“One day Israel’s new king, Ahaziah, fell through the latticework of an upper room at his palace in Samaria and was seriously injured. So he sent messengers to the temple of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask whether he would recover. But the angel of the Lord told Elijah, who was from Tishbe, ‘Go and confront the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Is there no God in Israel? Why are you going to Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask whether the king will recover? Now, therefore, this is what the Lord says, You will never leave the bed you are lying on; you will surely die.” So Elihah wen to deliver the message.” — 2 Kings 1:2-4
At times life gets hairy and scary. How someone behaves at such times speaks volumes about what they believe. Take Elijah and Ahaziah for example. Their reactions to a tense situation provide great insights into what they were made of.
Elijah was a “hairy man” (1:8), and he lived in scary times. King Ahab had led Israel to reject Yahweh and embrace the religion of Baal. The Ahaziah succeeded Ahab his father as king and perpetuated the apostacy. When he was seriously injured in a fall, he immediately turned for spiritual help to Baal-zebub, not to the Lord.
In response, God sent Elijah to intercept the king’s messengers with a prophetic message rebuking the king and predicting his death. The king did not receive the message well, but angrily sent a detachment of soldiers to arrest Elijah. To the king’s threats Elijah responded cooly, giving God’s anger room to burn.
The contrast between the prophet and the king is stark. Elijah trusted impicitly in God’s word and in his power to intervene in the affairs of the king. Ahaziah dismissed the Lord as irrelevant. Two contrasting worldviews were on display. One was based on the recognition of Yahweh as God the Creator, who had chosen the people of Israel as his precious treasure, had given them the land in which they lived, and had promised to bless his people and the world as they responded to him in loving obedience.
The other worldview was based on the worship of Baal, a nature and fertility god, whose worship demanded appeasement if the people were to prosper. The former approach believed that Yahweh was sovereign and trustworthy, while the latter believed that Baal was in charge. It was a matter of either/or, not both/and. There was no room for compromise. Either Yahweh was God, or Baal was. Elijah left no room for doubt whose side he was on–and neither did Ahaziah! Confrontation resulted–a hairy, scary scene. And Yahweh proved, once again, that “the Lord is God!” (1 Kings 18:39)
Today, we find ourselves in similar situations. Alternatives to worshipping the Lord abound. Many dismiss Him as irrelevant, and most reject Him out of hand. Others wish to enbrace both Him and the gods who stand in opposition to Him, seeing little contradiction and caring even less. But we must address the issue of who is truly the Lord, because one day we will fall through our lattice and need someone to help and somewhere to turn. The one you and I trust at such a moment will either support us or collapse like a rotten lattice. That’s scary!