2 Kings 1:1-2
“After the death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel. Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber in Samaria, and lay sick; so he sent messengers, telling them, “Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness.”
We don’t know much about Ahaziah; we do know he was injured in a fall. We aren’t given the details of his accident. Perhaps he broke his leg or hurt his back or sustained a head injury. Maybe he was paralyzed. What we do know is that when he realized he wasn’t recovering, he sought guidance from a pagan deity, Baalzebub, the god of Ekron.
Ekron was one of the five major Philistine cities. It was the home city of Jezebel, Ahaziah’s mother, and it was known for its practice of divination and sorcery. Baalzebub, which means “lord of flies,” was the chief deity in Ekron. Ahaziah inherited his parents’ legacy of idolatry and evil. Rather than trust the true God of Israel, Ahaziah followed in the footsteps of Ahab and Jezebel, and he turned to Baalzebub for a prediction about his future.
But God sends Elijah to intercept the messengers of Ahaziah.
2 Kings 1:3-4
“But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, ‘Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus says the Lord, You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’” So Elijah went.”
Elijah intercepts the messengers and rebukes them for seeking information from a pagan god. He also gives the messengers a very clear prophecy to deliver back to Ahaziah: You will not recover; you are going to die.
2 Kings 1:5-8
“The messengers returned to the king, and he said to them, “Why have you returned?” And they said to him, “There came a man to meet us, and said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you, and say to him, Thus says the Lord, Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’” He said to them, “What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?” They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”
Clearly, Elijah had a reputation among the leaders of Israel. Although the messengers did not immediately recognize him, upon hearing the description, Ahaziah knew that it was Elijah. He was not pleased with the message that Elijah sent back. So like his parents, Ahaziah reacts with intimidation and the use of force.
There are several important lessons for us here:
- Seek God’s word and wisdom for answers to the questions of life. Seek truth, not comfort. Keep in mind that truth is not always easy or comfortable.
- Don’t listen to people who tell you what you want to hear; listen to people who tell you what you need to hear. Everyone needs a truth-teller; someone who is willing to speak truth into your life, even when that truth is uncomfortable or even painful. This is especially important in today’s era of ‘feel-good Christianity.’ The truth is that the truth doesn’t always feel good.
- Don’t shoot the messenger. When someone gives you feedback or tells you an uncomfortable truth, resist the temptation to react by attacking or criticizing the person. Have the courage and humility to listen and receive the message.
Ahab and Jezebel did not listen to Elijah, and it doesn’t appear their son Ahaziah is going to listen either. Resisting wise advice and failing to listen to God is a recipe for disaster.
The Lord is calling.