Have you found me, O my enemy?

Have you noticed that whenever Elijah the prophet appears in the first book of Kings, Ahab, the king of Israel, inwardly groans. This is because he knows that Elijah is about to give him a hard time over something he has or hasn’t done. Elijah is a sort of ‘walking conscience’, a guide and a true prophet of the Lord, speaking out against ungodly behaviour, and Ahab has fallen far short of the ideal expected of anyone, least of all a king of Israel. But Ahab is either in denial or just doesn’t care.

Ahab’s biggest mistake was marrying someone who not only didn’t believe, but fervently worshipped another god. This ‘god’ was herself and her own ambitions and desires. But Ahab was also childish and immature, sulking when he didn’t get his own way and refusing to acknowledge that he has had any part in the fall of Israel into sin and apostasy.

And this is why he dreads seeing Elijah and thinks he is his ‘enemy‘ come solely to disrupt his peace and ruin his day! Because Elijah is, of course, one of the few people in Israel who is able to tell Ahab the truth about himself and his little plans and schemes. He tells it like it is!

Now imagine if every few months someone like Elijah knocked at our door to let us know, in no uncertain terms, what our failings were! Like Ahab, many of us would certainly start to dread seeing him, wouldn’t we?! There’d definitely be a few slammed doors and perhaps some ‘well-chosen’ words spoken! Some of us would be very careful not to answer the door to him again! But notice how even when Ahab thinks he is unreachable Elijah has an uncanny ability to track him down! And once found, how many of us would actually admit or accept that we were indeed guilty as charged?

And this got me thinking. People are constantly complaining about the state of the world, aren’t they, but they never ever think that they have anything to do with it! The sin is always ‘out there’, separate to them, and someone else’s defective moral compass is to blame! A previous colleague of mine informed me, in no uncertain terms, that he couldn’t understand how anyone could be foolish enough to believe in God when there was so much suffering in the world. About ten minutes later he was raving about how, if he ever saw his (estranged) brother again, he would literally kill him. It never seemed to occur to him the huge irony in any of this: that he himself was personally adding to all the suffering in the world with this avenging and bitter attitude.

Fortunately, we don’t need Elijah any more as we have Christ. Praise God! He gives us a little nudge, a little reminder – letting us know when we’ve let Him (and ourselves) down; making it clear we must forgive and forget, and above all, have compassion towards others; showing us which of our many plans are clearly a bad idea, and which ones are of Him. But it’s even better than that: having Christ’s Spirit there within us means we can be stopped before we do or say something foolish. When someone is rude to us, do we instantly respond in kind? Or stop and turn immediately to Him for guidance.

There have been a lot of entreaties over the past year or so to ‘be kind’. But what exactly does that mean in practice? It sounds a bit vague, hollow and even (perhaps) downright sickly, doesn’t it?! But at the bottom of it all is this: let’s give others the benefit of the doubt; let’s not judge too harshly when we come across people who are bad tempered because they may be inwardly struggling and afraid. Afraid of being alone or afraid of getting ill. This is in fact, the message of the gospel in a nutshell, isn’t it?  But the major difference being is that Christ gives us that ability to forgive and move on.

So once again, it turns out that the truth of the gospel is so much better than anything else on offer, isn’t it? If Christ is within us we need no longer worry about a figure as uncompromising and frightening as Elijah suddenly bursting in to accuse us.  All we need to do is keep focused on Christ and not get distracted by the world.

4 thoughts on “Have you found me, O my enemy?

  1. A very well put together blog Dom. Ahab’s heart must sink whenever he sees Elijah approaching him at a trot. What on earth have I done now, is one thought. It is amazing that what I have read so far in the Old Testament is still reflected in this day and age. Nothing has changed really! Great blog.

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    1. Yes! Ahab wants to do what he likes and live his life without any ‘interference’ doesn’t he? But he is in a position of responsibility and his ‘me me me’ attitude means Israel is not the ‘shining light’ it was supposed to be – far from it!

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  2. Yes, the power of Christ makes forgiveness easier. How self poisonous revenge is . Good blog again Dom.

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