2 Kings 1-3 What kind of man was he?

From 2 Kings 1-3

11 crown cross


Second Kings continues the saga of disobedience begun in 1 Kings, opening about 850 B.C. with the conclusion of Elijah’s prophetic ministry in Israel and the beginning of the work of his successor, Elisha. Israel spiraled downward in faithlessness, ultimately being defeated and dispersed by the Assyrians in 722. Judah, the southern kingdom, had several kings who trusted God and attempted reforms. But after many years of God’s warnings through Isaiah and other prophets, Judah’s sins were punished by Babylonian conquest starting in 605 and ultimately in the fall of Jerusalem in 586. The people were exiled to Babylon for seventy years, as prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer. 29:10). God remained faithful to his covenant despite his people’s faithlessness. The author of 2 Kings is unknown. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (2 Ki). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

The first book of Kings has not ended well. It describes the current king of Israel in less than favourable terms.

51 Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned two years over Israel. 52 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. 53 He served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger in every way that his father had done. (1 Ki 22.51-53)

Elijah still continues in his ministry and in our passage today he predicts the end of Ahaziah’s reign.

1 After the death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel. 2 Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber in Samaria, and lay sick; so he sent messengers, telling them, “Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness.” (2 Ki 1:1–2)

Im not sure what they made their houses out of, but perhaps his house could have been built better. Ahaziah has fallen and injured himself. Perhaps his wounds have been infected. He reveals his lack of faith in the LORD by inquiring of a foreign god. He is an idolater. This provokes the LORD further, who then sends Elijah in response.

3 But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? 4 Now therefore thus says the LORD, You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’ ” So Elijah went. (2 Ki 1:3–4)

Elijah receives the message from the LORD and intercepts the messengers on their way to the ‘god’ of Ekron. The LORD answers Ahaziah’s question for him. But its not the answer he is hoping for. Elijah then tells them not to bother with the god of Ekron and to head back to the king. Which they do.

5 The messengers returned to the king, and he said to them, “Why have you returned?” 6 And they said to him, “There came a man to meet us, and said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you, and say to him, Thus says the LORD, Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’ ” (2 Ki 1:5-6)

The LORD told Elijah what the kings question was and I suspect where to intercept the messengers. That in itself may convince him the answer is from someone who has supernatural knowledge. Still given the unfavourable response he received Ahaziah wants to know who it came from.

7 He said to them, “What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?” 8 They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.” (2 Ki 1:7-8)

The man wore a garment of hair with a leather belt. I guess Ahaziah knows only one man who wears that kind of apparel.

9 Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty men with his fifty. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’ ” 10 But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. (2 Ki 1:9-10)

Elijah is afraid of them because he knows Ahaziah has no respect for the LORD. Perhaps he is also angered by the the way they ask, “the king says ‘come down'”. These men get burned alive.

11 Again the king sent to him another captain of fifty men with his fifty. And he answered and said to him, “O man of God, this is the king’s order, ‘Come down quickly!’ ” 12 But Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. (2 Ki 1:11-12)

“This is the kings order, ‘come down quickly!'” That was a mistake. Burned again. What will the next do?

13 Again the king sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up and came and fell on his knees before Elijah and entreated him, “O man of God, please let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight. 14 Behold, fire came down from heaven and consumed the two former captains of fifty men with their fifties, but now let my life be precious in your sight.” (2 Ki 1:13-14)

This captain has more sense saying, “O man of God, please…”.

15 Then the angel of the LORD said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So he arose and went down with him to the king 16 and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron—is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word?—therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’ ” (2 Ki 1:15-16)

The LORD encourages Elijah and he goes with them passing the message to Ahaziah. After all the warnings the LORD has given, Ahaziah has not repented by the time Elijah comes to repeat the message.

17 So he died according to the word of the LORD that Elijah had spoken. Jehoram became king in his place in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, because Ahaziah had no son. 18 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? (2 Ki 1:17–18).

This event describes the last recorded of Elijah in the book of Kings. Elijah will be taken up to heaven by fiery chariots and Elisha his young protege will take on his role with double the share of the Spirit Elijah had.
Moab will rebel against Israel. In putting down the uprising Jehoram (evil) the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat (good) the king of Judah will join forces to quell them. Their forces rout the Moabites and they only escape when their king in desperation offers up his own son in sacrifice bring wrath against Israel, who then retreated (2 Ki 3.27).

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

The book of kings has been describing the descent of Israel and Judah into sin and idolatry. Ahaziah’s idolatry is but one example. Throughout most of the history in the book of kings we have been spared the massive judgments we will see in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. But these letters don’t always pronounce judgment. There are pockets of hope.

Story of Jesus

Much later we will see another man dressed like Elijah was.

6 Now John [the baptist] was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. (Mk 1.6)

It seems to be the required dress for prophets. Clothed in hair with a leather belt. Except this prophet had a much better announcement that the one Elijah gave Ahaziah.

2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, .“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ” (Lk 3:1–6)

Picking up on Isaiah’s prophecy and clothed in camels hair, John the baptist announced the coming of Jesus Christ.

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