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.

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