The Real Trouble Maker
Robert Wurtz II
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. (1Kings 18:17-18)
Our passage contains an important truth that is often overlooked. During this altercation, Ahab simply suggested that Elijah, the great prophet of the Old Testament “troubled” Israel. The Hebrew word means to disturb or stir up. At issue was the destiny of Israel. As God’s unique and chosen people, it was Ahab that was frustrating the purposes of God and “troubling” Israel. As a backslidden and rebellious group that still retained the name “Israel” it was truly Elijah that was disturbing and troubling them. And rightly so. A battle was underway for the very soul of Israel. Ahab was leading the charge into more and more wickedness; Elijah withstood him valiantly – fighting back against the forces of compromise.
Some 60 years after Israel divided into the northern and southern kingdoms, this wicked man Ahab came to power in Israel. He was the seventh king in a succession of wicked men that grew more evil with each regime change. Scripture describes Ahab saying, And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. (1Kings 16:31) Jezebel was a usurper. This simply means that she jockeyed for power that was not her own. She manipulated and controlled people (particularly her husband Ahab and her sons) in any way she possibly could. She is typically known for painting her eyes with heavy make-up, but this was only a symptom of a much greater force at work in her life.
All of this came to a head when Elijah proposed a showdown with Jezebel’s prophets of Baal. Elijah, with the hand of the LORD upon him, withstood Ahab for his idolatry. At one and the same time Elijah slew the prophets of Baal and then prayed for the drought to end that had left the land in waste. This was an amazing expression of truth before Ahab’s eyes. If he would but serve Jehovah, Israel would be blessed. God would leave off the judgments that He had inflicted. The revelation was so evident and straightforward that a child could have put it together. It is apparent that Elijah believed that if God were to demonstrate his power and authority over the powers of Baal, and then bring the rain that the land desperately needed, then Ahab and perhaps Jezebel would amend their ways and repent of the Idolatry in Israel.
And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. (1Ki 18:46)
The fire had fallen and then the rain started. This is the pattern of it- fire then rain. Fire to purify the sin and rain to bring new life. Then Elijah performs the third miracle in this sequence by out-running the horse-drawn chariot that Ahab was riding in. This was long before Jeremiah heard the word of the Lord, If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? (Jer. 12:5a) The answer to the question is, impossible! Unless, that is, the hand of the Lord is upon you and you keep a God centered perspective. Otherwise, you will be wearied for sure. Now it is Elijah’s turn.
And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1Kings 19:1-4)
Obviously Elijah believed that the three miracles in a row would have changed these wicked people. Who could resist the truth of what had just happened? Jezebel did. She was not impressed. Why? Because she was completely under the influence of the demonic. In the book of Revelation we have the expression, “that woman Jezebel” referring to a spirit or demonic influence that was at work in the local church. Scripture describes it as follows:
Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. (Rev 2:20-21)
Unlike Elijah that withstood Jezebel and Ahab we have this phrase in Revelation, because you allow. The worst possible thing a Christian can do is make excuses for sinners when God is trying to deal with them. This spirit, manifest in someone in that local church, was teaching and seducing the people in such a way that they were led into sexual immorality and idolatry. A close examination of Jezebel in the Old Testament will reveal that the prophets of Asherah were not part of the prophets killed by Elijah. Some scholars contend that somehow they escaped and only the prophets of Baal were destroyed. Asherah was a fertility goddess, meaning a god worshiped in connection with sexual immorality. Hence, the language in Revelation “seduce.” The “spirit” of Jezebel works to seduce, often to gain control. The great late Greek scholar A.T. Robertson writes concerning the Jezebel of Revelation:
“This woman was not a real prophetess, but a false one with loud claims and loose living. One is puzzled to know how such a woman had so much shrewdness and sex-appeal as to lead astray the servants of God in that church. The church tolerated the Nicolaitans and this leader whose primary object was sexual immorality (Charles) and became too much involved with her to handle the heresy.” (RWP)
I would say the answer to Robertson’s question is that they were under the spell. I don’t believe Jezebel was particularly attractive. All indicators is that she was arrogant, cruel, manipulative, loud, and a host of other “turn-offs.” It was the seducing nature of the demonic spirit that she entertained that drew people in. When they flirted with Jezebel they were flirting with the demon she entertained. Once she worked her charm a person was drawn in and after that they were her ally no matter what she did. A whole nation was seduced by her. She could do no wrong in the peoples’ eyes, especially her husband Ahab’s. Families rarely see the evil of their own ken folk. Hatred of rivals often blinds people to sin in their own house. It took a prophet of God to see Jezebel rightly in the OT, and Jesus Christ Himself to call her out in the NT. That is how deluded people, no matter how spiritual we may think they are, become, while under the influence of this blinding, seducing spirit.
That is not to say that women are the only ones who operate in this spirit. But it is evident, that those who are under the spell will not deal with it. If we go back to the story of Elijah and Ahab, we see how profoundly Ahab’s refusal to deal with his Jezebel effected Elijah. This man would charge Hell’s gates with a water pistol if God told him to, but once he saw that God could move heaven and still this spirit went on unchecked, he fled in fear resolving that nothing can be done except to just die and get out of this wretched world.
And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1Kings 19:3-4)
Dealing with these people and the demonic spirit that was back of them wore Elijah completely out and left him for dead. Nothing was working. Jezebel and Ahab obstinately refused to repent and the people refused to quit following them. What is a man to do? Roll over and die, he figured. I can’t say I would not have felt the exact same way. The situation seemed hopeless. These people greatly withstood Elijah and God Himself. What now?
Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. (1Kings 19:5-6)
Elijah was apparently so vexed he couldn’t even eat. He asked God to take his life. All he wanted to do was sleep – a clear sign of severe depression. The Lord sent His angel again to alert Elijah that the journey is too far not to eat. So he gave him food that carried him for the next 40 days. Finally he ends up in a cave. The word of the Lord would come to Elijah, not once, twice, or three but four times.
And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1Kings 19:9b)
God passed by him in a theophanic display – only to whisper to him again.
So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1Kings 19:13)
This was yet the fourth time God spoke to him and the second that he asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Answer?
And he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” Then the LORD said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1Kings 19:14-18)
In summary? Get back to work, Elijah! I already have it planned out how I’m going to take down Jezebel and Ahab and your not part of that equation. I have other plans that will set the stage for my will to be performed. It’s a long term plan. So God have Elijah three people to anoint, a practice that was part of the prophetic calling on his life. He put Elijah back into the game and took him home in a chariot of fire. He did not live to see God’s answer to his life long vexation- but the answer came and did not tarry. Amen.