Elijah: Is it Because There is no God? (2 Kings 1)

Introduction

•  It’s New Year’s eve – I don’t imagine that too many people are sitting this evening reading and thinking about II Kings chapter 1.

•  Oh that they would for the message of this part of the Word of God is a message that our nation needs to hear, that men and women of this town need to hear.

•  The theme of the chapter before us this evening is simple to find – revealed by the repeating phrase, v3, 6, 16 Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to enquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?

•  It is the time of year when many are thinking and planning for the year ahead.

•  Many are wondering what the year ahead will hold. And in every newspaper, magazine, on every radio station on every TV channel they have been wheeling out their gurus who predict the future, their pychics, their horoscope experts – wanting to know the future.

•  And surely the cry of heaven that went out in Elijah’s day goes out in our day, Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to enquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?

•  And as we take this question as our theme let us note three main things in the passage.

1. Listen to What God Says

•  Sadly Ahaziah is very much in the mould of his wicked father Ahab, it is a definite case of like father, like son.

•  We see something of the state of Ahaziah’s life and heart in I Kings 22:52 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father….v53 he served Baal and worshipped him and provoked the LORD the God of Israel to anger in every way that his father had done.

•  Can you imagine having Ahab as your daddy and Jezebel as mummy? It was a wicked blasphemous, idolatrous home. Saw things children should never see.

•  Now our society would say – this poor boy it is not his fault that he is the way that he is.

•  But the Bible says – yes this wicked home had an impact on the boy, and that parents have responsibility for their children.

•  But the Bible also holds Ahaziah responsible for his own sin.

•  He surely knew of the contest on Carmel – heard that Baal was not God. But he rejects that, he loves his sin.

•  He knew what Elijah had said concerning his father’s death and how that had been fulfilled but he continued to sin against the light.

•  Do you see how dead the human heart is?

•  But look at how merciful God is – God fires a warning shot across his bows.

•  There is trouble in the kingdom II Kings 1:1 Moab rebelled against Israel . But on he goes, never asking why has God bought this.

•  So God lowers the sights and the next shot is not across the bows of his life – but right into him.

•  V2 he falls through the lattice roof and he has some serious injuries as a result.

•  But what does he do in the midst of his troubles? Do his troubles make him turn to the living God?

•  If we only knew his name we might think yes he will turn to the Lord for – his name means the Lord has chosen.

•  But Ahaziah does not choose to listen to the Lord in the midst of his troubles. Yes he knows that he needs help in his trouble but look at what he does, look at where he turns to for his help and guidance.

•  V2 Go and enquire of Baal – Zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness.

•  In the midst of trouble in his kingdom and in his personal life this man who was brought up amongst the covenant people of God turns to the pagan god Baal – Zebub for direction and help.

•  The name Baal – Zebub means Lord of the Flies. In light of this Matthew Henry calls Baal – Zebub a “dunghill deity.” (1)

•  And so it is to the dunghill deity that Ahaziah turns in his trouble rather than to the living God and His Word.

•  What a message for the world that we live in – there are many who are in trouble – and where do they turn? – to dunghill deities the Baal – Zebubs of human reasoning and worldly help.

•  Here is a woman and she is troubled by sin in her life, she has a guilty conscience, she can’t sleep, she can’t eat. But she won’t turn to God, instead she prefers the wisdom of the world that says she is to hard on herself and needs to lighten up and relax, and not think about her sin.

•  If Ahaziah had been alive today he would have been rushing to read his horoscope

•  But it is not only non Christians that resort to dunghill deities – Christians can do it too, flocking to their Baal – Zebub or their Ekron. Some trouble appears in a Christian man’s life, he has some situation that needs to be seen too – and who will he listen to – sadly many opt for the advice of the dunghill deities of the world rather than the wisdom of the Word of God.

•  It is happening in families. Many families are chaos, Christian families. What will we do, there is all this trouble, stress in the home, hard to handle teenagers, and many are busy running to Baal – Zebub the god of Ekron, busy listening to worldly wisdom about how to raise a family rather than the Word of God. Tuning in to Trisha.

•  It is happening in the church – troubles with members refusing to walk in the Word, trouble with lack of growth and many are turning to the wisdom of the world and dunghill deities of human reasoning rather than the word of God. Let’s leave aside preaching, bring in the band.

•  And I can’t help wonder if the Lord is still not declaring this word given for Ahaziah. Is it because there is no God in Israel that you enquire of Baal – Zebub, the god of Ekron?

•  Could it be that He is saying this very thing to someone here tonight. Is there someone here tonight and you are not yet saved, but you are facing trouble in your heart, sense of sin. Where will you find relief? Not with the advice of the gods of this world but with the living God in His Word that tells you to flee to Jesus Christ.

•  Or Christian you have a situation in your life, some trouble in your family, in your workplace that is escalating and all that you are doing about it is seeking the wisdom of the world rather that the Word of Almighty God.

•  Oh yes you would not be so crass to dial up some tarot card hotline, maybe even make a pretence of prayer, but not listening to the Word.

•  Is it because there is no God in Israel that you enquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron?

2. Refusing to Listen to what God says Leads to Increasing Hardness of Heart

•  Let’s think for a moment about this character Ahaziah. He is appointed king over Israel after his father Ahab. As king he is supposed to be leading the people of God in the ways of God.

•  But this man like his father chooses to serve Baal and worship Baal.

•  Think of all the opportunities that he has had. As a child of Ahab and Jezebel he will be aware of all the Lord’s dealings with his family – dogs have licked up his father’s blood as the Word of the Lord foretold.

•  But this man stubbornly refuses to yield his heart and life to the Lord. And that stubbornness continues as God speaks to him from his trouble and still Ahaziah turns away.

•  And then look what happens in our chapter. The Lord gives command to Elijah to go and meet the messengers that Ahaziah has sent out to go to Ekron. And he has some stark news v4 You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.

•  V5 tells us that the messengers return to pass on the message to the king. And as soon as the king hears the message you can almost see his hackles rising v7 What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things.

•  He knows already and when that is confirmed in v8 by Elijah’s distinctive uniform Ahaziah says with clenched teeth, It is Elijah the Tishbite .

•  You see the last thing that a wicked man wants is the Word of God – he would rather read the horoscope than hear the Bible, he would rather read the Sun than the living word of God.

•  And as soon as the details are confirmed Ahaziah is livid and sends a company of soldiers to go and get him. And let’s not imagine that Ahaziah wants to invite Elijah to supper.

•  He wants to extinguish the Word and he is going to do that by taking out the messenger, he is saying I don’t like the messenger I am going to destroy the messenger.

•  Maybe someone says – well I am not a Christian – But if I knew that I was dying and had a word from God I would get ready to meet God.

•  But is that true? Every human being knows that they are going to die, that the span of our life is short, we know we are mortal.

•  You know that there is a God to meet – but have you prepared to meet Him? The sign has the text – Prepare to meet thy God – millions pass it – do any listen?

•  The Word of God enrages Ahaziah. The truth upsets him. But he doesn’t flee to God.

•  And when the first company of men are consumed in the wrath of God v10 we are told in v11 Again the king sent to him another captain of fifty men.

•  Now Ahaziah’s stupidity almost beggars belief. He is so obstinate. Can you see how hard the heart of the unconverted is?

•  Here is a man who has calloused his heart with layer after layer of unbelief and unacceptance of the Word of God.

•  He is being totally irrational – if Elijah is a prophet of God he should listen, if Elijah is not a prophet of God why get so annoyed.

•  You see the sinner can’t think straight

•  And this Ahaziah syndrome is still alive and well today, with men and women who refuse to listen to the Word of God and a stubbornness and hardness develops increasingly.

•  We see it in the lives of unconverted people who leave Bible preaching churches and join churches where the gospel is never preached – and all they are trying to do in the hardness and stubbornness of their hearts is run from God.

•  But friends it is not just those who are openly against the gospel who can be infected with Ahaziah Syndrome – professing Christians can be too.

•  How often professing Christians say, I know what the Bible says but I believe that it would be better if I did this, times are different now.

•  And that reaction is the Ahaziah syndrome – the Word of God must be silenced.

•  And note friends – if there is anyone here tonight and the Ahaziah syndrome is setting in beware for rebellion against the Word will not effect your life but like the situation of the soldiers who were caught up in it your rebellion and turning from the Word will effect others too and bring great calamity.

•  Has the Lord in His mercy been speaking to you about something? Perhaps someone seeing the need to be saved as never before – beware of refusing the Word for it builds up a deathly callous.

•  Has the Lord been speaking to you about some situation in your life that needs resolved. His word is clear, but you are choosing to follow the wisdom of some dunghill deity.

•  Beware your attempts to silence the Word of God will bring a hardness and callous to your life so that in years in come if you refuse to repent – we will wonder were you ever a Christian at all.

3. Beware of Speaking and Acting Against God’s Servants

•  So Ahaziah is in a rage and he sends out a captain and fifty men v9.

•  Now look at what happens, The captain went up to Elijah who was sitting on the top of a hill and said to him, Man of God, the king says come down .

•  Now why does the captain call Elijah, man of God ?

•  If he really believed Elijah was a man of God he wouldn’t have gone to arrest him.

•  No his words are either mockery or just a general way of addressing Elijah.

•  This captain and his men are the enemies of God because they are the enemies of God’s servant.

•  And this man in his pride and arrogance is in for a terrible shock – the judgement of God is going to fall.

•  V10 If I am a man of God may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men .

•  Elijah is not being vindictive, not concerned for himself – concerned of the cause of God and again wants there to be proof that God is king and not Ahaziah.

•  The king of Israel and his soldiers are being proud and arrogant and as they stand against Elijah they are against God.

•  It is a very dangerous thing to oppose a servant of God, speak ill of a child of God, to try to go against the ways of God.

•  God is not indifferent to those who oppose His servants – Bible is full of evidence for this.

•  And if nothing else this chapter should make every man and woman very afraid to oppose a commissioned servant of God.

•  I am never afraid of men and women who oppose gospel preachers and hound them from churches – I am terribly afraid for them.

•  Elijah is so impassioned for the cause of God that he asks God to deal with the situation.

•  And it is right sometimes in our lives to do the same. To ask God to do what He must to preserve the gospel.

•  But Ahaziah doesn’t bat an eyelid and a second detachment sent v11&12 and this captain is a wicked as the previous – the direct hit of God has had no influence on him either – even fire from heaven does not change a sinner’s heart.

•  And this man and his soldiers get exactly the same as the previous.

•  And the lesson is simple – if you commit the same sins as those who went before expect the same punishment.

•  So here is our nation – with its sodomite agenda. Sodom and Gomorrah had a sodomite agenda and God punished them, the judgement of God fell. It will fall on ours.

•  If you commit the same sin of those who have gone before expect the same judgement.

•  It is only a matter of time before the judgement of God breaks out on our nation, perhaps it has already.

•  And here is Annanias and Saphira and they are telling lies to the church in Acts and the judgement of God falls. Remember the principle – if you commit the same sin of those who have gone before expect the same judgement.

•  Is there someone tonight and you are a pretender, making a show of godliness when the truth is so very different – you are following Ananais and Saphira and they found the judgement of God.

4. What God’s Word says Always Prevails

•  From v13 onwards we see that a third column of soldiers are sent to find and retrieve Elijah.

•  But this captain in v13 is not like the hardened calloused Ahaziah or the proud and wicked men who went before. And so he comes and falls on his knees before Elijah and asks for mercy.

•  His life and the life of his soldiers is spared as the angel of the Lord appears in v15 to Elijah and tells him that it is safe now to go down.

•  And as Elijah comes into the king’s presence he speaks the word of the Lord v16 you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die .

•  Now there is a preacher with courage – he doesn’t soften the message, he tells it as it is.

•  The face of a dying man doesn’t make him weaken at the knees, or water things down.

•  Oh that we had a nation of preachers with the spirit of Elijah.

•  What you need to pray for gospel preachers and this gospel preacher – pray also for me that whenever I open my mouth words may be given me that I will fearlessly make know the mystery of the gospel .

•  And what came of the Word that Elijah pronounced?

•  V17 tells the stark reality, so he died according to the Word of the Lord that Elijah had spoken.

•  Do you see the wonderful truth at the heart of this all – that the Word of God is going to be confirmed and vindicated for it always prevails.

•  It was so in the life of Ahaziah so he died according to the word of the Lord.

•  And isn’t that something that we find again and again throughout the Bible – all that God has said comes to pass, His Word is reliable and trustworthy.

•  And here it is again – the Word of the Lord prevails, it cannot be thwarted.

•  All of the promises of his judgments will come to pass.

•  If someone persistently refuses the gospel they will be lost to hell for all eternity.

•  If someone tries to defy God’s Word persistently they will find the hand of God coming to bear on their lives.

•  But in the darkness of the judgment there is as always the light of grace and mercy.

•  For us to have another incidence of the faithfulness of God to His Word is such a blessing.

•  Has He not promised to receive all who come to him in faith and repentance?

•  Hasn’t He promised to remove our sin as far as east is from the west if we come to Him through Christ.

•  Has He not promised to His people that when we desire to live our lives His way that there will be joy and peace.

•  So as we come to the end the question of God hangs in the air and we know in our hearts what He is speaking to us about, Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to enquire of Baal Zebub, the god of Ekron?

•  Sooner or later the judgment of God overtakes the ungodly.

•  Unconverted man or woman tonight – you are not dead yet – there is opportunity yet to repent.

•  Pray like the tax collector in the gospel account Lord have mercy on me the sinner.

•  Flee to Christ tonight let you lie down to sleep and find His eternal judgment.

 

(1) Matthew Hentry’s Commentary, Volume II, p708, MacDonald Publishing Company, Virginia