Casting Out Devils

Speaking Conservative Truth to Evil-Doers

God’s Troublemakers

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Paul the Apostle, Acts 22:25

Paul the Apostle, Acts 22:25

For many years, we have been told that good Christians are gentle, docile, and quiet, never disturbing or putting anyone to any trouble.  They live peacefully in modest homes, work regular jobs, raise families, and go to church.  Christians must certainly never complain, oppose authority, resist oppression, or use power to force reforms.  Judging from the Bible, however, the pundits would have a hard time proving these assertions.  In Scripture, most of the great men and women of God were troublemakers.

Joseph annoyed his brothers to the point that they sold him into slavery.  Accused of sexually assaulting his master’s wife, he was thrown into prison.  Later, he held his younger brother hostage.

Moses was a terrible troublemaker.  He challenged an Egyptian who was abusing a Hebrew, and killed him.  Later, he was asked accusingly, “Who made you ruler and judge over us?” (Exodus 2:14).  Pharaoh increased his oppression of the Hebrews, and their leaders blamed Moses.  “May the LORD look upon you and judge you!  You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us” (5:21).  When the Egyptian army attacked them at the Red Sea, they cried, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” (14:10).

David was a rebel and outlaw for many years, even working for his people’s sworn enemies.  He violated another man’s wife, then had him killed to cover it up.  God would not allow David to build his temple.

Elijah met King Ahab at Mount Carmel.  As soon as Ahab saw him, he asked, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17).  Elijah proposed a contest with the 450 prophets of Ba’al.  He won, and had all the false prophets slaughtered.

In fact, God’s prophets regularly made themselves a nuisance.  Ahab said of Micaiah, “I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me” (1 Kings 22:8).  Zechariah was stoned to death, Jeremiah languished in prison:  carnal leaders generally did not like what the prophets had to say, and persecuted and killed them for it.

Now the reader should not imagine that troublemaking was limited to the Old Testament.  Jesus threatened the religious leaders of Judea by exposing their hypocrisy and gaining the allegiance of the people; thus they arranged to have him executed.  Likewise, John the Baptist angered Herod’s wife, who had him beheaded.

The apostles were arrested in the temple for preaching, but thereafter defied the Sanhedrin’s orders to cease and desist.  Peter was imprisoned for preaching; after he escaped, his guards were executed for negligence.  Stephen was stoned to death, and John’s brother James executed by Herod.  Paul with his companions were flogged at Philippi, stoned at Lystra, threatened by assassins; Paul caused riots in Ephesus and Jerusalem, and was otherwise beaten, threatened, and endangered (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

For two millennia since then, Christian activists and agitators have caused no end of trouble for those in power and those who benefit from the status quo.

Jesus said that the Gospel would divide families; Christians would be hated, persecuted, and killed.  He “did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).  The Lord has chosen that through those who are troublemakers in the eyes of the world He would accomplish his work.

Of course, not all trouble is ordained by God, and if not, should be discouraged.  Ungodly trouble brings disrepute upon the Church.  But in the present emergency, with the world growing worse and the end times approaching, we desperately need the kind of troublemakers we read about in Scripture.

When godly troublemakers act, we can expect many in the Church to denounce them as such.  If they bring hardship and persecution upon us, many will ask, as they questioned Moses, “Who put you in charge of us?  You have made us look bad in the eyes of the world!  It is your fault that we suffer!”  It will require great courage and self-sacrifice to stand in the face of bitter criticism, even that of our own brethren.  But if in obedience to God, how can we withhold?

© 2002 Paul A. Hughes

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Written by biblequestion

June 1, 2011 at 1:16 AM

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