Sin does not come upon a nation suddenly. It is a slow process that creeps into the heart of a nation, like a malignancy that continues to grow and consume everything that is pure and just. If sin would show its true face, if disobedience would advertise the final outcome, there would be less compromise, and willful disobedience of God’s word in this world. Sin takes its time; it realizes that in order to corrupt the whole it must begin by corrupting a mere fragment of the whole.
The inevitable decline of a nation which gives itself over to sin has been documented throughout history. It always begins innocently enough, but given enough time unopposed, the descent into darkness is unavoidable. Soon enough what was perceived as sinful yesterday, becomes accepted practice in the present, and what is perceived as detestable in the present, will become common practice in the near future.
To most the decline of a nation is imperceptible. It comes about so slowly, that most write off the depravity, attributing it to progress, the expected shift in the perception of a certain generation due to its evolution in terms of civilization. There have always been however, the few who see moral decline in a nation for what it is, and though the present might not be all that bad, foresight gives them a glimpse into the near future. If one travels long enough on any given road, his final destination becomes a certainty. Foresight allows such men to see the end result of continued compromise, of willful disobedience, and compounded rejection of God’s love and mercy.
Elijah was such a man. He saw where Israel was headed, and his heart ached. He realized that their worshiping of idols, and rejection of God’s commandments would lead the nation that he so loved to a dark day of reckoning, and judgment.
The land was dry and barren, for it had not rained for three years and six months. God was pressing down upon His people, attempting to get their attention, but the more He pressed, the more rebellious they became. Although the prophecy had come to pass, that it would not rain in the land for some years, Jezebel was still thirsty for the blood of the prophets, and those who would not compromise their faith. Yes, Elijah had been right, but this did not deter the queen and her minions from hunting down the men of God and slaughtering them mercilessly.
Elijah was a hunted man. A great manhunt had been underway for some time, in an attempt to find him. Blinded by his own sin Ahab had sent men to neighboring nations and kingdoms looking for the man of God, asking the kings of the nations to swear an oath to him that Elijah had not been in their nation before he continued his search.
Things had gone from bad to worse, and now Ahab was preoccupied with finding grass for his horses and mules, so he wouldn’t have to kill them. The nation spiraled out of control, yet never considered that turning their hearts back to the God they had abandoned might be the remedy to all their troubles.
When a heart is hardened to the truth by the sin it has allowed to fester there, when it invites darkness and shuns the light, the most obvious answers to the most burning questions become illusive and unattainable. Sin had blinded the nation to the truth, and rather than repent, their blood lust against the prophets of God only heightened.
The time had come to make a stand, and prompted by the voice of God, Elijah met Obadiah, the man who was in charge of Ahab’s house, and asked him to pass a message on to Ahab. The message was simple, and straightforward, “go, tell your master, Elijah is here!”
It was to be God’s final attempt at reaching His people before outright judgment would be poured out, and God had chosen a vessel by which to fulfill His plans. When God speaks, we have no choice but to obey. Here was Elijah, eluding Ahab and his soldiers for over three years, hiding in caves, always on the run, when God speaks to him, telling him to go and see the man who wanted his blood. Being a servant of God most often requires that we spend much of the time outside of our comfort zones. It is certain that Elijah was not pleased concerning the fact that he was to meet with Ahab, but he knew that the One who sent him, would also ensure his safety.
The messages was relayed to Ahab, and the king went to meet with Elijah. Upon seeing him Ahab said to Elijah, “Is that you, o troubler of Israel?”
Obviously it was not the friendliest of greetings, but it allows us to see whom Ahab had been blaming for the lack of rain in the land all these years. Never did it cross his mind that rejection of the one true God may be to blame, in his mind it was Elijah’s fault. Ahab was now face to face with the guilty party, the one who had caused all these troubles to come upon Israel, and he would let him know as much.
One trait that all true men of God in the Bible are known for is their unwillingness to hold back the truth for fear of offending the party they are addressing. Here was Elijah, standing before the king of Israel, with absolutely no regard for his feelings, not willing to sugarcoat his reply to Ahab’s greeting even if it meant further angering the man.
In today’s society Christian leaders have developed a fondness for pulling their verbal punches, for watering down the message for fear of offending those who would hear it. If only they were willing to stand firm and unwavering for that which they believed, perhaps there wouldn’t be so much confusion, so many gray areas when it comes to the faith, to doctrine, and to teaching. Truth must be our banner, our standard, our cause and our mission, and though it is likely to offend some, it may serve to wake others from their slumber of indifference.
Elijah would not hold back the truth from Ahab’s ears, and in keeping with the tradition of those chosen men who came before him, Elijah’s reply to Ahab was somewhat brutal and to the point.
1 Kings 18:18, “And he (Elijah) answered, ‘I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and you have followed the Baals.”
Elijah’s reply to Ahab’s accusation of being the one who troubled Israel might have been as a hard slap to the face, but his reaction proves that it had the intended effect. When Elijah asked for all of Israel to be gathered on Mount Carmel, Ahab did not protest, but rather did as the man of God asked and gathered all of Israel, including the prophets of Baal.
Elijah’s victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel is another lesson in and of itself that I will reserve for another time. The lessons we were mean tot glean from this present article, are of themselves important for anyone who sees the nation’s descent into sin and depravity, for all those with God given foresight of where we are headed if we do not change course.
Silence is not an option when it comes to sin and compromise, especially within the house of God. It is due to the silent majority that sin is allowed to flourish, unabated and unchallenged.
The fear of many is that no one will listen, even if they speak, that no one will heed even if they warn. As true servants, as true disciples of Christ, we must overcome the fear, realizing that our only duty is to speak the truth. The listening and the heeding of truth is up to the individuals whom God brings across our path, our only duty is to open our mouths and be a witness. Long ago I realized I have no control over the hearts of men, or their reactions when it comes to the truth of God’s word. I however, must do my part that God may do His. It is God who pricks the heart, who stirs the conscience, and if one will heed, and if one will repent, a lifetime of preaching will have been worth it.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.