I Kings 22:51–II Kings 2:14.the Departures of Ahaziah and Elijah.

Keye Notes: Ahaziah consults Baal-Zebub. Ahaziah attacks Elijah. Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah's spirit. Eilijah is carried to heaven. Of chariots and fire. The life of Elijah. Elijah in the NT.

This lesson contrasts the departure of a great Old Testament saint with that of a miserable contemporary Israelite king, Ahaziah. The text moves easily from First to Second Kings since there was originally no separation between them.

IK.22:51–53 Ahaziah, son of Ahab, reigned only two years. He was like his father, worshiping Baal and angering the Lord.

IIK.1:1 Moab promptly broke free of Israel.
IIK.1:2–8 Ahaziah fell out a window (was he drunk?) and probably had internal injuries and bleeding. From his sick bed he sent servants to Ekron (Philistine) to consult Baal-Zebub about his recovery.
The angel of the Lord sent Elijah to intercept the messengers, and reprove their master for not consulting the Lord instead of Baal-Zebub. They should tell Ahaziah that he would not get up from his sick-bed, but die there.
Although the messengers did not know Elijah, they did as they were ordered and returned to Ahaziah with the news. Ahaziah recognized Elijah from the description: a man of hairy clothing and a leather belt.

"Baal-Zebul" means Lord Prince or Lord of the earth; Baal-Zebub means "Lord of the Flies", one of many names of Baal, the Canaanite god. It is not certain which spelling is correct. "Lord of the flies" may refer to protection from plagues carried by insects, or it may be an insult against Baal. The New Testament leaves no doubt: "...Baal-Zebul, the prince of demons...." (Matt.12:14).

IIK.1:9–18 Ahaziah then sent a posse of 50 soldiers to capture Elijah (and presumably kill him)."O man of God, Come down!" Instead, fire came down. The same fate came to the second fifty soldiers. The third troop had a wise commander who begged for his life. The angel of the Lord then told Elijah to go and he went before Ahaziah to confirm what he had said to the messengers.
So Ahaziah died and his brother Jehoram became king of Israel.

Comments on Ahaziah's failed life:
He served Baal.
Moab rebelled on his watch.
He fell out of a window and injured himself severely.
He went to the Philistines' Baal-Zebub for his prognosis.
His messengers were over-ruled by Elijah.
A hundred soldiers sent to capture Elijah were killed.
He died young, only two years in office.

IIK.2:1–12 At the time of his exodus from this world, Elijah with Elisha was headed from Gilgal, near Jericho, to Bethel. Elijah invited him to stay behind. Elisha refused. At Bethel, the sons of the prophets advised Elisha that his master would leave him that day. Elisha knew it and asked for silence. On his way to Jericho Elijah again invited Elisha to stay behind and he refused. At Jericho the school of the prophets also knew of Elijah's soon departure. [They were prophets.] Fifty of the sons of the prophets watched as the two went to the Jordan. Elijah cracked the water with his cloak and the Jordan parted so that they walked across dry-shod.

Elijah asked Elisha what he should do for him. He asked for a double portion of his spirit. Deut.21:17 says that the first-born son, the successor to the father, is given a double portion of his father's goods. We may interpret Elisha's request to be the legitimate heir of Elijah, rather than asking for twice as much spiritual power as Elijah. However, Elisha will perform about twice as many miracles as Elijah did.

As they talked, a chariot of fire and horses of fire came between them and Elijah was taken to heaven without dying, in a whirlwind.

The sons of the prophets had been subtly assembled by Elijah to witness this transaction.
They saw Elijah disappear in a violent wind-storm. They saw Elisha come back to the Jordan, crack it with Elijah's cloak, cry "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" and saw him walk through again dry-shod. They perceived that the power of Elijah rested on Elisha.

They could not believe that Elijah had not been dropped by the whirlwind and killed. They begged to search for his body so that it would not be desecrated. Elisha finally agreed, and when they came back empty-handed, they had further proof of Elisha's authority. Elijah's departure had been confirmed. The leadership transfer was complete. Elisha was in charge.

Comment:

Elisha had been recruited and put under Elijah's tutelage for perhaps five years. He knew about Ahab's two successful battles with Syria and his death in the third. He knew about Naboth's vineyard. He saw the short reign of Ahaziah. He was able to duplicate Elijah's final act of power. He was thoroughly trained to take over.

Elijah's attempt to push Elisha away is a small puzzle."Tarry here...for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel", then Jericho, then Jordan.
We know that Naomi invited Ruth to leave her in despair. Ruth1:15
Jesus walked on the sea as if to go by those in the boat. Mk.6:48
Jesus rebuffed the Syro-phoenician woman. Mk. 7:27.
Jesus would walk beyond the two going to Emmaus. Lk.24:28

I think in each case the offer to break away was intended to strongly encourage the person to cling the closer.

At Elijah's departure, Elisha cried out, "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof." The phrase is a description of war-gear, like our tanks and planes.
When the Syrians besieged Dothan, horses and chariots of fire surrounded Elisha. IIK.6:17
As Elisha lay dying, Joash, king of Israel, said the same words to him: "My father, my father. The chariots of Israel and its horsemen." IIK.13:14

God is associated with chariots, horses and fire.
"...You did ride upon your horses, upon your chariot of victory."(Hab.3:8)
"...who makes the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers." (Psa.104:4)
"For, behold, the Lord will come in fire, and His chariots like the storm-wind, to render His anger in fury and His rebuke with flames of fire." (Isa.66:15)
"The Lord is a Man of War." (Ex.15:3)

Chariots and horses are symbols of God's power to protect, or destroy, that were given to the prophets. For Elijah and Elisha, there was a war with Baal. Protection and power was given to the prophets to fight against Baal.

Like them, "the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds." (IICor.10:4)

Elijah has been called a despot, an autocrat. He was a warrior against Baal, tough, dedicated, aloof, and austere. He was the unofficial king, the real power in Israel. He

*ordered the rain to stop until he decided to let it return 3.5 years later.
*resurrected a child.
* ordered Ahab to assemble Israel on Mt. Carmel.
*called down fire from Heaven to consume the sacrifice, confounding the Baal-worshipers.
*killed the prophets of Baal


*prayed for return of the rain.
*denounced Ahab for the theft of Naboth's vineyard and prophesied his death.
*transferred the mantle of leadership to Elisha.
*intercepted messengers going to Ekron, over-riding the king's orders.
*destroyed two companies of soldiers sent to capture him.
*told Ahaziah to his face that he would die.
*prophesied doom for Ahaziah's brother Jehoram. IIChron.21:11
*dried the Jordan so that he could walk across.

*was taken up to God without dying.
We see him again on the Mount of Transfiguration!. Matt.17:1–13

Elijah had contact with the Angel of the Lord on two occasions.
When he is fleeing from Jezebel, the Angel fed and ministered to him (IK.19:7) while he slept off his emotional collapse. The Angel of the Lord also told him to divert the messengers (IIK.1:3) and instructed him to confront Ahaziah. IIK.1:18

Ahaziah is dead. Elijah is alive. Only one other OT saint was taken up to God without dying: Enoch. (Gen.5:24). Why God gave this great gift to Elijah, while his NT counterpart, John the Baptist (Lk.1:17), so close to Jesus, had to die on a chopping block in a prison is a mystery of God's sovereignty.

Elijah reappears during the life of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. If, as we believe, the Angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Christ, we can see a reciprocal, friendly  relationship between Christ and Elijah. In OT, we propose that Christ was comforting the distraught prophet, telling him that he has a long way yet to go. In the NT Elijah, with Moses, is speaking to Christ about his coming death, cheering Him on to victory. Lk.9:31