Elijah, Man of God

2 Kings 1:1—16

Ahab and Jezebel had a son named Ahaziah, and he succeeded his father as king of Israel.  The concluding verses of 1 Kings 22 indicate that Ahaziah:

  • Continued Jeroboam’s corrupt worship of the bulls at Bethel and Dan.  The fact that the historian links Ahaziah to Jeroboam shows how contemptible Ahaziah was.
  • He himself worshipped Baal.

While Ahab had been spared judgment by God because he repented, obviously Ahab’s repentance didn’t run deep or travel far.  The king himself may have refrained from worshipping idols, the nation itself remained thoroughly in the grip of idolatry.  His son seems to have been every bit as wicked and vile as his parents were.

This verse is full of foreboding—

He served and worshiped Baal and provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger, just as his father had done.  (1 Kings 22:53)

Ahaziah had perpetrated his parent’s wickedness and that made God angry.  In fact, God was moved to anger.  The last thing any mortal should want to do is “move God to anger!”  When the Lord is moved to anger, judgment always follows.

1.  Judgment begins, 1:1—4

God’s judgment took many forms, and these four verses give us a clue how moved to anger God was.  First came political judgment in the form of a rebellion.  Moab took advantage of Ahab’s death to assert itself against Israel.  Then came an economic judgment against Ahaziah.  God stymied Israel’s attempt to enter into a commercial enterprise with Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:36—37).  And finally, God judged Ahaziah personally by allowing him to fall and badly injure himself.

Now, Ahaziah could have called upon the Lord to help him at each judgment, as his father Ahab had done before him, and God may well have come to the rescue.  But instead of calling for Heaven’s help, Ahaziah chose to seek help from the “god of flies” and ignore Jehovah.   He sent messengers to inquire at Ekron as to whether he would recover.

The king’s choice to look to Baal instead of to Jehovah is hard to understand, and must have baffled Elijah.  How could this man, son of Ahab and Jezebel, not know that Baal was powerless; that this made-up god was a complete fraud?  His parents knew, why didn’t he?  This surely shows the blindness and utter foolishness of those who choose any way of life other than living for God.

In dire circumstances, a person’s true temperament generally rises to the surface.  There was not an ounce of good in this king’s heart; when push came to shove, because he had been completely immersed in the idol worship of his parents, he did what came naturally to him.   What a classic example of how parents influence their children!  Christian parents should never underestimate the importance of hauling their children to church on a regular basis, whether the child wants to go or not!   A child needs an example, and Ahaziah is the result of a bad example.

The king’s fall was the occasion for one of Elijah’s last missions.  Once again, God commissioned the prophet to take a verbatim message to the king.  Elijah was clearly a man of God whom God trusted with His Word.  There is a great need in the world to-day for believers who are unafraid to speak the Word of God in a definite way.  Sadly, the church of Jesus Christ is chock full of people who have mastered the art of “double speak.”  Afraid of offending anybody, Christians have figured out a way to talk about their faith in a way that is next to useless in terms of convincing a sinner he needs to be saved.

Such was not the case with Elijah, however.   Elijah was most definitely the “counter culture man” of his day!  He was so counter-culture that Jezebel, Ahaziah’s mother, had a price put on his head.  But that did not stop him from doing the work of His God.  In fact, there was a time not so long ago that our prophet was so scared he played the part of a coward and ran from his anointed work.  But now, with the price still on his head, we see him sitting on top of a mountain, in broad daylight, so that even the king knew where he could be found.  Elijah was not perfect, but was a faithful servant of God.

2.  Elijah spoke and he was believed, 1:5—8

They replied, “He was a man with a garment of hair and with a leather belt around his waist.” The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”  (verse 8)

The fact that the king’s messengers turned back and returned to the king with Elijah’s message proves that they believed what the prophet had said.  It may have been an awful message, but because Elijah spoke it clearly and verbatim, he was believed.  It never pays to sugar coat the Word of God in an effort to make it more “tasteful” to the sinner.  People who need to hear the Word of God need to hear His Word, spoken clearly and uncompromisingly; they may not like it, but they will respond to it.

Without being told who the prophet was, Ahaziah instinctively knew it was Elijah.   If a believer is living right—living in obedience to the Word of God—he will always be recognized for what he is, sometimes without even saying a word.

The facts that Elijah’s word from the Lord was believed by the king and that the king knew who Elijah should have led the king to repent; yet the exact opposite happened.  Ahaziah’s heart was demonstrably stubborn and sinful.

3.  Elijah was mocked, 1:9, 10

Ahaziah did not blame his men for turning back.  In response, he sent soldiers this time, not merely messengers.  It seems as though Ahaziah knew precisely where to find the prophet and in short order, the king’s captain and the contingent of 50 soldiers found Elijah, sitting on a mountain; probably Mount Carmel.  In a tone of insolence and complete contempt, the captain addresses Elijah as “man of God.”  This title was not meant to be a compliment or an observation; it was meant to be demeaning.  Elijah’s “man of God” is in sharp contrast to “the King,” as though the king’s word to return carried more weight than God’s Word.

In fact, the prophet’s word carried more weight than that of the King—

Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.  (verse 10)

When the Word of God is spoken by any of God’s people, it is far more powerful than the word of any king or statesman!   There is no position on earth higher than that of being a “man or a woman of God!”  A narcissist may aspire to become the president of the United States, and he may become the president of the United States, but a child of God is infinitely greater in stature than he could ever be.

The fire fell at Elijah’s behest one more time after this; consuming two captains and 100 soldiers.  There are those who think Elijah’s response to these soldiers from Ahaziah was over the top.  First of all, Elijah did not manufacture the fire!  It fell “from heaven!”  Second, God would never do anything derogatory to his holy character.  In truth, it was not the name of Elijah these captains were besmirching; it was the holy Name of God!  When you speak contemptuously of the man of God, you might as well be treating God Himself that way.

The consuming, punishing fire of God served to vindicate the prophet and the Name of God.

Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.  (Deuteronomy 4:23, 24)

Of course, neither the Lord nor Elijah needed to be vindicated; but all this happened so that so that God may be ultimately glorified.

4.  Elijah was feared, 1:13—14

The king was nothing if not consistent and persistent!  He sent a third captain and another 50 soldiers to get him.  But by now, word had gotten around about the power of God and of Elijah.  This third captain was much wiser and humbler than his predecessors; as he came before the prophet, he basically threw himself begged for mercy for himself and his men.  Here was a wise man indeed!  He knew he could not prevail against the awesome power of God.

Sometimes people see their need for salvation when the depth of God’s love, grace, and mercy are revealed to them.  Other people need another kind of motivation.  These soldiers, motivated by fear, asked for and received mercy.

5.  Elijah remained obedient and faithful, 1:15, 16

The angel of the LORD said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.

Why would Elijah be afraid?  But, the king prevailed, though not in the expected way.  Elijah came down because God wanted Him to.  It was not out of fear or acquiescence to the king that moved the prophet; it was God’s Word.

Elijah went with the captain to Ahaziah’s palace where the prophet repeated, again verbatim and clearly every word of God’s judgment upon him.   The king’s fate was sealed; his case was settled in the court of heaven.  Because of the king’s stubborn disbelief and continued rebellion against the known will of God, Ahaziah would surely die.

Elijah went down to Samaria, not as a prisoner, but as God’s prince, surrounded by heavenly bodyguards.  What a contrast to the dying king.  The king, with his imagined power and influence was about to die, alone and childless.   Even the captain of his army had deserted him.  Every soul that refuses to bend to the will of God will die.  To those, the Word of the Lord rings out clear—

Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.  (Isaiah 45:22)

People can trust in all kinds of false gods to save them these days:  the false god of medicine or of education or of politics, or of money, but—

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.  (Acts 4:12)

(c)  2010 WitzEnd

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