A captain of fifty with his fifty - It is impossible that such a man as Ahaziah, in such circumstances, could have had any friendly designs in sending a captain and fifty soldiers for the prophet; and the manner in which they are treated shows plainly that they went with a hostile intent.
And he spake unto him, Thou man of God - Thou prophet of the Most High.
Ahaziah's servants were met by a man of God, who directed them to return to the king with the message: “Is it because there is no God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus saith Jehovah, Thou shalt not come down from the bed whither thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.” Having delivered his message, the prophet departed. PK 208.1
The astonished servants hastened back to the king, and repeated to him the words of the man of God. The king inquired, “What manner of man was he?” They answered, “He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins.” “It is Elijah the Tishbite,” Ahaziah exclaimed. He knew that if the stranger whom his messengers had met was indeed Elijah, the words of doom pronounced would surely come to pass. Anxious to avert, if possible, the threatened judgment, he determined to send for the prophet. PK 208.2
Twice Ahaziah sent a company of soldiers to intimidate the prophet, and twice the wrath of God fell upon them in judgment. The third company of soldiers humbled themselves before God; and their captain, as he approached the Lord's messenger, “fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight.” PK 208.3Read in context »
It is no part of Christ's mission to compel men to receive Him. It is Satan, and men actuated by his spirit, who seek to compel the conscience. Under a pretense of zeal for righteousness, men who are confederated with evil angels sometimes bring suffering upon their fellow men in order to convert them to their ideas of religion; but Christ is ever showing mercy, ever seeking to win by the revealing of His love. He can admit no rival in the soul, nor accept of partial service; but He desires only voluntary service, the willing surrender of the heart under the constraint of love. AA 541.1
On another occasion James and John presented through their mother a petition requesting that they might be permitted to occupy the highest positions of honor in Christ's kingdom. Notwithstanding Christ's repeated instruction concerning the nature of His kingdom, these young disciples still cherished the hope for a Messiah who would take His throne and kingly power in accordance with the desires of men. The mother, coveting with them the place of honor in this kingdom for her sons, asked, “Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand, and the other on the left, in Thy kingdom.” AA 541.2
But the Saviour answered, “Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They recalled His mysterious words pointing to trial and suffering, yet answered confidently, “We are able.” They would count it highest honor to prove their loyalty by sharing all that was to befall their Lord. AA 542.1Read in context »
We may wonder at this uncourteous treatment of the Majesty of heaven, but how frequently are we who profess to be the followers of Christ guilty of similar neglect. Do we urge Jesus to take up His abode in our hearts and in our homes? He is full of love, of grace, of blessing, and stands ready to bestow these gifts upon us; but, like the Samaritans, we are often content without them. SL 58.1
The disciples were aware of the purpose of Christ to bless the Samaritans with His presence; and when they saw the coldness, jealousy, and disrespect shown to their Master, they were filled with surprise and indignation. James and John were especially stirred. That He whom they so highly reverenced should be thus treated, seemed to them a crime too great to be passed over without immediate punishment. In their zeal they said, “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” (Luke 9:54), referring to the destruction of the Syrian captains and their companies sent out to take the prophet Elijah. SL 58.2
Jesus rebuked His disciples, saying, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them” (verses 55, 56). John and his fellow disciples were in a school in which Christ was teacher. Those who were ready to see their own defects, and were anxious to improve in character, had ample opportunity. John treasured every lesson and constantly sought to bring his life into harmony with the Divine Pattern. The lessons of Jesus, setting forth meekness, humility, and love as essential to growth in grace, and a fitness for his work, were of the highest value to John. These lessons are addressed to us as individuals and as brethren in the church, as well as to the first disciples of Christ. SL 59.1Read in context »