21 February 2010

God burned 102 men to death for asking Elijah to come down from his hill

King Ahaziah (of Israel) became ill after falling though a lattice floor. So he sent some messengers to ask Baalzebub if he would recover.
Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease. 2 Kings 1.2
Then an angel told Elijah to tell some messengers to tell Ahaziah that God would kill him for asking the wrong god.
The angel ... said to Elijah ... Arise, go up to meet the messengers ... and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed ... but shalt surely die. 1.3-4
So the messengers returned and delivered the message to king Ahaziah.
The messengers … said unto him, There came a man up to meet us, and said unto us, Go, turn again unto the king that sent you, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that thou sendest to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? therefore thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. 1.5-6
Ahaziah asked them what the guy who gave them the message looked like. They said he was "a hairy man" with "leather about his loins."
What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words? And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. 1.7
When the king heard that, he knew it was Elijah. Nobody dresses like Elijah!
He said, It is Elijah. 1.8
So the king sent a captain and fifty men to go find Elijah. They found him sitting on top of a hill and said to him, "Come down."
Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. 1.9
Which I guess was the wrong thing to say, judging from Elijah's response.
Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. 1.10a
And that's what happened. Fire came down from heaven and burned the 51 guys to death.
There came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. 1.10b
I'm not sure how Ahaziah found out about all this, but he did, and he sent another captain and 50 men to try again.
Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. 1.11a
They found Elijah sitting on top of the same hill and the captain told him the same thing: "Come down quickly." (I guess they added the quickly for emphasis.)
He … said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly. 1.11b
Elijah responded in the usual way.
Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. 1.12a
You probably can guess what happened next.
The fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. 1.12b
Once again the king found out what had happened. So he sent another captain with 50 men. (I guess he figured it worked out well the first two times.)
He sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. 1.13a
But this time the captain didn't ask Elijah to come down. He got on his knees and groveled in front of Elijah, begging him not to burn him to death.
The third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah … and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight. Behold, there came fire down from heaven, and burnt up the two captains of the former fifties with their fifties: therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight. 1.13b-14
And that worked a lot better. Elijah came down the off his hill and went with them to see Ahaziah -- which I guess is what Ahaziah wanted him to do in the first place.
The angel of the LORD said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him unto the king. 1.15
So the moral of the story is this: If you see a hairy man dressed in a leather loin cloth sitting on top of a hill, don't ask him to come down (unless you grovel first) or God will burn you to death.

God's next killing: God killed king Ahaziah for asking the wrong God


twillight said...

Steve, this should be 2 killings: one for the first group, another for the second.

And just to mention, this story was that I found no reason in it at all. Why this cruelity? Why the test of god? Why not going down after the test reached success? Why repeat? Why sending troops three times? 50 soldier in that time was enough to conquer a city, dammit!

Steve Wells said...

Yeah, you're right, twillight. It should be two killings. But the two are so similar that I decided to treat them as one, because I didn't want to have to tell the story twice in two posts.

But I suppose I could call them God's 86th and 87th killings.

If any of you feel strongly about it, let me know.

Matthew Blanchette said...

So... I'm guessing Elijah, despite being a hairy and dirty old man who lives in the wilderness, is proud enough to have soldiers grovel before him before he can come down from his hill.

Whatever the hell happened to "pride goeth before a fall"?

busterggi said...

Just to let you know, if I'd been the third captain I'd have had my archers shoot that bastard prophet & saved myself & my king a lot of trouble.

skanksta said...

Sorry to be a pain, but I think you really should at least label it god's 86th and 87th killing.
No need to do it another post tho', for sure.

Autumn said...

I'm with twilight on this one: this should be counted as two seperate killings.

Steve Wells said...

OK, I've made it two killings.

Damn, it's a tough job being God's scorekeeper!

skanksta said...

I bet it is, but humanity is grateful to you...
Once you've finished, done 'god approved' killings, get through the Koran, you can turn to...
Yahweh's animal killings !
That would truly be a lifetime's work.

Unknown said...

No, look at the context of the northern kingdom (outright rebellion from God), then look at the attitude of the third captain (humility). The moral of the story is this: "...but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" Luke 13:3

Anonymous said...

I do question a lot of what the Old Testament writers attribute to God because when Jesus (who is the only one who ever truly showed us what God is like) comes on the scene he gives a very different impression! In Luke 9 Jesus disciples even suggest calling down fire like Elijah did when some people reject Jesus and Jesus does not approve! ... "And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them.”

Unknown said...

The moral of the story here is to approach God with humility. To show that earthly might is nothing to God. I believe this parable is relevant for today, as so many people think they can just call down the Holy Spirit and become saved when they decide they want to be saved, when the Scriptures teach just the opposite. Wait upon the Lord