Are we living in troubled times? Yes, but it is not new.The author of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, once said, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, ESV)
I was reminded of this verse when I read the story of Ahab and Elijah from 1 Kings this morning. Elijah stood firm for the Lord. He opposed the false teachers and their sinful behavior. He did this by proclaiming the truth. As a prophet of God, he spoke the Word of God and many did not receive it well, including the evil rulers of Israel.
King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, the rulers of Israel, were wicked and they promoted idol worship. They had led Israel down a sinful path and God was angry. God sent Elijah with a specific message for Ahab. There will be no rain in Israel for three years. This was a serious proclamation because drought would cause famine and result in political unrest.
Elijah did nothing more than declare the truth, based on the Word of God. The declaration said unless God says it will rain, it won’t. By predicting the famine in this way, Elijah exalted God above the false gods, above leaders and authority, and above His creation. He made it clear that no false God or king could control what belonged to God.
Ahab became very upset about this declaration, but instead of directing his anger toward God, he became furious with Elijah the man who seemed to be in the center of the conflict. My explanation for this is that Ahab did not believe in God so he directed his anger toward Elijah, who he knew existed. Ahab and Jezebel threatened Elijah with death, but God protected him.
Three years later, Elijah meets up with Ahab. “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)
This situation is so similar to the world today. Nothing is new under the sun. What has been done will be done again. Elijah’s situation is not uncommon today. God’s people continue to proclaim the truth of God to an angry world who does not acknowledge His authority, power, or existence. Since they cannot display their anger towards a God they do not believe in, they hurl threats and insults at the messenger. They refuse to take responsibility for their sin and they attempt to blame shift.
But like Elijah we must stand firm. We must not back down or take responsibility for the sins of others. Their own choice to dismiss God’s truth is what brings consequences for their sin. Our declaration of truth does not cause trouble, it only states the obvious, sin brings pain, suffering, and death.
A paraphrase of 1 Kings 18:18 helped me to find my voice in the midst of a blame shifting culture. “I have not troubled you by stating the Truth of God. I am not intolerant, angry, mean or bigoted. It is you and the culture that you espouse that has brought the trouble because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed a false god of your own creation.”