2 Kings 1:1-18 – Elijah Denounces Ahaziah

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2Kings 1:1

  1. Moab was a land east of the Dead Sea. King David had defeated the Moabites in his time and Moab had been under Israel’s control ever since (2 Sam 8:2). When Ahab dies, Moab takes the opportunity to rebel and free themselves from Israel’s sovereignty.

2Kings 1:2

  1. King Ahaziah had an accident and was seriously injured when he fell from the second floor of his palace. At this time, many houses had upper floors with balconies fitted with wooden grills to prevent view, but which could break easily.
    1. Jesus is clear in Luke 13:4-5 that you don’t suffer misfortune just because you are a sinner. Accidents can happen to anyone, whether you are a king or a slave, righteous or unrighteous. What determines whether one is righteous is not whether or not one suffers an accident, for everyone does so sooner or later, more or less, but rather how one deals with the accident that has befallen one.
      1. The first thing King Ahaziah does when he is struck by misfortune is to seek advice from the idol Baal-Sebub. This is despite the fact that Yahweh is the God of Israel and despite the fact that there is a mighty prophet and man of God in the land.
  2. Ekron was an important Philistine city about 4 miles west of Jerusalem.
  3. “Baal-Sebub” means “lord of the flies”. Baal was sometimes portrayed as a god who healed people by expelling flies. This was because flies flew between feces and spread diseases to people. If Baal-Sebub was considered a god of healing who could heal people of disease, it makes more sense why King Ahaziah turned to that particular god for advice about his illness.
    1. “Baal-Sebub” could also be a derogatory play on words by the Israelites on “Baal-Sebul” which means “lord of the (heavenly) dwelling”.
    1. In the New Testament, the devil is sometimes called Beelzebub (Luke 11:15-23).

2Kings 1:3-4

  1. In Old Testament times, it was not uncommon to worship several different gods depending on what was needed. People prayed to one god for a good harvest, another god for a good marriage and a third god to be cured of their illness. So when Ahaziah turns to Baal-Sebub for healing, it does not necessarily mean that he has completely abandoned faith in the Lord God. Many of the Israelites prayed both to the Lord God and to other gods.
  2. King Ahaziah’s prayer and appeal to the idol Baal-Sebub was not hidden from the Lord. God has an interest in having a relationship with his people and does not want them to turn to any other god. The Lord God does not want any competition but wants to be the only God of Israel.
  3. Neither God nor Elijah has been asked, but they respond anyway. God’s word through the prophet Elijah is that King Ahaziah will die. This is not a “punishment” from God but a consequence of Ahaziah falling. Because Ahaziah is told what will happen, he is offered an opportunity to repent before he dies.

2Kings 1:5-8

  1. King Ahaziah’s emissaries do not complete their mission but return after encountering Elijah, who must have made a strong impression on the emissaries.
  2. Prophets at this time sometimes seem to have dressed in some kind of “hair cloak” (Zech 13:4). Even John the Baptist wore a hair cloak with a leather belt around his waist, which, among other things, led people to associate John with Elijah (John 1:19-21).

2Kings 1:9-10

  1. It seems that both King Ahaziah and his commanders understand that God is real and that Elijah is his prophet and “man of God”, but at the same time they do not want to humble themselves before God but instead arrogantly seize Elijah by force. This shows that neither King Ahaziah nor his commanders have any respect for Elijah or God. The fact that the king sends a command with as many as fifty soldiers to seize an old man shows that they truly understand how potentially powerful the Lord God is.
  2. If you come against God with fifty men and are ready to fight, then perhaps you should not be surprised if God shows his power.
  3. Notice that Elijah himself does not send down any fire from heaven, but leaves it to God. As a prophet, Elijah has no right to kill 50 soldiers on his own accord anyway. Elijah left the judgment to the Lord (Rom 12:19).
  4. It is ironic that when the commander commands Elijah to “come down”, fire instead came “down from heaven”.

2Kings 1:11-12

  1. Instead of letting the death of the fifty soldiers lead to the realization of how impossible it is to fight against the Lord, King Ahaziah hardens himself even more and sends fifty more men!
  2. Instead of humbling himself and approaching Elijah with respect, King Ahaziah chooses to take an even harder line. When commander number two arrives, he repeats the same mistake as his predecessor, but adds “come down at once!”
    1. Neither God nor his prophets can be made to obey. If you realize that you are de facto fighting against God, you should humble yourself and repent.

2Kings 1:13-15

  1. The third commander approached the prophet Elijah with humility and a realization that he was indeed a man of God. He had no desire whatsoever to fight either the Lord or the Lord’s prophet.
  2. King Ahaziah vainly tried to subdue God with human military might and failed. But when the third in command approaches the prophet with humility, he is received by God.
  3. An important lesson from this episode is to always approach God with humility and respect. We have no right to either silence God’s word or demand that God heal us. God is God and man is man.

2Kings 1:16

  1. Elijah delivers exactly the same message to King Ahaziah that he delivered to the king’s emissaries. Elijah did not change or embellish his message depending on who he was speaking to. Whether he was speaking to the king or to ordinary people, he was equally clear and courageous.
  2. When the first two commanders approached God with military might and aggressiveness, it led to their deaths. When the third commander approached God with humility and respect, he was allowed to live. This shows us that if King Ahaziah had chosen to humble himself and approach God with respect, he would have lived. Instead, he chose to approach God with military might and aggressiveness and died.

2Kings 1:17-18

  1. King Ahaziah lost control of Moab, he fell in a botched accident, he turned to idols for help, and he tried to use military force against God. In the end, he died because of his own clumsiness. King Ahaziah stands out as a good example of a bad leader.
  2. King Ahaziah’s brief appearance in the Bible begins with his involvement in a botched accident and ends with his death. Between the beginning and the end of his story is the spiritual lesson that the way to life is to approach God with humility and respect.
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