So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Reflections on 1 Kings 18:16-46 Part 2

So now I’m moving on into verses 17 and 18 of 1 Kings 18, which read:

“When he saw Elijah, he said to him, "Is that you, you troubler of Israel?" "I have not made trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "But you and your father's family have. You have abandoned the LORD's commands and have followed the Baals. "”

These two verses come after the statement that Obadiah told Ahab that Elijah was around and Ahab went out to meet him. Let’s chew on the text for a moment or two…

It’s definitely worth noting how Ahab addresses Elijah. Ahab speaks to Elijah as if Elijah is the problem in Israel. Elijah does not put up with that kind of accusation for a minute and states things as they really are. Ahab is the one who’s spearheading the slaughter of the prophets of the Lord, disobeyed the law by marrying a Sidonian woman and lead Israel to forsake Jehovah and trade him for Ba’al and Asherah. Ahab is the one who’s sin has caused the famine in the land. Ahab is the one who is making the trouble for Israel.

I find that this is a consistent pattern in the scriptures, with the unregenerate sinner seeing the man of God as the deviant one. In his 1st epistle, Peter writes:

“For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.” – 1 Peter 4:3-4

It is no surprise that the pagans thinks that what they do is natural. Their brains don’t work. Ephesians 4:17-19 says:

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”

Also, Romans 8:7 says, “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.” And James 4:4 states, “You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

Romans 1:18 and 21 say “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness…For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

This is not to say that pagans are not intelligent. On the contrary, some are more articulate and sophisticated than many Christians. I’ve met many pagans with multiple PhD’s that speak 7 languages and are not stupid.

I do mean to say that pagans suffer from what theologians call the noetic effects of sin, which is to say that they suffer from the ramifications of sin upon their actual reasoning processes, not their reasoning ability. Sin has actually ‘removed a cog’ from the reasoning process and lanced out the spiritual component, leading pagans to exclude God a-priori in any rational operation. It’s not that pagans don’t want to honor God with their reason; it’s that they are unable to. They entertain all deities but God and love all laws except God’s moral law (ie. The laws of physics, logic, etc.). Pagans are dead to the Lord. Pagans are not broken people needing to be fixed, nor are they bad people needing to be ‘made good’. They’re dead people who need to be made living people.

That’s why I often don’t debate things like Creationism or ‘translation errors in the Bible’ with pagans. The problem is not that I don’t have the ‘magic argument’ that will overcome their rational objections, but the problem instead is that regardless of the data, we approach it from completely different worldviews, like Elijah and Ahab.

Ahab sees himself as being religiously tolerant, progressive, and unifying Israel under Ba’al worship. In order to do that, he needs to ‘clean out’ these annoying prophets of Jehovah who are making so much trouble for him.

Elijah sees Ahab as God sees him; a sinning king leading a sinning nation in complete and utter rebellion to the rightful ruler of Israel; namely God himself. In order to do that, he needs to ‘clean out’ those annoying prophets of Ba’al who are making so much trouble for Israel.

So, what’s the lesson?

***Obedience to God means persecution from the world***

Jesus commented specifically on this when he said:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19

Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian


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