Bible Readings for October 20th

2 Kings 1 | 2 Thessalonians 1 | Daniel 5 | Psalms 110111

After Ahab dies, his son Ahaziah sadly picks up where Ahab had left off—he ignores the word of Yahweh in order to seek revelations from other gods. In 2 Kings 1, the prophet Elijah confronts Ahaziah similarly to the way that he had confronted Ahab, and in the process, Elijah’s prophetic ministry establishes a theme that becomes much more significant in the New Testament: the word of God revealed through fire from heaven.

To begin, we read that the chief sin of Ahaziah comes through his desire to seek the word of Baal-zebub, a false god. This is the point on which Elijah confronts Ahaziah, challenging him by saying, “is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word?” (2 Kgs. 1:16). It is not merely, then, that Ahaziah ignores the word of Yahweh, but that he does so in order to seek out a false word from a false god.

Then, Elijah calls upon fire from heaven as a sign to authenticate his calling as a true prophet of Yahweh. Earlier, Elijah called for fire from heaven to prove that Yahweh alone is God against the false gods of Baal and Asherah in 1 Kings 18. Now again, the question of whether “there is no God in Israel” (2 Kgs. 1:3, 16) arises, and fire falls from heaven twice to consume two captains of Israel along with their fifty men who disbelieve what Yahweh had already revealed about himself.

But fire from heaven doesn’t always signify judgment—there is, in fact, a further wrinkle to this theme of how Yahweh reveals himself through fire from heaven. In 2 Kings 2, Yahweh will send chariots of fire from heaven, not for judgment, but to take Elijah directly into heaven without dying. For those who know, love, and serve Yahweh, fire from heaven is not a curse, but a blessing.

Similarly, in the New Testament, fire from heaven comes to announce a blessing and to warn of impending judgment. When tongues of fire descend from heaven to rest on top of the apostles of Jesus at the giving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3), the apostles begin to preach the word about Jesus in words that all the Jews in Jerusalem could understand, each in his own native language (Acts 2:8). This sign attests to the reality that Jesus, who had been raised up from the dead, is God in Israel, and that one day, our Lord will come again to baptize not only with the Holy Spirit but also with the fire of judgment for those who will not repent (Matt. 3:11–12).

Learn from the story of Ahaziah and hear the word of the Lord: There is a God in Israel, and he has been revealed through Jesus Christ. Repent of your idolatries and worship this God alone.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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