Sermon / Rev. Lucas Andre Albrecht / March 1st 2017 - / 1 Kings 21:1-16, 9th and 10th Commandments, Ash Wednesday
Today`s sermon is adapted from a sermon, in a sermon series, written by Rev. Brent Kuhlmann for Concordia Pulpit Repources, which our Circuit selected for us to use in our Lenten services. The focus for our Wednessday evening Services, and for Holy Week and Easter, will be the 10 Commandements. For the opening of Lententide, in our Ash Wednesday Service, we will focus on the 9th and 10th Commandments.
“In the OT reading for today, we see his majesty King Ahab craving what he categorically CANNOT have. His coveting consumes him. He breaks the 9th and 10th commandments. What does his royal heart desire? Ahab desperately covets Naboth’s vineyard. Along the way Ahab breaks even more commandments as a result of his cravenous coveting.
But the king, even with all his royal power and authority, could not have what did not belong to him. And it was sinful to want it and try to get it even in a way that appeared right. Ahab goes home. To his bedroom. To pray? To repent? Not hardly. Like a spoiled brat he pouts on his bed. Frustrated and angry. Refuses to eat supper – not even his favorite foods. His wife, Jezebel the queen gets wind of what has happened and she gets the skinny from Ahab himself.
She’s taken aback. But she thinks quickly on her feet. “Honey, you’re the king. You should have anything you want. Chin up dear! Cheer up love! I’ll take care of it. I’ll get the vineyard for you. Wait and see!What a reward you’ll get!”
So Queen Jezebel schemes. Hatches a plan. It’s brilliant! Jezebel will set up Naboth. Frame him. Trump up false charges. She’ll get Naboth’s inheritance in a way that appears so right! So within the law! So God-pleasing! And Ahab goes along with the plan. He still covets the vineyard. He’ll take it any way he can get it now.
She writes letters in Ahab’s name. Puts the king’s seal on them. And the letters are sent to the all the big wigs of Naboth’s hometown, Jezreel. You’d think that the elders and nobles of Jezreel would know better. Naboth would never do that! So, there must have been immense corruption, pay offs and bribes going on in that city. The elders and nobles eagerly take part in this wicked, wicked plot. They actually carry out the order! The liars-for-hire passionately and under oath maintain that Naboth has committed unforgiveable crimes. Capital crimes. Punishable by death! “Naboth has cursed God and King Ahab!” they repeat over and over again under examination at the outdoor court.
Everyone in town is outraged. Anyone that curses both God and the king must suffer the consequences! No matter how well liked or respected. Cursing God and the king falls under the zero tolerance policy! Naboth must die! So, the Jezreelites surround Naboth. There’s no escape. Like summer thunderstorm, they chuck and launch rocks and stone him until he is dead, graveyard dead. As the law demands. And it appeared so God pleasing and so religious! Just as Jezebel planned!
The huge pool of blood from Naboth’s bashed-in brains and assaulted dead body had barely cooled when Ahab took possession of the coveted vineyard. And rightly so – it appeared. After all, Naboth had cursed God and the king! So Ahab had the legal right to take the vineyard now! Right?
No! Absolutely Not! You know the 9th and 10th commandments: You shall not covet your neighbor’s …Ahab coveted big time! Like all sin coveting is spiritually deadly. Coveting is a spiritual cancer that spreads unrelentingly. His coveting gave birth to more cancerous and deadly sin. Devious and well thought out lies (2nd Commandment). Outrageous slander and fanatical false testimony (8th Commandment). Theft (7th Commandment). Cold-blooded murder (5th Commandment) He did all this because he did not fear, love and trust in God above all things (1st Commandment)! Let’s not forget that Ahab was into idolatry big time! He worshipped many false gods and encouraged his people to do the same. No wonder he broke so many of the commandments and didn’t give a rip.
What about you? Do you think you’re any better than Ahab? You’re not. Really, we’re not! We’re sinners too. We covet just like he did. We scheme and plot too to get what you want. And we’d do anything to get what you want. Cheat, lie, steal. Even murder? Yes. Even murder. We may not do it with a gun or a knife but you do it with hate-filled words and an enraged and jealous heart. And just like Ahab we’d be sure to make it all look so right. Ahab’s story is our story. The Holy Spirit put this account is in the Bible in order to interpret us! With Ahab’s coveting and all the other horrific sin that flowed from it the Holy Spirit leads us to recognize our own sin in our own life.
God emphatically forbids coveting! No ifs, ands or buts! But you do it anyway. You covet like there’s no tomorrow. As if God doesn’t exist. Or as if God simply cannot be trusted to take care of you So, tonight is the night to repent. A Lenten repentance. Living in and from your baptism into Christ. And that means, unlike Ahab who wouldn’t do it, it’s time to confess that we truly are sinners and admit that we covet because we do not trust God.
So that, this Ash Wednesday, this Lenten and Eastertide, as well as all our life We HAVE GOOD USE OF … JESUS, the Savior of coveters. Jesus died for us Masters of Coveting. Here is the truth: all our coveting and all the other sin that flows from our coveting belongs to Jesus. He wrapped Himself up in all of it so that He was counted as the coveter, slanderer, thief, murderer and idolater par excellence and then He took all of its hellacious damnation upon Himself. That’s Good Friday. GOD FOR US! We are forgiven!
And with that – you now desire a gift or a treasure that Jesus says IS YOURS. That He wants you to have. Tonight. Every Sunday. The rest of your life. What’s that? His Body and Blood. Fruit from the vineyard and fruit from the cross! “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sin.” Your heart is content with such a promise! So that you also now want to help and be of service to your neighbor in keeping what belongs to him. Acting as a little Christ. Serving your neighbor in love. Amen.
(From: Concordia Pulpit Resources
Catechetical Sermon Series: The Ten Commandments
Summary of the Sermon “Commandments Nine and Ten”
by Rev. Brent Kuhlmann)