We noted at the beginning of our study that the break between 1 & 2 Kings is an arbitrary division. The Hebrew copies of the scripture keep these books as one but were later divided due to their size. The reason that this is important to note is so that you will not think that we have a new theme or new teaching segment when you come into 2 Kings. In fact, you will notice that the book breaks in the middle of Ahaziah’s reign, the son of Ahab. So our study will come from the end of 1 Kings 22 and then continue into 2 Kings 1.
Ahab was killed in battle. God had told Ahab through the prophet Micaiah that he would die at Ramoth-gilead if he went up and battled against the king of Syria. But he disregarded the word of the Lord and died by a random arrow shot by a soldier. This was God’s judgment on Ahab’s wickedness. We are told that Ahab’s son, Ahaziah, take the throne upon Ahab’s death and he will reign for only two years (1 Kings 22:51). He did not learn from his father’s mistakes but continued those mistakes, doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Think about this: the text says that he walked in the ways of his father and his mother (22:52). He was like Ahab and Jezebel and angered the Lord in every way that his father had (22:53). This is an important introduction to what we are about to see regarding Ahaziah in 2 Kings 1.
A Fatal Injury (1:1-8)
Ahaziah laid injured after falling through the lattice in his upper chamber. He wants to know if he is going to recover from this injury. So he sends messengers to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron to find out the answer. Ekron is a city in Philistia. He wants to hear from a false god that the Philistines worship in Ekron. The angel of the Lord tells Elijah to go intercept these messengers and give them a message from the Lord. The message has two parts. First, you have the God of Israel that you are refusing to consult and are going all the way to Philistia to consult the god of Ekron! You have the true and living God near you. But you would rather go all the way to Philistia instead. Second, you will not leave your bed. You will certainly die.
So the messengers return to Ahaziah. Of course, he is surprised that they have returned so quickly. They explain that a man met them on the way and told them to come back and give this message to you. So then they tell the two part message to Ahaziah. The king asks what sort of man came up to meet them and told them these words. They describe the man as covered in hair and wearing a leather belt. With this description, Ahaziah immediately knows that they had encountered Elijah.
Learning The Hard Way (1:9-18)
How will Ahaziah respond to this message? He sends an army for Elijah. He sends a captain of his army with fifty of his men to go get Elijah. Now what are you planning on doing if you take an army of 50 men plus a captain to go get one man? It is obviously not for a discussion. They are not planning on having a tea together and discussing why Elijah said what he said. At best, they are coming to arrest him and drag him back to the king to be treated like Ahab treated Micaiah. At worst, they are coming to kill him as soon as Elijah comes down from this mountain like Jezebel treated the other prophets of God.
But Elijah seizes on something the captain says. The captain calls Elijah a man of God. So Elijah wants to show that what he said is true. Elijah says, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty” (1:10). Now some people get upset at this but an important message is being given. Elijah is certainly proving that he is a man of God. But think about the last time the fire of God came down from heaven. The last time this happened was on Mount Carmel as God was showing himself to be the true God, showing the Baal to be a false god, showing Elijah to be truly from God, and trying to turn the hearts of the people back to him. God powerfully shows himself to be the true God. God is displaying his glory so that someone will remember that this happened before But does Ahaziah learn? No, in verse 11 he sends another captain with another 50 men. The captain orders the man of God to come down quickly and Elijah has the same response. If he is a man of God, let fire come down and consume you. Then fire comes down and consumes them again.
Does Ahaziah learn? No. He sends another captain with another 50 men. Thankfully, the captain learned what Ahaziah refuses to learn. He approaches Elijah and begins the same way, “O man of God….” But rather than ordering Elijah to come down, he says something different. “O man of God, please let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight” (1:13). He continues in verse 14 that he has seen what happened to the others and begs for mercy. The angel of the Lord tells Elijah to go with this man and to not fear for his life.
Elijah gives the same message to Ahaziah that he had the messengers give to him. Because you decided to inquire of the god of Ekron rather than the God of Israel, you will not recover from your injury and will surely die. Just as the word of the Lord declared, Ahaziah dies (1:17).
So what is God showing us about himself that he wants us to learn. First, God hates when you turn somewhere else first. Three times the message is declared, “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?” (1:3,6,16) This is the primary message of the chapter. God hates it when you turn somewhere else first. God hates it when you do not come to him first when you need something or want something. God hates this so much that Elijah says that the reason Ahaziah is not going to recover is because he did not turn to the Lord, but turned to the god of Ekron. God’s question is very simple. Do you not have me? Is there not the God of Israel in your midst that you can turn to? It is not like you do not have me. So why are you not turning to me? Why are you going elsewhere with your problems and difficulties?
Let me illustrate the problem in this way. Imagine having children that, when trouble hits, do not turn to their parents for help, but turn to random strangers. Can you imagine this? The stranger may ask the child if they have talked to their parents about this and they would say no. Why do you not ask your parents? You should talk to them first. But this is not exactly the point. Imagine how insulted the parents would feel if the children did not talk to them first. Imagine how hurt you would feel. This is what God is saying. God is telling us that he is right here among us. So why do we refuse to go to him first?
So we need to consider when we are in crisis, when we are in turmoil, when we are in pain, when we are in depression, and when we are in difficulty, where do you turn first? Where we first turn is our idol. Do we turn to money, medicine, family, government, work, internet, friends, alcohol, sex, our own wisdom, or some other outlet? Where do you first turn to for help? We have a song that makes the very point of this chapter. “When sore trials came upon you, did you think to pray?” In our difficulty and desperation, did you think to pray? I want to encourage our prayer life by hearing what God himself is asking us. Is there no God here among us that we can ask? Pray because God is saying that he is right here waiting for you and he is hurt when we do not turn to him. He hates it when we do not turn to him. Whatever you are going through, God wants you to turn to him first. God wants you to give it to him. He is not far from you. He is near and he is waiting for you to inquire of him.
Second, God’s judgment is to teach us and humble us. The only smart person in Israel that we read in this chapter is the third captain that is sent to Elijah. He defies the orders of his king because he understands that Elijah truly is a man of God. The fire of God comes down repeatedly, but Ahaziah is not learning the point. The first captain and the second captain did not learn how to come to Elijah. But the third one does. Look again at his declaration to Elijah. Please let my life and these servants be precious in your sight. Look at his posture as well. He fell on his knees and pleaded with Elijah for his life. The judgment of God is supposed to bend our stubborn will. The judgment of God is supposed to put us on our knees before the Lord. This captain learned that we do not tell the man of God what to do but we listen to the man of God and plead for our lives. What is God doing with these judgments is trying to get us to get on our knees so that we do not have to experience judgment! Resisting the Lord is foolish. Trusting elsewhere is useless. Judgment is certain if we do not turn to the Lord first and humble ourselves before him. Turn to the Lord first in humility and find a gracious God who loves you, who listens to you, and who helps you in your time of need.