Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 14 January 2016







By Jim Jordal


For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.                                                                                                                  I Tim. 6:10 (WEB)

First Kings 21:1-22 details how powerful King Ahab of Israel coveted a small vineyard owned by a landholder named Naboth. Ahab desired the land for a vegetable garden since it was adjacent to palace grounds. He offered either to purchase or trade for the land, but Naboth, citing inheritance strictures, refused. Thus deflated, Ahab returned in desolation to his palace, where he sought solace from Queen Jezebel (Yes, that one). Jezebel, even more wicked than Ahab, contrived a treacherous plot to gain the vineyard by proclaiming a ritual fast for elders and nobles of the city, seating Naboth there in a place of honor, then hiring two nefarious characters to publicly accuse him of treason. As was customary for suspected traitors, Naboth was stoned to death, allowing Jezebel to present Ahab with the coveted vineyard.

The time and place may be different, but the principles of greed and abuse of power remain the same today, as does the suffering of victims under the immense cloud of injustice and oppression that now engulfs the earth. When arrogant, powerful leaders can’t satisfy themselves legally, they often turn to treachery, deceit, and murder, as did Ahab and Jezebel, to satisfy their endless craving for increased power and riches.

If this sounds to you like what so often happens today, perhaps that’s because it is. No, the covetousness by powerful people isn’t for small holding like vineyards—it’s for whole corporations and industries, control over legislative bodies, access to presidents and rulers, monopoly power over vast natural resources, ever-increasing ability to manipulate global production and commerce, and personal wealth and trappings beyond imagination. Compared to this all-encompassing greed, Ahab’s covetousness was small potatoes.

But God, not willing that the royal pair should escape punishment for their duplicity, commissioned the prophet Elijah to express the Lord’s displeasure, promising that "in the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, there also shall dogs lick up your blood." The prophet also pronounced God’s judgment upon Ahab’s entire house because he had made Israel to sin, and upon Jezebel, who had instigated the evil plot.

What’s the moral or ethical difference between what Ahab and Jezebel did and what occurs now as rich, powerful multi-national corporations savage the poor of the earth in the name of ever-increasing growth and profits? And who besides a few prophets, some radicalized student groups, and various oppressed indigenous people even thinks to complain? Most of us just collect our dividends and interest payments in virtual ignorance of how much of this money is derived.

But it’s the principle of the thing that matters, isn’t it? So what can people be thinking when their greed destroys not only individuals and small groups such as farmers and artisans, but even entire nations? What arguments can powerful forces use to justify their trampling upon the poor of many nations?

Increased efficiency is the usual justification given for whatever perversions and dislocations come to light. But the problem with efficiency, as with so many major economic goals, is that it has no heart or feelings, nor does it value anything other than profit and loss. There is no personal side to the goal of efficiency. The easy answer is that human suffering under this system will be short and limited, and will tend to disappear as productive resources transfer to where they are most needed. This may be true of capital, which can flow around the earth with the stroke of a computer key; and possibly for some types of management, which can be computerized and readily distributed.  But what of workers and laborers, who cannot be easily uprooted because of cultural, familial, and legal issues?

As Ahab and Jezebel had no feelings for weak and insignificant Naboth, so do current political and economic forces have no feeling for the poor and oppressed. But there is Someone who cares. God says in Psalm 9:18 that "the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever." The call is that Christians everywhere join God in caring what happens to His creation, and lifting their voices in prayerful concern over the plight of the poor wherever they may be.