Showing Proper Respect - 2 Kings 1:1-18
If you go into a place of business for a job interview there are certain things you shouldn’t do.
You shouldn’t start the conversation by talking about how tired you are because you were up late partying the night before.
You shouldn’t look like you just rolled out of bed
You shouldn’t walk around the interviewer’s office asking questions such as, “How much is this worth?”
You shouldn’t insult the interviewer
You shouldn’t spend all your time in the interview asking about “how much time you can get off”
If you commit a faux pas like one of these, you will most likely still be looking for a job when the day is done. The reason is that there is a certain kind of protocol that you should observe in job interview settings. You should be on time, dress appropriately, and show respect because you understand that you are the employee and the person you are talking to is the employer.
If you walk into a school there is a protocol that you must observe. For example, when you walk into any of the schools in the La Harpe area you must first report to the office and let them know why you are there. If you don’t, you could be considered a trespasser. Likewise, you don’t walk up to the President of the United States and say, “Hey, G.W., how’s it going?” You might just find yourself shot by the Secret Service. Instead, you wait for the President to come to you and you would address him by saying, “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. President.”
In 2 Kings 1 we are going to learn something about correct protocol for approaching the Lord God Almighty. Before we get into our text, however, we need to take a little side journey. We have been reading about Elijah and Ahab. In 2 Kings suddenly there is a new King on the throne, Ahab’s son, Ahaziah. This the question: What happened to Ahab?
Back in 1 Kings 22 we read a bizarre story about how Ahab was killed in a war against Syria over the city of Ramoth Gilead. We are told in verse 34 that someone drew their bow at random and the arrow fatally struck Ahab between the pieces of the armor. He couldn’t have placed the arrow better if he was trying to hit Ahab. Ahab bled to death in his chariot. When his chariot was washed out, we are told that the dogs licked his blood (just as was predicted by Elijah in 1 Kings 21:19). Ahaziah was made king in his father’s place.
We begin 2 Kings being told that Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper room and injured himself. We aren’t given any details as to how the accident happened or what kinds of injuries Ahaziah sustained. Homes of those days commonly covered windows, doors, and some roof enclosures with lattice (pieces of wood that crossed each other with holes between the pieces). The lattice allowed the breeze to get through but still provided a measure of privacy. Most likely Ahaziah leaned against some latticework and fell through it, or didn’t see the lattice in a ceiling and stepped on it and fell through from up above.
Ahaziah's solution. Ahazian was seriously injured but we don't know in what way. I have the feeling there was some kind of internal injury. Whatever the injury, the King knew he wasn't getting any better. He sent messengers to:
“Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.” (v. 2)
Ekron was a town in the land of the Philistines. The god, Baal-Zebub is somewhat unknown. Most people believe that the actual name of the God was “Baal-Zebul” which means “exalted Lord”. This god was often credited with miracles of healing. In Israel the name Baal-Zebul was changed (in a derisive way) to Baal-Zubub, which means “Lord of the Flies,” because the city of Ekron was know for being heavily invested with flies.
There is a point to this diversion. In Mark 3:22 the leaders of Israel were troubled by Jesus’ miracles and suggested that Jesus was working by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons! Beelzebub came to be a synonym for the work of Satan himself. It appears these leaders of Israel were referring to the same “god” that Ahaziah sought. So, instead of seeking the Lord, Ahaziah was not only turning to a false God . . . he was turning to Satan! In truth, anyone who turns to a false god is also turning to Satan. Ahaziah was following in the footsteps of his mother and Father. When people today turn to astrology, séances, incantations, and other remedies instead of turning to the Lord, we too, are seeking out Beelzebub.
Elijah’s Intervention. Once again the Lord called on Elijah to confront a King. He was to intercept the messengers before they got to Philistia and he was to ask them, “‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’ 4 Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’” So Elijah went.( 2 Kings 1:3,4)
These messengers heard the word of Elijah and turned right around and headed back to the King. When they arrived back at the palace Ahaziah realized they couldn’t possibly have traveled to Ekron and back and asked the messengers why they returned. The messengers delivered the message from Elijah.
I don’t know whether the men had no idea that it was Elijah that was speaking to them, or whether they thought it might be Elijah but weren’t sure. Either way, Ahaziah asked them to describe the prophet. They described him as a man wearing a garment of hair and a leather belt around his waist. Ahaziah knew it was Elijah. Let’s just say Elijah had a unique appearance.
Instead of humbling himself, Ahaziah decided that he would have Elijah forcefully brought in. Of course we don’t know why Ahaziah wanted to see Elijah, but I get the feeling that he didn’t want to play Canasta. I also suspect he wasn’t looking for some spiritual instruction. I think he might have felt that it was time to get rid of this prophet once and for all.
Apparently the soldiers knew exactly where Elijah was. There is no record that they had to search for him. He was sitting on top of a hill (perhaps praying). A Captain with 50 of his men was sent to retrieve Elijah.
The Captain approached Elijah and said, “Man of God, the King says, ‘Come down’” Elijah responded, “If I am truly a man of God, then let fire come down and consume you and your 50 men.” Before the men could smile or laugh they became a burn spot on the grass.
Does this seem overly harsh to you? Does vaporizing these men seem a little like overkill? Please understand that this captain was violating protocol. He had no authority over the servant of God. The King (and this commander) served by God’s permission, not the other way around. The point needed to be made that God is in charge, not Ahaziah.
I’d like to know what report Ahaziah received about the commander and his 50 men. Did he hear about the men being consumed by fire? If so, why didn’t he humble himself? Was there some natural explanation that was given? Perhaps the report came back that they were struck by lightening in a freak accident. Either way, the King sent another captain and another 50 men.
This new captain was even more arrogant than the first guy. Apparently he thought the reason the first troops were not successful was because they were too wimpy. So instead of saying simple, “Come down.” He puffed out his chest like the Big Bad Wolf and said, “Come down, at once!” It’s like a parent who says to their child, “Come here!” When they get no response they say, “Come here . . . NOW!” You know what happened. These 51 men became another burn spot on the grass.
You have to admire the third captain. This guy had been paying attention. 102 men had been destroyed instantaneously by the power of God. The commander had a mission to accomplish but he adopted an entirely different attitude. He came to Elijah, fell on his knees and begged for mercy.” God told Elijah to go with this man and address the King.
When Elijah came to the King he told him exactly what God had told him. There was no sugar-coating . . .just the truth. Ahaziah had turned away from the Lord and he would now die. And that is exactly what happened.
There are actually a number of things we can learn from this passage. I want to spotlight three things.
First, We See the Importance of the Home. At the end of 1 Kings we read these words about Ahaziah: “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. He served and worshiped Baal and provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger, just as his father had done.”
Ahaziah grew up in an ungodly environment with Ahab and Jezebel. He followed in the pattern that was given to him by his parents. This is what happens in every home.
Have you ever heard your child say something or watched them respond to a situation and found yourself sobered and horrified because they were acting just like you? You see a fit of temper and realize that your child is responding to difficulty the same way they see you respond. You get called to school and are told that your child is picking on a minority student and you suddenly realize that you have passed on your prejudice to your children.
Our example before our children, whether it is good or bad, is going to impact the lives our our kids.
They will tend to adopt our priorities
They will tend to treat their mates the way they saw the corresponding mate treated in their home.
If we worship money, they will tend to worship money. If we put work before family, they will tend toward the same thing.
They will follow our habits of worship. If we are sporadic and tend to put other things first, they will likely do the same. There are many men who are not in worship today because their fathers never went to church when they were younger.
The faith our children have will be the faith that we pass down to them.
Our kids are watching us. There was a great commercial a number of years ago that was against smoking cigarettes. A dad went outside to smoke (he thought in private). His son happened to be out playing and saw dad light up. The son picked up a stick and pretended that he was smoking too. He had received the message that “smoking is cool”. Our children are watching!
It is not enough to bring our kids to church (it’s a good start but only a start). If we want our children to serve the Lord, they need to see that we serve the Lord.
By the same token, if you are a person who seeks to honor God in every aspect of your living, your children will tend to follow those footsteps as well. If you honor the Lord with your time, your talents and your resources, they will tend to also embrace the Lord with both arms. If you are content, they will tend to be content. If they see you serving others, they will tend to serve.
I hope this passage leads you to ask that important question: what kind of a heritage am I leaving my children? What am I teaching them about the Lord by the way that I live? What example have I set?
Maybe you feel you have already messed up. Please don’t despair. Even if your children have left home, your life can still influence them. It will take longer, but you can show them how God has changed your life. After a time, they will get the message and learn from your example.
We are reminded that true help and comfort come from the Lord. This passage should also lead us to address the issue of where we turn for help and comfort in life. Many people are miserable because they have repeated Ahaziah's mistake. They are looking for help in all the wrong places. They search for strength, fulfillment, and comfort in chemical reinforcement, mistakenly assuming that a prescription, a pill, a bottle, or an injection can provide life's missing ingredient. The rampant addiction to various drugs from crystal meth to painkillers and alcohol is an indication of our societies problem.
Still others turn to various indulgences. They look for help and comfort through gambling, illicit relationships, indulgent spending, or an excessive busyness in the hope of finding significance. All these things are empty. They will not, they cannot, satisfy. The Lord is King. He alone can meet the deepest needs of our heart. If we don’t turn to Him, we are in essence turning away from Him to Satan.
Have you found that you can’t seem to find any peace or satisfaction in your life? Are you constantly churning about circumstances? Then it is likely that you are looking for help in all the wrong places. The right place is to seek the Lord. Search out and follow the instructions in His Word. Trust His character and seek Him in prayer. Learn from Ahaziah that turning to false powers rather than to the Lord will yield no assistance at all.
Humility is the proper attitude in approach the Lord. We are living in a time when respect seems to be waning. Students show disrespect to teachers; children try to control parents; employees show little appreciation for their employers. Watch the next time there is a parade and notice how many people no longer remove their caps when the flag of the United States passes by. At an athletic contest notice how many people continue to talk during the National Anthem. All of these things denote a lack of respect.
Respect starts at the top. . . by respecting God. We show a lack of humility or respect towards the Lord when we,
Complain to God and blame him for our circumstances as if to imply that He made a mistake in our life.
Rush into his presence and immediately start asking Him for stuff as if He was our servant rather than we His.
Ignore Him until we are in a crisis as if He had no value except when we need Him.
View prayer as a “last resort” as if everything else is a better option than He is.
Go through the elements of worship as if it were a meaningless exercise.
God would be justified in each of these cases if He sent fire to consume us. Our challenge is to learn to treat the Lord with the respect that He deserves. If we want our nation and the world to respect the Lord of the Universe, WE will need to learn to show respect to Him. We will need to honor Him in our words, our lives and in our hearts. We can do this in several ways.
Whenever we go into His presence through prayer and before we even enter into this building we should stop and remind ourselves that He is the King and we are His servants.
We should honor His name in public and not treat it as a meaningless phrase.
We ought to acknowledge His Lordship by giving Him priority in our time, our attention, our spending.
We should receive the commands of His Word with seriousness and understand that what God says, He means. When we treat His commands lightly, we are dishonoring the Commander.
The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It actually repeats that phrase four different times in the Bible. It also tells us that the fear of the Lord leads to life, blessing and a number of other things. Some say we don’t have to fear the Lord anymore because of Jesus. They are right….in one sense. We no longer need to BE afraid of the Lord because we know He has forgiven us in Christ. We should however fear the Lord in the sense of respecting His power, His authority, and His superiority. In that sense we must always fear the Lord.
I hope you will remember the story of Elijah and Ahaziah. It may seem like a meaningless historical event. It’s much more than that. It helps us learn the correct protocol for living before the Almighty God.