“The Lord said to him, ‘Go back the way you came and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat…’” 1 Kings 19:15-16
Here’s the scoop: Elijah was the prophet, God’s anointed one, His vessel of choice. One day God, the Almighty one, the creator of it all, appears to Elijah and gives him three specific things to do:
·Anoint Hazael king over Aram,
·Anoint Jehu king over Israel,
·Anoint Elisha to be the new prophet.
Not hard, I would think! But we see no evidence of Elijah following through on the first two instructions. Elijah’s next action is, “So [he] went from there and found Elisha…”
Let’s backtrack for a second here. At this time, King Ahab was king of Israel, and a more wicked, evil man could not be found! He reigned for 22 years, and was the bane of the lives of the Israelites.
However, his reign was one of the longest in Israel’s history. He reigned much longer than most of his predecessors. In our Bible Study the leader threw out this question, “If King Ahab was so evil, and had such a strong influence over both Israel and Judah (his daughter married the Judean king) why wasn’t he and his family killed off like previous evil kings?” Good question huh?
I came home and did some research. Ahab was the seventh king of Israel. Most of the others were killed off with their entire families, always after a word from the Lord through the prophet. Why would Ahab be any different? He was more evil than the others, why would God allow him to live and bring such misery on his subjects?
Here’s why: Elijah was disobedient! He was told to anoint Hazael, and Jehu. He didn’t do it. These men were ultimately responsible for killing Ahab’s family. You know who anointed them? Elisha. In 2 Kings 8-10 we read the full account.
In between the time of God telling Elijah to do the job and Elisha actually fulfilling the mandate, Ahab had time to steal Naboth’s vineyard, and Jezebel had time to kill Naboth. Ahab was meant to kill his enemy, Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram, and instead called him brother, and allied himself to that nation, bringing further sin into Israel. Ahab’s daughter married the King of Judah and spread all Jezebel had taught her to Judah.
Micaiah, not Elijah was eventually sent to tell of Ahab’s demise. Once that was done, Elijah’s successor, Elisha anointed Jehu and Hazael. Almost immediately, Ahab’s family was killed, and the Ahab dynasty ended.
Elijah decided to continue with his journey, not a big decision in itself, but look at the ramifications. He was told to go back, he went forward, and as a result Ahab’s strength and power continued, rather than being cut right then and there as God intended.
Elijah was anointed, no doubt about it, and he didn’t lose the anointing even though he didn’t follow all of God’s edicts. It’s important to obey God. Because of Elijah’s disobedience Israel suffered. But when we do disobey and pay the consequences we also need to realize we have not lost the anointing or the good pleasure of God.
Thank you for teasing out the threads in this story. I agree that "wrong decisions do cost", but I have another possible answer for "Why should Ahab be any different?"
Elisha was at Mount Horeb, south of Israel. He was sent up to Damascus, in the north. On the way, in reverse order to God's command, he met Elisha at Abel Meholah on the Jordan River (which was opposite Elijah's home town of Tishbe in Gilead). He duly continued north, with Elisha as his servant, knowing that he would soon be replaced by Elisha, and that his time on earth was short.
One Kings then follows the story of Ben-Hadad, Ahab and Naboth, without giving us any dates. We simply read "After these things Naboth..." and, "Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah", who had most likely arrived in Samaria by then. As usual, Elijah obeyed without questioning the Lord. He (holy prophet) confronted Ahab (wicked king) for the last time.
Elijah delivered his longest prophecy to Ahab. It was also personally devastating to Ahab, rather than affecting the nation as a whole. Ahab responded by genuinely humbling himself before the Lord (1 Kings 21:27).
The Lord saw Ahab's change of heart and told Elijah that He would not "bring the calamity in his days; but in the days of his son I will bring the calamity on his house"(1 Kings 21:29).
So the "calamity" was averted until after the death of Ahab. Elijah accepted Plan B, without trying to persist with Plan A, or sulking like Jonah did over Nineveh. He didn't challenge God's act of mercy. Unlike many other prophets he had ultimately succeeded in his ministry in that Ahab finally "got" the message.
Later we read that Jehu was anointed, and sprang into action immediately to utterly destroy the house of Ahab. Had Jehu been anointed any earlier, he would have also wanted to slay Ahab, and that would have been contrary to the word of the Lord in 2 Kings 21:29.
Elijah at one point asked to die, but, like Enoch, he bypassed death and was caught up dramatically to heaven. Would he have had that honour if he had blatantly disobeyed the Lord?
Yes, there are consequences for wrong decisions, and we all make poor decisions and we all have to live with the results. But it is also true that "mercy triumphs over judgement" (James 2:13).
Thank You for Your mercy, Lord.