Imprecatory Prayer
in The New Testament
Luke 9:54

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   Luke 9:52-56 And (Jesus) sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
(53) And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
(54) And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
(55) But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
(56) For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

"As Elias did," it's 2 Kings 1:7-17

   2 Kings 1:7-17  And he said unto them, What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words? 
   (8) And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.

   (9) Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down.

   (10) And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

   (11) Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly.

   (12) And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

   (13) And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and 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.

   (14) Behold, there came fire down from heaven, and burnt up the two captains of the former fifties with their fifties: therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight.

   (15) And the angel of the Lord said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him unto the king.

   (16) And he said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.

   (17) So he died according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken. And Jehoram reigned in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; because he had no son.

From the history book known as "Josephus"
(Book 9, Chapter 2)

   (22) And when the king bade them describe the man that said this to them, they replied, that he was a hairy man, and was girt about with a girdle of leather. So the king understood by this that the man who was described by the messengers was Elijah; whereupon he sent a captain to him, with fifty soldiers, and commanded them to bring Elijah to him;

   (23) and when the captain that was sent found Elijah sitting upon the top of a hill, he commanded him to come down, and to come to the king, for so had he enjoined; but that in case he refused, he would carry him by force. Elijah said to him, That you may have a trial whether I be a true prophet, I will pray that fire may fall from heaven, and destroy both the soldiers and yourself." So he prayed, and a whirlwind of fire fell from heaven, and destroyed the captain and those that were with him.

   (24) And when the king was informed of the destruction of these men, he was very angry, and sent another captain with the like number of armed men that were sent before. And when this captain also threatened the prophet, that unless he came down of his own accord, he would take him and carry him away; upon his prayer against him, the fire from heaven slew this captain as well as the other.

   (25) And when, upon inquiry, the king was informed of what had happened to him, he sent out a third captain. But when this captain, who was a wise man, and of a mild disposition, came to the place where Elijah happened to be, and spake civilly to him, and said, that he knew that it was without his own consent, and only in submission to the king's command that he came to him; and that those that came before did not come willingly, but on the same account, he therefore desired him to have pity on those armed men that were with him; and that he would come down and follow him to the king.

   (26) So Elijah accepted of his discreet words and courteous behavior, and came down and followed him. And when he came to the king, he prophesied to him, and told him, that God said," Since thou hast despised him as not being God, and so unable to foretell the truth about thy distemper, but hast sent to the god of Ekron to inquire of him what will be the end of this thy distemper, know this, that thou shalt die."

   The footnote in Josephus history book: It is commonly esteemed a very cruel action of Elijah, when he called for fire from heaven, and consumed no fewer than two captains and a hundred soldiers, and this for no other crime than obeying the orders of their king, in attempting to seize him; and it is owned by our Savior, that it was an instance of greater severity than the spirit of the New Testament allows, Luke 9:54.

    But then we must consider, that it is not unlikely that these captains and soldiers believed that they were sent to fetch the prophet, that he might be put to death for foretelling the death of the king, and this while they knew him to be the prophet of the true God, the Supreme King of Israel (for they were still under theocracy), which was no less than impiety, rebellion, and treason, in the highest degree: nor would the command of a subaltern or inferior captain, contradicting the commands of the general, when the captain and the soldiers both knew it to be so, as I suppose, justify or excuse such gross rebellion and disobedience in soldiers at this day.

   Accordingly, when Saul commanded his guards to slay Ahimelech and the priests at Nob, they knew it to be an unlawful command, and would not obey it, 1 Samuel 22:17. From which cases, both officers and soldiers may learn that the commands of their leaders or kings cannot justify or excuse them in doing what is wicked in the sight of God, or in fighting in an unjust cause, when they know it so to be.

No Crime - No Punishment

   CONCLUSION: In Luke 9:54 the Apostles were angered that no one would listen to them. While it is irritating and upsetting when people do not listen, not listening is not a crime. And if not listening is not a crime then there is no punishment.

    In Elijah's situation we are dealing with attempted murder. The king wanted to kill Elijah. He sent officers to capture Elijah so he could be put to death. That is a crime. The officers knew the king's intent and that Elijah was a man of God. The officers and king were both involved in criminal activity.

    Imprecatory prayer is appropriate for both asking protection from harm and asking for punishment of the wicked. So, Luke 9:54 is not an appropriate argument against Imprecatory Prayer. Luke 9:54 is an argument against using Imprecatory Prayer at the wrong time for the wrong reason.

    Could it be that God is answering the present day prayers "to do good unto those who persecute you"? Do the wicked prosper because we pray for them rather than against them?

   Our prayers should be along the line of "repent of die," not 'bless them that curse you." Yes, bless neighbors that curse you, but not bless criminals that curse God. Let's us pray rightly and enjoy seeing the destruction of the wicked. (Have the wicked tricked us into praying for them rather than against them?)

   Revelation 18:20: Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

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