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Hairy and scary

One day Israel’s new king, Ahaziah, fell through the latticework of an upper room at his palace in Samaria, and he was seriously injured. So he sent messengers to the temple of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask whether he would recover. But the angel of the LORD told Elijah, who was from Tishbe, “Go and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Why are you going to Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask whether the king will get well? Is there no God in Israel? Now, therefore, this is what the LORD says: You will never leave the bed on which you are lying, but you will surely die.’” So Elijah went to deliver the message. — 2 Kings 1:2-4

At times life gets hairy and scary. How a person behaves at such times speaks volumes about what they believe. Take Elijah and Ahaziah for example. Their reactions to a tense situation provide great insight into what they were made of.

Elijah was “a hairy man” (2 Kings 1:8), and he lived in scary times. King Ahab had led Israel to reject Yahweh and embrace the religion of Baal. Then Ahaziah succeeded Ahab his father as king and perpetuated the apostasy. When he was seriously injured in a fall, he immediately turned for spiritual help to Baal-zebub, not to the Lord. In response, God sent Elijah to intercept the king’s messengers with a prophetic message rebuking the king and predicting his death. The king did not receive the message well, but angrily sent a detachment of soldiers to arrest Elijah. Elijah responded cooly to the king’s threats, giving God’s anger room to burn.

The contrast between the prophet and the king is stark. Elijah trusted implicitly in God’s Word and in His power to intervene in the affairs of the king. Ahaziah dismissed the Lord as irrelevant.

Two contrasting worldviews were on display. One was based on the recognition of Yahweh as God the Creator, who had chosen the people of Israel as His precious treasure, given them the land in which they lived, and promised to bless His people and the world as they responded to Him in loving obedience. The other worldview was based on the worship of Baal, a nature and fertility god, whose worship demanded appeasement if the people were to prosper. The former approach believed that Yahweh was sovereign and trustworthy, while the latter believed that Baal was in charge.

It was a matter of either/or, not both/and. There was no room for compromise. Either Yahweh was God, or Baal was. Elijah left no room for doubt whose side he was on—and neither did Ahaziah! Confrontation resulted—a hairy, scary scene. And Yahweh proved, once again, that “the Lord is God!” (1 Kings 18:39).

People today are often in similar situations. Alternatives to worshiping the Lord abound. Some dismiss Him as irrelevant, and some reject Him out of hand. Others wish to embrace both Him and the gods who stand in opposition to Him, seeing little contradiction and caring even less.

But people must address the issue of who is truly Lord, because one day they will fall through the lattice—needing someone to help them and somewhere to turn. The one they trust at such a moment will either support them or collapse like a rotten lattice. That’s scary!

For further study: 2 Kings 1:1-18

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.