Who was really to blame for the problems in the Northern Kingdom? Was it the Prophet? And who’s to blame for the problems in our nation? Is it Democrats or Republicans? Or does the answer lie some place else?
1 Kings 17 & 18
1 Kings 17 & 18:
Troubler of Israel
Things were continuing their downhill slide in Israel, the northern part of the divided kingdom. You remember in chapter 16.30-33:
“… Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him … he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal … Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.”
Wow, what an indictment! Some of those other guys were pretty wicked, but God says Ahab was the worst!
And in chapter 17 God announced His judgment through the Prophet Elijah.
James 5.17 tells us that when Elijah prayed under God’s direction, it didn’t rain for three and a half years. But rather than looking to themselves, Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, blamed Elijah.
When Elijah showed up, Ahab called him the “troubler of Israel.” Elijah answered in 18.18:
“I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals.”
Troublers of America
It made me think about what goes on in politics today in our nation. Everyone wants to point the finger at someone or something else. It’s this policy and that one; the Democrats point to the Republicans; the Republicans to the Democrats; the poor to the rich, and on it goes.
But just as it was in ancient Israel, the real problem is us and our spiritual condition. God is not limited by what party is in office. Neither is He limited by a particular form of government. Remember God blessed the nation of Israel greatly under David and Solomon when the nation was a monarchy.
It’s not that democracy is wrong. Democracy is beneficial because it offers, not just the most political freedom, but the most freedom to worship and serve God. But if you read our founding documents for yourself (and not take the word of politicians and newscasters about what it says), you’ll see that our founders constantly reminded each other that God—the God of the Bible—had to be at the center if any government was to work long term!
So if we want to see things improve, instead of trying to figure out which party might benefit us more personally or putting the blame somewhere else, we need to remember that the blessing of God on our nation starts with us, individually, as well as, corporately.
Just as God used ravens and a poor widow to feed Elijah when the rest of the nation was suffering drought, famine and catastrophe, God can take care of each of us no matter what’s going on around us. And it’s righteousness and returning to God that will make our country strong again—morally, socially, internationally, financially, and in every other way. But sadly, just as with Ahab and the nation of Israel, we point to everything but the truth.
Magnify Him with thanksgiving
“But I am poor and sorrowful; let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”
Part of turning back to God involves being thankful for the many blessings we do have, beginning with our relationship with Him.
Even a fool when he shuts his lips …
I love these two verses:
“He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.”
A wise man will speak the truth in a straightforward way and leave the rest to God. Rarely will arguing bring an opponent around to your way of thinking. And even a fool will look wiser if he keeps quiet.
They’ll know us by our love
Another great portion of Scripture (I guess you’ve figured out I love it all!!), verse 35 says, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love is not just some feeling we conjure up. It’s who we are and how we treat others. 1 John 4.30:
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
Don’t say you love God and be unloving to your spouse, your children, or your co-worker.
Don’t say you love God and be rude to the waiter, impatient with the bank teller or cut off some driver on the freeway.
Just as God loved us when we least deserved it (Rom. 5.8), our lives should be characterized by sacrificial love for others.
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