O Troubler of Israel

It is a perpetual irony that those who defy God, compromise the truth and lead others with them into eternal destruction are always quick to throw verbal stones at those who side faithfully with the Lord, as if name-calling is some kind of compelling proof and the argument to end all arguments. Often, the Lord’s servants are prejudicially credited with being divisive, causing trouble or (O, how dare they!) being “unloving” because they will not roll over and placate compromise, innovation and outright sin. It is nothing new; Elijah got the same treatment.

Israel had long ignored God and their king was among the worst offenders. Influence by a disease of a wife, Jezebel, Ahab had managed to soil Israel to the degree that his bio read like a spiritual pariah, whose depth of depravity was matched only by the disgusting population that God had Israel to remove when they conquered the land of Canaan.

“But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up. And he behaved very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, who the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.” (1 Kings 21:25-26)

So, when Elijah went to meet Ahab for a showdown between God and Baal (a lopsided venture, to say the least), Ahab’s greeting is the epitome of irony: “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). Yes, Ahab was blaming Elijah, a faithful prophet of God, for creating the trouble in Israel that had, in actuality, been self-inflicted by Israel’s desertion of God, Ahab being the ringleader.

Elijah dealt with this “put-down” and shows us that, even though it is so tempting to match insult with insult, the best way to answer false accusations is with the truth; that’s how a child of God responds. What is brought to bear on the issue is the righteous judgment of God’s word in contrast to evil Ahab’s fruits of sin.

“I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals.” (1 Kings 18:18)

Elijah was following God, Ahab was not. No amount of name-calling, shame-shifting or finger-pointing can obscure the fact that Ahab was the problem. And, it works the same way today. Living a godly, Christian life and upholding the truth of God’s Word against those who have no respect for God’s authority will get you grief, but you are not alone. God encouraged Elijah: “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18).

Jeff Sweeten