Blog Day 85—Glogger John Weiler—“The Complete Life” 2 Kings 1:1 – 8:15
March 26, 2021, 8:00 AM

Blog Day 85—Glogger John Weiler—“The Complete Life” 2 Kings 1:1 – 8:15

King Ahaziah, Ahab’s heir, fell through a lattice; that seems extreme. How do you even do that? Was he drunk? The author of the Book of Kings doesn’t tell us. There’s a lot that isn’t told. Instead, the author refers us to another book. Because this isn’t a history; this is a commentary on history through a prophetic lens.

The King bid his publicists and consultants to go inquire at the shrine of Baal-Zebub if he would recover.

Enter Elijah, hairy, disreputable and girded in leather.

He confronted the yes men and demanded, “What, there’s no God in Samaria so  that you seek counsel of this stone poser? Go home; tell Ahaziah he’s as good as dead.”

And they did.

So, the King sent his captain of fifty men to compel Elijah to answer for his impudence. But Elijah called down God’s fire, like he had upon a waterlogged altar, and the detachment was consumed.

Vexed, the King sent another captain, another fifty. “Come down to the King!” But the solders burned down to the ground like a brush fire in August.

It seems by now the King might have expected such results; but this is the way of kings.

A third captain of fifty drew near to the Prophet, but he fell on his face with due reverence for the God of his Fathers and Elijah at last complied.

So, I ask, what happens when we make demands of God? Demands based upon our will or even our decidedly finite understanding of what is needed

Of what is right

Of what is just

Or is it just what we want?

Our desired outcome. Not His.

Disappointment? Even disaster?

If we place our faith in the powers, the preoccupations, the devices and desires of this world, and if we conflate that faith with faith in God – for surely, God is on our side – how quickly are we humbled?

Both teams pray for victory before the Big Game, but only one will win. Is this God’s will? I don’t have the answer; I don’t even think it’s the right question. Still, the presumption seems innocent enough.

But when does a god of winners and losers, a god fused inextricably to opposition, to causes, to tribe, to war, to human will, when does that god become Baal-Zebub? And how can chaos – even death – fail to follow?

As it followed for King Ahaziah.

Because Elijah delivered his message: This god of death is what you’ve placed your faith in; so, death will surely follow. Sooner rather than later.

And it did.

Now, it’s easy and decidedly Post-Enlightenment and wholly Western to think of the Old Testament as a movement in conception from polytheism to monotheism, and to an extent, this is true. But, in as much as the LORD declares there is but one God, and in as much as the Prophets decry the others as mute stone and dumb wood, the ancient world was alive with pagan gods.

And this isn’t the feel-good paganism of your New Age auntie; a paganism that smells of sage, Nag Champa and herbal tea; seeking positivity, clarity and good vibes. This is the high-stakes paganism of Ancient Times that smells instead of burning flesh, the sour sweat of terror and of spilt human blood; pleading desperately for mere survival: Crops, rain, offspring and the return of the sun in the spring.

Perhaps Abraham didn’t shrug when he was commanded to sacrifice Isaac because that is simply what the deities of those dark days expected.

The surprise, the miracle, the gift was a God that ripped the curtain of uncertainty aside and revealed Himself and gave us not tyranny, but love, a Covenant and a ram in place of a boy.

This is the God that Elijah prophesied.

Elijah burned down a hundred men, victims of their King’s hubris. He read that King the death sentence he had written in his own royal hand.

And then Elijah dropped the mic and went with Elisha up to the Jordan.

Three times Elijah asked Elisha to tarry. At Bethel, at Jericho and the Jordan.

And all three times, Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.”

Then Elijah struck the river with his robe and the waters parted as the Red Sea parted for Moses, and he crossed the Jordan as Jesus would cross and he was taken up in a spindrift of flame, in a chariot of fire and he was gone.

And Elisha took up Elijah’s mantle.

In every sense of the phrase. Because this is where we get it.

Fifty wise men followed and stood at the banks of the Jordan scratching their heads and scritching beneath their beards and they scowled and wondered.  Against Elisha’s advice, they scoured the countryside for Elijah’s broken body. Because what goes up must come down. But they found nothing.

And Elisha said, “Didn’t I tell you?’”

And so, it was that God ripped the curtain of uncertainty aside before the rapt gaze of another prophet to reveal Himself and give us not tyranny, but love, a Covenant and a Lamb in the stead of our sins.

--John Weiler, Christ Church, Duanesburg

 



Comments

03-26-2021 at 11:04 AM
Joyce Caputo
Thank you
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