2 Kings 1:9-10
“Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty men with his fifty. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’” But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.”
Three times Ahaziah sends a squadron of fifty men to confront and apprehend Elijah. The first two squadrons are destroyed by fire from heaven. Having seen what happened to the first two, the leader of the third squadron says this to Elijah: “And the third captain of fifty went up and came and fell on his knees before Elijah and entreated him, ‘O man of God, please let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight. Behold, fire came down from heaven and consumed the two former captains of fifty men with their fifties, but now let my life be precious in your sight.” (2 Kings 1.13-14)
This captain demonstrated humility. He recognized and respected Elijah, and he honored God rather than Ahaziah. Unlike the evil king, this captain had the common sense to face the reality of the situation. He was also afraid and didn’t want to die!
2 Kings 1:15-16
“Then the angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So he arose and went down with him to the king and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron—is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word?—therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’”
In response to the humble captain, Elijah comes down from the hill and goes to meet with Ahaziah. Once again, Elijah stands alone before the king of Israel, except this time it was Ahab’s son. No doubt Elijah was surrounded by soldiers, and was simply a spear thrust or sword stroke from being killed on the spot. Yet he faithfully, courageously, and boldly delivers the message from God.
The message to Ahaziah was this: Because you inquired of Baal-zebub and failed to seek God’s wisdom, you will die.
2 Kings 1.17 states it simply and clearly: “So Ahaziah died according to the word of the Lord that Elijah had spoken.”
The prohibition against consulting pagan gods was made clear in the Law:
“If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people. Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 20.6-7)
It is of particular importance where leaders get their advice, because the decisions that leaders make affect the nation or organization or team. Ahaziah sought advice from the wrong source— a pagan god—and he paid a very high price for doing so.
Let me emphasize that again: One of the most important things that a leader does is make decisions. And the quality of a leader’s decisions is dependent on the quality of the input that informs those decisions.
Key question for leaders:
- What input do you use to inform your thinking? What is the source of the content of your thinking?
- What method do you use to think and make decisions? What is the source of the process of your thinking?
- Whose feedback and counsel do you seek? What is the source of the counsel and advice that you receive to challenge your thinking?
Seek the truth of God’s word, insight from God, and the advice of wise people. Then use a disciplined process to think and make decisions.
Remember what we learned in our study of James: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1.5-6)
The Lord is calling.