An Ancient Example of Injustice

1 Kings 21

1King Ahab had a palace in Jezreel, and near the palace was a vineyard owned by a man named Naboth. 2One day Ahab said to Naboth, “Since your vineyard is so convenient to the palace, I would like to buy it to use as a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or if you prefer, I will pay you for it.”

3But Naboth replied, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance that was passed down by my ancestors.” 4So Ahab went home angry and sullen because of Naboth’s answer. The king went to bed with his face to the wall and refused to eat!

5“What in the world is the matter?” his wife, Jezebel, asked him. “What has made you so upset that you are not eating?”

6“I asked Naboth to sell me his vineyard or to trade it, and he refused!” Ahab told her.

7“Are you the king of Israel or not?” Jezebel asked. “Get up and eat and don’t worry about it. I’ll get you Naboth’s vineyard!”

8So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal, and sent them to the elders and other leaders of the city where Naboth lived. 9In her letters she commanded: “Call the citizens together for fasting and prayer and give Naboth a place of honor. 10Find two scoundrels who will accuse him of cursing God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”

11So the elders and other leaders followed the instructions Jezebel had written in the letters. 12They called for a fast and put Naboth at a prominent place before the people. 13Then two scoundrels accused him before all the people of cursing God and the king. So he was dragged outside the city and stoned to death. 14The city officials then sent word to Jezebel, “Naboth has been stoned to death.”

15When Jezebel heard the news, she said to Ahab, “You know the vineyard Naboth wouldn’t sell you? Well, you can have it now! He’s dead!” 16So Ahab immediately went down to the vineyard to claim it.
(1 Kings 21:1-16, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

This story is a perfect illustration of how those who are in power can abuse that power for their own gain at the expense of those they are supposed to serve.

King Ahab, who is described in 1 Kings 16:30 as more evil than any of the Israelite kings who had come before him, decides he wants a vineyard that is close and convenient to his palace. When he approaches the owner (Naboth) to buy it, his offer is rejected, primarily because Naboth doesn’t want to release family-owned land that has been passed down via his ancestors.

When Ahab’s wife Jezebel finds out the reason why Ahab has been moping around, she takes matters into her own hands by enlisting the help of ruthless collaborators to accuse Naboth of a crime he didn’t commit so she could deceptively kill Naboth in a way that would seem legitimate and then take possession of the vineyard.

This kind of abuse of power doesn’t just happen in ancient monarchies but can happen even today in a democratic society like the United States, where cultural and political elites often get rich and wealthy at the expense of commoners.

A recent movie depicting this kind of scenario is the 2019 movie “Dark Waters” starring Mark Ruffalo. In the movie, DuPont, the biggest company and employer in the region, dumps their toxic waste in an area that ruins a man’s land and livestock.  Instead of owning their actions, facing consequences and paying restitution, they employ an army of lawyers to keep their actions secret and shield themselves from consequences.

Essentially, they know they are poisoning people but they do it anyway because there is a lot of profit in creating their teflon products.

This is what Ahab and Jezebel do – they kill Naboth in order to seize his land, all for their own selfish gain.

The truth is that this kind of behavior is not new. It’s been around since the dawn of time and continues to persist within the business and political culture. Of course the root of these actions is always selfishness in the form of greed and covetousness.

In our society today, there is a lot of talk about equity and justice and enacting laws that would punish those who act unjustly towards others. But while laws are necessary to curb evil, they are ultimately ineffective in eradicating evil. Laws simply cannot uncover every deceptive form of greed and abuse that people choose to hide.

The only real solution, as the Scriptures attest, is for people’s hearts to be renewed and aligned with God.

As followers of Christ, we should not be surprised that sin still exists and that people seem to find new and twisted ways to exploit others for their own selfish gains. We are called to seek justice for those who are disenfranchised and we should seek to enact laws to curb evil.

But we should also realize that apart from a heart transformation that only Jesus can provide, evil and injustice will not be eliminated until Jesus Himself returns and forces everyone to give an account for their actions.

Reflection

What are some examples of injustice and exploitation you see in our culture today?

What do you think are the root causes of some of the injustices and abuse of power that we still see today?  

Shows like Star Trek have portrayed future human civilizations as becoming enlightened and “evolved”, discarding their base selfish desires of greed and coveting in order to create a semi-utopian societal existence. Do you think this kind of utopian outcome is possible? Why or why not? 

What do you think would be required for injustices and abuse of power to really be eradicated? 

 

Photo by David from Pexels

 

Does the Existence of Evil Disprove God?

Psalm 75

1We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near. People everywhere tell of your mighty miracles.

2God says, “At the time I have planned, I will bring justice against the wicked.

3When the earth quakes and its people live in turmoil, I am the one who keeps its foundations firm.

Interlude

4“I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting!’ I told the wicked, ‘Don’t raise your fists!

5Don’t lift your fists in defiance at the heavens or speak with rebellious arrogance.’”

6For no one on earth—from east or west, or even from the wilderness—can raise another person up.

7It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall.

8For the LORD holds a cup in his hand; it is full of foaming wine mixed with spices. He pours the wine out in judgment, and all the wicked must drink it, draining it to the dregs.

9But as for me, I will always proclaim what God has done; I will sing praises to the God of Israel.

10For God says, “I will cut off the strength of the wicked, but I will increase the power of the godly.”

(Psalm 75:1-10, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

The biggest, most potent argument the atheist has against the existence of God is the presence of evil.

The atheist argument against the existence of God generally goes as follows:

    • If God exists, he is all-powerful and all-loving
    • An all-loving God would WANT to eradicate evil
    • An all-powerful God would BE ABLE to eradicate evil
    • Since evil is not eradicated then God must either not be all-loving or not be all-powerful
    • Therefore, an all-loving, all-powerful God doesn’t exist

This argument is logical and if the premises are true then the conclusion, which logically follows, must also be true.

But are the premises true?

Does it follow that because evil exists, then God must not be all-loving? Because evil exists, does that mean that God must not care about it?

Or does the fact that evil exists mean that God is unable to do anything about it? Does it mean that he’s not all-powerful but is instead an impotent deity? Or worse, an imaginary deity?

The problem with the argument above is really premise number four, and it’s exactly what Asaph, the psalmist, addresses in verse 2 of his psalm when he says:

God says, “At the time I have planned, I will bring justice against the wicked.

The fact that evil exists doesn’t mean that God is unable to deal with it, nor does it mean that God doesn’t WANT to deal with it. It only means that He hasn’t dealt with it YET. And in this psalm, we learn that God DOES have a time plan for dealing fully and completely with evil.

Why would God possibly delay in dealing fully and forcefully with evil?

One reason that God is waiting to fully and finally dealing with evil is PEOPLE.

If God were to bring about justice and completely eradicate evil now, Jesus would need to return and put an end to the current world system which promotes and perpetuates the evil we see and experience. And that would mean that all people would enter into immediate judgment. That means people would no longer have a chance to respond to the message of hope and forgiveness that is offered through Christ’s sacrificial death.

Peter, in his second letter, said it this way:

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:9, NLT)

There may be other unknown reasons God has for waiting to bring about ultimate justice. We simply cannot know everything about what God has planned or why He has planned it that way. One thing we know from reading the book of Job is that God is all-wise and He is infinitely more knowledgeable than we are. The idea that we could indict Him for what we think is some cosmic injustice when we really know next to nothing about God or the way the universe works is somewhat laughable. And yet, we, in our human arrogance, think we know more about fairness and justice than God does!

The presence of evil doesn’t mean God is unaware of it or unable to deal with it. It simply means that His plan for eliminating it hasn’t been fulfilled or fully enacted yet. This is exactly what the Scriptures tell us.

Furthermore, the presence of evil is an issue even for the atheist. It may seem like evil is an ironclad apologetic that disproves the existence of God but if you believe God doesn’t exist, you still have evil. Removing God doesn’t have the effect of removing evil. It only removes God as a factor in understanding evil.

How exactly are we to make sense of evil acts without the presence of God? What I mean by that is how does not believing in God make it easier to understand and cope with the existence of evil?

I don’t think evil can be explained or understood if you take God out of the picture. If God is removed, how does one explain the existence of evil? Where did it come from and how can we explain its ongoing presence?

The truth is evil seems to be on the rise in our world. There doesn’t seem to be a coherent explanation and solution to the problem of evil that doesn’t include God.

God DOES care about evil.

God WILL eradicate evil.

But He will do it in His timing, according to His ultimate plan, part of which includes, in His cosmic goodness, the patient delay of justice so that we might repent of our own evil deeds and turn to God for forgiveness and redemption!

Reflection

If you are Christian, or a believer in God, how have you previously understood and made sense of the presence of evil?

If you are an atheist, how do you explain the existence of evil? What is your solution for eradicating evil?

What are some reasons you think God might be delayed in dealing with evil and bringing about justice?

When we talk about evil, how do we even know what evil is? Whether you are a theist or an atheist, what is the standard by which you measure actions and are able to label them as evil or not?

 

Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova from Pexels