Finished 1st Kings! One more full chapter of Elijah before we jump into Elisha! Let’s do this!
King Ahab has died at this point, along with his wife, Jezebel. Elijah’s prophecy came true. Dogs did lick up their blood. Ahab’s son, Ahaziah, reigns in his stead now.
Ahaziah, (going to the Bible Dictionary now) was king of Israel. He did a joint maritime expedition with Jehoshaphat and was killed during the revolt of Moab. According to the last verse of 1st Kings 22, he was as evil as his mom and pops. He worshiped Baal. The maritime expedition was to go to Ophir for gold. In the Bible Dictionary, it says Ophir was probably a part of southern Arabia.
2nd Kings starts off with telling us that Moab rebelled after Ahab died. Time to go to the Bible Dictionary and see what the rebellion was all about and who the Moabites were. Cross reference map 10. The land of Moab is all east of the Dead Sea.
Moab was the son of Lots’ eldest daughter. Moab was the grandnephew of Abraham. The Moabites were akin to the Israelites and spoke a language that closely resembled Hebrew. There was constant warfare between the two nations, though.
Update: From my Ancient Near Eastern classes I’ve taken I learned that it was normal for kingdoms to rebel when a new King took the throne. This was to challenge their authority and see if they could hold on to the power of their predecessor.
Ahaziah Seeks Prophecy
King Ahaziah falls ill and asks his messengers to enquire of Baalzebub, god of Ekron, whether he shall die or not.
Who is Beelzebub?
Beelzebub is the name of a Philistine god. It is used as a title for the “Chief of the demons” or Satan. The Pharisees referred to him as the “Prince of the Devils.” Jesus denied that he cast out devils by the power of Beelzebub. It is linked to Baal. Cross reference the entry on the Philistines. Ekron makes up the part of the kingdom of the Philistines. With this in mind, the entry of Baal takes on a new meaning. Baal means lord or possessor. Scary. The Phoenician sun god. Can you see the cheap imitation? Baal is trying to be the sun! He can’t be the son, so he has to be the sun. In facsimile 2, God is portrayed as having a crown of eternal light (sun?) upon his head. You can make a loose connection there as well in that Baal is trying to be more important than he is. Trying to be the sun in peoples’ lives. Baal expresses the relationship between lord and slave. It is synonymous with the word shame. It became an offensive thing. Also, now that I know Baal worship was Satanic, I have an idea of how the worshipping may have occurred. From earlier in Elijah’s story, we hear about cutting and that sort of stuff. I won’t go into it further because I would rather write about other things. But I feel the cutting is just the tip of the iceberg. This discovery or link/connection I have made, makes me realize that there are only two sides to worship. You either worship God or Satan. Those who worship God always call him God or Heavenly Father. Those who worship Satan never or rarely call him by his correct name. He doesn’t want them to know the true nature of what they are doing.
The Messengers Receive Revelation From an Unexpected Source
The encounters Elijah has with people are always funny. Especially how it says the word of the Lord comes to him. We have no context of where or what he is doing. I can imagine Elijah going on these adventures that the scriptures recount but in the chapters between he is off doing his own thing in the desert until the Lord calls him again.
The Lord calls him. He tells Elijah to intercept these messengers and inquire if they seek Beelzebub in Ekron because they believe there is no God in Israel. Nevertheless, on behalf of the God of Israel, he tells the messengers that King Ahaziah will not recover and will die. And then he disappears.
The servants return (probably a lot earlier than expected.) The king asks them, “Why have ye turned back?” The servants tell him that a man met them, told them to turn back and you weren’t going to recover but were going to die. I can imagine the look on the king’s face right now. Probably a, “You’re kidding me right now, aren’t you? I have the dumbest servants!” face. If I were the king and wicked and unbelieving like Ahaziah, I probably would have asked him, “Well, why did you believe him?! I told you to go to Ekron and inquire of Baal, not some random guy on the street!” The servants probably would have shrugged and said, “Sorry.” The next questions I would have asked is what King Ahaziah asks. He says, “What manner of man was he which came up to meet you and told you these words?” Their reply is funny, “He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins, and he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.” Cross reference Mark 1:6. This is a very similar description of what John the Baptist wore. Cross reference Jesus the Christ (the book). I believe it talks about the clothing and significance of it. Not only being humble but also being the garb of one who lives in the desert. Which, as the Bible dictionary entry of John the Baptist states, he grew up in the desert until he was to start his ministry.
Soldiers Attempt to Arrest Elijah
Ahaziah gets mad. He probably knows all about Elijah from his dad or from when he was a kid. He sends a captain and 50 men to apprehend Elijah for the prediction. They find him sitting on top of a hill. What a silly sight! Elijah was sitting on top of the hill, an army of men at the bottom. The captain calls to Elijah, “Thou man of God, the king hath said, come down.” I wonder what Elijah thought after hearing this. Maybe he wondered why the soldiers aren’t coming all the way up to talk with him? Maybe they couldn’t? I don’t know. Perhaps the soldiers had heard about Elijah, and they didn’t want to provoke him? When you are on good terms with the Lord, I feel like you don’t fear anything. You can stand tall and assured that God accepts you and he will sustain you. Moreso since Elijah is a prophet. His power and authority are above that of kings. I am reminded of the scripture in 1 Nephi when Laman and Lemuel are lamenting the fact that Laban has so many men. 50, 100, etc…They say it would be easy for him to slay them. But Nephi knows differently. He knows and recognizes the Lord can do what he wants and to bring about his purposes. He has power over any number of soldiers.
The Roasting Begins
Elijah says to them, “If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy 50.” So it happens! Boom! Roasted! An enormous amount of fire comes down and destroys them! Just like that! No hesitations, just flaming death. I wonder if he was mad. It would have made this all the more dramatic. Why fire from Heaven? Why not something less violent? Like them collapsing dead? Honestly, though, no sense in asking this. Let’s leave it at that he likes fire. And if you can use it to consume a burnt offering completely, why not 50 soldiers? Cross reference Luke 9:54. A man refused to entertain Jesus and his apostles. The disciples asked Jesus if they could call down fire to consume the people. Jesus rebuked them saying that they were come to save men’s lives, not destroy them. Look at the other cross reference at the bottom. Helaman 13:13, 3 Nephi 9:11. These talk about how God will send fire down from Heaven to consume cities except he doesn’t for the righteous’ sake. But once they are removed, amen to that city. Why does it bring up cities being destroyed when it was people who were consumed in this instance? I know it is fire coming from Heaven but maybe other things? I don’t know.
A cool thing happens. The first captain and his 50 die. The king sends another captain and his 50. They as well are consumed. Total death count 100. A third captain and his 50 come. However, instead of being consumed, the leader falls on his knees before Elijah and pleads on behalf of his men and him to not let them be destroyed. I’m sure he saw the scorch marks of the first two sets and seeing he was standing on a giant target, probably is why he did this.
An Angel Appears
An angel appears unto Elijah (while he’s on top of the hill. The soldiers didn’t see?) and tells him to go with the soldiers and not be afraid of him. As I was reading this, I thought to myself of why the angel would appear to him? Couldn’t the spirit whisper to Elijah have been sufficient? Maybe something other than an angel appearing? Why the angel? A thought popped into my head while I had newly thought the question. It was something I read yesterday in a book I own about Abraham. In the story I read, the Lord Jesus Christ himself appears unto Abraham, shortly before the city of Sodom was to be destroyed. The book said, and may have cited a prophet on this, that the Lord is more eager to appear in person among his children than any of us could imagine or believe. Could this be a similar instance, except with an angel? Are the Lord’s angels more than eager to appear and minister unto us? I don’t know. It rings true to me.
The angel tells him not to be afraid. Do you think Elijah was afraid? I can’t imagine he would be. But I sure would if 50 soldiers came to get me. But consider that he has already confronted and had killed 400 prophets. But at the same time, though, he fled when Jezebel issued that death threat. I don’t think afraid is the right word to use. He was probably nervous. He trusted the Lord a lot, but the current situation made him nervous. Despite being a prophet, he’s mortal. He is still prone to human feelings. Maybe he was told not to be afraid in the sense that you are fearful for your life but are timid or uncertain. The angel told him to go, and he went.
Elijah’s Prophecy Comes to Pass
Elijah follows the soldiers back to the king. Elijah tells him the same thing he told the messengers. And it comes to pass. That was blunt. He did not waste any time with fluffy words. As far as we know. He got straight to the point and told the king he was going to die. Maybe he was a little irritated that no one believed him? He had already told the messengers; he had probably told each group of soldiers the same, and now he had to do it again in person. I have nothing to back that thought up. Just speculation.
After Ahaziah dies, Jehoram reigns. Cross reference 2 Kings3:1. This is the son of Ahab as well because according to verse 17 of chapter 1, Ahaziah had no sons. Also coincidently, the name of the king of Judah at the time, Jehoram, starts reigning. Cross reference 2 kings 3:1 again. I think Jehoram of Israel, the one who just became king, overlapped with Jehoshaphat before Jehoram takes over.
That’s it for chapter 1 of 2nd Kings. Join me next time!