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Sermon #2142 —— Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: “And Elijah departed.”
Text: 2 Samuel 11:26-27
Subject: David’s Sin and God’s Grace
Date: Tuesday Evening — February 25, 2014
Readings: Mark Henson and Mark Warta
Many and varied are the tasks assigned to God’s servants in this world. To some Gospel preachers are made a “the savor of life unto life.” To others those same men are made of God “the savor of death unto death.” They are all sent, in their generations,
Sometimes God’s servant is sent to pronounce the blessings of his grace upon his people, as the Lord Jesus did in Matthew 5. Sometimes they are sent to pronounce God’s curse and the woes of Divine judgment upon wicked men, as our Lord Jesus did upon the scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites of his day in Matthew 23.
Tonight, I want us to look at Elijah’s last work, before the Lord took him. Elijah was made a savor of life to the widow Zarephath in the beginning of his ministry (1 Kings 17). But, at the end of his days, the man of God was made a savor of death to King Ahaziah in the very last act he performed as God’s prophet. Let’s read about it, beginning at 1st Kings 22:51 — 1st Kings 22:51.
(1 Kings 22:51-53) (51) Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel. (52) And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin: (53) For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the LORD God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.
(2 Kings 1:1-18) (1) Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab. (2) And 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. (3) But 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 enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? (4) Now 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. (5) And when the messengers turned back unto him, he said unto them, Why are ye now turned back? (6) And 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 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. (7) And he said unto them, What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words? (8) And 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.
(9) 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. (10) 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. (11) 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. (12) 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. (13) And 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. (14) 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. (15) And 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. (16) And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to enquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. (17) So 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. (18) Now 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?
Thus God the Holy Spirit describes the prophet’s last deed. — “And Elijah departed.” I had planned to preach to you tonight from the Book of 1st John on “The Unction.” But early this morning I got a note from Bro. Frank Hall. He said, “I have read 2nd Kings chapter 1 twenty times. I have read all I can find on it; and I still have no idea what it teaches…If you would take the time to look it over for me I sure would appreciate it.” So I began to look it over; and I’ve been looking it over all day, with much profit to my soul.
I believe the Lord has graciously given me a message for you from this passage. So I want you to hold your Bibles open on your laps and follow me through this portion of Holy Scripture. I will call your attention to five things in this passage.
The Cause of Judgment
First, let me remind you that there is always a just cause of Divine judgment. The cause of God’s judgment is always man’s sin. God does not arbitrarily send judgment. When God sends judgment he does so justly, for a just and righteous reason. Yes, I fully understand that God does everything in exact accordance with his sovereign, eternal, unalterable decree. What he purposed he will do. But you can be sure of these two things, these two facts plainly revealed throughout this Book.
The judgment of God upon Israel and Ahaziah and Israel are clearly set before us as acts of Divine justice. These things fell upon Ahaziah because he fully deserved them. These things fell upon Israel because they fully deserved them.
After Ahab’s death God’s judgment began to fall heavily upon his family. We read, “Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of the reign of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin: For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the Lord God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.”
That declaration is unspeakably solemn. The three and a half years famine, the exposure of Baal’s impotence, the slaying of his prophets on Mt. Carmel, and the awe-inspiring dealings of God with Ahab, his reprobate father, were fully known to Ahaziah; but they produced no good effect upon him. He refused to take them to heart. Heedless of those God’s countless warnings he went on in his recklessly rebellion, idolatry, and sin, serving Baal and worshipping him.
Ahaziah’s heart was fully set upon evil. Therefore was he cut off in his youth, after reigning in Israel for just two years. Nevertheless, even in his case mercy was mingled with justice. As is usually the case, God gave him space for repentance.
“Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab.” —In fulfillment of Balaam’s prophecy (Numbers 24:17), David had conquered the Moabites; and they became his “servants” (2 Samuel 8:2). Moab remained in subjection to Israel all the intervening years, serving Israel and paying tribute until the death of Ahab. After Ahab died Moab rebelled.
Divine providence crossed Ahaziah, again and again, warning him of judgment. But Ahaziah shoved his rebel fists in God’s face and said, “I’ll do as I please. Get out of my way! Leave me alone!” And God did just that. He left Ahaziah to his idols. Ahaziah worshipped Baal. So God gave him over to the worship of Baal.
The king of Israel acted as if there was no God in Israel (v3). What multitudes there are like Ahaziah today, worshipping Beelzebub, presuming that there is no God in Israel!
Understand me. — There is always a “therefore” behind God’s judgment. If you go to hell, it will be altogether your own fault. If you go to hell, it will be because you fully deserve the wrath of God. Vessels of wrath are always “fitted for destruction” by their own wicked hands (Proverbs 1:23-33; 29:1; Romans 2:5; 6:23).
(Proverbs 1:23-33) (23) Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. (24) Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; (25) But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: (26) I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; (27) When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. (28) Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: (29) For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: (30) They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. (31) Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. (32) For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. (33) But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
(Proverbs 29:1) He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
(Romans 2:5) But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Hardness of Man’s Heart
Second, we see in Ahaziah an example of the utter hardness of the heart of man. Oh, how heart the heart of man is!
The Lord God declares that the heart of fallen man is as obstinate and hard “as an adamant stone.” The adamant stone is a legendary stone of impenetrable hardness. It was thought to be harder than flint (Ezekiel 3:9). How hard, how impenetrable, how unbreakable the heart of man must be, if the Lord God compares it to an adamant stone!
But in one thing they were all alike. They all “made their hearts as an adamant stone.” They all saw our Savior’s Divine power forcefully exhibited. The soldiers were compelled, by the mere force of our Savior’s name, “I AM,” to fall backward as dead men to the ground. All saw the miracle our Lord performed when He touched Malchus’ ear and healed him. Yet all remained unmoved, cold, indifferent, insensible, and hard.
Don’t you find that astonishing? They all acted as if they had seen nothing out of the ordinary. — “They made their hearts as an adamant stone!” They saw these things and hardened their hearts, like Pharaoh, Ahab, and Ahaziah, and went on coolly with their callous business. — “They took Jesus, bound Him, and led Him away!”
Nothing can break the heart but the almighty, efficacious, irresistible grace of God. Nothing can soften the stony, adamant heart except the precious blood of Christ sprinkled upon it by the Spirit of God, declaring the forgiveness of sin.
The blood of Christ, sprinkled on stony hearts as hard an impenetrable as adamant, breaks the hard heart of man, humbles the sinner, and bows him as a contrite one before the throne of God’s free grace, causing him to cry like the Publican, “God be propitious to me, the sinner. Have mercy upon me through the sin-atoning blood of your dear Son!”
The Man of God
Third, Elijah is here held before us as a man of God. Five times in this chapter he is called “man of God.” As the “man of God” in that day, so every “man of God,” every prophet of God is marked by certain things here displayed in God’s servant Elijah.
The Angel of the Lord
Fourth, we have before us a marvelous preincarnate revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Angel of the Lord (vv. 3, 15). Our Lord Jesus Christ is called the “Angel of the Covenant” in Malachi 3:1. In Isaiah 63:9, our Savior is called “the Angel of His Presence.” He is that One who constantly watches over and protects God’s elect in this world. The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, is “the Messenger (Angel) of the Covenant.”
Throughout the Old Testament, when we read of “the Angel of the Lord” appearing to men, as he did to Abraham, Monoah and his wife, and others, the one appearing was the Son of God himself. Those pre-incarnate manifestations of Christ were preludes to the coming of our great Savior to accomplish the redemption of his people. He is the Angel Abraham worshipped (Genesis 18), to whom Gideon built and altar (Judges 6:22-23), and the Man of God who appeared to Manoah and his wife (Judges 13). That man who stood before Joshua as "the Captain of the Lord’s host" (Joshua 5:13-15) is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Captain of our salvation.
No Contradiction — To say that Christ is “the Angel of the Lord” does not, in any way contradict the fact of his eternal Deity. He is both Jehovah and Jehovah’s Messenger. In his eternal Deity, our Savior is God himself, over all and blessed forever. In his mediatoral capacity, as our Surety and Substitute, he is “the Angel of the Lord.”
As the Angel of the Lord, “the Messenger of the covenant,” the Son of God came to men to reveal and fulfil all the stipulations of the covenant of grace for us (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13), thereby securing our “eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12).
Enthroned Mediator — Having fulfilled all the requirements of the covenant as our Substitute, our Savior now sits upon the throne of universal monarchy, ruling all things according to the purpose of God, as our God-man Mediator, to give eternal life to his people (John 17:2; Revelation 10:1-6). He, and he alone, is able to open and fulfil the book of God’s decrees (Revelation 5:1-7). He who rules the universe is God in human flesh, our Savior and Redeemer, “the Angel of the covenant.” Rejoice!
The Angel of the Lord — Our Lord Jesus Christ is pre-eminently the Angel of the Lord. He is the Angel who came with a great chain of omnipotent power and bound Satan (Revelation 20:1-3). He is the Angel by whom all the earth shall be judged at last (Revelation 20:11-15). He is the Angel who sits upon the throne and will, at last, bring all the universe to its Divinely ordained completion (Revelation 21:6).
The Sinner’s Only Hope
Fifth, look again at verses 13-14. Here is a beautiful picture of the sinner’s only hope — Mercy!
(2 Kings 1:13-14) (13) And 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. (14) 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.
When the sinner, broken and humbled under a sense of sin, conscious of his guilt and deserved punishment, comes to the Lord Jesus Christ (The Man of God!) Elijah's Master and throws himself upon the altar of God’s free bounty and sovereign grace, suing for mercy, he will succeed! The Lord Jesus waits to be gracious. He will save; that is, he will be Jesus (The Man of God!) waits to be gracious!
(Isaiah 30:18) And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
(Zephaniah 3:17) The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
Oh, you who are fallen by thy sin and sick unto death, hear the Savior’s voice of mercy. Hear the Angel of the Lord, who says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, for I am God, and there is none else.” Christ alone can save us. We have no other hope, but his mercy. — “There is none other name under Heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
When I read verses 13 and 14 this morning, a joyous, encouraging thought flooded my soul. God the Holy Ghost said to me, by the words of those two verses, “God has his elect everywhere!” What a wonderful thought! What a blessed encouragement! — God has his elect everywhere, even in Ahaziah’s army! — God has his elect everywhere, even in Caesar’s household (Philippians 4:22).
When Elijah had finished his last work, being faithful to the end, we read, “And Elijah departed” (v. 4).
I see in Ahaziah and his men, his captains of fifty, the obdurate hardness of my own heart! To what a desperate lengths of ruin I ran, and would still be running, had not the God of all grace interposed and stopped me in my mad rush for hell!
Blessed Lord Jesus, at what expense of love, of grace, of mercy, and of blood, have You redeemed me and saved me, because I was precious in Your sight! — What You have done for me, do now for poor sinners in this place, for the glory of your great name.