September 21, 2017

Who’s the Real Troublemaker?

By Andy Alexander

Several thousand years ago there was a drought in the Northern Kingdom of Israel that lasted for approximately three years (1 Kgs. 18:1). Before this drought began, God sent the prophet Elijah to King Ahab to foretell of this catastrophic event (1 Kgs. 17:1). The purpose for this drought and the ensuing contest on Mount Carmel between Elijah and the prophets of Baal was to prove to the people that Jehovah is the only true and living God (1 Kgs. 18:36-39). This miraculous manifestation had its desired effect on the people as they all fell on their faces and said, "The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God" (1 Kgs. 18:39).

There are many interesting lessons that can be gleaned from this particular story, but let's notice the reaction of Ahab to Elijah the prophet as he simply declared the truth to Ahab. In the third year of the drought God told Elijah to go and show himself to Ahab and Elijah faithfully and courageously followed God's instruction (1 Kgs. 18:1,17). Upon seeing Elijah, Ahab said, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" Notice that the individual who clearly taught the truth was blamed for all the trouble that was taking place in Israel. But, who was the real troublemaker of Israel?

If we go back to 1 Kings 16:29-33, we will discover that Ahab was the real troublemaker of Israel and Elijah was the friend of the Israelites because he was trying to show them the error of their sinful ways. Ahab had done "more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him" (1 Kgs. 16:33). He did this by introducing into Israel the false worship of Baal, a heathen religion in which his wicked wife Jezebel had been involved (1 Kgs. 16:3 1). Prior to this the people professed to worship the true God through the calves they had constructed at Dan and Bethel. This worship was not acceptable to God but King Ahab was now introducing them to a "new" god and setting it up as their national religion (1 Kgs. 12:26-13:6). This is the sin which brought about the terrible drought upon the people of the Northern Kingdom and it was all caused by their total rejection of the true God of Israel. The king as well as those who followed him in this evil idolatrous worship were to blame for the trouble then occurring in Israel because of the drought. Was Elijah their friend or foe in trying to turn them back to the true God by revealing the truth as God had delivered it to him?

The preaching of truth gives occasion for the real troublemaker, those upholding error, to rear their heads and come out in fierce opposition to the truth. The trouble is not with those who protest error by proclaiming the truth, but with those who uphold false doctrines. These false teachers are sometimes hard to recognize as they appear at times to be sheep or ministers of righteousness when, in reality, they are wolves in sheep's clothing or servants of Satan (Matt. 7:15-16; Acts 20:28-30; 2 Cor. 11: 13-15). So, Christians must constantly be on guard and "prove all things" as the apostle Paul taught the Thessalonians in his first epistle to them (5:21).

Christians are commanded to have authority for everything that they do and this authority is to come from Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17). Those who do not abide in this doctrine do not have God and neither do those who participate with them in their false doctrines (2 Jn. 9-11).

Consider the music that the Lord requires of those who follow him. He has given us a direct command to sing and make melody in our hearts (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). When we gather together and sing as he has commanded us, we are worshiping him in spirit and in truth and we are operating within his doctrine (Jn. 4:24; 2 Jn. 9). However, if we were to gather together and play an instrument as many denominations do, we would be operating outside the realm of his doctrine and our worship would not be acceptable (2 Jn. 9; Matt. 15:8-9). We would have rejected the authority of God and substituted what we thought God would accept. God has demonstrated over and over his displeasure at those who have done such things (Lev. 10:1-3; 2 Sam. 6:6-7). When we step outside the doctrine of Jesus Christ, no matter how small we may think it to be, we no longer have God (2 Jn. 9). This is a serious offence and those who are practicing and teaching things that cannot be supported with a "thus saith the Lord" should repent and turn to God. We are to think of no man or group of men above that which is written in the word of God (1 Cor. 4:6). That would include the pope, church councils, synods, conventions, or even the elders of a local congregation. Paul warned the Ephesian elders, ". . that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:29-30).

The greatest problem that we have is sin and the solution to that problem is the truth (Isa. 59:1-2; Jn. 8:31-32). The truth is the answer and not the problem for the troubles that exist today.

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 2, p. 41
January 18, 1990

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