The Old God is Still in Power

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.’” 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.

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!’” 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.

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. 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.” 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 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 Kings 1:9-16.

Laws don’t make people reverence God. Fear makes people reverence God. And there is nothing like fire falling from heaven and burning people to a crisp to get their attention. It is tempting to want to be able to do this again. After all people do not reverence God in our time. They reverence the work of their own hands. They reverence their science.

Jesus’s disciples thought of this event when they mentioned that they wanted to call down fire from heaven. But Jesus warned them that they did not know of what Spirit they were speaking. You have to know it is God who sets the fire and not you. Besides, we have not been called to send fire upon the Earth, but to announce Mercy. But I have to wonder if the occasional fireball would remind people that they need Mercy.

Ahab’s Four Hundred Yes-men

And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord.” Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the Lord of whom we may inquire?” And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah.” Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them. And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.’” And all the prophets prophesied so and said, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 1 Kings 22:5-12.

Jehoshaphat, who actually walks in God’s ways, knows a bunch of liars when he hears them. He’d like a second opinion. Ahab knows a guy, Micaiah, but he hates him because he brings bad news.

What Micaiah is actually good news if Ahab would heed the warning. What the 400 false prophets are saying, even though it’s all sunshine and rainbows, is actually bad news because it tricks him into harm’s way.

The Gospel is like this today. Believe in Christ and forsake your life to gain eternity. Or, believe one of the four hundred lies that you can escape judgment another way, and be lost forever.

The Evil Queen

But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?” And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” And Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city. And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.” 1 Kings 21:5-14.

The entitled brat, King Ahab, is sulking about like a child because his neighbor won’t sell him his vineyard. The neighbor, Naboth, received it as an inheritance from his father, so it’s more than just a vineyard. It has sentimental value. On top of that, Ahab wants to rip out the vineyard, which has taken years of careful cultivation, and put in a vegetable garden.

Queen Jezebel sees her pouty husband, finds out what’s eating him, and handles it like a mobster. She has Naboth executed after having him falsely accused of some thing she probably does routinely. Problem solved. Naboth is dead. Here’s your vineyard.

Today it is just as easy to run afoul of the mob. Worthless witnesses will step up to falsely accuse even a teenage boy if they don’t like his politics. But this is what the godless do. And the Lord notices these things, for He hates a lying witness who tries to destroy the innocent.

Ahab the Spineless

Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his army together. Thirty-two kings were with him, and horses and chariots. And he went up and closed in on Samaria and fought against it. And he sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your best wives and children also are mine.’” And the king of Israel answered, “As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.” The messengers came again and said, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘I sent to you, saying, “Deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children.” Nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants and lay hands on whatever pleases you and take it away.’” 1 Kings 20:1-6.

King Ahab agrees to buy peace with Ben Hadad at the price of his wealth and his wives and children. It is only when Ben Hadad insists on searching through all his servants’ homes that he gets counsel. His counselors advise him not to consent. That is Ahab’s pathetic line in the Sand, and Ben Hadad goes to war.

Fortunately, God sends a prophet to encourage Ahab, and the Lord gift wraps a pair of victories for Ahab, including Ben Hadad himself. But Ahab foolishly let’s him go. I believe that God helps a poor leader sometimes for the sake of the people.

You Are Not Alone

There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:9-18.

Elijah had just called down fire from heaven and executed 450 prophets of Baal. Yet he fears the threat of Jezebel and hides in a cave. Why doesn’t she fear Elijah? Probably because she wasn’t there and was not witness to this event. As far as she is concerned, it was some magician’s trick that deceived people. She wants him dead.

I don’t know if Elijah really feared for his life or if he was so disappointed that the nation did not return to the Lord in droves. After all, he does believe he is the only true believer left. But God assures him he is one of 7000.

God always has a remnant, a small portion of the population that longs for Him and His righteousness. Not everyone is caught up in fake causes and the search for a manmade Utopia.