God Spoke to Our Forefathers by the Prophets

2 Kings 1, 2

  1. Elijah Rebukes the King – Ahaziah succeeded his father Ahab as king in Samaria 1 Kings 22:40
    1. A Moabite Rebellion – One providential event provoking him to consult God’s prophet [cf. 3:10f]
    2. An injury to Ahaziah 1:2 - Injury often brings inquiry as to its purpose. [John 9:1-3; 11:4]
    3. Ahaziah inquires of Baal-Zebub – Both event were opportunities to recognize Jehovah’s sovereignty ; His father Ahab despised hearing from a true prophet; 1 Kings 22:7, 8
      1. It seems that Ahaziah was not seeking true knowledge but a comforting word that he would recover. Rarely do those afflicted seek holiness through their debility, but assurance that it will not last long. He wanted to know the future, not how to repent.
      2. God reveals to Elijah the idolatrous quest of Ahaziah and tells him to confront his messengers and tell Ahaziah that he will die 3
      3. Ahaziah discerns that the message of death is from Elijah - The evil despise both a true message and a righteous man; Ahab earlier had imprisoned Micaiah for the truth.
    4. Ahaziah tries to Capture Elijah – Elijah no longer hides in a cave, but appears openly. But as a prophet of God, he will not be imperiously compelled by an earthly, and idolatrous, monarch.
      1. The king sends a company of fifty to capture Elijah and he calls fire from heaven 1:9, 10
        1. We should learn quickly from Scripture that we are always susceptible to immediate judgment [Luke 13:1-5; Romans 2:1-5; For those who think that this Old Testament example contradicts the God of the New Testament, see also Acts 5:1-11; 12:20-23]
        2. Luke 9:54 the disciples wanted to see a similar phenomenon against the Samaritans but Jesus clearly had a different mission
      2. The king sends a second company and they too are consumed by fire 1:11, 12 - They did not learn from the first effort to constrain God’s prophet and were, therefore, treated with equal severity and quickness. God does not negotiate, nor change his standard.
      3. The captain of the third company makes humble petition before Elijah 1:13, 14: Though still on a fool’s mission, the captain is there in obedience to the king but now shows proper deference and respect to God’s prophet. We do not come to God making demands with the spirit that he must conform to our wishes. We recognize our poverty and weakness.
      4. God condescends in mercy, not only to spare, but to send Elijah with the company to the king
      5. The message is unchanged. What he heard from his hand-picked prophets as they reported their confrontation with Elijah, he now hears directly from Elijah
    5. Death of Ahaziah – As Elijah had prophesied
  2. Elijah Passes the Mantle – As gifted as one man of God might be, he cannot contain all that God will say and do. Only Jesus could be succeeded by no other. See Hebrews 1:1-4
    1. Elisha joins Elijah on his journey beyond Jordan [cf. 1 Kings 19:19] 2:1-8
      1. Three stages in the journey – Gilgal to Bethel, Bethel to Jericho, Jericho to Jordan
      2. At each stage of the journey, Elisha was discouraged from proceeding further, and given discouraging news by the sons of the prophets; he knew it was so but would remain faithful
      3. He persisted in remaining in the company of Elijah – Those who have tasted the good, will persevere in seeking it. Cf. 1 Peter 2:1-3
    2. Elisha asks for double portion of Elijah’s spirit – not twice as much; a generous bestowal of the same; he would need the fearlessness of Elijah for the godlessness of the age
      1. Elijah wanted to give a blessing to his faithful servant and asked what he could do for him.
      2. The request was for zeal, power, and prophetic gifts to the glory of God. Elisha had been a servant of Elijah and knew that Elijah’s effectiveness was by divine blessing, not natural talent. He also knew the personal cost of bearing such a gift—no wealth or worldly honor
    3. Elisha Sees Elijah taken up – this was the condition, or perhaps an assuring evidence, of reception
  3. Elisha continues God’s Word – he mourns then immediately goes to his inherited task
    1. Miraculous crossing of Jordan 2:13. 14 – immediately duplicates the last miracle of Elijah
    2. The prophets recognize God’s power on Elisha and submit to him; God sovereignly chooses whom he shall place in positions of responsibility.
    3. A fruitless search for Elijah – They hated to think Elijah’s gifts gone; Those with extraordinary gifts are given for a short time, and then will be replaced with others.
    4. Purifying the water – They immediately see that God operates through another servant
    5. Immediate vengeance on foolishness 2:23-25 – parallel to Elijah’s confrontation with soldiers

God Spoke to Our Forefathers by the Prophets

  1. Elijah Rebukes the King – Ahaziah succeeded his father Ahab as king in Samaria 1 Kings 22:40; Ahab had been rebuked by Elijah and had seen Elijah’s predictions come true and had seen his devotion to Baal rendered both noxious and foolish by Elijah’s victorious confrontation at Mt. Carmel. Also, Ahaziah’s mother Jezebel, soon to be ingloriously killed and disposed of [2 Kings 9:30-37], hated him and Ahaziah had imbibed this same ungodliness [1 Kings 22:52]. Ahab had died as Elijah had foretold. Ahaziah probably had heard many words of hatred uttered toward the prophet of Jehovah.
    1. A Moabite Rebellion – One providential event provoking him to consult God’s prophet [cf. 3:10f] This rebellious people later is confronted by a coalition of three kings including Jehoshaphat of Judah. Ahaziah, however, seems to be fearful of putting himself in a place of war for fear of death. His father Ahab had just been killed even though disguised when an archer drew his bow "at a venture" and his arrow found its mark in the joint of his armor. Probably to protect himself from like danger, he stays in his palace even when a people subjected by David has rebelled.
    2. An injury to Ahaziah 1:2 - Injury often brings inquiry as to its purpose or its outcome. [John 9:1-3; 11:4] While staying at home, perhaps to avoid injury, he falls through some lattice work in the upper chamber and is seriously injured. One cannot escape the eyes or arms of God. This should be a great comfort to the saints [Psalm 139] but a great terror to those who are unrepentant [Revelation 6:12-17; Isaiah 2:12-22; Amos 5:18-20]
    3. Ahaziah inquires of Baal-Zebub – Both events were opportunities to recognize Jehovah’s sovereignty ; His father Ahab despised hearing from a true prophet; 1 Kings 22:7, 8. So the condition would continue in Samaria [see Micah 3:5-7]
      1. It seems that Ahaziah was not seeking true knowledge but a comforting word that he would recover. Rarely do those afflicted seek holiness through their debility, but assurance that it will not last long. He wanted to know the future, not how to repent.
      2. God reveals to Elijah the idolatrous quest of Ahaziah and tells him to confront his messengers and tell Ahaziah that he will die 3
      3. Ahaziah discerns that the message of death is from Elijah - The evil despise both a true message and a righteous man; Ahab earlier had imprisoned Micaiah for the truth [1 Kings 22]. The truth, though harsh and upsetting in our perceptions of it, always is more kind and compassionate than smooth lies. Lies will never prepare a person for reality. Universalism might seem temporarily more compassionate from a human standpoint in its proclamation that everyone is right in his own way, and that God, will see to it in the end that all roads lead eventually to eternal bliss.
    4. Ahaziah tries to Capture Elijah – Elijah no longer hides in a cave, but appears openly. But as a prophet of God, he will not be imperiously compelled by an earthly, and idolatrous, monarch. This boldness does not arise from self-confidence, but from a mature awareness of his calling from God, and tha s God’s messenger he is not to be ignored. The method of confrontation has changed under the arrangements introduces Christ’s inauguration of the new covenant completed in its establishment at Pentecost. The courage , confidence, and loyalty of God’s messengers, however, is the same. [See Acts 4:17-31; Titus 3:8-11; 1 Tim 4:11-15]
      1. The king sends a company of fifty to capture Elijah and he calls fire from heaven 1:9, 10
        1. We should learn quickly from Scripture that we are always susceptible to immediate judgment [Luke 13:1-5; Romans 2:1-5; For those who think that this Old Testament example contradicts the God of the New Testament, see also Acts 5:1-11; 12:20-23]
        2. Luke 9:54 the disciples wanted to see a similar phenomenon against the Samaritans but Jesus clearly had a different mission. God may inflict immediate judgment as indicated above, but shows great patience and instructs his church to deal with issues in a spiritual way, through the sword of the Spirit and not the sword of steel.
      2. The king sends a second company and they too are consumed by fire 1:11, 12 - They did not learn from the first effort to constrain God’s prophet and were, therefore, treated with equal severity and quickness. God does not negotiate, nor change his standard. Sinners are not in a position to bargain, much less to demand, from God. Bold and insensitive rebels are constantly in harm’s way without knowing it. Paul’s vicious attacks on the people of God without their retaliation, in the face of their humility and attitude of joyful acceptance of abuse for the sake of Christ, constituted in him understanding the most audacious and dangerous form of sin. For this reason he considered himself the chief of sinners and in the overall scheme of things, he might very well have been {1 Timothy 1:12-17] This event of immediate retaliation we should take as an indication as to how kind, merciful, and patient God is in calling his elect to himself [2 Peter 3]. With God there is forgiveness that he may be feared.
      3. The captain of the third company makes humble petition before Elijah 1:13, 14: Though still on a fool’s mission, the captain is there in obedience to the king but now shows proper deference and respect to God’s prophet. We do not come to God making demands with the spirit that he must conform to our wishes. We recognize our poverty and weakness.
      4. God condescends in mercy, not only to spare, but to send Elijah with the company to the king
      5. The message is unchanged. What he heard from his hand-picked prophets, or perhaps they were just messengers without an pretensions as prophets, as they reported their confrontation with Elijah, he now hears directly from Elijah
    5. Death of Ahaziah – As Elijah had prophesied
  2. Elijah Passes the Mantle – As gifted as one man of God might be, he cannot contain all that God will say and do. Only Jesus could be succeeded by no other. See Hebrews 1:1-4
    1. Elisha joins Elijah on his journey beyond Jordan [cf. 1 Kings 19:19] 2:1-8
      1. Three stages in the journey – Gilgal to Bethel, Bethel to Jericho, Jericho to Jordan; These were not easy journeys, and as it was the last that Elijah would undertake, he sought to release Elilsha from any further obligation.
      2. At each stage of the journey, Elisha was discouraged from proceeding further, and given discouraging news by the sons of the prophets; he knew it was so but would remain faithful. His commitment to Elijah was from principle and not convenience. Neither Elijah’s release of his nor the reminders given by the prophets that his beloved captain would soon be gone could deter him from his duty.
      3. He persisted in remaining in the company of Elijah – Those who have tasted the good, will persevere in seeking it. Cf. 1 Peter 2:1-3; When Jesus offered an opportunity for his disciples to leave after many began to fall away in John 6, Peter expressed the sense of all true followers of the qualitative difference between the words of God and the false hopes of men. Why would Elisha want to go back to his ploughing when he could spend just a few more moments in the presence of a true man of God? If Elisha had such perceptions of the goodness of being in the presence of Elijah, how much more should we relish the presence of Jesus as present in the fellowship of God’s people and the preaching of his Word. For a comparison of the relative privilege of Elijah’s presence as compared to the presence of Jesus see Matthew 17:1-8]
    2. Elisha asks for double portion of Elijah’s spirit – not twice as much; a generous bestowal of the same; he would need the fearlessness of Elijah for the godlessness of the age
      1. Elijah wanted to give a blessing to his faithful servant and asked what he could do for him. Elisha perhaps did not expect this but in the very midst of active service to the glory of God, a calling of great importance comes.
      2. The request was for zeal, power, and prophetic gifts to the glory of God. Elisha had been a servant of Elijah and knew that Elijah’s effectiveness was by divine blessing, not natural talent. He also knew the personal cost of bearing such a gift—no wealth or worldly honor could entice him, but usefulness to God’s glory gave him no pause at all. Perhaps it is a false humility and misperception of the nature of its glory that makes one shrink from gospel ministry. The responsibility is overwhelming and no man is adequate for it, but a call comes with the expectations that one sees it, not as an opportunity for personal aggrandizement or display of natural gifts, but for the consumption of one’s earthly existence in the service of heavenly glory. Elishah had not hesitation as to what he would ask of his master.
    3. Elisha Sees Elijah taken up – this was the condition, or perhaps an assuring evidence, of reception of what he had asked for. He regards Elijah’s words as the true protectors of Israel, far more effective than any earthly army decked out in the most formidable weaponry of the age. "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its Horsemen." This same phrase is used to describe Elisha by king Joash in 13:14]
  3. Elisha continues God’s Word – he mourns then immediately goes to his inherited task. He recognized the importance of the ministry of Elijah, and realized that a great man had been taken from Israel. He had received a strong commission, however, and the mantle of Elijah and he could not delay in taking up the task.
    1. Miraculous crossing of Jordan 2:13. 14 – immediately duplicates the last miracle of Elijah
    2. The prophets recognize God’s power on Elisha and submit to him; God sovereignly chooses whom he shall place in positions of responsibility.
    3. A fruitless search for Elijah – They hated to think Elijah’s gifts gone; Those with extraordinary gifts are given for a short time, and then will be replaced with others. Elijah did not wish to seem insensitive to the grieving of the prophets and their imploring gained from his a permission to seek what he knew they would not find. This would show that his assumption of Elijah’s mantle was no pre-emptive, presumptuous, or self-serving and would perhaps arm him with reminders in the future that, under God’s Spirit, his words are true.
    4. Purifying the water – They immediately see that God operates through another servant. The city of Jericho had been rebuilt during the day of Ahab defying even the curse of God on such a project [Joshua 6:26 cf. 1 Kings 16:34]. That which the evil did now is used to the benefit of the godly. Hopefully the school of prophets near Jericho had had a beneficent effect on the inhabitants of the city. Now there water, the most basic necessity of life is made pure and thus their land rendered fruitful. One may think of many spiritual fullfilments of this reality in the picture of Jesus as living water.
    5. Immediate vengeance on foolishness 2:23-25 – parallel to Elijah’s confrontation with soldiers; Contrary to the shock of some who think this indicates meanness and insecurity, and an ungodly vindictive spirit on the part of Elisha, or is even an erroneous perception on the part of the writer, this reinforces the lesson already gained in the destruction of the companies of fifty under Elijah. We should thank God for his sparing of us in our youthful foolishness and our children in their unwise, and at bottom heartless, treatment of the things of God. Rather than sneering at Scripture, we should be brought to repentance for our foolishness.