Modern education has not given us men who write better epitaphs or men who build better houses. It has given us men who are afraid to write epitaphs and leave it to the vicar. It has given us men who are afraid to build houses and leave it to the architect. — G. K. Chesterton

Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber




Several Miracles

Ahab, terrified by the prophecy which Elijah had made about his death, now began to show signs of such deep sorrow that the Lord took pity upon him, and put off for some time the threatened punishment.

Shortly after Elijah’s warning, however, Ahab received a visit from his neighbor, Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, and they two began to plan war against the King of Damascus, whom Ahab had already defeated in one war. But Jehoshaphat, who was a godly man, refused to set out until he was sure that the Lord approved of their plan. He therefore asked Ahab’s prophets, who all declared that they would win the victory. Only one of these men had the courage to say, what proved to be the truth, that Ahab would lose his life in this war.

Although Ahab declared that he did not believe this prediction, he tried to prevent any possible harm by going into battle in disguise. In spite of this caution, he was mortally wounded; but he bravely staid in his chariot until his army gave way, and his panic-stricken soldiers fled, crying: "Every man to his city and every man to his own country."

Before Ahab could reach home, he breathed his last, and his body was buried in his capital, Samaria. But Elijah’s prophecy was none the less fulfilled; for the king’s blood-stained chariot was washed on the very spot where Naboth had been stoned to death, and the dogs came and licked up his blood.

Ahab was succeeded by his son Ahaziah, who was named king while Jehoshaphat, terrified at the defeat of the forces of Judah and Israel, was hastening back to Jerusalem. During Jehoshaphat’s absence from his capital, the tribes of the desert had formed an alliance with the Moabites and Ammonites, and they now soon began to make war against Judah, hoping to throw off the yoke which they had been forced to bear ever since the days of David.

To meet the coming danger in a godly way, Jehoshaphat bade his people fast; then he offered up a sacrifice, and prayed for the help of the Lord. This prayer received a speedy answer; for the spirit of the Lord fell upon one of the Levites, who bade the people go forth on the morrow, and win a victory without striking a blow, their part being merely to stand "and see the salvation of the Lord."

With loud songs of praise the people of Judah marched forth on the next day, and from afar they saw a strange sight. The various nations, confused by the traps and ambuscades which they had set for the men of Judah, had fallen upon each other with fury, and, when Jehoshaphat and his army came up, the ground was all strewn with their dead.

This great deliverance from danger filled the hearts of the Lord’s people with joy, and so terrified their enemies that the peace was not again broken as long as Jehoshaphat reigned.

Meanwhile, Ahaziah, the successor of Ahab on the throne of Israel, ruled only two years; but during that short time he imitated all the evil ways of both his parents, and worshiped idols. When he became ill, therefore, his first thought was to send messengers to one of the shrines of Baal. But Elijah met the men on their way thither, and told them that Ahaziah would soon die in punishment for his sins.

When Ahaziah heard that Elijah had dared to speak so, he sent out fifty of his men with orders to seize and kill the prophet. This little troop surrounded Elijah, who was sitting on a hill, and then the captain of the men went up to him, crying: "Thou man of God, the king hath said, 'Come down.' "

In spite of this summons Elijah sat still and answered: "If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty." No sooner had he spoken these words than captain and soldiers perished; and the same fate overtook a second band of soldiers who were told to take him.

When a third troop was sent out by Ahaziah, the frightened captain fell down upon his face before Elijah, begging the prophet to spare him and his men. In obedience to God’s command, Elijah then went with the soldiers into the king’s presence, where he boldly repeated the words which he had already spoken. This prophecy came true; for Ahaziah, the king, soon died.