Daily Scripture Passage: 2 Thessalonians 3:3

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2 Thessalonians 3:3 (ESV)

But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.

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Thoughts to Ponder from 1 Kings 21:1-16

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1 Kings 21:1-16 (ESV)

Naboth’s Vineyard

21 Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food.

But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?” And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” And Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city. And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. 10 And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” 11 And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, 12 they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. 13 And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”

15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16 And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

“Ahab went home disturbed and angry” (1 Kings 21:4)

Limits are a part of life. Games work only if everyone follows the rules. Chaos reigns in a society without laws. But how do you view limits in your life? It’s tempting to consider them as inconvenient impositions – as limits to our freedom that keep us from doing what we want. But today’s Scripture passage shows what can happen if there were no limits.

Ahab, king of Israel, wanted a vineyard that one of his subjects, Naboth, owned. But the Law of Moses decreed that God had given the land to the people of Israel, and it was not to be sold out of the family. This was so that no family could be shut out of the covenant by losing their ancestral inheritance. This was, after all, the land that God had promised to Abraham and his descendants forever. It was a very physical sign of their covenant with him, proof positive that they were his chosen, beloved people. But Ahab didn’t see it that way. All he could see was the convenience of having a vineyard located right next to his vegetable garden.

Since Naboth wasn’t free to sell the land, Ahab went away in a sulk. Queen Jezebel reminded Ahab that he was king: he could do whatever he wanted. Then, to prove her point, she took matters into her own hands and had Naboth murdered.

Two points stand out in today’s passage: First, how easy it can be to respond to limits the same way Ahab and Jezebel did! If we can’t get what we want, we sulk. If we can somehow disregard the limits, we go for it. Second, how challenging it can be to respond as Naboth did. He could have made a lot of money out of Ahab’s offer. He might have even suspected that his refusal to sell would have angered the queen. But he knew what God had commanded, and he stayed true.

Naboth respected the limits God placed on his people, and it cost him his life. We will probably not face martyrdom for our faith, but every day brings us the opportunity to “die” to ourselves so that Christ can live in us. Let’s trust him. Let’s embrace his limits as the life-giving protections that they are.

Lord, I trust you. Draw me closer to you through the limits in my life. Amen.

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