When Ahab saw Elijah, he said to him, "Is that you, O troubler of Israel?"
I. THAT THE WICKED SEEK TO MALIGN THE GOOD.
1. Ahab accused Elijah.
(1) He assumed that all the horrors of the famine were the work of the prophet, and therefore sought to slay him. How many precious lives, in all ages, have been sacrificed to the theories of tyrants.
(2) This persecutor was terribly in earnest. He sought the prophet in Israel Then in neighbouring kingdoms. He even took an oath of the kingdoms that they did not shelter him. It were well for the world if men were as earnest in good as they are in evil.
(3) But God can hide His servants from the fury of their adversaries. In the solitudes of Cherith In the stir of Zarephath.
(4) Now Ahab accuses the prophet to his face. But see how his courage cools in the presence of the man of God. He frames his accusation mildly in the form of a question, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" Conscience makes tyrants tremble.
2. He found a pretext.
(1) Theorists can easily find pretexts for tyranny. Ahab seized upon Elijah's words (1 Kings 17:1), and drew his own inference.
(2) As these words were verified to the letter, the tyrant saw, or affected to see, his theory confirmed. This kind of reasoning is very common.
(3) Why did he not accuse God? Elijah acted as the servant of God. He feared to do this in form, though he did it in fact (see Proverbs 14:81; Matthew 10:40-42; Matthew 25:40, etc.; Acts 5:89; 9:1-15; Hebrews 6:10).
3. He had a motive.
(1) Why did not Ahab accuse himself? His conscience no doubt did this for him.
(2) But he could not afford publicly to bear the odium of having brought the miseries of the famine upon his people.
(3) Therefore he shifts the responsibility on to the shoulders of the prophet. How essentially does the spirit of the lie enter into all sin!
II. TRUTH COMES HOME IN DUE TIME.
1. Goodness will be vindicated.
(1) It may suffer long under the reproaches of liars. This is permitted because God is long suffering. He makes the trial a blessing to" those who are exercised thereby."
(2) But God is jealous for His servants. Therefore the triumphing of the wicked is but for a season. If the vindication takes not place in this world it certainly will in the next.
(3) Elijah had his opportunity. He repudiated the imputation of Ahab. Good men are true patriots. The trial on Carmel settled the question.
2. Sin will be shamed.
(1) Let it only be brought home, and it will cover the sinner with confusion.
(2) "Thou and thy father's house" have troubled Israel "in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord." Complicity in the sin of Jeroboam is specified here. This sin was a breach of the first and second commandments of the decalogue. It was also a forsaking of the Levitical law, which prescribed ceremonies that were but parodied in Ephraim. This offence was carried to its height in the statutes of the house of Ahab which were those of Omri (see Micah 6:16).
(3) "And thou hast followed Baalim." This was a sin introduced by Ahab himself, no doubt prompted by Jezebel The way of error is from bad to worse. Sin is the troubler of humanity. It invaded the tranquillity of Eden and broke it up. It brought down judgments of God upon individuals and communities. Upon Cain. Upon the antediluvians. Upon the cities of the plain. Upon Israel It has provoked wars, in whose wake came pestilences and famines. It troubles the abyss of hell. - J.A.M.
Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
(L. A. Banks, D. D.)
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