Elijah the prophet: Part 4 — Conclusion of series
We left off at 1 Kings 21:17-29 and will now resume in 2 Kings 1;
Elijah Denounces Ahaziah
1Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab. 2And 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, inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease. 3But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? 4Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed.
5And when the messengers turned back unto him, he said unto them, Why are ye now turned back? 6And they 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 inquire 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. 7And he said unto them, What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words? 8And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.
9Then 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. 10And 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. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
11Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly. 12And 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. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
13And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, 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. 14Behold, 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. 15And 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. 16And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.
Jehoram Succeeds Ahaziah
17So he died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken. And Jehoram reigned in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; because he had no son. 18Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
2 Kings 2:1-14
Elijah Taken to Heaven
1And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. 3And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
4And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. 5And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. 6And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.
7And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan. 8And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.
9And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. 10And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. 11And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. 13He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; 14And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
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I believe every word, every account, every breath and depth regarding the prophet Elijah we are privileged to be told about in God’s inerrant living word. I also hope and pray any reader who has happened upon this part 4 in the series who has not read the other 3 parts will do so, and also include the complete readings of Kings in their study, as well as the Book of the Prophet Malachi.
Links to the other 3 parts in the series are provided below.
Every aspect of Elijah’s times, trials, life, and prophecies bear our attention in these times and are as relevant to us true believers, and to the unbelieving idol worshipping world as they were the very days Elijah walked this sin-filled earth before being taken up by the Lord our God in the fiery chariot never tasting physical death.
My hope and prayer in putting this brief series on ACP was to get those who perhaps never knew about, or read about the prophet Elijah to discover him and how the Lord worked in his life, and to those who were familiar to be brought back to what may have at one time been a Bible story they learned, but now can take hold of every word in God’s word pertaining to the prophet Elijah and have him and the power of the Spirit of God live on in their spirits, hearts, souls and minds never tasting death, returning daily to seek and find spiritual nourishment, strength, growth, power and preservation in the inerrant living Word of God. I am also including some writings on the prophet Malachi in this final installment on Elijah as well since there is no break in history, in prophecy, in God, in Christ, in the Holy Spirit, in the word of God and every thread and word are woven into the fabric clothing every true believer as we tarry on this earth awaiting the return of Jesus Christ the Saviour and Lord of our lives.
Monday, June 19th, 2017
Malachi the Prophet
Malachi delivered a message to the ancient people of God. For our day, his book includes a prophecy of warning and of another messenger to come.
The book of Malachi is placed as the last book of the Prophets section, which also makes it the last book in the Old Testament in English Bibles. The Hebrew word Malachi simply means “My [that is, God’s] messenger.”
Malachi was a prophet of God sent to the Jews who had resettled in Judea and to all Israel in general, depicted as “the sons of Jacob” (Malachi 3:6). Toward the close of the book, it becomes clear that God is also speaking to all of humankind. He will not endure man’s sins forever, and a day of judgment is coming. God also reveals through Malachi that He will hold back His wrath if people will return to Him.
When the Jews began returning from their 70 years of Babylonian captivity, God directed them to begin restoring Jerusalem and building the second temple, often called Zerubbabel’s temple. The completion of the new temple by 516 B.C. allowed the Jews to carry out the ritual services of the sanctuary (Malachi 1:10; 3:10).
Many years later the walls of Jerusalem were also rebuilt under Nehemiah. Malachi appears to have been a contemporary of the governor Nehemiah, indicated by many common themes between the two writers.
When they first returned to Judea from their captivity in Babylon, the Jews rigorously guarded against pagan idol worship in their land. But over time, they gradually gave in to this sin. In the process, they also began to lose sight of God’s purposes for them. It was during this period that Malachi was sent to instruct and guide God’s people toward a more pure life.
Malachi revealed the spiritual and moral shortcomings of the priests and common people alike. Tithing was being neglected (Malachi 3:7-10); divorce had become commonplace; and there were mixed marriages with pagan peoples. These were serious problems (Malachi 2:10-16).
Their sins were the reason that God was once again stripping away their physical prosperity and position of influence in the region (Malachi 1:6-10, 12-14; 2:1-9). The nation faced drought, famine, poverty and oppression from outsiders. Moral and spiritual laxity, pride, indifference, permissiveness and skepticism were growing. Only by a nationwide, heartfelt repentance would the blessings of God be restored again. Malachi pleaded with his countrymen to humble themselves in prayer (Malachi 1:9).
A focus on the leadership
God, through Malachi, strongly rebuked the priests of his day saying, “You have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law … because you have not kept My ways but have shown partiality in the law” (Malachi 2:8-9). The covenant of “life and peace” God had made with the Levitical priesthood in the days of Moses would have brought great blessings had the priests remained faithful. Now God was willing to renew His promises with the spiritual leaders of Malachi’s day if they would make the changes necessary (Malachi 2:5-6; Numbers 25:12-13).
A prophesied messenger
Malachi 3:1 states, “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant.”
This passage predicts the coming of John the Baptist (“My messenger”) and Jesus Christ (“the Messenger of the covenant”). Isaiah had also foretold the coming of someone who would announce the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3).
Warning of God’s day of judgment
After announcing the coming of John the Baptist, Malachi next spoke of the second coming of Jesus Christ, saying, “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire” (Malachi 3:2; Joel 2:11; Jeremiah 10:10).
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble [like dried straw]” (Malachi 4:1). And God adds, “‘And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien—because they do not fear Me,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:5).
Malachi warned all people that a day of judgment was coming and that God would bring swift destruction on everyone who transgressed His laws. Yet the people were not left without hope. Malachi’s prophecies of God’s judgment were accompanied by appeals for the people to be faithful and obedient: “Return to Me, and I will return to you” (Malachi 3:7).
God does not change in His desire for humankind to seek Him while He may be found (Malachi 3:6; Isaiah 55:6-7). Please see our article “Wrath of God” to better understand why a loving God will be angry with humanity.
Another messenger yet to come
In the closing words of his message, Malachi shares God’s promise: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse [utter destruction]” (Malachi 4:5-6).
Here the prophecy points to a messenger to come in the spirit and power of Elijah, just as John the Baptist came with a similar message (Luke 1:16-17). It also points to an end-time work of the collective Church of God. Through its caring for the people whom God calls, the Church is turning the hearts of parents to children, as well as the hearts of children to parents. Thereby, the physical family structure is restored and renewed. The Church’s preaching to the world also turns the hearts of people who are God’s children by creation back to Him, their Heavenly Father. In this present evil world, people by nature are more and more turned away from their Heavenly Father and His expectations for how they should live. There has never been a greater need for “an Elijah work.” Please see our articles “Elijah the Prophet,” “John the Baptist” and “Two Witnesses” for more ways that this prophecy of “an Elijah to come” will be fulfilled.
Israel’s and Judah’s future role
Ancient Israel often failed in her ordained commission to be a beacon of spiritual light to the nations around her. Still, God said His purpose would stand.
Reflecting this point, God said, “‘For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 1:11).
Centuries earlier, the prophet Isaiah announced God’s message about Israel’s future repentance and spiritual leadership in the world, saying, “For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns, the Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory” (Isaiah 62:1-2).
This prophecy will be fulfilled in the coming millennial age.
A promise to the faithful
Malachi the prophet was sent to assure his people that God still loved them, but He demanded honor, respect and faithfulness from them. God gave the people a warning that judgment would come to purge them of their sins unless they repented.
God then inspired Malachi to share a special promise God would grant to those who would be His faithful, obedient people. This reward is an eternal place in His Kingdom.
“Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘on the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him’” (Malachi 3:16-17).