“And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord.” 1 Kings 21:20
Here we see the prophet Elijah and King Ahab resuming their historically tense relationship. It seems Elijah had been off doing the things God commanded him to do on Mt Horeb, and Ahab had been engaging in some warfare with the Syrians. Both have seemingly returned home for a spell and are at it again. Ahab, as normal, was up to evil; Elijah, as normal, was tasked by God to call him out on it.
In this case, Ahab was guilty of being complicit in the unjust murder of an innocent man. The king had desired to have the vineyard of a man named Naboth, and Naboth had refused to sell it to him. Naboth refused to make the land transfer by laying claim to the Covenant laws God had created when dividing the land during the conquest period, maintaining that transferring the land to Ahab would be displeasing to God; undoubtedly, there were some personal feelings from Naboth toward Ahab involved here, too.
So, Ahab returned to his palace and pouted up. Jezebel put on the pants Ahab had discarded in order to lay up in bed pouting and took care of business. She laid a snare by which Naboth was accused of blasphemy, and he and his heirs were stoned to death. That rendered the land free and clear for appropriation by Ahab. That is heinous! Apparently, God thought so as well, because he dispatched Elijah to confront Ahab for his sin.
This is not the first time a similar conversation has taken place between Ahab and Elijah, and the response was also similar. We see that back in 1 Kings 18 when Ahab accused Elijah of being the one troubling Israel over the drought God had commanded. As I have often said, no word in God’s Word is useless; each one has an application for us. If something shows up more than once, then it likely really has an application for us. Quickly, King Ahab made the conversation about the one bringing the message rather than the message itself. “Ah, here is the guy causing problems!” “Here is my enemy, hassling me again!” What’s new, right? Even today, that is the reaction from those who are led by God to confront and rebuke sin. “Don’t judge! Sin is sin! Troublemaker! You aren’t being very loving!”
Friends, the response to this is easy, solid and Elijah showed us how. He made no attempt to defend himself; he didn’t even enter a discussion of himself. He simply illustrated quickly and firmly how the messenger was not the problem at all; the problem was a failure on the part of the recipient to properly honor and obey God’s Word. If we are truly led by the Spirit to rebuke another, and we are actually grounded in the truth of God’s Word (and not personal preference in a “gray,” area,) then we don’t even need to waste time defending ourselves. Resting in God’s Word is the only defense we need.