Truly nothing’s new under the sun.
The land experiences famine and drought. Kingdom is ruled by an evil man Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel. The three-and-a-half years of drought followed by the coming rain was the work of Yahweh, the only true God. The drought was discipline for disobedience to God’s Word and the rain was the provision of His grace.
In 1 kings 18 Elijah receives a word from God “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” 2 So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe…” God was about to perform another miracle, but before a miracle can happen we must clean the house, our life’s.
16 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, 17 “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals”.
Ahab’s reaction and accusation illustrate a fundamental truth: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Pr. 23:7). Or as our Lord put it in Matthew, “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil” (Matt. 12:34-35).
The Hebrew verb (troubler) means “to disturb, stir up, cause trouble.” It was used of stirring up water. Elijah had been making waves! He was confronting the people with their sin, idolatry, vacillation and indifference to God’s Word and their calling as the people of God. Rather than having a witness to the nations, they had been conformed by the nations. Ex. 19:4-6
Oh how this scene has been repeated throughout history. Whenever people disturb our comfort zones, challenge our opinions, values, and sources of trust with the truth of God’s Word and His calling, we often react in resentment and self-denial. Then, as a protective mechanism, we label them as “troublers” rather than dealing with our own hearts.
There was no confession or repentance. Even after three-and-a-half years of famine, which was declared to be God’s judgment by the Word of the Prophet, there was still only cold rebellion and hostility. These years had demonstrated the impotence of Baal and the Baal prophets, yet Ahab still refused to turn to the Lord. He refused to confess his sin and instead used another strategy from his evil treasure or bag of tricks. He turned to the old game of casting blame, hoping to cover his own tracks and guilt.
In addition, 1 Kings 18:16-24 presents us with confrontation and conflict. We simply do not like that. Our natural tendency is to avoid confrontation and conflict. It’s so much easier to swim down stream or float with the tide than it is to confront issues, problems, or whatever may be causing conflict.
Confrontation is rarely painless, never easy, often rejected, and always risky. But in some conditions it is commanded by Scripture, illustrated in Scripture, and often essential to spiritual growth, godliness and biblical change. Of course, confrontation needs to be done according to biblical principles, in a biblical way, for biblical reasons, and out of right motives. We usually avoid it for selfish reasons–out of fear of the consequences to ourselves. Such a response is neither faith nor love. It is cowardice. It is pleasing ourselves rather than acting in faith and love. “Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy”. Pro 27:5-6
The prophets of old were often confrontational. They regularly faced people with their sins of independent living and called on them to face their need. The Lord Jesus and his apostles did the same. Remember, it was Jesus who called the Pharisees “hypocrites” and “white washed mausoleums.” He confronted the woman at the well with her adultery, Nicodemus with the emptiness of his religion, and Peter with his denials. Paul opposed Peter to his face for his religious duplicity mentioned in. Galatians 2:11-14
The Bible is not only confrontational but comforting. It not only confronts us with our self-centeredness, sin, rebellion, and independent ways, but it offers us grace, reconciliation, power, and many other blessings of the gospel given to bring forgiveness, designed to change us, and designed to lead us into God’s blessing and protection. Nevertheless, because of the hardness of our hearts, because we love darkness rather than light and are so committed to living by our self-protective solutions, we are sometimes faced with the need of confrontation, resistance and conflict.
Still, confrontation that challenges our commitment, our sources of happiness, significance, and security is essential and basic to the nature of the Word of God and the condition of men and women. Certainly, confrontation can be sinful depending on the method, the manner, and the motivation. When confrontation is biblical, however, it is a great act of love that demonstrates obedience to God and faith in Him regardless of the consequences.
Elijah continuous in the verse: 19 “Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table. So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long rwill you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 22Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”
25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.
36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to ithe brook Kishon and slaughtered them there”.
God dealt with the real issue that was stoping the blessing from coming and when He was done…a man exercised his faith to bring forth a miracle.
41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” 45 And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. 46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
Today is no different. When we are confronted by godly examples and biblical truth, rather than responding with repentance and belief, do we react with conflict and unbelief? Do we resort to our protective solutions and attack the messenger God has sent to protect and bless us? Heb. 13-17
God’s messenger may be a close friend, a parent, a husband or wife, an elder or deacon. But to the unrepentant and hard of heart, the messenger becomes a “troubler,” a disrupter of families and tradition. He is one who disturbs our comfort zones and as a result is often maligned, shunned, criticized and more.
What should be our response when facing such blame and accusations? Do we compromise the truth? Do we run and hide? Never!
Though outnumbered and facing the King of Israel, Elijah confronted him with the biblical facts and issues. This was not retaliation, but an act of courageous love for King Ahab and all concerned.
“I have not troubled Israel.” Note the boldness here. Elijah was standing before a king who was without any moral integrity. King Ahab hated him and Jezebel wanted him dead, yet there is no fear in Elijah’s words, only bold proclamation of the truth. How could he be so bold? What can we learn from this so we too can handle the false accusations of those to whom God has called us to minister?
Elijah had the boldness to confront because his confidence was in the Lord. He was an ambassador and servant of the King of Kings, the Sovereign of the universe, Yahweh Elohim, the One who holds all kings in His hand. Elijah was one who stood boldly aware of this as his comment in 18:15 demonstrates. As God’s ambassador and servant, he knew the truth of Psalm 118:6, “The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Or as Hebrews 13:6 puts it, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid, what shall man do to me?”
Elijah was counting on the fact no one could touch his life unless the Lord willed it and then, his loss would really be his gain Phil. 1:21-23. Like David, he knew his glory, reputation and significance likewise had to come from God, not people. “On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God” Psalm 62:7.
This gave the prophet boldness and courage. But there was another reason for his boldness and confidence–he was a man with a conscience void of offence. Though not sinless (as none of us are), he knew he had not compromised with Baalism. He had stood boldly against it and had been faithful to pray for the people. Faithfulness to the Lord gives us courage to minister and to confront from right motives. Remember Paul’s words in Galatians 6:1“You who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness …”
Elijah’s answer shows us it is not wrong to answer false accusations for the sake of protecting one’s ministry and promoting the truth. But by this denial, he was not simply trying to protect his ego or meet some need for praise and applause to feel good about himself. 1cor. 4:1-5
“But you and your father’s house have, …” Elijah could have said, you are the real troubler of Israel because of your licentious wife, because of your drunken, perverted, sexual orgies, because of your lack of justice and equity, and so on. All of these things were true. All were evil and often the prophets did preach against such evils, but they did so primarily as evidence or symptoms of a deeper spiritual problem. Elijah indicted Ahab and his father’s house for two things that stand to each other as root and fruit or cause and effect.
You have forsaken the commandments of the Lord.” In other words, you have ignored and rejected the Word of God. You have sought to live independently of God’s wisdom. This is always the root problem, the cause of all else–trusting in one’s own resources. King Ahab was living independently of God and His principles for life. This began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When we turn away from the Word and its careful application, we turn to our (or the world’s) solutions in an attempt to handle our fears, our loneliness, and our pain. Some people turn to materialism, some to the occult. Others turn to religion and ritualism. Some become workaholics and pursue the corporate ladder in search of position, power, and prestige. In the midst of all of this, people use their own defense and escape mechanisms to deal with rejection, fear, personality conflicts, family problems, and even our national problems.
All these futile attempts to handle life constitute independent living, living apart from faith in the Lord and His principles for life given to us in the Scripture.
All false routes to joy, … have one thing in common: they represent strategies for living that in some measure we can control. They do not require us to yield our core commitment to dependence. God’s message is consistent: utter dependency is the route to satisfaction.
Today if you were honest with yourself, what would you say? Are you an Ahab or an Elisha?
God clean this nation and this city of Calgary. Bring forth you rain of repentance and bring back the word of God in to our pulpits!
Larry J. Crabb, Understanding People, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1987