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Is There No God In Israel?

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Sermon on 2 Kings 1

Congregation,

          We are still working our way through the life and times of Elijah, the prophet of God to the people of Israel.  The last chapter we looked at was the last chapter in 1 Kings that mentions Elijah.  The next time he appears is in the first chapter in the book 2 Kings.  But instead of just skipping over the events of the kingdom of Israel we need to at least notice what has happened since the time when Jezebel schemed to kill Naboth so that Ahab could have his vineyard as a little garden by his palace. 

          In 1 Kings 21 Elijah pronounces a curse on Jezebel and Ahab.  God says through him that Jezebel and Ahab will both be killed and that Ahab’s entire family will be killed and left without graves.  But because Ahab humbles himself, God holds back on the destruction of Ahab’s family until after the time of Ahab.

          But then moving to the end of 1 Kings, the story of Ahab continues, but it isn’t too nice for him.  He has this idea that he needs to invade the place called Rammoth-Gilead.  It used to be one of the areas that belonged to the 12 tribes of Israel.  So Ahab has the great idea to join up with King Jehosaphat, the God-fearing king from the southern tribes.

          Jehosaphat tells Ahab its right to retake the land that was promised to them from God, but first they should ask God to see if it is in his will.  Ahab calls together all kinds of prophets of other gods and ask them to prophesy about the battle for Rammoth Gilead.  They say yep, but when Jehosephat asks if a prophet of God was asked, Ahab finds a prophet of God who says, “if you attack, the king will be killed and the armies will be destroyed.”

          Jehosaphat goes to battle with Ahab, but the enemy armies ignore Jehosephat and his men.  They go straight after Israels armies.  And even though Ahab is disguised like a soldier, he gets hit by a stray arrow and bleeds to death that night.

          That’s the end of the life and times of Ahab.  But his legacy lives on in his son who takes over the throne.  Maybe you remember a couple of months ago when we started this sermon series we talked about the Omride Dynasty.  Israels greatest king as far as power in the area was under Omri and that power continued under Ahab and his descendants yet.  Ahab’s time of the Omride Dynasty is over.  He was the most wicked of the kings of Israel so far.  And then comes the next king.  Ahaziah.  That’s how 1 Kings ends.  1 Kings 22:51

 

51 Ahaziah son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. 52 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, because he walked in the ways of his father and mother and in the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. 53 He served and worshiped Baal and provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger, just as his father had done.[1]

          With that background lets look at the next part of the life of Elijah.  I think you will continue to hear the themes that have come up all throughout the his life.  Where is God?  Who are the other gods?  Obey God and be blessed?  Follow anything but the true God and find destruction?  Listen for that now at the beginning of the book 2 Kings.

Read 2 Kings 1

          Kind of a ridiculous way to get into the story.  Ahaziah only reigns for two years and the stuff that is recorded about him is really pretty laughable.

          What happened during his reign… one of their main allies rebelled against them  (yawn)  Oh…. And he fell through the lattice of his upper room and the injury eventually killed him.  Now there’s something to be remember for.

        So did you hear those reoccurring themes that I was talking about?

          I’m going to do something a little bit crazy here.  I want you to tell me what reoccurring themes you.

Worship of False God’s

The story of the events surrounding Ahaziah’s sickness provides a sordid example of that continuing apostasy.[2]

In other words, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.  Omri, Ahab, Ahaziah… all reject God for other gods.

Vs 2  The king says to some servants: “Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.”[3]

Lots wrong with this…  Don’t consult Spiritists or astrologers.  That’s what Ahaziah wants his messengers to do.

Today that might involve not looking for any truth in Horoscopes or Signs of the Zodiac.

-Meat salesman at my house the other day was telling me what my 2 year olds personality would be like because she was a Gemini?

Who is this other god?

Ekron:  Philistia.  Long time enemy nation of Israel.  One of the gods of Goliath, probably.

Baal-Zebub:  Name means Lord of the Flies- Probably the god that would keep away the plagues of flies that were common near the Mediterranean.

Can’t miss the similarity the name give to Satan in the New Testament.  Over time the name was put on the leader of the kingdom of evil.

His name was changed.

  Look at Matthew 12:24.  It says, “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub,a the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”[4]

Notice the footnote “Greek Beezeboul or Beelzeboul; also in verse 27.”  Beelzeboul is one of the changes that was made to the name by the Jews.  They changed it to mean the Lord of Poop- to put it somewhat tastefully.

But the point:  The King of Israel is back consulting other false gods, not the true God of Israel.

And then a very interesting line is repeated three times in the passage.  It has to get our attention.  First God says it to Elijah.  Then the Messengers to Ahaziah.  Then Elijah to Ahaziah. 

“Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?[5]”

Of course there is a God in Israel.  Don’t you remember, Mount Carmel, he kicked Baal the fertility God out by showing his power.  But Ahaziah is living like there is no God of power in Israel.  Its despicable.

How about when we start putting our trust in other things.  Insurance Policies, RRSPs, Bank Accounts, maybe we have gone to trust in things like Crystals, or Palm Readings.

IS IT BECAUSE THERE IS NO GOD who has died on the cross to save you and promise to watch over you?  Why then?

The second theme that come through so often is:  God is the God of really real life.

Again you hear it.  But maybe more seriously that God is the one who can take away life as well when his word is ignored.

3 times this phrase is repeated as well.  “‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’”[6]

God can just as easily take away life even when it’s a simple thing like a fall.

In verses 9-15 there is this nasty battle for power between Ahaziah and God.  Elijah goes up to a mountain top.  Probably again to Mount Carmel where he was God’s instrument to rain down fire on the soggy offering.

          3 commanders.  First two call him man of God, but then command him in the name of the King.  So Elijah shows them who is the God of power and calls down fire on them. 

          The last commander is spared.  Why?  He sees that Elijah and his God have the power over life and death. 

 

Verse 13 says, “13 So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. “Man of God,” he begged, “please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants! 14 See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men. But now have respect for my life!”[7]

          Finally a respect for the power God has to give and take away life.  Please respect my life. 

          Too bad the king doesn’t realize where life comes from.

          Ahaziah has a two year reign.  Then his brother Joram takes the throne.  He will be the last one of the sons of Ahab to rule.  And he will be the last one of the mighty Omride dynasty.

Elijah as a for shadow to the message of John the Baptist:

Matthew 3:4-5 say:

4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. [8]

Luke says this about him:  16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” [9]

          Its about preparing the way for Christ by returning people to follow the word of God.  To follow the Law.  And to bring them back to the Lord their God.  The only true God of life.

          Where are we at with the God of Life?  Are we hearing the message from the life and times of Elijah?  Has it moved us to worship more completely?

 

 

 

           
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[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. 1 Ki 22:51-53

[2]Hobbs, T. R.: Word Biblical Commentary : 2 Kings. Dallas : Word, Incorporated, 2002 (Word Biblical Commentary 13), S. 7

[3] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. 2 Ki 1:2

a Greek Beezeboul or Beelzeboul; also in verse 27

[4] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Mt 12:24

[5] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. 2 Ki 1:16

[6] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. 2 Ki 1:4

[7] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. 2 Ki 1:13-14

[8] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Mt 3:4-5

[9] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Lk 1:16-17

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