2 Kings 1
“Elijah, you know our God is a god of love?”
“Yes, of that I have no doubt. Yet, He is also a god of justice and righteous fury.”
The hill was lonely, just as the prophet was.
That was what had drawn him to it as his resting place…perhaps his final resting place.
The air was thick and hot with the smell of charred grass and swirling sparks. Nothing remained of the fifty soldiers except piles of ashes on the ground.
Elijah felt no fear, for his heart was too full; not with emotions, or ambitions, but with one thing – the presence of God. Nor did guilt find a footing in his heart, for he was consumed with zeal for the name of his god. “Man of God”, they had called him.
Did they even understand the crippling gravity of that title? Indeed, they called him that with acknowledgment of its fame, but not with an inkling of its sanctity. If they had truly seen him as a man of God, they would not be here to arrest him, knowing full well what the king wanted to do to him. If they had seen him as a man of God, they would be crawling on their hands and knees in awestruck reverence, instead of calling to him as one would a dog. No, his pride was not the source of his fury; these men’s arrogance revealed a disregard for the messenger that hinted at their disdain for the Master.
Then came the second company of soldiers, fifty strong like the first.
“Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down!’”
Do you not know that the Almighty God is above your king? Do you not see the irony in your commanding me to obey you? Elijah could only see red. His temples throbbed with boiling blood. Oh Lord, what has this nation come to? How have we fallen so far? The captain looked down to realize he was standing on his predecessor’s ashes…and smirked. That was it.
“If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!”
The soldiers stood completely still, quiet.
Elijah stood still, quiet.
The hill stood still, quiet.
Then, the air started to throb.
It was pulsating, in a slow, even pattern. Then it grew to a gyration. Heavy, deep bass heartbeat of a demon…or a god. The soldiers winced in pain, their eardrums completely blocked; they covered their ears to no avail. The heartbeat was soon replaced by a dull roaring that crescendoed into the sound of rushing waters. Or roaring flames. Suddenly a rush of wind blew from their feet upwards, lifting them off their feet for a moment, and the next moment all fifty men disappeared in a torrent of fire that had shot down from the sky. The white-hot flames completely engulfed them in a circle that slowly widened in diameter, 30, 40, 50 meters. Their screams could not be heard, nor their prayers be heeded. Their god was not in the fire – only the God of Israel was.
The pillar of fire stopped growing when it reached Elijah, where it remained, like a monolithic obelisk connecting heaven and earth. He could hear its heatwaves singing a song of holiness and wrath, justice and fury – a song about the God of his ancestors, a song tragically forgotten by his countrymen. He reached out his hand to the pillar, and the moment his finger brushed a tendril of fire, the entire column instantly disappeared. No smoke, no smell, not a single remnant of its visitation except for the double layer of ashes at the foot of the hill. All Elijah could see was red.
When the third company arrived, Elijah chuckled with disbelief. But the attitude and then the words of the captain struck him. “Man of God,” he begged, “please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants! See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men. But now have respect for my life!”
In those honest words, Elijah heard sincerity and fear…two virtues that have been trampled and forgotten in the land of Israel for many years.
Elijah no longer saw red.
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