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Watch Out for the Enemy
Scripture: 1 Kings 22:37-38, 40, 51-53; 2 Kings 1:2...
Track 9 of 10 in the Elijah: The Humble Hero series
Running time: 52 minutes, 12 seconds.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Famous people, they are a lesson in themselves. Everyone wants to be famous until they become famous and then it isn’t as fun as they thought. Famous people really don’t have private lives. As soon as they become famous, it is as though they become public property to own or dispose of as we desire. It is as though famous people are no longer people at all. They are just something we admire or hate and we can do whatever we want with them because they are famous. If they are super rich, we then they owe us something because they are rich. “Hey, come on, you have a lot of dough so share some with me”.

What happens when a person makes it to the top? To me, the top seems to be a dangerous place to be. Imagine a man who climbs almost to the top of a high pedestal and as he begins to climb off the ladder onto the pedestal he see on top a big bull’s-eye paint on it. There is a sign hanging close by that reads:

Congratulations! Please stand still so everyone can get a clean shot at knocking you down.

Why is it that when people make it to the top, there is always someone who wants to knock them down? Why do so many despise someone else’s success, fame or fortune?

Anyone who has been in leadership, especially spiritual leadership knows the truth of that illustration all too well. Success should be applauded especially when it comes from hard work and dedication. But once a person steps onto that elevated plateau of fame, watch out! You are now a target of public attention, and knocking you down becomes the name of the game for many (more than you want to believe). This attack is made easier by the fact that up there the gale-force winds of temptation are blowing pretty strong.

What are the dangers that lurk on top of the pedestal of fame and success? What can happen to someone who makes it up there that he or she must be on alert for?

Avoid shame, but do not seek glory-nothing so expensive as glory. Sydney Smith (1771-1845)

What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous. Voltaire

The final test of fame is to have a crazy person imagine he is you.

What are the hidden costs of fame…popularity?

*Popularity often comes at the expense of others. Jesus and the Pharisees.
*Popularity often comes at the expense of truth. False prophets
*Popularity often comes at the expense of faith. People who cried crucify him
*Popularity often comes at the expense of obedience. A false teacher will be well received by non-Christians.

Elijah lived most of his life in the center of the bull’s-eye. When he delivered God’s message about no rain, his name was a household word, not necessarily a good one…he was not popular. Everyone, especially the king wanted their hands on him. After his showdown with the prophets on Mt. Carmel, this only intensified the determination of his enemies. God delivered Elijah from who knows how many traps who laid in wait for him. But Ahab and Jezebel went too far and God finally had with that couple. Just like God predicted, Ahab died. He died in battle by a lucky random arrow that hit him in between his amour. He remained propped up in his chariot during the battle and his blood drained out on his chariot floor.

1 Kings 22:37-38, 40, 51-53 So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there. They washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed), and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the LORD had declared. Ahab rested with his fathers. And Ahaziah his son succeeded him as king. Ahaziah son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, because he walked in the ways of his father and mother and in the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. He served and worshiped Baal and provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger, just as his father had done.

The son was just like his father. He reigned for two years and did everything evil in the sight of God. He continued to worship Baal and lead the people astray. Not a lot is known about Ahaziah except that he had an accident at home and never fully recovered.

2 Kings 1:2 Now Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and injured himself. So he sent messengers, saying to them, “Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.”

Elijah had fought many enemies. There were many who wanted to see Elijah dead and out of the picture. It will be from this event with Ahaziah that Elijah meets his biggest enemy, one he might not have expected. We don’t know much about the injury Ahaziah suffered or how far he fell. What ever it was, he was really hurt and he sent messengers to inquire of the God of Ekron if he would survive the accident.

Being like his parents, Ahaziah consulted a pagan deity, the god of Ekron, Baal-zebub. In our study of David, we learned that the Philistines had 5 major cities in is what we know today as Gaza. Ekron was one of those cities. The Philistines were not friends of Israel. David lived his life fighting them and ridding them from the land. Here we see centuries later, Israel is back in relationship with them and what is worse, they are worshiping their gods. Ekron was well known for its practice of divination.

It is fascinating to note what the name Baal-zebub means. “Baal” means “lord or god”. Zebub is from the verb which means “to dangle, to move here and there quickly”. In noun form it means “fly”. Together they mean “god of the fly” or better known as “lord of the fly”. This ‘fly god” was probably housed in Ekron and through seers and witches, the future could be predicted. That is why Ahaziah sought information from Baal-zebub.

The name Baal-zebub shows up 4 times in the Old Testament, all four are used in this story. It does however show up again in the New Testament but in its Greek form, Beelzebub.

Matthew 12:22-24 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

I guess it takes one to know one. Who better to know who Beelzebub is than the Jews themselves? They had many years of worshiping him instead of God. In fact, they did it here in this passage of scripture rejecting the true God who stood in front of them. The Ball-zebub of the Old Testament and Beelzebub in the New Testament probably weren’t Satan himself, most scholars believe they were powerful demons with demonic influence.

Okay, what is so wrong with playing with an idol? In reality, if God is the only God, then the idol really is just a piece of stone or wood. It is not real nor does it have life. Even Paul said the same thing when addressing eating meat sacrificed to idols. They are not real. Then what is the problem?

It is not the object itself, it is what the object represents to the idol worshiper. The idol is not alive but through the act of worship it becomes a point of residence for the demonic world. The idol can become a breeding ground for the whole world of demonic powers. Paul said it this way:

1 Corinthians 10:19-20 Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.

What Ahaziah was about to do caused God to intervene. He did not want the King of Israel dealing with demons. As you would expect, he used his servant in the process. God sends Elijah.

2 Kings 1:3-4 But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’ Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’” So Elijah went.

No way did God want anyone from Israel to consult with a demon so he sends Elijah to intercept the messengers and he tells them God’s prediction of the future. It was not good news for Ahaziah. He will certainly die from his injury.

Can you imagine what Ahaziah said when he was told the message from the man who intercepted them? What do you think his reaction was?

If you were to get a message like this, would you care who it was that gave your men the message? Who would you hope it wasn’t?

2 Kings 1:5-8 When the messengers returned to the king, he asked them, “Why have you come back?” “A man came to meet us,” they replied. “And he said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you and tell him, “This is what the LORD says: Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending men to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!”’ ”The king asked them, “What kind of man was it who came to meet you and told you this?” They replied, “He was a man with a garment of hair and with a leather belt around his waist.” The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”

I told you the prophet was notorious. Once the description of Elijah was given, the king knew exactly who it was. Everyone knew Elijah and he was famous but he was not liked. He always seemed to bring bad news and did things that caused tremendous problems. Elijah hounded Ahab and Jezebel now Elijah was hounding Ahaziah. But this king wasn’t going to be intimidated and wanted to show Elijah who the boss was. Quickly Ahaziah drew his weapon of intimidation on Elijah trying to overwhelm the prophet.

2 Kings 1:9 Then he sent to Elijah a captain with his company of fifty men. The captain went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down!’”

The one thing about Elijah when dealing with his enemies, he never let them gain a foothold against him. The best way to defend yourself when attacked by the enemy is to go on the offense yourself.

Before we read the next verse, describe for m what Elijah is capable of doing when he and his God is provoked? Knowing this fact, wouldn’t you be careful what and how you said things to Elijah?

SLIDE 12: 2 Kings 1:10 Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.

If you’re the king and 51 of your men just got cooked, what do you do? Well if your evil and arrogant, you send another 50 men with their captain.

2 Kings 1:11-12 At this the king sent to Elijah another captain with his fifty men. The captain said to him, “Man of God, this is what the king says, ‘Come down at once!’” SLIDE 14: “If I am a man of God,” Elijah replied, “may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men.

Imagine you are now the next captain to go up and tell Elijah to come down; what and how do you think your going to talk to Elijah? What do you think was going through his mind and his men’s as they marched off to get Elijah?

2 Kings 1: 13-15 So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. “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!” The angel of the LORD said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.

Elijah tells the king the message he told the messengers earlier. It is important to note verse 17.We as Christians better take note of what it said and what it means.

1 Kings 1:17 So he died, according to the word of the LORD that Elijah had spoken.

What is the moral of the story we get from this lesson today?

Here is some straight talk regarding enemy territory.

Today, like Ahaziah, countless people seek to know the future. Newspapers and magazines carry horoscope columns. TV networks advertise psychic hot lines. Ouija boards are still one of the most popular games bought by parents for their kids. And of course, the Internet is loaded with all sorts of sites for people to gain insight on future events. To many, all of this sounds silly and harmless fun but Christians must be very aware, this is enemy territory. It is everything but harmless fun. Like the wood and stone idols in Ekron, these present day seers are substitutes for putting our trust in the living God.

God is displeased with any occult involvement. No matter at what level, even in small doses, dabbling with the occult is sin. God is very clear on this subject.

Leviticus 19:31; 20:6 Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God. will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people.

God is dishonored by any specific pursuit of the future that does not find its source in His Word. Most people who dabble in astrology or fortune telling or Ouija boards do it mainly out of curiosity. Most do it for fun. But these processes are gateways to the occult. They act as open doors for demons to enter into your world. All these things do is act as another source for truth. That is exactly what got Ahab and Ahaziah in trouble. When they needed true help or true wisdom, they didn’t rely on God but they relied on idols or false gods like Baal and Baal-zebub. Do not play games with the enemy. He is mighty and he is ruthless. He seeks to eat you alive and is very capable if you let him and get too close.