Texts: 1 Kings 22:29-45 and 2 Kings 1:2-17
The history books have this snarky line – “Now the rest of the acts of [King’s Name], and his might that he showed, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel/Judah.” At the death of each king that line appears. (If anyone is a Lord of the Rings fan you hear the echo in the Return of the King when Gandalf overdubs the guy jumping off the cliff -“And so was the reign of elsinore, Steward of Gondor”.) The biblical Chronicler, set against his time and place is unique. In no other documents would you get a King being made to look like the fool. If you want Pravda – go read the other Chronicles – aren’t all of the exploits recorded? But here, we have recorded the Word. And you can hear some of the playfulness of the Holy Spirit. Are not all those great exploits written elsewhere? Go read them if you want. Of course today and probably not long after each king died those exploits were lost, but the Word remains. These things are recorded for your instruction – said with snark.
And Ahab killed in battle and his end pictured as the remains of his life blood washed out of the more valuable Chariot and given to the dogs gives way to his son who falls through the floor of his palace. But within that is part of the story of Elijah. Elijah was just a blunt guy. After falling through the floor, Ahab son sends people to Baalzebub – a Philistine God – at Ekron to discern if he will live. Elijah meets them on the road and asks – “It is because there is no God in Israel?” The answer is of course no – it is because we don’t like that God of Israel’s answers. For Ahab’s son the answer is you’re a goner. But for us isn’t it the same. We can send messengers to this Baal or that Baal – our work or our sports team or our house – won’t you keep me safe? To which we always get a positive reply…until we don’t.
Ahab’s son doesn’t like the message and sends a captain and 50 soldiers to take care of Elijah the messenger. Some fire gets in the way. It also gets in the way of the second cohort. That third captain though is a little brighter. This one can see who is the bigger dog in this fight. Instead of “taking care of Elijah” he and his men become Elijah’s bodyguard. And Elijah delivers the same message in person. As long as we think we are the kings or that the Baals will save us that is the message. The message of the biblical chronicler is exposing the lie, stripping down the kings. And that is the message of the law. It strips us down until we are able to say – where should I go, you have the words of eternal life – until we can enter the Kingdom not as kings but as children.