When I read the story of Naboth's vineyard, I was struck by the many sharp contrasts between King Ahab and King Jesus. Yesterday focused on how Ahab stole an inheritance instead of giving one away, but there's also beauty in "the rest of the story."
The story of Naboth's vineyard doesn't end like I would expect. After Ahab and Jezebel have committed their atrocious crime, God sends the prophet Elijah to declare His judgment. The surprising thing is, Ahab repents (at least in some superficial way). And God, as He always does toward the repentant, extends mercy.
Yesterday's post touched on the amazing difference between the way Ahab humbles himself and the way Jesus humbles Himself. Ahab's goal is self-preservation; Jesus' motivation is selfless love.
When Ahab put on sackcloth and went into mourning, God decreed that He would delay judgment, waiting to destroy Ahab's whole family until after Ahab was dead and gone. (This seems almost disingenuous at first, a kind of "superficial mercy," but it reflects the superficial nature of Ahab's repentance.) Jesus' humility went a whole lot deeper--He "humbled himself humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). And when He did so, God brought judgment on Jesus so that He would NOT have to destroy Jesus' brothers and fellow heirs.
My amazement only increases when I consider that Ahab saw just a taste of God's wrath. Jesus absorbed all of God's wrath in one fatal, unfathomable dose.
And then I marvel at the long-term results. What happened to Ahab and his house? They were utterly destroyed, just as Elijah predicted. Ahab had seventy sons, and a successive king killed every one of them, along with "all his great men and his close friends and his priests, until [King Jehu] left [Ahab] none remaining" (2 Kings 10:11). No lasting legacy for Ahab; no family line to continue long after he was dead and forgotten.
But what became of Jesus and His house? Two thousand years later, it stands, with the promise that it will grow and thrive for all eternity.
"As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: 'Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame'" (1 Peter 2:4-6).
"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19-22).
As we gather this weekend to worship our risen King, may we have eyes to see the beauty of His broken but enduring house, and hope to anticipate the day when she will be made new and perfect to enjoy His full presence forever!
[This post is part of the series "31 Days of Seeing Jesus"--click here for a list of all posts.]