The Troubler of Israel

“When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 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.”

1 Kings 18:17–18 (ESV)

God’s Word is a precious treasure in our life. Like any treasure His Word ought to be cared for and protected and ultimately shared. What does it mean to love and fear God and His Word more than man? What does it look like to root yourself so deeply on God’s Word and to listen so well to God’s Spirit that you are not swayed by the beliefs or the attempted persuasion of the people around you? The prophet Elijah provides a very relevant example of a man whom we might learn something from.

Elijah lived in tumultuous dangerous times. King Ahab, was a wicked & vile King who was married to an even more wicked and vile Queen, Jezebel. The culture and society of Israel underneath the leadership of Ahab and Jezebel deteriorated rapidly. They famously surrounded themselves with false prophets who refused to speak the words of God but rather spoke only that which was pleasing to Ahab’s ears. All, but Elijah. Elijah was a prophet who could not be bought with money or power. He simply treasured God’s Word and spoke God’s Word no matter the consequences.

In 1 Kings 18 the prophet Elijah is brought face to face with King Ahab. Before any dialogue takes place between the two men Ahab speaks a greeting. You can almost imagine the look of disgust that must have been on Ahab’s face as he said these words, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” Ahab already knew all about Elijah, and in his mind he saw Elijah as the problem in Israel. Elijah was a trouble-maker who would not conform to their culture’s swaying ideology. He was a trouble-maker because he was unwilling to compromise God’s Word no matter how harsh or hard it seemed. He was a trouble-maker because Elijah did not keep his faith in the God of the Bible hidden, but his faith moved daily through his mouth as he spoke and his hands as he loved.

What Ahab intended as a derogatory insult was in fact a Medal of Honor, a stamp of approval on the life of Elijah. Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10–12 (ESV)

As I reflect on Elijah’s Medal of Honor I can’t help but encourage us as a Church in our convictions on God and His Word. To be a follower of Christ is to run a different race than those around you. It is to be marked in every way as peculiar and different. This is not to say that we should go out seeking the persecution Jesus spoke of, but it is to say that the deeper we draw on the Lord and the more intimate we become with His Spirit and the greater clarity we gain on the the world and its fallen condition, the more the world will see you as a “troubler” and not a saint.

Do not be discouraged when this takes place, in fact rejoice, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” Are your convictions on God’s Word visible to the watching world? There is power in a life of conviction.

Written by Raef Chenery

I'm a pastor in Chicago at Park Community Church - South Loop. I'm a husband to my beautiful wife Sara and a dad to three sweet girls, Ruth, Joy, and Mira. I'm blessed to be surrounded by a number of men and women who love to think about the ways that our faith interacts with our culture. This blog is as much for me to get my thoughts in order, as it is for those who might benefit from it and engage in the conversations as well. I would love to get your feedback through the comments on each post.

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