Art Thou He that Troubleth Israel?

“And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.” (1 Kings 18:17–18)

Humans have an unlimited capacity for shifting blame. Not only is blame-shifting my personal experience and observation, but it is also the biblical record. In today's passage, we see King Ahab — arguably, the evilest person to ever walk the earth — laying the blame for Israel's troubles on the prophet Elijah. Now, that's either sociopathic… or plain old brass! But that is also ancient — so let’s look at this in today’s terms.

Imagine that there was a murderer who just completed a cross-country killing spree. He finally gets caught, goes to trial quickly and is sentenced to death. But in an interview with the national media, the killer blames the world’s problems on the police. He says, "Our nation is experiencing its current troubles because the police arrested me in Rhode Island." Would that make any sense? To Ahab, it would.

My example shows the true heart of a sinner: it is selfish and immature — incapable of “owning” wrongdoing… and don’t those precisely apply to Ahab? We have sinful behavior on the sinner’s part — one that causes grief to other people — yet the offender blames the agent of correction rather than his own sin. How is that not immature?

Now, we are all indeed God's children… but that designation should highlight our familial relationship — not our immaturity (1 Corinthians 3). Have your children ever blamed you, the agent of correction, for their own sin-caused misery? That’s pretty common — and it’s a sure sign of immaturity when we refuse to take the blame… even with the results of sin crashing down upon our own heads.

But a small child is legitimately immature; he is (by definition) a person who is not fully developed — mentally, physically or emotionally — and it is therefore not a problem that immaturity tracks with chronology during childhood. Sure… this is frequently inconvenient for the responsible party, but parents and children generally get through this transition together.

The parent’s reward comes when they see their children raised to honorable adulthood — when they take their place as contributors to society and to the Body of Christ. Immaturity is a sin when persons reach an age of responsibility, yet remain irresponsible. Call it selfishness; call it arrogance — call it anything… but call it sin. People only take on honorable adulthood after they take responsibility for their actions — and any family that coddles its adults chips away at our national character.

Ahab and Jezebel were an evil couple — almost beyond description. They stole, killed, and committed mayhem at will. They worshiped Baal! They established a grove and raised up an altar to this false God. They encouraged the prophets of Baal while they chased down and killed the prophets of God. They used their God-allowed positions of power for their own selfish ends — and they performed all these acts unabashedly… and so much so that, when God decided to use Elijah to send a famine through the land, Ahab — blinded by sin — blamed the prophet!

God always gets the last word, though, and Elijah ministered to us all by stating the obvious:

"…I have not troubled Israel; but thou…”

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