Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab.Analysis and Annotations
I. ELIJAH’s FINAL MINISTRY AND TRANSLATION
1. Elijah and Ahaziah
1. Moab’s rebellion (2Kings 1:1)
2. The illness of Ahaziah (2Kings 1:2)
3. Elijah’s message (2Kings 1:3-8)
4. Ahaziah’s messengers and their fate (2Kings 1:9-15)
5. Elijah before the king and Ahaziah’s Death (2Kings 1:16-17)
6. Jehoram becomes king (2Kings 1:18)
The rebellion of Moab is here briefly mentioned. Both Omri and Ahab had oppressed Moab, and after Ahab’s death this rebellion took place. The complete report is found in the third chapter. That ancient monument known by the name of the Moabite stone contains a most interesting record of this revolt and the oppression by Omri and his son Ahab. This record is as follows: “Omri (was) King of Israel, and he oppressed Moab many days, for Chemosh (Moab’s idol-god) was angry with his land. His son (Ahab) followed him, and he also said, I will oppress Moab.” (See Appendix for a complete translation of the record on this monument.) However, if it were not for the Bible no one would know that the inscription on the Moabite stone is truthful. The Bible proves the record genuine, and not the record the genuineness of the Biblical account. The Bible does not need such confirmation.
Ahaziah, the wicked son of a wicked father, had an accident and sent his messenger to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron. Baal-zebub means “lord of flies.” According to rabbinical tradition, he was worshipped in the form of a fly; and so addicted were the Jews to this cult that they carried a small image in their pockets, kissing it from time to time. Vile practices were also connected with its worship. What awful blasphemy the Pharisees uttered when they accused our Lord of using Beelzebub, the prince of demons! (Matthew 12:24. _Beelzebub is given in the Greek as _Beelzebul, which means “lord of idolatrous sacrificing.”)
The messengers of Ahaziah never reached Ekron. The Lord had heard the charge to the king’s messengers and He sent a messenger (angel means in Hebrew “a messenger”) to Elijah the Tishbite. The angel of the LORD commanded the prophet to meet the men the king had sent forth to inquire of Baal-zebub and to announce the coming death of Ahaziah. The message is faithfully delivered; the messengers return to Ahaziah and he heard the words of Elijah from their lips. He knew at once who the mysterious person was who had turned back his messengers. The king sent therefore a captain with his fifty men to arrest the prophet. The captain addressed Elijah as a “Man of God” and commanded him in the name of the king to come down from the hill. But Elijah, fearless as he was, took up the word of the captain and appealed to his God to let fire come down from heaven. It was at once carried out and the captain with his fifty men were consumed by fire. The same fate overtook the second expedition, whose captain urged the prophet’s obedience more than the first, for he said, “Come down quickly.” The judicial character of Elijah’s ministry is here once more in evidence. Critics have more than once condemned his action and called him “arrogant and merciless,” while others deny the historicity of the event altogether. “Terrible as this answer was, we can perceive its suitableness, nay, its necessity, since it was to decide, and that publicly and by the way of judgment (and no other decision would have been suitable in a contest between man and God), whose was the power and the kingdom--and this at the great critical epoch of Israel’s history” (History of Israel). Compare this fire judgment with Luke 9:54-56. When this present dispensation of grace is ended, judgment by fire will be meted out to the enemies of God (Revelation 11:5). During the great tribulation (Matthew 24:22) the fiery judgments will be on the earth (Revelation 8:5), preceding the visible manifestation of the Lord, who shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2Thessalonians 1:7-8).
Elijah could consistently command fire to come down from heaven and consume those who dishonored and despised in him the prophet and servant of God. But when the disciples of Jesus, in a similar case (Luke 9:54-56) desired to imitate that example, the Lord restrained them, and said: “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” Elijah here acted as the representative of the law, which showed no indulgence, but the disciples of Christ were the representatives of the gospel which proclaims the remission of sins. The old covenant necessarily alarmed and subdued the enemies of the kingdom of God by minatory language and punitive measures, while the new covenant designed to disarm and, if possible, to win them by forgiving love (J.H. Kurts).
A third company was sent out by Ahaziah. Mercy was shown to this captain and his fifty men, for the captain feared God and honored Elijah as His representative. His words breathe humility and his prayer showed that he owned the power of God. Such mercy is also in store for those who humble themselves when the coming judgments are in the earth. Then Elijah appeared before Ahaziah in person and delivered the God-given message and the wicked King died according to the Word of the LORD.