AGCC Sun. a.m. 1/24/99

#2

ďGRAPES OF WRATH!Ē

 

TEXT:         I Kings 21:1-29

 

INTRO:       We live in a society driven by passions.  It is amazingly ironic that at a time when our society has such a developed educational system and more and more people are getting higher degrees that we are still largely ruled by our emotions.

 

Evidence for this can be found at the highest levels of society, where leaders have submitted themselves to satisfying their own passions rather than living by godly principles.

 

We must be careful to remember to live by principles rather than just passion, failure to remember who we are and what we stand for can result in the loss of our witness.  It is so important to remember who and what we represent and guide the decisions we make based on the principles of that identification.

 

ILLUS:       George Shultz, when Secretary of State during the Reagan administration, kept a large globe in his office. When newly appointed ambassadors had an interview with him and when ambassadors returning from their posts for their first visit with him were leaving his office, Shultz would test them. He would say, "You have to go over to the globe and prove to me that you can identify your country." They would go over, spin the globe, and put their finger on the country to which sent -- unerringly.

When Shultz's old friend and former Senate majority leader Mike Mansfield was appointed ambassador to Japan, even he was put to the test. This time, however, Ambassador Mansfield spun the globe and put his hand on the United States. He said: "That's my country."

On June 27, 1993, Shultz related this to Brian Lamb on C-Span's "Booknotes." Said the secretary: "I've told that story, subsequently, to all the ambassadors going out.  'Never forget you're over there in that country, but your country is the United States.  You're there to represent us. Take care of our interests and never forget it, and you're representing the best country in the world.' "   -- Dr. Wallace Alcorn. From the files of Leadership.

 

PROP. SENT:         The Bible teaches us that we are to live by godly principles rather than be ruled by our passions.  Godís principles can lead us down a path of deliverance while great passions can lead us down a path of destruction.

 

I.      LIFE BY PRINCIPLES   21:1-3

 

A.   Reasonable   21:1-2

1.   King Ahab had a reasonable desire, and offered a reasonable deal to Naboth for a vineyard near his country palace.

a.   As reasonable as this deal was, it was contrary to Godís principles of land ownership under the Mosaic covenant!

b.   While land could be leased, it could not be removed from an Israelite familyís lineage through a permanent sale. 

c.   Though King Ahab could have leased the land, he could not take it by buying it or trading for it, Godís Word forbid this.

2.  It did not matter that King Ahab could give him a handsome price for it, it was contrary to Godís Word.

3.  It is tragic that the King had his passions above his principles!

 

          ILLUS:      The empty vessel makes the greatest sound.   William Shakespeare ( 1564-1616 )

 

a.   This is usually what gets us into trouble!

b.   It is the heart that makes a difference, like Paul who could be content in prison, but Ahab who could not be content in a palace! 

4.  Even when our passions are willing to be reasonable, if they violate Godís principles they are wrong!

 

B.   Righteous   21:3

1.   What a contrast Naboth is with Ahab, he refuses Ahabís reasonable offer based on Godís principles!

a.   He recalls the covenant provisions.

b.   Not even the King of Israel could live above the law of God!  (Still true!)

c.   Nabothís concern was not riches, it was righteousness!

2.  Notice the basis of Nabothís refusal for this reasonable offer begins with, ďThe LORD forbidÖĒ

a.   He was a man ruled by principle rather than passion.

 

ILLUS:     When Justin Armour was a rookie wide receiver with the Buffalo Bills, some veteran teammates invited him to a preseason party. Justin went, and couldn't believe what he saw: Gorgeous women everywhere, offering free sex to any of the guys who wanted it.   "It was the most eye-opening experience I've ever had," Justin says. "I had heard about things like this, but I was so naive. I got out of there as fast as I could!"

As a single Christian guy, Justin had committed to saving sex for marriage. To do so, he knows he's got to run from temptation.  "I'd rather not have my mind polluted by those things. Once you've been in a couple situations where's there's temptation, you learn how to avoid them and you don't go back."

                           Justin also calls his best friend and accountability partner, Steve Stenstrom.

"You need someone to hold you accountable for walking with Christ," says Justin. "Steve does that for me. He knows everything about my life, good and bad, and there's nothing he won't hold me accountable for."   -- Mark Moring, editor of Men of Integrity. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1.

 

b.   Naboth was refusing an earthly king to obey the heavenly king!

3.  There are many ďreasonableĒ offers the world can make today but they donít lead to righteousness.  Our call is first to righteousness!

4.  King Ahabís compromise with marrying a heathen princess named Jezebel drew his heart away from God to worship Baal.

a.   With God out of his life passions rather than principles began to take over.

b.   Ahab couldnít see the big picture anymore, only his immediate desires.

 

II.  LIFE BY PASSIONS    21:4-16

 

A.   Restless!    21:4-6

1.   Ahab still knew enough of Godís Word to know that Naboth was right, he couldnít seize the land or force him to sell it, but his sloppy commitments to God made his passions rule his emotions!

a.   He becomes sullen and sulks in bed because he canít get what he wants!

b.   The heart ruled by passion above principle is an empty and miserable heart!

2.  Ahab can only see his immediate desires above everything else, he has lost perspective on life and what is important!

a.   Here is a man sulking over a small tract of garden space though he owned two palaces and ruled the country with great wealth!

b.   Those ruled by passion instead of principle rarely see the big picture!

 

ILLUS:     A pig ate his fill of acorns under an oak tree and then started to root around the tree. A crow remarked, "You should not do this. If you lay bare the roots, the tree will wither and die." "Let it die," said the pig. "Who cares as long as there are acorns?"   --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 211.

 

3.   Symptoms of being ruled by passions above principle:

a.   Sulking and sullen to the point of not enjoying anything else in life.

b.   Lack of appetite over unfulfilled desire.

c.   Obsession with desire to the point that all other responsibilities are ignored.

d.   Happiness attached to the desire rather than the whole picture of life.

4.  Ahab was a basket case!  Failure to get this one thing he wanted left him in a state of complete dysfunction and loss of any joy, a perfect picture of one who is ruled by his passions rather than by principle.

 

B.   Ruthless    21:7-16

1.   Unfortunately, Ahabís wife Jezebel only encouraged his passions instead of calling him to principles!

a.   Most of us can hope that in those moments when we are ruled by our passions there is someone who cares enough to call us into accountability.

b.   If we surround our lives however with others who are ruled by their passions we are likely to get poor counsel at such times!

2.  Jezebel has no regard for Godís Word or Godís ways, she will enable Ahab to fulfill his desire no matter what!

a.   It may be that Ahab lets his wife do this so he doesnít himself directly disobey God, but he is just as guilty as her even if she does all the dirty work!

b.   Perhaps he hoped to use Jezebel as the excuse later.

3.  Ironically, Jezebel USES Godís Word to accomplish her deadly task!

a.   She knows the laws of God would require a crime like blasphemy in order to kill Naboth and that Godís Word required that there be at least 2 witnesses to prove the charge, so she USES Godís Word to satisfy her passions!

b.   There are people like this today too; they can find certain verses of Scripture to excuse their responsibilities to the Lord and His Church.

c.   Satan used Scripture in his temptations with Christ!

4.  It is so important the we donít justify our passions with Godís Word, but rather have our passions disciplined by Godís Word!

5.  Jezebel is ruthless in her plan to satisfy Ahab and her desires!

a.   The end results however will be misery and death to Ahab and her!

b.   Their choices will result in pain and loss for themselves, something they could have avoided!

c.   They could have leased the land according to Godís Word and things would have been very different, they instead invite misery by doing things their way instead of Godís.

 

ILLUS:     Pain is inevitable for all of us, but misery is optional.  -  Barbara Johnson

 

6.  Tragic results come from undisciplined passions!

 

III.  LEARNING BY PAIN   21:17-29

 

A.   Retribution    21:17-26

1.   Ahab is about to discover that God is aware of everything, and even as he is still in Nabothís vineyard celebrating the acquisition of his desire Elijah shows up with a message from God.

a.   And it is not a pleasant message!

b.   Ahabís disregard for a man who honored Godís Word meant a similar painful end for himself and Jezebel.

2.  Sin has a price-tag and this one would be high!

3.  Ahab could not claim any accident in what had happened, or transfer the guilt to Jezebel, he was fully responsible for what happened and in the same way he had Naboth and his sons killed in order to take the land from this family, his own life would be taken in a similar way and all his family cut off forever!

4.  It is not the accidents in life we should be afraid of, it is the poor choices we make and their consequences that are far more likely to strike our lives than the ďaccidentsĒ of life.

 

ILLUS:     Chances of your being killed by terrorists overseas: 1 in 650,000.   Chances of your being killed by Americans in Baltimore: 1 in 4,000.   Chances of your being aborted if you are in the womb of an American woman: 1 in 3.3.  -- What Are the Chances? by Bernard Siskin (Crown, 1989); U.S. Today, 1/26/89.  Leadership, Vol. 10, no. 4.

 

5.  Most of lifeís misery can be attached to the choices we have made that usually are based more in passion than principle!

 

B.   Repentance   21:27-29

1.   Evidently, the weight of punishment on Ahab did produce a momentary desire to refocus on God, amazingly enough, the man Ahab that only a verse or two earlier was declared ďvileĒ and a man ďwho sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LordĒ was actually broken by his sinfulness!

a.   The great God that we serve can be moved by real repentance!

b.   Ahabís sorrow appears genuine here, for God decides to delay the punishment to another generation since Ahab is sincere about his sorrow.

2.  Real godly sorrow can move us from under judgment to under grace.

3.  The proper response to mistakes can mean all the difference to the quality of our life!

 

ILLUS:    Relief pitching ace Donny Moore couldn't seem to resolve his anguish over losing an American League championship series game a few years ago. In a moment of total torment, he shot his wife and then shot himself.  Compare that with Dave Dravecky, who loses not only a game but a career, a livelihood, his pitching arm, and his shoulder. He is energetically rebuilding his life and looking forward to whatever tomorrow might bring.  -- Bill Hybels, "A Better Kind of Grieving," Preaching Today, Tape No. 108.

 

4.  That God was willing to dramatically alter his reactions to Ahab based on genuine repentance should be an encouraging sign to us.

a.   Even after mistakes, even after poor choices that were made from our passions ruling us, there is a place of forgiveness and healing, if we repent!

b.   Why experience the ďGrapes of WrathĒ when you can drink the sweet wine of His Spirit?

5.  Learn to live a life of principle based on Godís Word rather than float through life ruled by your passions.

 

CONCLUSION:   Ahab made a bad bargain; he traded peace of mind for a piece of property!  The Bible says, ďhe sold himself to do evil.Ē  It is easier to live by passions than it is to live by principles, but the end result will not be satisfying!  Instead of the refreshing fruit of the vine, Ahab only experienced the ďgrapes of wrath!Ē  What bargains are you making in life, good ones or bad ones?