God's people were in great spiritual trouble. Because the nation had forsaken the Lord and worshipped Ashtoreth, Chemosh, and Milcom, He caused the nation to be divided into two major camps. In the south, two tribes formed the kingdom of Judah. To the north, ten tribes rebelled under the leadership of Jeroboam and formed the kingdom of Israel. The seventh king of Israel was Ahab. The Bible says, "And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him." 1 Kings 16:30. Ahab married the wicked woman, Jezebel, and worshipped Baal.
It was in these days that the Lord raised up the great prophet Elijah. 1 Kings 17:1. Elijah stood before wicked Ahab and said, "As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." Later, in the New Testament, James wrote that Elijah "... prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months." James 5:17, 18. Because of this drought, a sore (strong, hard) famine came upon the land.
This famine caused many to suffer the innocent and the wicked. The Bible records the suffering of a poor widow and her son. 1 Kings 17:8-16. This mother had only a handful of meal and a little oil. She was gathering sticks to build a fire so that she and her child could have one last meal and, then, die. The Lord intervened, however, and, through Elijah, sustained this poor family throughout the famine. She trusted in the Lord and in the words of His prophet.
Ahab blamed Elijah for the mighty famine. He was not concerned with the suffering of the innocent. Throughout it all, he was interested only in finding food for his horses and mules and in capturing and punishing Elijah. He went throughout all the land looking for grass, and he sent to all the nations and kingdoms around him seeking Elijah.
Finally, the Lord sent Elijah to Ahab. When the wicked king saw Elijah, the first thing he said was, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" 1 Kings 18:17. Dear friends, can we not see the evil audacity of this wicked leader? He sought to go on the offense and to put the blame of the troubles of Israel upon this faithful preacher. Elijah, however, would have none of it! He immediately replied, "I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou has followed Baalim ..." 18.
Today, in the Lord's church - the Lord's spiritual Israel (Galatians 6:16) - there are those in leadership (elders and preachers) who are walking in the footsteps of Ahab. They have departed and are departing from the commandments of the Lord and are causing great distress upon innocent members of the churches of Christ throughout the land. They are fellowshipping denominational churches in denying the necessity of being baptized for the remission of sins; they are bringing instrumental music and handclapping into the Lord's worship; they are permitting divorce and remarriage for any and every cause; they are allowing women to teach and to usurp authority over the man. They condone and excuse the nakedness and lasciviousness that accompanies the modern dance and public mixed swimming; they support abortion on demand; they engage in gambling through state-supported lotteries; they drink alcoholic beverages, socially, etc.
When faithful elders and gospel preachers speak against such sins, these imitators of Ahab react by accusing them of being troublemakers. We know who is troubling Israel and causing the anguish and divisions that are occurring throughout our brotherhood! It is those who have forsaken the commandments of the Lord! May God help us all to see who the true troublemakers are in the Lord's church today. May we, like the poor widow, put our trust in the Lord and the word of His grace! He will see us through this present famine. Editor.
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