Sunday, October 23, 2016

[Matt's Messages} "How NOT to Relate to God"

“How NOT To Relate to God”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
October 23, 2016 :: 2 Kings 3:1-37  

We might call this section of the Books of Kings, “The Days of Elisha.” Because not only have we turned the corner from book 1 to book 2, but we’ve moved from big prophet 1 to big prophet 2.

Last week, Elisha asked, “Where is the God of Elijah?” and the answer was that He hasn’t gone anywhere! He’s right here with Elisha doing redemptive miracles and keeping His threats and promises.

And that’s a theme that is going to stick with us for the next several chapters because we’re going to see that same God do some amazing miracles through Elisha.

So, I thought about calling this message, “The God of Elisha,” but as it was developing, I realized I had a more provocative title for this one.

I’m going to call this message, “How NOT to Relate to God.”

Four mistakes that people can easily fall into and do in this one chapter.

How NOT to Relate to the God of Elisha.

Which is the same God that we know today.

What would you put on that list?

I’ll bet that all of us here could make a short or even a long list of things to avoid when relating to the LORD. And most of them true!

These are just four things that waved their hand at me as I was studying 2 Kings 3.

But, I think, we can learn from all of them.

Okay. So, we know who is the big prophet right now.

Who is the king? Who is king over Israel?

I couldn’t remember either.

We were told his name at the end of chapter 1, but he didn’t figure into the story in chapter 2.  His name is King Joram, or actually the Hebrew is King “Jehoram” in most of these verses, but the NIV went with this variant version of his name because there will be another king in the Southern Kingdom with the same name soon, so they use different variations of their names to help us keep them straight.

This King Joram was actually the brother of the last king, King Ahaziah. Ahahiah died with no son as his heir so it went to his brother. Joram is another son of Ahab.

And here’s the question, right?

Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Let me tell you a little secret. I may or may not have shared this with you yet.

Every single king of the northern kingdom of Israel is a thumbs-down king.

After the split, some of the kings of Judah are thumbs up.  They are men like David, men after God’s own heart. Men who lead the nation to love and serve the Lord.

But I’m sorry to say, every king of Israel in the north is a thumbs-down king.

Joram is a king of Israel. So what do you think he is?

Thumbs down. Look at verse 1.

“Joram son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned twelve years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father and mother had done. He got rid of the sacred stone of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he clung to the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them.”

Two thumbs down.

Now, he may not be six thumbs down like his dad Ahab had been.

Verse 2 says he wasn’t as bad as that. And he did, at least for a time, put away a major sacred stone of Baal.

But he didn’t worship the LORD alone. And he didn’t lead Israel to worship Yahweh alone. He was two thumbs down.

So that means we know that life will be hard for him. There will be consequences for his choices. Maybe not always in the short run, but always in the long.

With disobedience comes danger.

There will be consequences for Joram’s choices.

And we’ll see some of them today.

Because it’s from him that we will learn most of our “don’t list.”  “Don’t do this” and “Don’t do that.” How NOT to relate to God.

The story in chapter 3 revolves around the revolt of Moab.

Moab was, at this point in history, something of a vassal state to Israel. They had been subjects of united kingdom since the time of King David and had apparently still owed the northern kingdom tribute, taxes, but they didn’t want to pay them, they didn’t want to stay in that relationship. They wanted out. V.4

“Now Mesha king of Moab raised sheep, and he had to supply the king of Israel with a hundred thousand lambs and with the wool of a hundred thousand rams. But after Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.”

Now, this is interesting.

Anybody here know what this is?

This is the Moabite Stone discovered intact in 1868.

It’s also called, ready for this?  “The Mesha Stele”

Because it dates from the time of King Mesha of 2 Kings 3, and it describes in his own words some of what he thought of as his greatest accomplishments.

Those included winning victories in the northern area of his kingdom, the land of Medeba, and slaughtering seven thousand Israelites in devotion to his god Chemosh.

It also describes how oppressed Mesha felt as a neighbor of Israel especially during the years of King Omri of Israel.

A very interesting ancient piece for archeology. You can read about it online. You see the cracks in it? Those happened after it was discovered and after a scholar made an imprint of the front. The people of Jordan split it up into pieces so the West couldn’t have it, but eventually it got pieced back together and is now displayed in the Louvre in Paris.

This is one of the oldest surviving pieces of inscribed stones to have the name Yahweh on it.

So, it was probably done by or at least for Mesha himself, and it gives you a window into the feelings and thoughts that would lead him to rebel against King Joram.

He doesn’t mention the events of 2 Kings 3, and I think we’ll see why in just a second.

So, it’s Joram versus Mesha. Who should win that one?

Well, one is an enemy of Israel, and the other is the thumbs-down wicked king of Israel. It’s a hard one to call.

But Joram calls on his royal neighbor Jehoshaphat king of Judah. Same one as before. V.6

“So at that time King Joram set out from Samaria and mobilized all Israel.”
He’s fixin’ to win back the service of Moab, but he needs help. V.7

“He also sent this message to Jehoshaphat king of Judah: ‘The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?’ ‘I will go with you,’ he replied. ‘I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.’”

Does that sound kind of familiar?

It’s the same thing he said to Joram’s daddy, King Ahab back in 1 Kings 22.

And that story didn’t turn out so good. So that might give us a clue that this isn’t the best idea. And unlike that time, he doesn’t ask for a prophet to confirm that this is God’s plan for them. It kind of looks like they might be walking into a trap. V.8

“‘By what route shall we attack?’ he asked. ‘Through the Desert of Edom,’ he answered.  So the king of Israel set out with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. After a roundabout march of seven days, the army had no more water for themselves or for the animals with them.”

Uh oh.

This plan isn’t turning out so well.

Joram said that they needed to take the southern route.

Why do you think that was?  I think it’s because Mesha has won so many battles in the north. He’s strong up there.

So they have to come in from the Desert of Edom. Seven days in the desert of Edom.

What could go wrong?

Well, they ran out of water.

But Joram has not run out of excuses. V.10

“‘What!’ exclaimed the king of Israel. ‘Has the LORD called us three kings together only to hand us over to Moab?’”

Here’s point #1 for you:


I don’t think there is any evidence that the LORD sent the king of Israel, the king of Judah, and their friend the king of Edom on this mission.

But Joram acts like it’s all God’s fault.

He acts scandalized: “Why is this happening to me?”

“Why did God lead us here and then dump us?”

Now, it would be a mistake to grumble and complain even if God had led them there.

The LORD had led Moses and the Israelites to the desert, and they got thirsty, too.

But I think that Joram is using the LORD’s name in vain.

He’s passing the buck.

And not blaming just anybody, but the LORD.

That’s a very old way of sinning.

Remember when the LORD caught Adam redhanded in the garden?

What did he says, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

“It’s basically your fault.”

Have you ever done that one?

“Lord, you made me this way.”
“Lord, you put me in this family, in this job, in this situation, near this temptation.”

Joram is going even further.

He’s saying, “God you led me to make this mistake.”

Not a wise thing to do.  If you are doing anything like that, repent!

But King Jehoshaphat for all of his weaknesses, often makes wise choices. He knows where to turn. V.11

“But Jehoshaphat asked, ‘Is there no prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD through him?’ [Why, yes there is, want to guess who?] An officer of the king of Israel answered, ‘Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.’ [His servant.] Jehoshaphat said, ‘The word of the LORD is with him.’ So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.”

That’s the right place to turn. Probably should have gone there first!

These are the days of Elisha. Let’s hear what he has to say.

Well, it’s not soft words, I’ll tell you. V.13

“Elisha said to the king of Israel, ‘What do we have to do with each other? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.’”

Ooh, sick burn.

Here’s number two. How NOT to relate to God.


Elisha’s like, “Have we met? I’ve never you seen you at church before.”

“What do we have to do with each other?”

“You are not a worshiper of Yahweh. You worship the gods of your father, Ahab, and the gods of your mother, Jezebel. Get out of here.”

Don’t seek the one true God only when you’re in trouble!

Have you ever made that mistake?

I know I have. So many times.

We turn to the Lord when the water runs out.

Not when it’s flowing.

And that’s a mistake.

Now, some people say the, “Don’t turn to the LORD if you’re in trouble.”

But that’s not right either. God wants us to bring our troubles to Him.

Seek the LORD at all times. Cry out to the LORD in your distress.

He loves to answer needy people who turn to Him!

But don’t just do it then. Do it all the time.

Like the songs says:

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

I call on you then.

But also:

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out, I'll
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord

That song says that we praise Him in the bad times and the good times. Not just one or the other.

God wants an every day relationship with us.
Not just the bad days.
Not just the hard days.

Don’t see God ONLY when you’re trouble.

Do it then. If you are in trouble now, call out to Him.

But don’t stop when the trouble stops.

He wants all of you.

Joram was only looking for a way out. He didn’t really care about God.

That’s why Elisha met him with the “snarkasm.”

‘What do we have to do with each other? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.’”

Why are you interested now? V.13

“‘No,’ the king of Israel answered, ‘because it was the LORD who called us three kings together to hand us over to Moab.’”

There he goes again!

He’s still blaming God, and just about saying that God has evil plans.

This is a textbook case of what it means to use the Lord’s name in vain.

It’s just about blasphemy.

And guess what God is going to do about it?

He’s going to rescue King Joram!

Wait, what?

Joram’s doing everything wrong here.

He’s blaming God for his own mistakes and seeking God only when he’s in a fix.

But we’re going to see that God is going to help him anyway.

But not because of anything great about King Joram. It’s all grace.  V.14

“Elisha said, ‘As surely as the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you or even notice you.”

But he’s actually going to help him.

Here’s point #3. How NOT to relate to God.


And by that, I mean on your own merits.

Don’t come just by yourself and say, “I’m worthy of your help, O God.”

In fact, “You’ve got to help me. I deserve it. You got me into this fix. And that’s your job, God, to get people out of their problems. Including their sin. Come on, let’s go.”

Don’t come to God on your own.

Joram had all kinds of sin hanging off of him.

He had no record with God to build on.

But verse 14 says that he was there with King Jehoshaphat of Judah.

He was there with a true man of God.

He was there with a true son of David.

And because Jehoshaphat was with him, Elisha says, “I’ll do it.”

Now, I don’t want to make too much of that, but it sounds a little bit like King Jesus  doesn’t it?

When these kings are at their worst, they show us that we need King Jesus. That’s Joram. He needed it, for sure!

And when these kings are at their best, they remind us of King Jesus.

Here, they remind us that when we are with Him, we can ask God for anything.

Salvation, prayer requests, anything.

You and I don’t come to God on our own.

We come through the blood of Jesus Christ.

We come through being connected to the person of Jesus Christ.

We’re with Him.

Isn’t it amazing that we can pray in the name of Jesus Christ?

“In the name of Jesus Christ” is not just a cute little phrase that we tack onto prayers.

It’s a powerful reality that we come to God in prayer not on our own merits but on Jesus’.

I heard someone say the other day, it’s like Jesus gave us the password to His account.

We get “in” because we’re with Him.

Don’t come to God on your own. Come through Jesus.

If you have never come to God for salvation, here this. There is only one way. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by Him.

So come by Him to the Father!

You’re invited. You won’t get there on your own. But you can through Jesus.

Don’t come to God on your own. But come to Him, through Jesus.

And pray!

Jesus is our password to God in prayer.

Ephesians 2:18, “For through [Jesus] we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”

Access to the Father!

Are you taking advantage of that access?  Are you praying?  Are you praying in Jesus’ name?

I had a friend at Moody Bible Institute named Bob, and Bob would always start his prayer by saying, “Lord, we come to you in Jesus’ name.”  He didn’t just tack it onto the end.

That really stood out to me that that was what was going on when we pray in the name of Jesus.

Don’t come to God on your own.

Joram needed David’s son Jehoshaphat to get Elisha to help.

And you and I need Jesus, great David’s greatest son, to find the help we need.

And here’s number four. How NOT to relate to God.


“Elisha said, ‘As surely as the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you or even notice you. But now bring me a harpist.’ While the harpist was playing, the hand of the LORD came upon Elisha and he said, ‘This is what the LORD says: Make this valley full of ditches. For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink.”

Verse 16 is hard to translate from the Hebrew. It could mean that they should dig some ditches in expectation, but it’s actually more likely that it’s saying the LORD Himself will make the valley full of pools of water.

They don’t have to do anything.

It’s a desert, and they are dying of thirst, but tomorrow, they will have plenty of water enough for them and for their animals.

God says so.

But that’s not all. V.18

“This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also hand Moab over to you. You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones.’”

I almost titled this message, “That’s nothing! Watch this!”

Because that’s how Elisha talks in verse 18.
“This is an easy thing.”
“This is a light thing.”
“It’s nothing.”
“Easy peasy.”

“You want to really see something? Let me show you what I can do.”

Don’t underestimate God.

He loves to do big things that bring Him the glory.

I am so guilty of this one.

I’m always selling God short.

My prayers are not just too few but too small.

Can you relate to that?

Sometimes, because God doesn’t always answer my prayers when or how I would like Him to, I begin to act like God can’t do big things.

Actually, when He’s saying, “No” or “Wait” to my prayer requests, it’s because He has something bigger and better in mind!

Don’t underestimate what God can do.

“This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD,” not only will He do that, He’ll do this, too!

Above my desk in my office, I have the words of a John Newton hymn posted to remind me to pray bigger prayers.

It’s called “Thou Art Coming to a King.”

And the second stanza says:

Thou Art Coming to a King
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such, 
None can ever ask too much.
None can ever ask too much.


Elisha has spoken the word of the LORD and it’s exactly what happens. V.20

“The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was–water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water.

[And the LORD used that to do the other thing.]

Now all the Moabites had heard that the kings had come to fight against them; so every man, young and old, who could bear arms was called up and stationed on the border. When they got up early in the morning, the sun was shining on the water. To the Moabites across the way, the water looked red–like blood.

‘That's blood!’ they said. ‘Those kings must have fought and slaughtered each other. Now to the plunder, Moab!’

[And they underestimated what it would take to win.]

But when the Moabites came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and fought them until they fled. And the Israelites invaded the land and slaughtered the Moabites. [Just like God said.] They destroyed the towns, and each man threw a stone on every good field until it was covered. They stopped up all the springs and cut down every good tree. Only Kir Hareseth was left with its stones in place, but men armed with slings surrounded it and attacked it as well. When the king of Moab saw that the battle had gone against him, he took with him seven hundred swordsmen to break through to the king of Edom, but they failed.

Then he took his firstborn son, who was to succeed him as king, and offered him as a sacrifice on the city wall.

[And here’s the surprising ending to this story.]

The fury against Israel was great; they withdrew and returned to their own land.”

Wait, what?

After all of that, they go home without ruling Moab again?


Even though the LORD brought them victory in town after town and field after field just like He said He would.

He didn’t promise Joram that he would continue to rule over Moab.

Even though the king of Moab desperately sacrificed his own son to Chemosh the evil pagan god of Moab, and total victory was in Israel’s hands, they went home deflated if not defeated.


It doesn’t say much. It just says, “The fury against Israel was great.”

Now, that could mean the fury of Moab because they lost their prince to this sacrifice.

And it’s possible that it is the fury of the Israelites themselves, disgusted at the human sacrifice.

But I think the clearest meaning is that God was angry with them.

Not because of Moab, but because of Joram.

He’s two thumbs down. And he never stops being two-thumbs down (Verse 3 told us that.).

God may be gracious to him in the short run. Moab does not take Israel down.

But Israel doesn’t get to continue ruling over Moab either.

Don’t underestimate what God can do.

Even in judging Israel.

Even in bringing discipline.

Don’t forget that the God of Israel, the God of Elijah, the God of Elisha is a dangerous God.

We saw it two weeks ago, we saw it last week, and here it is again.

Don’t trifle with this God.

He is serious.

He is not tame.

He is good, but He is not tame.

He is not a great grandfather in the sky.

He is the LORD of heaven and earth, and He is not to be underestimated.

Don’t blame God for your errors.
Don’t seek God only when you’re in trouble.
Don’t come to God on your own.
And don’t underestimate what God can do.

That’s how NOT to relate to the God of Elisha.


Messages in this Series:
01. Who Will Be King?
02. The Wisdom of the King
03. The Temple of the King
04. The Incomparable King of the Temple
05. A Breathtaking King
06. The Turned King and the Torn Kingdom
07. The Two Kings and the Tearing of the Kingdom
08. The Word of the LORD
09. In the Eyes of the LORD
10. The LORD Lives
11. The LORD Is God!
12. The LORD Is Still God.
13. “You Will Know that I am the LORD”
14. "Thus Saith the LORD!"
15. What the LORD Says
16. Is There No God in Israel?
17. Where Is the God of Elijah?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "Where is the God of Elijah?"

“Where Is the God of Elijah?”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
October 16, 2016 :: 2 Kings 2:1-25  

Last week, we crossed over from 1 Kings to 2 Kings which wasn’t much of a change because it was originally probably one book.

And the main prophet, Elijah, from book one was the headliner in the sequel, the first chapter of book two.

But now, in chapter 2, the main prophet of this ongoing story is about to change.

We’re going to go from Elijah to Elisha. Look at verse 1.

“When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.”

So, the author tells us up front that this is a really big day.  This is “accession day” for Elijah. It is “succession” day for Elisha!

Do you remember Elisha? We met him back in 1 Kings chapter 19.

Elijah was depressed about the Lord’s apparent lack of victory, and the Lord whispered to him and gave him a friend.

Elisha was plowing a field with twelve yoke of Oxen, and Elijah threw his cloak around him and took him on as an assistant.

Elisha had a big barbecue of the oxen, shared it with the neighbors and then went out with Elijah as his little shadow.

And I say, “shadow” because he hasn’t been mentioned since, but I think he was there the whole time, watching, watching, watching Elijah the big prophet in action.

But today, that’s all going to change. Change is in the air.  (Literally, right?!)

Now, it’s not totally clear how much everyone knows about this change. As I read this story, I think that Elijah knew most of what was going to happen. Probably not every miraculous detail, but that today was the day.

And, as you read it, you see that Elisha seems to know that, too.

And so do this group called “the company of the prophets” or the “sons of the prophets” which show up in 3 different places.

Apparently all of God’s prophets were somehow aware that today was the big day.

And I don’t think they were happy about it.

Nobody really wanted Elijah to go. Especially his assistant. V.2

“Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel.’ But Elisha said, ‘As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.’ So they went down to Bethel.”

Now, in this story, it’s important to pay attention to the geography, the place names.

They start out at Gilgal and they go to Bethel.

Bethel is the southern tip of the northern kingdom.

Jeroboam set up one of his golden calves here.

So, it’s not been a particularly godly place. Remember that for later in this chapter.

Elijah has to go there, YHWH has said so.

And he tells Elisha to stay behind.

You know what I think is going on there? He’s offering for Elisha to stay behind. It’s not a command so much as an offer for Elisha to quit, to get off of the train.

“You don’t have to do this, Elisha. You don’t have to watch me go, and you don’t have to take up my role. Not if you don’t want to. You can stay here. It’s okay.”

But “Elisha says, ‘No. I’m in.’” So they go to Bethel. V.3

“The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, ‘Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?’ ‘Yes, I know,’ Elisha replied, ‘but do not speak of it.’”

“Let’s not talk about that now.

Yes, I’m aware of what day it is, but I don’t want to talk about succession. I just want to be with my friend.” v.4

“Then Elijah said to him, ‘Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to Jericho.’ And he replied, ‘As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.’ So they went to Jericho.”

Stop number two. Pay attention to the geography.

What kind of a place was Jericho?  It was also not a good place, historically.

The walls came tumblin’ down there back in Joshua’s day.

And what has happened to Jericho in the Books of Kings?

It was, sadly, rebuilt by a guy named Hiel of Bethel. And he did at the cost of losing his firstborn son and his youngest son because of the word of the LORD. We learned that back in chapter 16.

Historically, not a good and godly place. But the LORD wants Elijah to go there.

Elijah gives Elisha and out, but he doesn’t take it. So they go, and there are other prophets there, too. V.5

“The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, ‘Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?’ ‘Yes, I know,’ he replied, ‘but do not speak of it.’”

“Now is not the time for that conversation. Now is the time to stick with Elijah.”

Do you feel the tension growing? You know it comes in threes, right?

Bethel, Jericho, now, the Jordan. V.6

“Then Elijah said to him, ‘Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.’ And he replied, ‘As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.’ So the two of them walked on.”

He’s kind of retracing or backtracking the path that Joshua took back at the conquest of the Promised Land.

That was the Jordan, then Jericho, then Bethel and Ai, and then the whole nation over time.

This is Bethel, then Jericho, and now the Jordan.

How are they going to get across? V.7

“Fifty men of the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan.”

These guys don’t ask, “Do you know it’s today?”

They just watch. V.8

“Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.”

What does that remind you of?

The Red Sea Rescue, yes, but even more the crossing of the Jordan.

Because this is crossing the Jordan. And on dry land!

Now, they’re alone.

No more company of the prophets.

Just the two of them, and Elijah asks a key question. V.9

“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?’ ‘Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,’ Elisha replied. ‘You have asked a difficult thing,’ Elijah said, ‘yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours–otherwise not.’”

Now, I’ve always assumed that Elisha was going big here with this request.

He wants double the prophetic power of Elijah!

And we’ll see just how much God uses him in the next 12 chapters. It’s amazing!

It might be double.

I think he was asking for something more modest than that. He was just asking to receive the blessings of a spiritual father.

The “double portion” is the portion of the firstborn son.

It’s double what any other sons would get.

He’s just saying, “I want to be your heir.” “I want to inherit your position in the family of prophets.” “I want to take up the role that the LORD promised for me back in chapter 19 when He said that you should anoint me as your successor.”

“I’m ready to take over.” That’s the double portion.

And I don’t think he said it lightly.

I think he realized that this was a heavy responsibility.

And it would only come with grief, with the loss of his friend and mentor!

I think that’s why Elijah said that was a difficult things that Elisha asked for.

I could be wrong. He could have been asking for more spiritual power than Elijah had.

Either way, it would only come if Elisha saw Elijah be taken.

So it was good that he stuck with him all day long.

And then it happened. Verse 11.

“As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

Elisha saw this and cried out, ‘My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!’ And Elisha saw him no more.”

What a moment!

There is no Marvel movie CGI that could compete with that moment in history.

That really happened.

A chariot of fire and horses of fire whoosh in and separate the two of them.

And then Elijah goes up and up and up in great big swirling storm.

And then he’s gone!

He’s just gone.

And that thing that Elisha says? I never noticed this before, but I don’t think he’s talking about the chariot or horses of fire.

He says, “The chariots and horsemen of Israel.”

He’s talking about Elijah there.

He’s crying out, “There goes the real army of Israel.”

“That guy was worth an armored division!”

“That guy was the true army of one of Israel.”

“And now he’s gone.”

It’s statement of grief and sadness and lament. V.12

Elisha saw this and cried out, ‘My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!’ And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.”

He was grieving something fierce.

Elijah was his spiritual father.

And he was gone.

Oh, it’s exciting that it came in whirlwind. Just like at the end of Job. Same word for the storm here.

It’s exciting that it came with the chariot of fire. Nothing else quite like it in Scripture.

It’s exciting that Elijah apparently cheats death. It doesn’t say it outright, maybe this included his death. But it seems more like Elijah just got a heavenly ride, translated straight to God like Enoch. And Baal “the storm god” and Mot the “death god” lose again!

But it feels terrible to Elisha. Because he’s left alone.

Have you ever felt like Elisha?

Like your world just ended?

Like nothing was every going to be good, never going to be the same again?

Like you know that you have to go on, but your heart is full of grief and sadness and lament and loss.

Maybe you’re feeling that way, today.

I haven’t told you the title of today’s message yet.

Last week, it was a question that the LORD sent to Ahaziah.

This week, it’s a question that Elisha asks the world in verse 14.

“Where Is the God of Elijah?”  Look at verse 13.

“He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah [that was all that was left of him here] and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. ‘Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?’ he asked.”

Where is the God of Elijah?

Did you ever feel that question?

Elijah is gone. Where is Elijah’s God?

That spiritual hero has passed from the stage of human history.

Where is God?

That era is clearly over. Is God still around?

The work is not done, and yet our leader is gone. What now? How do we go on? Who will finish the job?

I’m not Elijah. He was a giant. He was an army. What now?

Where is the God of Elijah?

I think that Elisha felt that question.

But he was also clearly making a statement.

Because even as he asks it, he picks up the mantle, the cloak of Elijah, and just like Elijah did, he strikes the Jordan from the other bank. V.14

“When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.”

Where is the God of Elijah?


The same God that parted the Red Sea.
The same God that parted the Jordan for Joshua.
The same God that parted the Jordan for Elijah.

Is still right here.

No matter what else changes, the God of Elijah is still here and still at work.

That’s one of the reasons why I like that song, “Days of Elijah.”

Parts of it don’t make much sense. David never rebuilt "a temple of praise.”

But saying, “These are the days of Elijah” over and over again remind us that God si the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Do you need to hear that?

Have you been shaken by something recently?

A year ago, this week, we were shaken, as church by the sudden loss of of our friend Blair Murray.

And I couldn’t help but think about that as I wrote this message.

But there’s been plenty of other items to shake our world in the last 12 months.

Do you find yourself asking the question, “Where is the God of Elijah?”

Is He still around?

Can we still count on Him?

No matter what else changes, our same God is here. Right here.

Elisha knew that and he asked the question in such a dramatic fashion, not just because he felt it but because he saw the answer coming.

Yes, God is here. Right here. With us.

#2. WITH US.

The company of the prophets may not have seen what happened to Elijah on the other side of the Jordan, but they saw the Jordan splitting in two once again and Elisha come walking over on dry ground. V.15

“The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, ‘The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.’ And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.”

They get it.

The God of Elijah is still here.

He’s with Elisha. He’s still with us.

With little old us!

I think that part of the point of this whole passage is that you don’t have to be “Elijah the Army” for God to use you.

You don’t have to be Billy Graham or Franklin Graham or Dale Linebaugh or Lew Sterrett.

You don’t have to be Blair Murray.

You don’t have to be anybody except someone who belongs to the Lord.

Just think about this:

You plus God are a big enough team to accomplish whatever mission the Lord wants you to take together. Right?

You plus God. Is that a big enough team?

You feel like it’s a trick question, don’t you?

"Well, what is He going to ask me to do?"

Don’t worry. He’ll do it with you.

Because the God of Elijah is right here with us.

Do you need to hear that today?

I’ll bet you do. What might be the mission that God is sending you on?

You know that he doesn’t just deploy us from back behind the lines? He goes with us, right?

You plus God are a big enough team to accomplish whatever mission the Lord wants you to take together.

You say, "Well God minus me is a big enough team to accomplish His mission, too, right?"

Absolutely. But He’s inviting you along.

And there is nothing to lose.

He doesn’t just use giants, one-man armies, somebodies.

He uses nobodies. Elisha was a farmer.

Now he’s the new Elijah.

What might be the mission(s) that God is sending you on?

Now, I said pay attention to the geography.  Where are they now?

They were across the Jordan. Now they’re at Jericho with the company of the prophets who are showing respect for their new leader. V.16

“‘Look,’ they said, ‘we your servants have fifty able men. Let them go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the LORD has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley.’ ‘No,’ Elisha replied, ‘do not send them.’ But they persisted until he was too ashamed to refuse. So he said, ‘Send them.’ And they sent fifty men, who searched for three days but did not find him. When they returned to Elisha, who was staying in Jericho, he said to them, ‘Didn't I tell you not to go?’”

Elijah is truly gone. It wasn’t a big fakeout, and he wasn’t killed by the story, and his body dumped somewhere. He’s gone. Gone, gone.

And Elisha is at Jericho.  Now, watch what happens there. V.19

“The men of the city said to Elisha, ‘Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.’”

“People die here.

You know the curse on Jericho. Is there anything that can be done?”

Yes. V.20

“‘Bring me a new bowl,’ he said, ‘and put salt in it.’ So they brought it to him. Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, ‘This is what the LORD says: 'I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.'’ And the water has remained wholesome to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.”

Number three. Where is the God of Elijah?

He’s right here with us...


Redemptive miracles!

He’s turning around the curse of Joshua 6 and 1 Kings 16.

He’s bring sweet water like He did at Marah in Exodus 15.

He’s turning around something barren and dead and bringing grace and new life.

He’s the God of redemptive miracles.

I don’t know the why the salt. Perhaps it’s like a seed.

Or maybe it’s something even deader, salt water, can now produce life because of God’s Word.

I don’t know. But it reminds me of the Cross.

Where God took our sin and death and turned it, transformed it, changed it into grace and life.

Jesus Christ took our sin on Himself and died the death that we deserve.

And somehow out of that, miraculously, comes grace and eternal life!

The point that the author of Kings is making, I think, is that this is the same God.

This is the God of Elijah. Elijah was here. Now Elisha is here. But they have the same God.

And He’s up to his same old tricks.

Redemptive tricks!

Is that encouraging to you? It should be. Because He’s up to these redemptive tricks still today.

Pastor Dale Ralph Davis writes about this in his commentary on 2 Kings.

He says, “Isn’t there hope here for that woman in the third row from the front [at church] who has had two abortions in her past? Does this text not address the man who still despairs as he looks back to that sin-twisted, knowingly rebellious decision he made, and, though he has long since repented in tears and sincerity, a cloud seems to hover over his life–he fears that he can never enjoy the sunlight of God’s smile again. Or perhaps it was that immoral act, years ago, that has infected your marriage and infested your conscience; and, though finally confessed, you are convicted that, though God may tolerate you, he can never welcome you or delight in you. Sometimes [we] must grab such folks by the scruff of the neck, and when they say, ‘Hey, where are you taking me,’ we must say, ‘I’m carting you off to Jericho, and when we get there, I’m going to shout at you, ‘Here is your God!’ Is there anything as thrilling as that–as meeting the Lord who ‘binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow’ (Isaiah 30:36).”  (2 Kings: The Power and the Fury, pg. 37).

The God of Elijah is right with us in this room doing redemptive miracles.


Which also means keeping His threats.

Let me show you what I mean with this last story.

Where is Elisha?  Pay attention to the geography.

He’s at Jericho. Where did Elijah come from before he went to Jericho on that last day?


So it’s back to Bethel to show that it’s the same God as before. V.23

“From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. ‘Go on up, you baldhead!’ they said. ‘Go on up, you baldhead!’ He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.”

This is not a random story.

And as much as I like to joke about it, it’s not a story about the blessings of being bald or the danger that comes from making fun of us who are!

And it’s not a story about how cruel God is to children.

Here’s what’s happening.

Elisha has come to Bethel to retrace Elijah’s steps.

But unlike at Jericho, Elisha is unwelcome.

At Bethel, they reject him.

As he’s walking along the road, a gang of young punks start to threaten him.

The King James has “children” here, but they are not little kids. They are youths. They are somewhere between twelve and thirty.

They are the Bad Boys of Bethel. Young thugs.

And there are a bunch of them. Forty two die, but it’s clear that there are more than that in the crowd.

And they are taunting, jeering, disrespecting and basically threatening the prophet.

Remember what happened last week when the prophet of God was disrespected by King Ahaziah and his 2 captains with their 50 man tactical teams?

Last week, we said that Elijah’s God was dangerous.

The same God is with Elisha.

These young punks say, “Go on up, you baldhead” which is a pretty serious thing to say.

“Go on up” be saying, like Elijah. How about you go to heaven.

Or it could be “Go on up the road. We don’t like your kind here. Get out of town.”

And they could be just making fun of Elisha’s baldhead or they might be saying that he’s not much of a prophet.

Elijah had a big head of hair. Remember?

“You’re no Elijah! You're follically challenged.”

“Where’s the hair, ‘Mr. Prophet’?”

What did God say would happen to Israel if they rejected Him?

Here’s what Leviticus 26:22 says, “If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve.  I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children,”

Elisha was just calling for God to keep that promise.

And God did.

The main point here is that God has stayed the same.

The God of Elijah is the God of Elisha.

The jealous dangerous God of Elijah that we saw last week is the same jealous dangerous God of Elisha that we see this week.

And He is still keeping His promises and His threats.

That’s scary to realize if you are God’s enemy.

But it’s so sweet to realize if you God’s child.

Are you God’s enemy?

So many are. That is our default position.

Ephesians 2 says that all of us were dead in our transgressions and sins and followed the ways of this world and its evil ruler.

But God, who is rich in mercy makes us alive with Christ if we repent of our sins and put our faith in Jesus Christ and believe His promises.

We receive His grace.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:9).

And that was true then and it’s true now.

Bethel, Jericho, Jordan, Jordan, Jericho, Bethel.

Days of Elijah, Days of Elisha, Days of Jesus, Days of Paul


Where is the God of Elijah?

He’s right here, right now, with us, doing redemptive miracles and keeping His promises including His threats.

May be we rightly scared if we are His enemies.

And rightly rejoices if He calls us His sons and daughters!


Messages in this Series:

01. Who Will Be King?
02. The Wisdom of the King
03. The Temple of the King
04. The Incomparable King of the Temple
05. A Breathtaking King
06. The Turned King and the Torn Kingdom
07. The Two Kings and the Tearing of the Kingdom
08. The Word of the LORD
09. In the Eyes of the LORD
10. The LORD Lives
11. The LORD Is God!
12. The LORD Is Still God.
13. “You Will Know that I am the LORD”
14. "Thus Saith the LORD!"
15. What the LORD Says
16. Is There No God in Israel?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Sunday, October 09, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "Is There No God in Israel?"

“Is There No God in Israel?”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
October 9, 2016 :: 1 Kings 22:41 - 2 Kings 1:18

Ever since Easter, we’ve been studying the Old Testament Books of Kings.

Starting with the end of King David and then his son Solomon and then running through all of the kings of the divided kingdom, both North and the South.

Rehoboam, Jeroboam, Abijah, Asa, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Tibni, Omri, and last and worst so far, King Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel.

And we’ve learned that all of these kings remind us of King Jesus.

When these kings are at their best, they remind us of Jesus.
And when these kings are at their worst, they reminds us of why we need Jesus.

And there’s been lots of that.

A lot of these kings were at their worst. They were two thumbs down, especially the kings of the North, the Kingdom called Israel, as they went after other gods.

And the worst of them was King Ahab. The LORD sent a special prophet to confront King Ahab and show that the LORD is God. This prophet’s name was Elijah. And we learned about the days of Elijah in July and August and September.

In our chapters for today, Elijah is still alive but Ahab has finally died.

It was a “random” bow shot that took out Ahab. And of course, we know that there was nothing random about it. It was the sovereign judgment of God that took Ahab out.

And that’s where we pick up the story today. Chapter 22, verse 41.

Strangely enough, the author switches right here to talking about the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He hasn’t talked about Judah since chapter 15!

But he has talked about the king of Judah who had an alliance with the King of Israel. His name was Jehoshaphat. We met him briefly last time as he battled Aram alongside Ahab. And here the author wants to tell us a little bit about his reign. V.41

“Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. His mother's name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. In everything he walked in the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. The high places, however, were not removed, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. Jehoshaphat was also at peace with the king of Israel. As for the other events of Jehoshaphat's reign, the things he achieved and his military exploits, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?”

The author of 1 Kings does not have a lot to tell us about King Jehoshaphat.

If you want to know more about this king, then read 2 Chronicles chapters 17-20. There are four good chapters there about this guy.

But the author of 1 Kings just wants to basically answer the basic question of thumbs up or thumbs down.

Which do you think it is for Jehoshaphat?

I think he’s basically two thumbs up. Maybe one and three quarters.

Verse 43 says that he walked in the ways of his father Asa. Asa was a thumbs-up king. And he didn’t stray from them. He wasn’t like Solomon who started good and ended poorly.

And he did “what was right in the eyes of the LORD.” We’ve seen that phrase again and again and again.

That’s where it really counts, right? “In the eyes of the LORD.”

Two thumbs up.

But he did compromise some. He didn’t remove the high places so some false and unhealthy worship was still allowed, and he made peace and alliances with the wicked king of Israel, Ahab. I think that was a mistake.

But he was trying. Verse 46.

“He rid the land of the rest of the male shrine prostitutes who remained there even after the reign of his father Asa. [He was a thumbs-up king for Judah.] There was then no king in Edom; a deputy ruled. [So Jehoshaphat tried to go to into overseas shipping. V.48]

Now Jehoshaphat built a fleet of trading ships to go to Ophir for gold, but they never set sail–they were wrecked at Ezion Geber. [He was good, but he was no breathtaking Solomon. V.49] At that time Ahaziah son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Let my men sail with your men,’ but Jehoshaphat refused.

Then Jehoshaphat rested with his fathers and was buried with them in the city of David his father. And Jehoram his son succeeded him.”

Jehoshaphat was a thumbs-up king for Judah. Twenty-five stable, mostly godly, years.

So how about in Israel?  How did the northern kingdom do after Ahab died? Thumbs up or thumbs down? V.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. 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.”

Two thumbs down.

What a contrast with Jehoshaphat, huh?

Where it really counts, in the eyes of the LORD, Ahaziah was a complete and total failure.

He also walked in the ways of his father (and his mother!), but they were not good examples. He served and worshiped Baal.

Just think about that.

Ahaziah has apparently learned nothing at all.

He has not learned from what happened to his dad.

He has not learned from what happened at Mount Carmel in chapter 18 when the fire fell from heaven.

He has not repented of anything his father did.

Verse 53. “He served and worshiped Baal and provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger, just as his father had done.”

I haven’t told you the title of this message yet.

It’s a rhetorical question with an obvious answer.

It’s a satirical question that gets asked to this King, King Ahaziah who has apparently not learned anything yet in his life about the LORD.

And this rhetorical, satirical question gets asked three times in the next chapter. Chapter 1.

Here’s what it is, “Is There No God in Israel?”

Well, verse 53 already answered that question.

And it said that there is a God in Israel, the God of Israel, and He doesn’t just exist, He is angry.

He is provoked.

In fact, here’s point #1. He’s jealous.


Yes, there is a God in Israel, and He is jealous.

And that’s a good thing.

The LORD told us Himself that He is a jealous God when He gave Moses the 10 Commandments.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God...”

God wants all of the glory for Himself.
He wants all the allegiance for Himself.
He wants all of the loyalty for Himself.
He wants all of the worship for Himself.

He deserves it. And He cares about it.

He is jealous.

And that’s good news.

Because we don’t really want a God who doesn’t care about His glory.

He wouldn’t be that glorious if He didn’t care.

Our God is a jealous God.

He deserves all of our worship and wants all of our worship.

And that’s what makes idolatry so awful.
Because it’s rebellion and disloyalty and spiritual adultery.

And God cares.

It provokes God to anger when God’s people chase after other gods.

We’ve seen that again and again and again through the Old Testament.

That was the whole problem with King Ahab.

And it was what Elijah’s battle on Mount Carmel was all about.

But apparently, Ahaziah hasn’t learned anything yet.

Turn the page to 2 Kings chapter 1.

“After Ahab's death, Moab rebelled against Israel [more on that later]. Now Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and injured himself. So he sent messengers, saying to them, ‘Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.’”

Do you see what just happened there?

The king of Israel had an accident. And he’s worried that he might not live. That he might not get up from his bed. That he might not survive his injuries.

And so he wants to see what his god says about that.

The king of Israel.

Did you catch what god he wants to consult?

Baal, and not just any Baal, but the Baal god over the Philistine town of Ekron named “Baal-Zebub.”

“Lord of the flies.”

King Ahaziah, king of Israel, sends some messengers to consult Baal-Zebub to find out if he is going to recover from his injuries.

How do you think that YHWH is going to respond to that?

Does He care?

I think that a lot of people think that He shouldn’t care.

I mean, what does it matter how you worship God or what god you worship, as long as you worship God?

As long as you’re a spiritual person.

That’s how many people in our day see it. They think that all gods are basically equal and that there are many paths to God.

But that is not how the God of the Bible sees it. He is a jealous God.

And He doesn’t want His people to accept any substitutes. V.3

“But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite [there he is again, one last mission to the king], ‘Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them [this rhetorical satirical question], 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?'

Therefore this is what the LORD says: 'You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!'’ So Elijah went.”

Do you feel the burn in the question?

'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?'

“Is there no God in Israel, Ahaziah?”

“Is that how it is?”

Do you see how jealous He is?

And how foolish idolatry is?

Idolatry is turning to the wrong things. Trusting in the wrong things.

It is find god substitutes for your life.

And we still do it today.

1 John 5:21 to New Testament Christians like you and me, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”

Keep away from God-substitutes because the God of Israel is real, and He is really jealous.

What do you turn to?

What do you tend to turn to instead of turning to the Lord?

It’s probably not a god named Baal-Zebub.

It’s probably more subtle than that, I’m guessing.

But what is it?

It could be just about anything.

Money. We always go to money, sex, and power. They’re obvious attractions and things we can put our faith in.

But there’s plenty of others. Approval. That’s one for me. I love to be liked. I love the pat on the back and the attaboy. I love the like button on FB. Like, like, like.

Here’s one for me that I don’t talk about as much.

But I can easily worship productivity. I love to be productive. And I can begin to trust in my productivity. My activity that leads to productivity.

Now, productivity is not a bad thing. It’s good thing, but it can become a god thing.

And a demanding god thing!

If I’m not productive, I can go into a real tailspin.

Vacations, like we just took, can be difficult for me. I’m not that good at resting.

You’re not supposed to be productive when you’re on vacation.

What is it for you?

What do you tend to turn to as a God-substitute?

This connects with what Donnie was talking about last week, right? Christian contentment?

What do we tend to find our contentment in instead of in Christ?

Public opinion?
Science and medicine.

King Ahaziah might have put all of his faith, not in Baal Zebub, but in his doctors.

And that would be a mistake, too.

Doctors are good, but they are not God.

How about politicians?

The government?

It’s so easy to make politics and the government into an idol.

And you know it has become an idol if you obsess over it. If it you worship it.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a difficult time this election season keeping it all in biblical perspective.

My head tells me, “It’s just an election for president of the US. God is still on the throne of the universe. No matter what.” But my heart keeps freaking out.

And I obsess over the details.

That reveals something wrong in my heart that needs spiritual adjustment.

The word for that is repentance. And I need to have a reset in my heart.

Our God is a jealous God. He deserves and wants all of our worship, all of our loyalty, all of our trust, all of our confidence, all of our faith to be in Him.

And when we do, we experience peace, joy, and love.

But when we don’t, we get into danger.

And that’s exactly where Ahaziah was. He was in danger. Because he was chasing after another god.

A god that the New Testament names as name for Satan himself.

Because Satan stands behind all false gods.

So back to the story. Ahaziah has sent messengers to consult Baal Zebub, and Yahweh has sent Elijah to confront them. And he did.

And after they met him, he was so persuasive they turned back! V.5

“When the messengers returned to the king, he asked them, ‘Why have you come back?’ ‘A man came to meet us,’ they replied. ‘And he said to us, 'Go back to the king who sent you and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD says [Thus saith the LORD]: Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending men to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’”

“The king asked them, ‘What kind of man was it who came to meet you and told you this?’ They replied, ‘He was a man with a garment of hair and with a leather belt around his waist.’ The king said, ‘That was Elijah the Tishbite.’ [We’ll see about this.]

Then he sent to Elijah a captain with his company of fifty men. The captain went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, ‘Man of God, the king says, 'Come down!'’ [You’re under arrest. I’ve got 50 men in flack jackets here to take you to the king to answer for meddling in his business.]

Elijah answered the captain, ‘If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!’ Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.”

That’s the Books of Kings for you.

You never know what’s going to happen.

The LORD just rained down fire to kill 51 men. Scorched corpses are all that’s left.

“Is there no God in Israel?”

Oh yes, there is a God in Israel. And He is dangerous.


The God of the Bible is not tame or domesticated.

He is dangerous.

The old English word for it is “terrible.”

We don’t use the word “terrible” like that anymore. But it used to mean “striking terror” into someone.

Maybe fearsome might get it across?

English used to also use the word “awesome” to express this. God is awesome. He evokes awe from us.

But we’ve lost the meaning of awesome because now candy bars are awesome. Pizza is awesome. You and I are all awesome. We are full of "awesome-sauce."

So that word by itself doesn’t do it anymore.

But the idea is that God is dangerous.

He is not to be trifled with.

He is to be feared, revered, dreaded to use another older English word the way it used to be used.

Do you fear God?

I’m afraid that many many treat God casually. The word that describes their feeling about God is “meh.”

That’s how Ahaziah treated God.

Even after his 50 men died, what did he do? He sent 50 more. V.11

“At this the king sent to Elijah another captain with his fifty men. The captain said to him, ‘Man of God, this is what the king says, 'Come down at once!'’

[Do you see how fearless he is? That’s not good.]

‘If I am a man of God,’ Elijah replied, ‘may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!’ Then the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men.”

Some people don’t like this story.

They feel sorry for the “poor innocent troops” sent to simply bring Elijah to have a nice conference with the king.

But that’s not they are there for. They are basically at war with Yahweh.

Sent to arrest and perhaps assassinate the man of God.

And they are discounting who God is.

God is holy.
God is mighty.
God is powerful.
Our God is a consuming fire.

He sent the fire from heaven to burn up the sacrifice, and He also sent it to burn up the opposition.

Our God is not nice.

He is not tame or mild or domesticated or wimpy.

He is, in a word, dangerous.

And we would all do well to remember that.

Yes, we know there is more to Him than fire.

But there is not less.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of the wisdom.”

But fools take Him lightly.
Fools snub Him at their own peril.

Do you need to hear that today?

Maybe it seems like somebody you know is getting away with disrespecting God.

Don’t believe it for a minute.

And don’t try it either.

There is a God in Israel, and He is dangerous.

But that’s not all there is to know about Him.

He’s also merciful and gracious.


King Ahaziah is merciless. He sends a third captain with another 50 troops. Verse 13.

“So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain [however!] 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! See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men. But now have respect for my life!’”

This guy gets it.

God is not to be treated lightly.

Even attacking the prophet of God can be a death sentence.

And he asks mercy, and guess what he gets?  V.15

“The angel of the LORD said to Elijah, ‘Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.’ So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king. [Grace! Mercy. He does not die.]

[But Ahaziah does. V.16]

[Elijah] told the king, ‘This is what the LORD says: 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? Because you have done this, you will never leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’

So he died, according to the word of the LORD that Elijah had spoken. Because Ahaziah had no son, Joram succeeded him as king in the second year of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah.  As for all the other events of Ahaziah's reign [for whatever little they were worth], and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?”

Here’s the point.

And Ahaziah never got it.

There is a God in Israel.

And He does not want to be ignored or replaced.

There is a God over the universe.

And He does not want to be ignored or replaced or taken lightly.

He is a jealous God.

And we need to repent of all of our chasing after other ones.

He is dangerous God.

And we need to repent of our treating Him flippantly.

But thank God, He is also a gracious God.

And like the third captain, we need to cry out for His mercy and experience His grace.


Messages in this Series:

01. Who Will Be King?
02. The Wisdom of the King
03. The Temple of the King
04. The Incomparable King of the Temple
05. A Breathtaking King
06. The Turned King and the Torn Kingdom
07. The Two Kings and the Tearing of the Kingdom
08. The Word of the LORD
09. In the Eyes of the LORD
10. The LORD Lives
11. The LORD Is God!
12. The LORD Is Still God.
13. “You Will Know that I am the LORD”
14. "Thus Saith the LORD!"
15. What the LORD Says

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Friday, October 07, 2016

"Expositional Preaching" - A Review for EFCA Now

EFCA Now has published my review of Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God's Word by David Helm.

I used this book last Summer when trying to teach my first ever preaching class at Lanse Free Church.

It’s a lot easier to preach a good sermon than it is to teach someone else how to preach a good sermon. As a solo pastor of a smaller church, I write a new message nearly every week, and after 18 years of sermonizing, I have developed a method that works for me (and I hope, ministers to our church family!). But it’s part of my job description to equip others to do the work of the ministry–not just to do it myself (Ephesians 4:11-12). So, along the way, I need to learn how to raise up other expositors to feed our flock, which is easier said than done.

And as I report in this review, I found Expositional Preaching to be a great resource for doing just that.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Saturday, September 24, 2016