2 Kings 1-2 “Fire From Heaven”

Posted: June 19, 2009 by Rick Hogaboam in 2 Kings, Devotional, Prayers

King Ahaziah sent two groups of 50 soldiers to apprehend the lone prophet Elijah and were destroyed by fire that Elijah called down on them. The third group of 50 begged for mercy and Elijah was permitted to go down with him where he subsequently prophesied the King’s death. In 2 Kings 2, the ascension of Elijah and double blessing upon Elisha dominate the chapter. It also ends with that interesting story where 42 youths were devoured by bears because they were mocking the prophet. Anyhow, I really want to focus on the fire from heaven.

There is a similar NT parallel in Luke’s Gospel:

Luke 9:51-56 (ESV)
51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him.
53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.
54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”
55 But he turned and rebuked them.
56 And they went on to another village.

I’m sure that James and John were craving a raw demonstration of power from their prophet, but they were rebuked rather than commended. Why? God had sent fire on His enemies before, why not now? One can’t also claim that God is just plain nicer in the NT, after all Acts does record cases of God striking people dead.

I think that God is showing that He will do what He so wishes and retains the freedom to do whatever His hand pleases to do, BUT He would rather we love and pray for our enemies than wish their harm and destruction. Our God doesn’t delight in the death of the wicked. May we never forget that. Though He will destroy the wicked, He doesn’t have a sadistic pleasure in such acts and warns us against developing such ill-will towards others. Well some might be wondering, “What about the imprecatory Psalms?”. “Can Christians pray for God’s harm on others?”. There are appropriate times to pray for the destruction of a leader, but it must be in conjunction with prayers for their repentance. I pray for Kim Jong Il to repent of his wickedness, but could also see the good of God taking him out of office. I wish God to send fire down on Him, I really do…just as I am sure Bonhoeffer wished the same for Hitler.

Anyhow, this post is developing into more areas than I had intended. Needless to say, there are times when we can pray for one’s repentance and God’s vindictive justice and revenge to be carried out in the here and now of things. We must NOT, however take pleasure in the death of the wicked. Our feelings ought to be conflicted. When we captured Saddam, I was joyous that he was brought to justice. When he was hanged, I wasn’t giving high fives with a grin on my face. I stood speechless at the news, silent and humbled before the God who can raise kings up and bring them down. If not for God’s grace, we would all be like the youth who were mocking Elijah. We were God’s enemies…children of wrath.


Lord, thank you for your longsuffering with me and not striking me dead in judgment when I rebelled against You and mocked Your Word. You won me over with Your love and I am no longer your enemy. Grant me with this same love for others. Rather than calling down fire from heaven, may I weep for the lost and all who wish me harm and do me harm. Amen.


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