, and as we get nearer the end of the age, some other things are beginning to be seen much more distinctly.

Q: We have tried to keep the Elijah type sequential, and the last date thus far is 1914-1918, when he was given a preview of coming events while in the cave. In 2 Kings 2, the account again picks up Elijah at the 1918 date at Gilgal. Therefore, wouldn’t Elijah here in 1 Kings 21 have to fit the 1914-1918 time slot too, lest this portion get out of sequence? If so, this would be a message in Pastor Russell’s day rather than in our day at the end of the Harvest.

A: We are still inclined to think, as expressed earlier, that Naboth represents Christians who suffered and died much earlier in the Gospel Age. The bloodguilt that was acquired by the civil and religious powers of the past yet needs to be requited.

Some Bible students of the past, under very hard circumstances and without having access to libraries, had a good understanding regarding the destiny of the nations and Papacy. Of course that knowledge is clearer today, for the light gets brighter and brighter. Generally speaking, the Elijah class has existed throughout the Gospel Age and has understood about Papacy for some time, for “Elias truly shall first come” (Matt. 17:11). Events at the end of Elijah’s life represent the feet members. The account in this twenty-first chapter is just an insertion: “And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it,” etc.



(1989-1991 Study)

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