On Kings chapter 21. Sometime later, there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to nave off the Desireite. The vineyard was in Israel, close to the place close to the palace of Ahab, King of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden since it is close to my palace. In exchange, I will give you a better vineyard.
Or if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it's worth. But Naboff replied, the Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors. So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboff, the Desiree Light, had said, I will not give the inheritance of my ancestors. He lay on his bed, socking, and refused to eat. His wife, Jezebel came in and asked him Why are you so sullen?
Why won't you eat? He answered her. Because I said to nave off the jezreelite, sell me your vineyard. Or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place. But he said, I will not give you my vineyard.
Jezebel, his wife said, is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat, cheer up. I'll get you the vineyard of Neighbor off the Desiree Light. So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboff City with him. In those letters, she wrote, proclaim a day of fasting and give Naboff a prominent seat among the people, but put 2 scoundrels opposite him.
And get them to bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king, then take him out and stone him to death. So the elders and nobles who lived in Naval City did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. They proclaimed a fast and seated Nabov in a prominent place among the people. Then 2 scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboff before the people saying, Naboff has cursed both God and the king. So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death, then they sent word to Jezebel.
Naboth has been stoned to death As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth to Jezreelike, that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead. When they have heard that Naboth was dead, He got up and went down to take possession of Nabov's vineyard. Then the word of the lord came to Elijah the tishbite Go down to meet Ahab King of Israel who rules in Sumeria. He is now in Naboff's vineyard.
Where he has gone to take possession of it. Say to him, this is what the Lord says. Have you not murdered a man and seized his property? Then say to him, this is what the Lord says in the place where dogs licked up Naboff's blood bugs will lick up your blood. Yes, yours.
Ahab said to Elijah, so you have found me my enemy. I have found you, he answered. Because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. He says, I'm going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off Ahab from Ahab every last mail in Israel.
Slable free. I will make your house like that of Jereboean, son of me Nebakt. And of that of Basha, son of a hijjah. Because you have aroused my anger and have and have caused Israel to sin. And also, concern in Jezebel, the Lord says, dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.
Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city and the birds will feed on those who die in the country. There was never anyone like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols like the Amorites, the Lord drove out before Israel. When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the tishbite. Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day. But I will bring it on his house in the days of his son. Thanks, Dane, for reading that passage.
And a very warm welcome to all of you who are joining in today, whether you're members of Cornerstone or your guests who've just tuned in. This is a bit of a strange halfway house for us. Because we haven't quite gone back to our full prerecorded pink room package that we used to produce in the first lockdown, but we're not in our bubble them. And so we're not able to lead and speak to you all here, which we were really, really enjoying. But this is the situation that we're in.
And thanks to God, we've developed live stream capabilities, and so we're able to run the service. And from a from from your angle, from home, perhaps it doesn't look that that different at all. And we're still thankful because we can gather here around the word of God. And even though we feel bound, the word of God is not bound, and we can listen to what he has to say to us this morning. So welcome to you.
And let's begin by praying before we get into 1 king's 21. This is this is a series that we've been doing not so much in the book of 1 kings, but we've been following the story of Elijah as it's told to us in 1 king. So that's why we're we're jumping around a little bit, and we're here in chapter 21. So let's let's pray together. Heavenly father, we do want to thank you and praise you that you are a speaking God.
And that you love and delight to reveal yourself. We thank you that you have not remained distant and hidden that you have not left it up to us to create you in our image, to try to decide what might be true of you, to try to fumble around in the dark searching for something that could possibly be true, that you have gone to great lengths to show yourself to us and to reveal yourself to us. We thank you that in Jesus, we see the fullness of the deity. We thank you that Jesus is seen in the scriptures. And we pray that as we open up this ancient story which which reeks of oppression and cruelty and injustice that you would help us to see the sort of God that you are, how you respond to that, what you love, and what you hate, and that you would teach us things We pray lord that you would help us all wherever we are to to rid ourselves of distractions.
Lord, we're in an age where we we have hundreds of screens all around us at our fingertips. There will there will no doubt be jobs that need doing in our homes and things we're thinking about. But father, in these next minutes, be be kind to us and help us to focus so that we can listen to what you're saying. And we ask it in Jesus' name, amen. Well, let me begin by asking you a question.
What makes a nation successful? What makes a nation successful. And the truth is there are lots of different ways that we could answer question. So you might instinctively think of the economy and the value of goods and services and the GDP and the quality of life and how much people earn as 1 measure of success, or you might talk about resilience. And the ability to withstand attacks and to be stable so that you don't just exist at 1 snap shot in time, but for centuries and centuries and centuries.
That could be a successful nation. Or you might think in military terms, you know, that's how many rulers around the world think. You know, if you look at North Korea, you know, it's the size of the missile and the quality of the parade. Which is the signal of strength, isn't it? We are we are successful because we've got a great army and and we've got military military power.
There's some of the measures that we might we might think of. And that is what a lot of the old testament kings believed. So right at the beginning of this series. We had a look at Omry, and we've been following Ahab more closely. And to their mind, that was certainly the sort of thing by which they evaluated themselves, you know, military power allegiances with foreign powers trade, gold goods coming in, that's how they thought they were going to be successful.
And you might argue that very little has changed. In the centuries that have passed since then. And, of course, it is true that none of those things are are unimportant. Really. But if we then ask another question, what makes a nation successful in God's eyes?
How does God evaluate the success of a the success of a nation? Well, that's an altogether different question. And there are lots of ways that we could, again, answer that 1, and and loyalty to him would be would be the main central thing. But flowing from that, is how a nation cares for the vulnerable. So have a look at Psalm 72.
This is Solomon, who was 1 of God's kings, and this is what he says, Psalm 72 verse 11, may all kings bow down to God's king, he's talking about, and all nations serve him for he will deliver the needy who cry out The afflicted who have no 1 to help, he will take pity on the weak and the needy, and he will save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence for precious is their blood in his sight. It's a very interesting measure of success, isn't it? And the question is, what is it that makes this king great? Why do other kings and nations bow down before him?
Because he cares for the weak. The blood of the oppressed is not worthless to him. It is precious to him. He is concerned about that. And so all the way throughout the bible, we see this relationship that when Yahweh is loved, there is concern for the oppressed.
When Yahweh is loved the weak matter. But when Yahweh is exchanged for idols, you find the opposite. When bail is loved, the weak sufferer. Because caring for the vulnerable is not what makes you strong in Bale's eyes. In Bale's eyes, it's it's it's shows of power.
It's chest thumping in public. It's it's it's taking from people, not giving to people. That's what makes you powerful. When idols are number 1 in your life. And there are many places that we could prove that, both ancient and modern But 1 king's 21 is perhaps the clearest place to see what idolatry looks like on the ground.
So let's, for a moment, forget bail when it comes to his temples and his altars. Forget Bale as the storm God and the rain gods, and let's ask what does Balism look like on the ground? What kind of society does it produce? How are the vulnerable treated when Bale is lord? That is the focus of of this passage today.
Now it's worth knowing that just before we get into this story back in chapter 20, Ahab made another very bad call. His life has been marked by poor decisions, and in chapter 20, he made another poor decision. Instead of killing a foreign king who was attacking God's people, as the Lord had told him to, to to to to rid this king, to kill this king, Ahab thought it would be a better idea to make a trade deal with him and to show kindness to him in order to make himself a bit more prosperous. And the Lord was not pleased about that. The Lord came and spoke to him through the mouth of another prophet and this is what we find at the end of the chapter, 1 kings 20 verse 42.
The prophet said to the king, this is what the Lord says. You have set free a man that I had determined should die. Therefore, it is your life for his life your people for his people. Solid and angry, the king of Israel went back to his palace in Sumaria. And the question is, what did he go back to do?
Did he go back to mull over the words of the prophet? Did he go back to plan his repentance? Did he go back to humble himself before the lord? No. Have a look at what he does in verse 1.
Sometime later, there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to nave off the Desireite. The vineyard was in Desire, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboff, let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden. Since it is also close to my palace, In exchange, I will give you a better vineyard, or if you prefer I will pay you whatever it is worth. And this is the first point this morning, Ahab it finds himself in a sorry situation.
He has just been told by a prophet that he is gonna be cursed for disobeying the word of the Lord What does he go back to do? He goes looking for a new allotment. That's that's what he does. He he is unable to grasp the weightiness of his situation. And you might even say that his own sin is driving him mad.
He has lost touch with reality. He cannot see what is important. He goes looking for a vegetable patch. After just being cursed by a prophet of the Lord. That's the kind of thing we see with Ahab.
But then what about this character, Naboth? Because from 1 angle, he makes a strange decision, doesn't he? So here is the king wanting his vineyard as a vegetable patch, and Neboff can basically name his price. Connie, he can charge whatever he wants. He can he can inflate it by 10 times, or or he could, you know, get a new vineyard.
Ahab could probably give him the best 1 in town. Either way, he can go into Ahab's good books very easily here. There's no obvious catch for him. But Naboth does not do business under the sun. Yahweh matters to him.
Yahweh matters to what he does with his land. Look what he says in verse 3. The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors. And that is a theologically rich answer. Naboth knows that redemption and land belong together.
This is not just soil and wine or vegetables and fences, This is an inheritance from his Lord. This is a fruit of their redemption, This was a gift from a Savior God to remind them that this family was redeemed of the Lord, It was a gift to his family from a gracious God. To Ahab, that literally means nothing. It's just money and vegetables and wine and power, and it happens to be close to his palace, so it would make a good next expansion project. That's all he thinks about.
But to naboth, this is a gift from a redeeming God. Yahweh forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors. But you see that puts Ahab in a bit of a pickle because he really wants it. And so secondly, after this sorry situation, we have a sickening solution. I was reading a story this week about a music teacher in the 18 hundreds called Mary Heaton.
1 of her pupils, she was she was a music tutor. 1 of her pupils was the daughter of a local vicar, And the vicar had been sending his daughter to Mary Heaton in order to learn learn how to play music. And the the distressing was that the vicar was refusing to pay for these lessons. So he was assuming that she would do it free of charge and was was unwilling to to to to pay. And 1 day, she decided that she was going to challenge the vicar over this unpaid bill, and she did it quite publicly.
She did it in church, And she she stood up, and she said to the vicar, look, this is this is all a sham, this is all a show. You refused to pay for my services. You're you're ripping me off. And for that challenge, the vicar had her sectioned. So in 18 37, Mary Heaton was declared to be insane at the word of a vicar, and she was sent into an asylum.
Where she was subjected to all kinds of cruel therapies, and there was literally nothing wrong with her. She challenged this vicar over his unpaid bill, and he used his power to have her sectioned for what she'd done. And that tells us something about how power can be abused. You see, sulking and bitterness and grumpiness on their own are 1 thing, but when combined with power, they're deadly. When sulking and authority get together, oppression is often the result.
It is a lethal combination, grumpiness and lordship is very bad for the people, because it allows them to vent their own personal grievances upon their people and to oppress in order to get rid of their sulkiness. And let's be honest, we we sort of know that, don't we? How easy is it when we're feeling upset and we're sulking to use our position to punish. You know, we may not be kings and rulers, but we often use the little authority we do have in relationships to vent our sulkiness, don't we? To oppress people and to make them pay for causing us to be upset.
Ahab works like that, sulkiness and power combine in him. The only problem for Ahab is that he's a bit too stupid to realize that, and so he needs Jezebel to give him the idea. Have a look at verse 5. Jezebel came in and asked him, why are you so sullen? Why won't you eat?
Verse 7. Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat. Cheer up. I'll get you this vineyard.
She's saying, Ahab stops sulking. Have you forgotten who you are? You're not a toddler, Ahab. You're the you're the lord of this land. Is this how you act as king of Israel?
Ahab you you are not under the law, you are the law. And so stop moping around combine your moping with your power and get what you want. So verse 8. Here's the solution. So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, placed his seal on them and sent to the elders and the nobles who lived in Naval City with him.
In those letters, she wrote, proclaim a day of fasting, and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people, but seat 2 scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the King, then take him out. And stone him to death. And perhaps the most disturbing thing about this plan is the apparent concern for justice. It would be more honest just to murder him, wouldn't it? Just to have him murdered just to organize a hit on him, But to fabricate this story, to pretend that they are interested in God's glory, to pretend that they care for justice in their land turns the stomach.
And although we haven't read it, as I said, there is an interesting contrast with chapter 20 here. Because in chapter 20, Ahab is very, very kind to a foreign king for the sake of a trade deal. But when it comes to his own people in chapter 1 21, he treats them like the scum of the earth. Naboth is not a king, or a ruler, or a noble. He has got nothing to offer.
No 1 is going to miss him. So frame him, kill him, cast him out, take his stuff, He doesn't matter. And what is so frightening about this is the way that everyone just goes along with it. You see that? There's no there's no voice of protest.
Nobody steps in that we know about. Nobody raises their hand and says, do you think we should do that? That doesn't sound very good. That doesn't sound right. It just runs like clockwork.
So the elders and the nobles who lived in Naboth City did, as Jezebel directed. And look, it's hard for us, isn't it? Knowing the story of the whole bible to read this without seeing Christ. In this story and the injustice that he suffered. Have a look at Matthew 26 verse 59.
The chief priests in the whole Sanhedron were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any Though many false witnesses came forward, finally, 2 came forward. How many scoundrels were there? In this story, there were 2 2 scoundrels. 2 of them, false evidence. A group of people who are really concerned God and with justice.
Jesus has stood in Naboth's position. And as he said, if this is how the head of the household is treated, how much more the members of this house? And not just in the killing at the extreme end, but the injustice, land being taken away rights being withdrawn, foreign aid being withheld from Christians, false accusations, For many Christians around the world, this is a daily reality that is inflicted upon them by the rulers of this age. And very often there is no 1 to speak up. Dale Ralph Davis won Bible commentator says, I haven't put it up there, afraid.
He says, this is the sort of treatment believers can expect from the rulers of this age. This is what balaism looks like on the ground. When Yairway is exchanged, the weak suffer. When Yairway is exchanged, God's people suffer. This is what idolatry produces on the ground.
But for God's people, here is the encouragement. If we belong to Jesus, we have an inheritance that can never be taken away. Have a look at 1 peter 1 verse 3 to 4. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade.
This inheritance is kept in heaven for you. Isn't that wonderful? Not even the strongest Ahab could snatch that from us. They might be able to take our rights and our land and our schools, even our lives, but they cannot take this inheritance, which has come with our salvation. They cannot take the fruit of our redemption, which is Christ himself.
He is kept in heaven. Safe and secure waiting for us, and no ruler, however powerful, can take that inheritance from us. It is safe with Jesus. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
So there's a sorry situation There's a sickening solution. And then thirdly, there's a severe sentencing. This is a severe sentencing. 1 of the saddest things about Mary Heaton's story is that she she never got justice. So after the vicar had put her away, she was in that asylum for 41 years, and she she never emerged again into the world.
18 37, she went in and she died aged 77 in 18 78, still there in the asylum. 41 years she spent there. There was nothing wrong with her She lived perhaps 1 of the best parts of her life and died for doing nothing. And If there is no God, we must simply cope with that. There is no day in court for Naboth.
There is no day in court for Mary Heaton, that's just it. But the bible tells us another story. In Romans 2, Paul says that there is a day coming when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ. God knows what is done in secret. He sees the nayboths of this world, and he is absolutely committed to justice, and Ahab is about to find that out the hard way.
Have a look at verse 17. Then the word of the lord came to Elijah the tishbite. Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel who rules in Sumaria. He is now in Nebov's vineyard, the the Lord knows where he is, where he has gone to take possession of it. In verse 20, when they meet Ahab said to Elijah, so you have found me my enemy.
I have found you, he answered, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. And later on, we're told that there was never anyone like Ahab who sold himself so completely into evil. Yes, with his idolatry, but also with everything that his idolatry produced, cruelty, and oppression. You see, maybe he thought he'd got away with this. You can imagine him thinking, Chezabel, that's actually a really good idea.
And everyone just went along with it. Nobody asked any questions. He's dead. I'm now in the vineyard. I've taken possession of it.
It's all run so smoothly, but then the word of the lord came to elijah the tishbite, to say, that God knows, and God sees, and God is aware of what you've done, and God knows the secret things of your heart and now he's going to call you to account. And as you can see in the passage, not only is Ahab gonna be judged But his wife, Jezebel, who is arguably twice the monster that he is, she is going to be judged. All of his descendants slavele free are gonna be wiped out. They are gonna be cast into the open They're gonna be eaten up by dogs and wild animals. And for lots of reasons, in the old testament, that's as bad as it gets.
No burial, no succession, wiped out and devoured by the unclean, forgotten from history. Yahweh will see that justice is done. But at this point, if we've been reading, you know, and following this story. We might say, well look, hold on a minute. If God if God is so concerned for justice, why didn't he step in earlier?
It's interesting question, isn't it? If God is so committed to doing right by the week, then why didn't he step in before he got stone to death. And the honest answer is, it's hard to know. Sometimes that would happen in the bible, and I'm sure a thousand times a day that does happen, the Lord steps in and rescues his people from from a maximum crime and injustice. I'm sure that happens every day.
But sometimes it doesn't. And we don't always know why things happen the way they do in this life. But what is absolutely certain is God's double commitment, first to his people and then to his justice. Dale Ralph Davis. We may wonder about the timing but the text remains an immense comfort.
The Naboth episode we can say is no guarantee of immunity only of justice. No guarantee of immunity only of justice. In Hebrew's to 4, we're told that nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Nothing. He is absolutely committed to his people.
He is absolutely committed to truth. He is absolutely committed to justice. And he will see to it that his chosen ones who cry out day and night will receive justice in the end. He has not forgotten. He has not missed a trick.
He sees, and he knows, and the secret things will be judged. Maybe not in this life, but 1 day, God will see to it because he's so committed to justice. And so lastly, the severe sentencing, and then the surprising shift Last point, the surprising shift. Now throughout this series Elijah has been like a been like a conscience for Ahab. You might imagine him as a conscience for Ahab.
He's been showing up at crucial points whispering into his ear and nagging at his soul and saying, don't ignore Yairway. This is what Yairway says. Don't make the mistake. Don't turn away. It's a it's been a bit like a kind of Saul and Samuel situation or a more positive illustration, a David and Nathan situation, often a prophet acts as the conscience of the king, and he's been bringing the word of God.
But all along Ahab and Jezebel have been doing their level best to suppress the voice of their conscience until now. Verse 27. When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly. Then the word of the lord came to elijah the tishbite Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me?
Because he has humbled himself. I will not bring this disaster in his day but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son. And I think it's pretty hard to know what to make of this. Because from 1 angle, it looks like genuine repentance. The classic signs of repentance are there, the fasting, and the sackcloth and the prayer and the humility.
And when you read other stories in the Old Testament, you discover that God will sometimes delay his judgment in the face of true repentance. So you think of a hezekiah, situation, or you think of a nineveh situation, there was genuine repentance, and the Lord delayed for a generation. The judgment that he would bring. So I think there has been some kind of change in Ahab but could we call it repentance? And in the end, I don't I'm not persuaded that it is.
For 2 reasons. Firstly, Ahab is it really is like a toddler. He he is prone to emotional over the top reactions that lack truth and understanding. So we had this week, a bit of a drama at bath time, because Caleb decided that he wanted to eat toothpaste out of the tube. So he got a colgate toothpaste and put it in his mouth, claiming that he wants to smell it.
But actually, what he wanted to do is to squeeze the toothpaste up into his mouth. And we saw that he was doing that, and we told him that he shouldn't do that, and he ran to the end of the corridor, threw himself onto the floor, buried his face into the carpet, and the carpet fibers were soaking up his tears. For the next 10 minutes. He was totally broken because he wasn't allowed to eat colgate from the tube on on mass. And I saw that as I was preparing this sermon, and I thought I think Ahab may do something similar.
He is an emotionally unstable person who does not respond appropriately to correct situations. He's been cursed by a prophet of a God and he goes looking for an allotment. That he's not clear on how to respond properly to things. So it wouldn't surprise me if this was just an emotional, oh, where is me? You know, quick.
You know, what do I do? But the main reason I'm persuaded it's not repentance is because in chapter 22, which you must read because it is such a great story, He he yet again hardens himself against the word of God and refuses to listen. And so, yes, the message of judgment has shocked him into action, but it's probably more like remorse. Than true repentance. So maybe not such a surprising shift after all.
But with that said, what shines through at the end of this story is God's willingness to have mercy on him. Do you do you notice how how excited God is about grace. You see what he says in verse 28, then the word of the Lord came to elijah the tishbite. Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me. He's like, wow.
You know, this is amazing. This is some sort of change in, if he seems to be responding in some sense, and it is amazing, isn't it? That in the face of such evil, and cruelty, and oppression, God is still enthusiastic about mercy. Have a look at Ezekiel 33. This is the kind of god we see.
As surely as I live declares the sovereign lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live turn, turn from your evil ways. Why will you die people of Israel? That's the point, isn't it? Whatever really became of Ahab in his heart, God is passionate about mercy. He loves to forgive notorious sinners, to make an example of their of grace.
Doesn't Paul say, you know, he had mercy on me, the chief of sinners. He loves to save the chief of sinners. If they will turn and live. That is the very reason that Jesus came. So that whoever believes in him may not perish, but have everlasting life.
God is passionate about mercy to great sinners. And that is good news for us, isn't it? Because we are all great sinners. Like Ahab, We have embraced idles. Like Ahab, we get sulky and we get grumpy and we can be so very cruel to each other, can't we?
We can talk a good talk about justice But how cruel can we be to people when it comes to our own relationships? And yet, God loves to forgive, and he is ready to have mercy on us. And even if they have never truly got that by God's grace, we can. We can turn to him. We can escape his judgement, and we can find a forgiven life in Jesus, who is our great Naboth.
Let's bow our heads and pray to him. Heavenly father, we do want to thank you that you are a God who loves justice. And who loves righteousness and who is passionate about the oppressed and the vulnerable. And who is so very passionate about his people. Lord, we only hear about a tiny fraction of the injustices that go on against your people around this world.
And Lord, sometimes they may never ever get justice in this life. But we thank you that this passage tells us that you are so very committed to your people and that you will see that justice is done. There is a day coming when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ. You will see to it that wrongs are put right. And lord, we thank you that in the injustices that your people face, that is a rock of confidence and assurance for them.
And Lord, we thank you so much for Jesus, who, himself, went through the sham trial. Who had the scoundrels laying false evidence at his feet, who was taken outside of the city and was destroyed upon a cross. And lord, we thank you that in that is our forgiveness. Thank you that you are passionate about forgiving sinners like us. Thank you that you do love to have mercy on even the worst of sinners.
And we thank you for how that does shine through in this story. So thank you for being our teacher this morning, and we pray that you would help us to take these lessons into the week. In Jesus' name, amen.