Ahaziah didn’t last long as Israel’s king. After a fall “through the latticework of an upper room at his palace in Samaria” (II Kings 1:2a, NLT), Ahaziah “sent messengers to the temple of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask whether he would recover” (II Kings 1:2b).
What Ahaziah got, instead, was a message from the Lord, delivered by the prophet Elijah: “Is there no God in Israel? Why are you going to Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask whether the king will recover? Now, therefore, this is what the Lord says: You will never leave the bed you are lying on; you will surely die” (II Kings 1:3b-4a).
Elijah had delivered the Lord’s message to the messengers Ahaziah had sent to consult Baal-zebub. Instead of continuing on to the temple of the false god, they returned to the city of Samaria, Israel’s capital and told the king about the man who had approached them and given them the message that the king would die.
“’What sort of man was he?’ the king demanded. ‘What did he look like?’
“They replied, ‘He was a hairy man, and he wore a leather belt around his waist.’
‘Elijah from Tishbe!’ the king exclaimed.
Then he sent an army captain with fifty soldiers to arrest him. They found him sitting on top of a hill. The captain said to him, ‘Man of God, the king has commanded you to come down with us’ " (II Kings 2:7-9).
Clearly, Elijah was known to the king – Ahaziah identified him as soon as the men described him. It’s also clear that the king was scared of Elijah. Why else would he send fifty soldiers to arrest one little ol’ prophet?
And note how the captain of Ahaziah’s troops address Elijah: “Man of God.” Elijah had a reputation as exactly that. Each of us, my brothers and sisters, has a reputation, too. My prayer is that every single one of us is first and foremost known as a man or woman of God.
Elijah wasn’t concerned about Ahaziah’s show of power; he knew he had a far greater power on his own side. So “Elijah replied to the captain, ‘If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and destroy you and your fifty men!’ Then fire fell from heaven and killed them all” (II Kings 1:10).
You’d think that would have been enough to get Ahaziah to back off, but no, he “sent another captain with fifty men. The captain said to him, ‘Man of God, the king demands that you come down at once’” (II Kings 1:11). And that’s exactly what happened to these soldiers.
“Once more the king sent a third captain with fifty men. But this time the captain went up the hill and fell to his knees before Elijah. He pleaded with him, ‘O man of God, please spare my life and the lives of these, your fifty servants’” (II Kings 1:14a).
By showing Elijah respect instead of demanding of him, the captain of these troops showed respect for the One Elijah represented. The result was an entirely different response.
Contrary to what some nutty televangelists and others would have us believe, we have zero right to demand of God. If He’s saved you, He’s already given you the greatest gift you could ever be given; and if He never did another thing for you as long as you live, He’s done enough.
Do you spend more time asking of God or thanking Him for what He’s already done?
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates