Ahab was the king of Israel. Wealth and power enabled him to do whatever he chose, and his lovely heathen wife reminded him of this fact. She asked rhetorically, “Do you now govern Israel?” (1 Kings 21:7).
To the tyrant’s disgrace, he coveted Naboth’s vineyard. He put his face to the wall and would not eat when Naboth refused to relinquish his property. Moved by his royal pout, the evil queen of Israel conspired to murder Naboth and steal his family’s land.
They were no strangers to murder. Prior to this, when the princess of Tyre wed Omri’s wicked son, she brought with her the abominations of Phonecia. Baal worship became the state-sponsored religion of the Northern Kingdom, and God’s prophets were slaughtered by the hundreds. This diabolical couple conceived a wicked legacy that rivaled none other in Israelite history. Although they were warned by Elijah the prophet, they refused to abort their evil ways, even after the Mount Carmel debate.
Ahab and Jezebel’s pro-evil choices were not without consequences —neither for themselves nor the nation. As Ahab strolled through his newly acquired real estate, he was confronted by Elijah on God’s behalf. Elijah addressed the core of the matter: “You have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord” (1 Kings 21:20).
There is nothing more abhorrent than the murder of innocent life. How revolting it is when such life is not only truly innocent, but also helpless. Naboth, in contrast to the power of Ahab and Jezebel, was absolutely helpless. Because they could, they did. They were pro-choice about doing whatever they wanted to do, regardless of the ethics involved or the suffering it brought upon others. With abject selfishness, they exercised their power of choice, but the volition to do evil is not free from divine judgment.
Judgment for Ahab would be delayed. But judgment delayed did not mean the absence of punishment. Elijah promised what God had disclosed. “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your [Ahab’s] own blood” (1 Kings 21:19).
Of Jezebel, the man of God reported, “The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel” (1 Kings 21:23). And of their offspring, God decreed complete annihilation, for Ahab “made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 21:21-24).
Ahab’s sin involved murder. What does God think about murder? After the violent world of Noah’s day was submerged in punishment, God placed the highest value on human life by mandating, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Gen. 9:6).
God’s estimate of human life is what matters. Is it alive? Is it human? If the answer to both questions is “yes,” then there is no man, king, queen, amendment, or court that can authorize the murder of that which is made in the image of God. God alone authorizes the taking of life, and execution is the divinely authorized punishment for those who murder.
Ahab sold his soul. He did profit from the killing. He got what he wanted. He possessed the vineyard. His “emotional distress” ended. He walked through the adjacent property, enjoying the fruit of his sin. But it cost him his life and his soul.
Others have sold themselves to do what is evil. Others have murdered for a price, advertising their wares as a service to the people. The calloused hand grabs a pair of cold forceps, takes hold of innocence, slices into the base of his skull, and sucks out his brains. The ancient rebuke of the prophet Amos echoes with renewed relevance:
“Thus says the Lord: For three transgressions of the Ammonites, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have ripped open pregnant women in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border” (Amos 1:13).
Yes, Ahab was pro-choice, which means he made decisions out of selfish interests with a complete disregard for morality. It was wrong for Ahab to kill for his own “emotional health,” and it is wrong for any man or woman to take an innocent human life today — prenatal or post.
When are we going to be nauseated by the immoral rhetoric? We must plead the cause of the innocent. We must defend the sanctity of human life.
For justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream (Amos 5:24).