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Moab Rebels Against Israel
After the death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel. Moab was under tribute to Israel, but used the change of rule to withdraw from the power of Ahab’s successor. As a result, a large part of the income of the king of Israel was lost (2Kgs 3:4). The purpose of mentioning this fact is probably to indicate that God’s discipline is also felt politically and economically. If a king of God’s people turns away from God, it is also at the expense of his power over the enemies of God’s people.
Ahaziah Wants to Consult an Idol
Ahaziah’s behavior (1Kgs 22:52-53) brought God’s discipline upon him. He fell out of the window and had to keep to his bed. The fact that Ahaziah fell down from his upper chamber, is in contrast to the direction of Elijah’s pathway, which was going higher and higher. In this chapter Elijah sat on a mountain and in the next chapter he was taken up into heaven.
Often a sickbed is the place where a person is given the opportunity to reflect on his life; an opportunity which God likes to use to point people to Himself. With Ahaziah things were different; while on his sickbed, he made it clear on whom he placed his hope. He turned to “the god of Ekron”. Ekron was a city of the Philistines.
Ahaziah sent messengers abroad to the Philistines, to consult one of their gods, Baal-zebub, which means ‘lord of the flies’. He resorted to demons to ask them how his illness would go. Ahaziah did not even ask whether the idol wanted to heal him. He only wanted to know how he was going to end up. He asked for a prediction of the future. This is in direct contradiction of what God has said in His Word; this behavior was an abomination to Him (Deu 18:10-12).
A lot of people today are following in Ahaziah’s footsteps, to satisfy their curiosity about the future. They do not resort to God’s Word, but seek salvation with soothsayers, horoscopes and other occult means. All these occult occupations are extremely dangerous. People who do this surrender to devilish powers.
Ahaziah’s action was an enormous insult to the LORD. Ahaziah completely ignored God. One of the worst things a person can do to another is to ignore him completely. This insult was suffered by God from the leader of His people.
The Word of the LORD for Ahaziah
In both His indignation and His faithfulness, the Lord sent Elijah to the messengers, with a word for Ahaziah. This way Ahaziah received an answer sooner than he expected. Elijah had to tell Ahaziah how the LORD saw his future. Messengers must always convey the message. God’s message was the penetrating question: “Is it because there is no God in Israel …?” That was the question that should have brought Ahaziah to repentance.
The Lord always wants to point out to us that He is there, through all kinds of events that happen to us. He wants us to know that we can go to Him with everything. This also means that we should not set our expectations on people or gods to know how things will go.
Isaiah also once spoke to the people in a way similar to what we read here of Elijah (Isa 8:19-22). In the days of Isaiah, the people resorted to spirit mediums, instead of accepting the signs and messages that God gives. Whoever does not believe in the Word of God, seeks advice and help from other sources.
The LORD reproached the people for this by asking two rhetorical questions: “Should not a people consult their God? [Should they consult] the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isa 8:19). These were questions that corresponded to what Ahaziah was asked. Instead of consulting the living God, dead idols were consulted, but behind those dead idols were evil spirits (1Cor 10:19-20).
Ahaziah Recognizes Elijah
The messengers reported on what Elijah had told them. It seems that they were not even aware that they had met Elijah. They talked about “a man”. Ahaziah then asked what he looked like. They were able to describe that man. From the description, Ahaziah drew the correct conclusion that it was Elijah. He did not forget Elijah.
Elijah’s clothing gave him a unique appearance, and his clothes characterized him. He had a service of simplicity and therefore of strength. The clothes he wore carried that message, as it were. He did not walk in soft clothes, like distinguished people (Mt 11:8). John the baptist was also characterized by the simplicity of his clothing and the simplicity of his food (Mt 3:4).
Can people also see from our attitude and behavior, that we are not part of a world lying “in [the power of] the evil one” (1Jn 5:19)? Where everything is determined by man’s thinking, can they see by our Christian behavior, that we do not allow ourselves to be carried away to fit in the world’s mold? Can God use us to give a clear testimony of Him, that He is there?
Ahaziah Wants to Capture Elijah
Ahaziah no longer had to go to the god of Ekron. He now knew where he stood regarding his illness. His sickbed was to be his deathbed. Instead of accepting this and bowing before God, Ahaziah wanted to kill Elijah. He believed in idolatrous superstition that he could break the curse – for that is how he saw Elijah’s announcement – if he eliminated Elijah. He only looked at the instrument and not at God. He sent a captain of fifty with his fifty to bring Elijah to him.
The captain found Elijah, sitting alone on top of the hill. Elijah was there in peace and quiet. He was on a hilltop, the right place for a man of God. It speaks symbolically of his separation from a godless environment and of being close to God. The captain spoke to him as “man of God”. He acknowledged who Elijah was by doing so. However, he did not bow down to him, but ordered him to go with him by command of the king.
Like the third captain did, he could have bowed down and approached Elijah with respect, as was Elijah’s due as a man of God. However, this was not the case with him. The captain was a guilty man and so were his men. They could all have listened to the message of the man of God and resisted Ahaziah in his wicked mission.
Elijah’s response to the command of the captain was that he called fire to come down from heaven. The two times that Elijah commanded fire come down from heaven were the last acts of his service among the people. It was characteristic of his entire service, which was a service of judgment. In a way, his service on Mt Carmel did not bring the desired result, because the national revival that seemed to come on Mt Carmel did not lead to renewed faith in God. There was also fire from heaven at that time. But that fire came down on an innocent sacrifice. Now fire came on the people of God, but a people, who in their leader, had completely surrendered themselves to Baal.
Two of the disciples of the Lord Jesus also once wanted fire to come down from heaven. They asked the Lord for permission to do so (Lk 9:54). However, it was not the right thing to ask. The Lord Jesus forbade them, for His service was not a service of judgment, but of grace (Lk 9:55-56). During His life on earth, it was not yet the day of revenge, it was not yet the time for the exercise of judgment. That time will come. In the future, men will appear who make fire come out of their mouths to consume their enemies (Rev 11:5).
Apparently, Ahaziah didn’t mind that fifty-one people of his army had been killed by God’s fire. He remained unrepentant. Once again he sent a captain with his fifty. This man acted in the spirit of his predecessor and his king. He also called Elijah “man of God”, but he also lacked the corresponding reverence due to the man of God. He ordered Elijah to come with him even more strongly than his predecessor. In the words “come down quickly”, it is said that he saw Elijah as a troublesome, opposing child. That ‘child’ had already said ‘no’ once, but he shouldn’t have dared to do it again with him.
The man had not considered the warning of the judgment of his predecessor. The same judgment struck him. As the captain had ordered more strongly, the description of the judgment was also stronger. Now there was not only talk of “fire came down from heaven” (2Kgs 1:10), but of “the fire of God came down from heaven” (2Kgs 1:12).
Ahaziah remained unrepentant even after the death of the second captain with his fifty. He sent a third captain with his fifty. This man showed a different mind. We see him bowing down before Elijah on his knees, out of due respect for the man of God. He acknowledged the justice of judgment over his two predecessors. He realized that only grace could save him and his fifties and appealed to that. Elijah then received a word from the LORD to go with this captain and not order fire to come down on him and his fifty.
When Elijah came to Ahaziah, he had nothing else to say to him on behalf of the LORD, but what Ahaziah already knew from what Elijah had said to the messengers. God does not change His thoughts about a man, if that man does not change his thoughts about Him.
Death of Ahaziah
There was no sign of repentance from Ahaziah after all that had happened. He died in his sins. Ahaziah died “according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken”. It testified to the truth that God does not change His word. It also bore witness to the faithfulness of Elijah, who spoke this word and no other word. This is also an important lesson for us: we must speak only God’s Word.
Because Ahaziah had no son, his brother Jehoram became king in his place.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Kings 1". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13