The Disillusioned Prophet
I’ve always thought of my Dad as a present-day prophet, a modern equivalent of John the Baptist, if you will. He loves his camouflage, kills and eats weird stuff, prizes his beard, and has a prophetic voice that points people to Christ. Just as John the Baptist lost his head as a result of his unwillingness to accept cultural wickedness, Dad has taken serious hits to his professional and personal life because of his vibrant stand upon the Word and principles of God. He is a Cultural Warrior.
Cultural warriors are forged when societal trends call into question the integrity of a man. Whether it is a personal crisis of faith or a public stand against iniquity, it is inevitable that men and women who determine to stand for Christ within a corporate audience will face persecution. In many cases, these same men and women suffer from disillusionment and discouragement.
Over the course of history, biblical prophets who were driven by God chose rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin for a season. (Hebrews 11:25 ESV) It is from these examples that we, as present day cultural warriors, can draw strength and encouragement.
The Disillusioned Prophet
During the reign of King Ahab, God called Elijah to be His voice in the midst of a culture full of idolatry and wickedness. I Kings 16 recounts how Ahab systematically attempted to destroy the worship of God within the country of Northern Israel by setting up altars to Baal. God delivered a message of judgment through Elijah in the form of a three-year famine.
Think about that. In the midst of an agricultural society, he declared that there would be no rain for three years. Three years of crop failures, desolate fields, and the lack of fresh water. Rivers would dry up, trade would cease, and Israel would be a barren wasteland. And yet, Elijah faithfully proclaimed the judgment of God, choosing rather to suffer persecution than to deny Israel the chance to repent.
Elijah put everything on the line for God, and at the conclusion of the three-year famine, God showed up. In a major, public showdown of burnt offerings on Mount Carmel, 850 false prophets attempted to prove that Baal could fix the economic meltdown. In the end, all they accomplished was a dead sacrifice on a dry altar. After they wore themselves out crying and praying to Baal, Elijah casually steps up, cries out to God, and calls down
the fire. The burnt offering was consumed, and the God of Israel triumphed over evil once again. The long-awaited rain fell, and the land of Israel was replenished with cool, fresh water.
You would think that the simple fact of God miraculously showing up would light a fire under Elijah, but ironically, after this amazing, culture-changing event, he became disillusioned and disheartened. King Ahab did not renounce his false gods; rather, he personally put out a death sentence upon Elijah. This dismissal of the miraculous saving power of God sent Elijah into a downward spiral of depression. He had put it all on the line for the Almighty, and he had been rejected.
Isn’t this true in our lives, as well? When we take a stand for Christ, we expect people to take note. We expect results. We think that when we reject the wickedness in our culture, others will follow our example. When we watch miracles happen in our own lives, we believe that God can do miracles in our co-workers and our companies. We trust that God will show up for them, too.
When we stand as a cultural warrior, we trust that culture will change. When it doesn’t, it is very easy to descend into disillusionment. After the incredible victory on Mount Carmel, Elijah expected revival to sweep the nation, not a death sentence. Rather than standing and fighting, he ran away.
Yesterday’s Victory vs. Today’s Battle
I Kings 19 is an incredible example of a loving Father and a disillusioned cultural warrior. Within a society consumed with idolatry, Elijah bravely stood on his belief that the God of Israel would triumph over wickedness, but when the next inevitable cultural confrontation arose, he gave up. He didn’t follow through and became discouraged.
Finding himself alone in a cave after running into the desert, Elijah came face-to-face with his disillusionment. As a cultural warrior, he naturally expected victory to follow victory. He assumed that because of one triumph, the battle was over. But when confronted with the reality of a continuing battle, he became overwhelmed.
“On a personal note: Elijah’s Mount Carmel showdown is one of my personal favorite Bible stories. A challenge was laid at the beginning, heavy taunting ensued in the middle, and an explosion of fire punctuated the end. Kind of sounds like a Duck Dynasty episode, doesn’t it? Complete with the explosions!”Alan Robertson
Thankfully, God did not abandon Elijah in a desert cave. That is not how his story ends. God sent a great wind, an earthquake, and a consuming fire to demonstrate His awesome power, but spoke in a still, small voice to show His continuing care. Elijah was not alone, he was not the last of the cultural warriors, and he was not finished.
The Victorious Warrior
Every Christian has moments of disillusionment and discouragement. Our society constantly presents us with opportunities to stand for cultural integrity within our corporate and personal lives. We are surrounded by the negativity of temporal pursuits, the consuming power of amassed wealth, and the addictive nature of sinful pleasures, and in the heat of battle, it is easy to become discouraged. Sin is systematically destroying our culture, but through it all, we need to remember that God is in the saving business.
One person can make a difference; one prayer can change a culture. In 1 Kings 18:36-37, Elijah prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” God has called us to be cultural warriors, to pray for the lost, and to change our culture.
I, Alan Robertson, am not a prophet. You won’t find me on a mountain calling down fire to consume a burnt offering or hiding in a cave as the sole attendee of a supernatural Earth, Wind, and Fire concert. But I am a Christian. I am a member of a family that lives in the public eye. I am confronted with cultural battles every day. I am a cultural warrior.
I am incredibly blessed to be a member of the Robertson family. As a young man, I watched as my Dad built Duck Commander upon biblical principles. As long as he was following Christ, he didn’t really care what people thought; he put it all on the line. When he started this venture, he had no idea what battles would arise because of his visible Christianity, but I’m thankful that he has consistently battled disillusionment and has remained a steadfast, unmovable cultural warrior.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”Ephesians 6:13
Originally published in TwoTen Magazine http://www.twotenmag.com/al-robertson