Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. – Psalm 2:10-12
Evidently, Ahaziah wasn’t keen on the prognosis. But God’s announcements of judgment are often conditional. If he had done what Nineveh would later do, that is, repent, we can be confident the Lord would have had mercy and healed him.But Ahaziah doesn’t respond this way. With arrogance, he declares hostility against Elijah and his God and demands Elijah come down. The Lord doesn’t take kindly to such defiance against His servants and twice sends down fire to consume the king’s messengers. The third captain sees what a jealous God has unleashed against His comrades and falls on his knees begging Elijah for mercy. Expectedly, the Lord spares his life when the poor man called and saved him from his troubles (Psa. 34:6).
Here is a model response for Ahaziah and us all. In wrath, God remembers mercy. In the New Testament (Luke 9:51-56) Jesus is traveling through an unwelcoming Samaritan town. James and John asked if He wanted them to call fire down to destroy them. Jesus rebuked them, in part, because now was a time of grace. If fire was going to fall anywhere, it was going to fall on Him on Calvary just like the fire fell on the altar on Carmel.
The story in 2 Kings falls between Carmel and Calvary and reminds us that, if the fire doesn’t fall on the God-appointed sacrifice, it will fall on the sinner, if not on Christ for us, then on us. Another hair clad prophet with a leather belt around his waist preaching repentance (Mark 1:4) reminds us of what we ought to do.
Suggestions for prayer
Pray for the grace of repentance that we might know the blessing of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Rejoice that Christ willingly became the sacrifice for sinners to reconcile us to God.
This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta.