What We Should be Doing is Going into the Saloons
The Changing Face of the Public Ministry

All You Need to Know About Naboth—For Bible Students Who Aren’t Fussy

Distraught over violence in the Bible? Don’t be. It is history, not a grade school primer on being nice. Being nice is in there—it is even a main theme, but that doesn’t mean the book is not history documenting plenty of times when people were not nice.

Focus on cheery parts of the reading, such as this recent week’s account of Jezebel trying to make it hot for Naboth, a course of action that necessitates her finding some “good for nothing men.”  (1 Kings 21:10)

Close your eyes and trying to visualize the scene. Picture Jezebel taking out an ad in the classifieds: ”Help wanted: good for nothing men.” 

“Um—that would be me,” qualified applicants would reply.

WHAT!? Here I am assigned a #4 talk—one of those five-minute jobs. I spy it in the lineup from 2 months out and have it all written in my head. Then it’s pulled on account of the circuit assembly! After all that work! Well, they’re not going to get away with it! I’ll put it here.

It’s a quirky talk—I looked forward to working it—that ostensibly uses that account of Naboth framed by those slimeballs Ahab and Jezebel so they could steal his land and build an addition to their home—not an addition really, but an extension of their vineyard. But the theme of the talk has nothing to do with Naboth—he’s just there as a prop! The theme of the talk has to do with how we used to say ‘this is an antitype of that’ and we no longer do. Now we just say, ‘this reminds me of that.”

Antitypes were all the rage at one time. They were widely used, not just by Witnesses, but by many who studied the Bible with a view toward application. But—let’s face it—it’s a little presumptuous. How do you know that one thing is an antitype of another unless the scriptures explicitly say so? It’s just interpretation. On the other hand, you can always say ‘this reminds me of that.’ What! Is someone going to come along later and say it didn’t?

So my ‘this reminds me of that’ talk was going to consist of two stories, one just a few decades ago and one ancient. Naboth wouldn’t sell his land to the king because you weren’t supposed to—not permanently. At the king’s purchase offer, “Naboth said to Ahab: “It is unthinkable, from Jehovah’s standpoint, for me to give you the inheritance of my forefathers.” (1 Kings 21:3) So Jezebel and Ahab conspired to slander him and have him killed—apparently as a one-time antitypical forerunner (though we don’t do antitypes anymore) of Jesus, who was also slandered and killed for obedience to God!

Now—is there any modern-day example of someone who also wouldn’t sell his land? There is! Kodak wanted to buy up all the surrounding city blocks for parking, but here and there were stalwarts who wouldn’t sell. You’d drive through the area, all blacktopped, except for a few old houses with parking lot on the left, right, behind, and in front, the public street and then more parking!

“These people are so stubborn!” Sam (a Kodak employee) grumbled to the car group—and I was among them. “Kodak needs that property and offered good money, but these people are too stubborn to sell.” Then, upon further reflection, he added, “I’m stubborn. But these people are MORE stubborn!”

Now, you know how brothers love to razz each other. “No! YOU, Sam, stubborn??! No! Don’t be so hard on yourself! Not you! Stubborn? Never!”

Sam was the one of the most stubborn people ever to walk the planet. He loved everyone and everyone loved him—but he was stubborn, and when his son showed up to give the public talk—gasp! he looked just like his dad, though he never had growing up.

Now, what if I advanced the notion that Naboth was an antitype of Sam? You would apply to me that scripture some wise guy floated as the next possible year text: “‘Is everything all right? Why did this crazy man come to you?’ [Jehu] answered them: ‘You know that sort of man and his sort of talk.’”

But if I said Naboth’s experience reminded me of Sam? It obviously did or it wouldn’t be in the talk. That’s the difference between antitypes and ‘reminds me of’s. You get almost as much bang for the buck, with no downside in case your ‘antitype’ fizzles.

509398A6-47BC-447B-9427-2749FDD982B7Kodak is a mere shell of its former self. Kodak—the company that invented digital photography and then put it on the shelf as a curiosity that probably no one would ever care about—so busy were they raking in the dough from developing film. Kodak, the company that took to exploding its buildings rather than paying tax on them. Kodak—where there is no parking problem whatsoever today. The stubborn people were right not to sell! Where are they today?

Dead, no doubt. It’s probably the reason they wouldn’t sell—they were getting up there in years, had raised kids, made memories, lost drive to get up and go, and weren’t sure where they would go anyway. Ahab wants to buy their land to park his chariots? Tell him to forget it. He’ll be history soon enough.

 

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