“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. And 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. Again 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. And 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” 2 Kings 1:9-12
Some time has gone by, and that old nemesis of Elijah, Ahab has died and his son Ahaziah has taken over the thrown; things have not gotten better at all. Seems “he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the Lord God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.” 1 Kings 22:53. This apple did not fall far from the tree!
Ahaziah had an unfortunate accident at home, and it must have been serious because he sent messengers from his palace to inquire of “Baalzebub the god of Ekron” as to whether he would recover and live. God had other plans, however, and called Elijah into action again to intercept the messengers sent by Ahaziah and inform him that, no, he would not recover from his injuries and live. Here is where we see genetic stupidity in play for sure, because rather than accept the news for what it was or perhaps even repent towards God, Azahiah sent a Captain of fifty men with his fifty men, to arrest and bring back Elijah. It did not end well, as Elijah called down fire and the 51 were killed. The king sent yet another Captain with fifty with the same result. The THIRD Captain with his fifty finally got it right and were spared. Elijah, at God’s command, spared this group and allowed himself to be taken to see the king, where he delivered that same prophetic message of impending death, and die King Ahaziah did.
Now, the point. Some claims are made that God’s reaction in slaying 102 men was a bit of overkill, and they were only messengers after all! I am going to disagree with that sentiment.
First, it’s never a good plan to get crosswise with God’s anointed. It’s just not. That was the first mistake when Ahaziah decided that doing just that was a good plan. That still leaves the question, “Why kill innocent messengers?” Um, exactly what innocent messengers are we talking about here? These men were not stupid, and they no doubt knew of the acts of Elijah; some may have even been witness to the interactions between Elijah and Ahab. These men were not innocent; they made their choice.
That’s a bit like the rest of us; we all know of the one true God. He has provided more than enough revelation of Himself for us to make a choice. That’s pretty sobering, isn’t it?