The Expository Files

The King's False God

1 Kings 22:51-2 Kings 1:18

Ahaziah was not a good king. That is not surprising, considering who his parents were. Ahab and Jezebel certainly reproduced "after their kind" in more ways than one. They say that "the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree." Well, sometimes it does, but not this time.

The Scriptures state that Ahaziah "did 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 caused Israel to sin." (I Kings 22:52). He only reigned for two years, and during his reign Israel continued its moral, spiritual and national decline. Moab, which had become a vassal state of Israel under David generations before, successfully revolted against Ahaziah.

It is ironic that Ahaziah's name means "whom Jehovah holds." He could have chosen to live up to his name. But I suppose that his misgiven name is no more ironic than having "in God we trust" on the coins of a nation whose media and entertainment industry, and sometimes courts, are so contemptible of God and His word.

The account of Ahaziah's reign is found in I Kings 22:51-II Kings 1:18. We find that Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper chamber. The fall severely injured him, and he became bedridden hoping that he would recover. He sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, as to whether he would recover or not.

However, and angel of the LORD told Elijah the prophet to meet the messengers on the road and send them back to the king. Elijah was to tell them to relay this message to king Ahaziah; "Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, god of Ekron? Now therefore thus says the LORD, 'You shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but you shall surely die."

This made the king angry, so he sent one of his captains with fifty men to arrest Elijah. It wasn't difficult to find Elijah; he was sitting up on a hill. The captain disdainfully ordered Elijah to come down, whereupon Elijah called upon God to send down fire from heaven and consume the captain and his fifty. The fire came.

The king sent yet another captain and his fifty. This captain was even more disrespectful of Elijah and his God. He called out to Elijah, "O man of God, thus says the king, come down quickly." Again, Elijah called upon God for fire, and it came.

The king sent yet another captain and his fifty, but this time the captain bowed down before Elijah and pleaded for his life and the life of his men. The angel of the LORD instructed Elijah to go with the captain and not be afraid. Elijah thus went to the king and repeated the same message; that the king, having sought the counsel of a false god, would surely die. Indeed, Ahaziah died according to the word of the Lord, just as Elijah had spoken, and because he had no son Jehoram, his brother, became king of Israel in his place.

Elijah's Task
"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?' Now therefore thus says the Lord, 'You shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but you shall surely die." (II Kings 1:3,4). What is the responsibility of men and women of God in an immoral or spiritually deprived environment? Though perhaps we are not sent directly in the same manner as Elijah was, our obligations are very similar. Our message is that without Christ, we will die in our sins. Our message is that false hopes built on philosophies of men are not helpful at all. Humanism will not save our nation; nor will materialism or hedonism. Atheism is bankrupt, marxism is a failure wherever it has been tried. Technology is fine, but it cannot make people what they ought to be spiritually. Without a proper respect for the principles of Scriptural truth there quite simply is no more hope for our nation than there was for Israel and its king, Ahaziah. Without God, we, too, "shall surely die."

Elijah's Convincing Style
"When the messengers returned to him (the king) he said to them, 'Why have you returned?" (II Kings 1:5). The messengers never completed their trip to Ekron. After meeting Elijah on the road, they returned to the king just as directed by the prophet of God.

Elijah no doubt spoke with confidence and authority. He was not there to compromise. Compromising is fine in some things, but not when it comes to God's word. The problem with many today is that they lack such confidence even when speaking of things about which God's word speaks plainly. In many denominations, there are conflicting voices from every quarter about moral issues which the Bible clearly addresses.

If we are to do our world any good at all, we must be willing to say what needs to be said the way it needs to be said. It is our duty to treat our fellow human beings with honor and dignity, but not to compromise truth. In the confusion that has resulted from religious people being "tolerant" many folks wouldn't know a sin if it came up and bit them. How unimpressive it is to those in the world when those who claim to be Christians cannot make up there minds whether a sin is a sin. They must haggle, fuss and vote on it. Why not just accept what God says? Isn't that what faith is all about?

ELijah's Mocking Opponents
"So he again sent to him another captain of fifty... 'O man of God, thus says the king, 'Come down quickly." (II Kings 1:11). The king and his captain evidently thought that at their command Elijah and his God would jump. This is certainly a show of disrespect. It is also probably typical of the way think of God and His people today. People so depraved in their attitudes toward God will likely never be persuaded by the reasonableness of the gospel.

Elijah's Obedience
"And the angel of the LORD said to Elijah, 'Go down with him; do not be afraid of him." (II Kings 1:15). Elijah was directed by the Lord to go with the third captain. This captain knew what he was up against. The haughtiness was gone. Sometimes, tragedy and danger will wake people up to what they should have recognized all along.

Elijah went to the king and repeated his first message to the king's face. The truth had not changed, so neither had Elijah's message. Because of the king's faithlessness, he would surely die.

Elijah's Vindication
"So Ahaziah died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken..." (I Kings 1:17). Christians today warn of the consequences born by nations who refuse God. Strife, turmoil, upheaval, lawlessness, cruelty and dishonesty. We, too, have been vindicated. The headlines of our newspapers bear out the truthfulness of our warnings. "Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain." (Psalm 127:1).

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 20.2; February 2013