2 KINGS: DIVISION I
THE FINAL DAYS OF ELIJAH'S MINISTRY: A FAITHFUL SERVANT WHO PERSEVERED TO THE VERY END, 1:1–3:27
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A. The Confrontation of Elijah with King Ahaziah of Israel: The Danger of Rejecting the Only Living and True God, 1:1-18
(1:1-18) Introduction— God, Living, Only— God, One and Only— God, Supreme— God, Helper— God, Works of— Needs, Met by: there is only one living and true God, only one Creator, one Lord and Majesty of the universe. He is the Lord God Almighty (Jehovah, Yahweh), who alone possesses supreme knowledge (omniscience) and supreme power (omnipotence) and is present everywhere (omnipresent). Because He is the Lord God of the universe, He is able to help us as we walk day by day throughout life. No matter what difficult circumstance, problem, trial, or temptation may face us—the Lord loves us and wants to help us. And He will help us if we will simply trust Him and follow Him. This is the great practical message of this Scripture.
But keep this fact in mind: although this is the beginning passage of Second Kings, there is no real division between the books of First Kings and Second Kings. In the Hebrew Bible, the two books were originally combined as one book (see • Introduction to 2 Kings). In fact, a brief summary of King Ahaziah was covered in the last three verses of First Kings. Now his reign is continued in the first chapter of Second Kings. Sadly, Ahaziah had been reared by two very ungodly parents, King Ahab and the infamous Jezebel. Due to their wicked, evil lives, Ahaziah was influenced to walk in their sinful steps. This is: The Confrontation of Elijah with King Ahaziah of Israel: The Danger of Rejecting the Only Living and True God, 1:1-18.
1. The king's two major problems, a revolt and a serious accident: rejecting the only living Lord and turning to a false deliverer (god) (v.1-8).
2. The king's enraged attempts to arrest Elijah: God's protection of His servant (v.9-15).
3. The king's death: judgment due to sin (v.16-18).
1. (1:1-8) Rejection, of God— Turning Away, from God— God, Rejection of— Ahaziah, King of Israel, Evil Reign of— Influence, of Parents— Children, Tragedy of, Following Evil Example— Parents, Evil Influence of— God, False, Baal-Zebub— Baal-Zebub, False God: immediately after being crowned king, Ahaziah was confronted with two major problems, a revolt and a serious accident. Remember that Ahaziah served the god Baal just as Ahab and Jezebel, his father and mother, had (1 Kings 22:53). His rejection of the living Lord is clearly seen in the present passage.
1. Immediately after being crowned king, Ahaziah was confronted with a revolt by the nation Moab (2 Kings 1:1; 2 Kings 3:1-27). The Moabites were the descendants of Lot's grandson Moab. They occupied the land just south of the East Jordan tribes of Israel where the Jordan River runs into the Dead Sea (Genesis 19:30-38). Years before, David had conquered the Moabite nation and required the people to pay tribute or taxation (2 Samuel 8:2). But most likely, when the northern tribes revolted from Judah, Jeroboam their king subjected the Moabites under the political rule of the Northern Kingdom.
Now hearing of Ahab's death, Mesha, King of Moab, knew that Israel would be politically weakened. He knew that this would be an opportune time to revolt against Ahab's son. At last he could throw off the oppression and taxation imposed upon his people by the Northern Kingdom. Just how serious a problem the revolt was is discussed in detail in 2 Kings 3. Here it is mentioned only briefly to show that Ahaziah was confronted with two major problems right after being inaugurated as the new king of Israel.
2. But far more serious than the revolt of Moab, Ahaziah suffered severe injuries in an unusual accident (2 Kings 1:2). He fell through the lattice framework of an upper room at his palace in Samaria, severely injuring himself. In those days the upper stories of palaces and large houses had balconies that were enclosed with wood railings or some form of lattice work. This allowed the flow of air, just as the balconies and decks of modern housing do. Obviously, the king leaned against the wood railing and, due to faulty construction or deterioration, the railing broke. He fell to the ground below suffering very serious internal injuries.
3. Knowing the seriousness of his injuries, the king did what most people do: he began to seek the help of his god. Remember, Ahaziah was the son of Ahab and Jezebel who were worshipers of false gods, in particular the false god Baal. Following in the footsteps of his parents, Ahaziah sent messengers to the false god Baal-Zebub. This false god's major temple was located in Ekron, a Philistine city only about forty miles away. Note that Ahaziah was so seriously injured he was not himself able to travel. He had to send messengers to seek encouragement and healing and to find out if he would recover from the injury. Deceiving himself, Ahaziah was putting his trust and faith in a false god, a mere creation of man's mind that could offer no help and no hope to the king.
4. But this is not true with the Lord (Jehovah, Yahweh). He is the living and true God, the One who holds the power of life and death in the palm of His hand. Thus, He is the One who should be sought for healing. To teach this lesson, the Lord sent Elijah to intercept the messengers (2 Kings 1:3-4). Following the instructions of the Lord, Elijah caught up with the messengers shortly after they had left the city of Samaria. Standing face-to-face with the royal messengers, Elijah condemned the king for turning away from the living Lord and for seeking the help of a false god. Then he pronounced God's inevitable judgment upon sin: death. The king would not recover. Because he had rejected the Lord, he would surely die.
5. Not knowing that the man standing before them was Elijah, but being fully aware that he was a prophet, the royal delegation quickly returned to King Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:5-8). Surprised by their quick return from what should have been a long journey, the king immediately questioned why they had returned and not completed their journey. No doubt somewhat fearful, the royal messengers reported the whole episode of the prophet's confrontation with them. They related that the prophet had condemned the king for rejecting the Lord and for seeking the help of the false god of the Philistines. Consequently, the king would die.
Somewhat stunned, the king asked who the man was and what he looked like (2 Kings 1:7). Upon hearing that the prophet was a hairy man and that he wore a leather belt around his waist, the king immediately knew that it was Elijah. The Lord had sent the stern prediction of judgment through Elijah the prophet. How did he know? Because Elijah had often confronted Ahaziah's parents, Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 17:1-21:29). Obviously, growing up as a child in the royal court of his father, Ahaziah had seen and heard the rugged prophet condemn his father and mother for their wickedness and false worship.
Thought 1. A person who rejects the Lord and turns to a false god is foolish. This person makes the most grievous error in all of life, for no false god is living. False gods are made or created by people. They are nothing more than a figment of people's imaginations. Possessing no life, ability, power, or knowledge, false gods are unable to meet any needs. They are nothing more than pieces of wood or metal or stone or some other element that has been formed by the hands of men. People imagine who God is and what God is like, and they worship their own ideas.
The result is tragic, for when people need help, their false gods are powerless to help them in their hour of need. Their false gods have no life or consciousness or power to help.
But this is not true with the living Lord (Jehovah, Yahweh). God loves the world; therefore, He has revealed Himself to us. Although man cannot penetrate the spiritual world to discover God, God has revealed Himself to the human race. For God so loved the world that He sent His Son into the world to reveal the truth of Himself to us. God loves us so much that He would never leave us in the dark, grasping and groping around to find our way through life, never knowing whether or not He truly lives. Because of His love, He has revealed the truth to us through the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world. And one of the great truths Christ teaches is just this: He is the living and true God, the only God who can help us and meet our needs.
This was the tragic error of Ahaziah: rejecting the Lord God and turning to a false god for help. Likewise, when we need help, if we reject the Lord and turn to a false god, their will be no help. For only the Lord is living. Only the Lord has the power and ability to help us, no matter what the crisis. He wants to help us, whether coping with a serious accident and internal injuries such as Ahaziah faced or the needs brought about by such problems as…
• financial difficulty
• emotional instability
• the death of a loved one
• enslavement to some sin
• constant temptation
Whatever the need, God loves us and will meet our needs. This is one of the great truths shown to us by the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the living Lord who can help us in our time of desperate need.
"And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein" (Acts 14:15).
"For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thes. 1:9-10).
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted" (Hebrews 2:14-18).
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16).
"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Psalm 8:3-4).
"My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 42:2).
"Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices" (Proverbs 1:24-31).
2. (1:9-15) Protection, of God— God, Protection of— Elijah, Miracles of— Miracles, of Elijah— Ahaziah, Sins of, Attempted to Arrest Elijah: Ahaziah became enraged at Elijah's stern condemnation and began his efforts to arrest the prophet. He should have repented at Elijah's stern rebuke. But instead he stubbornly reacted, launching three different attempts to arrest and execute God's prophet. This is a clear picture of God's power to protect His dear servant.
1. In his first attempt to arrest Elijah, the king sent a captain and a force of fifty crack soldiers (2 Kings 1:9-10). Sending such a large band of soldiers shows just how much contempt Ahaziah held for Elijah. No doubt in the king's mind, Elijah was a criminal who stood opposed to the throne; consequently, the prophet was to be arrested by force and drug back to the palace to be sentenced and put to death.
When the troops found Elijah, he was sitting on the top of a hill. Confronting him, they addressed him as "man of God" and demanded that he surrender to the king. Courageously and sternly, Elijah called out for God's protection. Obviously sensing the movement of God's spirit in his heart, he called for fire to come down from heaven to consume the threatening soldiers. And God answered his prayer, protecting His dear servant. Suddenly fire fell from heaven and consumed the fifty soldiers and their captain.
2. When the troops failed to return, the king sent out another captain with his detachment of fifty crack soldiers to find out what had happened (2 Kings 1:11-12). As this officer approached Elijah, he was no doubt wondering what had happened to the other troops. For that reason, when he confronted Elijah, he insisted that the prophet surrender to the king at once. But just as before, Elijah cried out for God's protection. And a second time fire fell from heaven and consumed the threatening regiment. God again answered the prayer of His servant.
3. When the time had long passed for some of the troops to return, the king sent out a third captain with his fifty crack soldiers (2 Kings 1:13-15). As this captain approached Elijah, he perhaps saw a huge black area of scorched earth. Whatever the case, something made him approach Elijah carefully. Humbly, he fell to his knees and begged Elijah to spare his life and the lives of his men. At that point, the angel of the Lord spoke to Elijah's heart and gave him two instructions: he was to go with the soldiers, and he was not to fear them nor the king. Obediently, Elijah allowed the soldiers to arrest him and take him to the king.
Thought 1. God protected His dear servant from the threat of the king. So it is with us. If we truly follow and trust God, He will protect us also. But like Elijah, we must boldly approach God, asking great things of Him and acknowledging His mighty power. No matter what may threaten us, the protective hand of God will look after us and take care of us. God loves us; therefore, whatever happens to us concerns God. It may be some person who threatens us, or an accident, disease, or terrible loss. But no matter what the trial or temptation, the hardship or misfortune, God cares. And God will protect us, looking after and taking care of the threat against us. This is the clear teaching of God's Holy Word:
"But there shall not an hair of your head perish" (Luke 21:18).
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13).
"For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Tim. 1:12).
"And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (2 Tim. 4:18).
"So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me" (Hebrews 13:6).
"Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:5).
"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee" (Deut. 33:27).
"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars" (2 Chron. 16:9).
"For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock" (Psalm 27:5).
"Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues" (Psalm 31:20).
"Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah" (Psalm 32:7).
"The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them" (Psalm 34:7).
"I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord" (Psalm 40:1-3).
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
"Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress" (Psalm 71:3).
"He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler" (Psalm 91:4).
"Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word" (Psalm 119:114).
"As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever" (Psalm 125:2).
"Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me" (Psalm 143:9).
"In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge" (Proverbs 14:26).
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10).
"For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall" (Isaiah 25:4).
3. (1:16-18) Judgment, Cause of— Sin, Penalty of— Ahaziah, Death of: as soon as Elijah was escorted before the bedridden king, he shared the message from the Lord. The king stood condemned for having turned away from the living Lord and for seeking help from a false god. Consequently, the king was never to leave his bed. He would surely die (2 Kings 1:16).
Just as Elijah prophesied, the king soon died (2 Kings 1:17). And because he had no son, his brother Joram or Jehoram succeeded him as king. A complete record of Ahaziah's brief two-year reign was recorded in the book The History of the Kings of Israel (2 Kings 1:18).
Thought 1. Judgment is due to sin. Or to state the truth another way, sin causes death. The penalty of sin is death. But when God created us, He never intended us to die. Keep in mind what death means. When the Bible speaks of death, it means not only physical death, but also spiritual and eternal death. The root meaning of death is separation. Because of sin, we are spiritually separated from God, dead to God. A person who is living a life of selfishness and sin is not focused upon God. He is focused upon himself and his sin. He is dead to God and alive to himself and whatever sinful obsessions he has. He is living for this world, focused upon the things of this world, dead to God and separated from God. This is what spiritual death means. Many people who are walking upon this earth are spiritually dead, separated from God.
But as earlier stated, spiritual death is not the only death caused by sin. So is physical death. Sin makes us unholy, unrighteous, imperfect. Consequently, we can never—not on our own—live in God's presence We can never be allowed into heaven, for God is holy, righteous, and perfect. If He allowed a sinful, wicked person to live in heaven, then heaven would become contaminated. It would no longer be perfect. This is the reason for God's judgment of physical death and eternal death. If we choose not to worship and serve God in this life, choose to be separated from Him, then we will continue to be separated from Him throughout all eternity. Just as Ahaziah chose to walk without God and bore the judgment of God, the judgment of death, so we will bear the penalty of sin, the judgment of death, if we choose to walk without God.
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23)
"For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Romans 8:6).
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21).
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Galatians 6:7-8).
"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephes. 2:1).
"Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Ephes. 5:14).
"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Col. 2:13).
"But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth" (1 Tim. 5:6).
"For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him" (Hebrews 2:2-3).
"Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:15).
"And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead" (Rev. 3:1).
"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Rev. 21:8).
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17).
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18).
"As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death" (Proverbs 11:19).
"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).
"But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear" (Isaiah 59:2).
"And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities" (Isaiah 64:7).
"Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4).
"The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him" (Ezekiel 18:20).
Thought 2. Russell Dilday, a former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, gives an application on Ahaziah's sin that is well worth quoting:
One reason so many in contemporary society are miserable is that they have repeated Ahaziah's worst mistake: seeking help in the wrong place. They are searching for strength, fulfillment, and comfort in the wrong places. Some look for help in chemical reinforcement, mistakenly assuming that a prescription, a pill, a bottle, or an injection can provide life's missing ingredient. The worldwide epidemic of heroin and cocaine addiction has shocked us. Alcoholism continues to take its toll in traffic deaths and broken homes. These are painful reminders that the remedy for personal emptiness is not a chemical substance.
A popular black preacher in America warns his congregation from time to time: "Some of you think you can drown your troubles in drink. But I want to remind you, 'Troubles can swim!'" Those who seek help in drugs are, like Ahaziah, looking in the wrong place.
Paul pointed to the only source that can fill man's emptiness. He said that God is the "God of all comfort" (2 Cor. 1:3). Genuine comfort comes only through faith in God. It cannot be found anywhere else. Ahaziah failed to understand this basic truth.