Archive for May, 2015

2 Kings 9

2 Kings 9 has Elisha upsetting the power structure in Israel and Judah.  He sends one of his prophets to “look there for Jehu….take the flask of oil and pour it on his head….anoint you king over Israel”.  A big change is coming in leadership based on God’s direction and plan.  Jehu is anointed king and then receives the instruction “you shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets”.  Not only is Jehu taking the throne, he is cleaning house and fulfilling God’s prophecy.

It starts with Joram, an evil king.  “Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram”.  Of course, this is God’s leading and plan.  God has had enough and directs Jehu to find Joram at Ramoth-gilead where he has been watching Hazael king of Syria.  Jehu approaches the city and Joram sends a messenger out to see who was coming and what they wanted.  Jehu tells the messenger to “Turn around and ride behind me”.  The messenger doesn’t return to the king, he joins Jehu.

So Joram sends a second messenger out to see what this is all about.  And he too joins Jehu riding behind him.  The watchman reported “the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously”.  That says something about how Jehu drove a chariot if people could tell who it was from a distance.  Joram and Ahaziah both get into their chariots and head out to meet whoever is coming at them.  And it was as the watchman had said – Jehu was there – and not for a peaceful cup of tea.

Joram figures it out first and “reined about and fled” trying to escape.  But “Jehu drew his bow with his full strength, and shot Joram between the shoulders, so that the arrow pierced his heart, and he sank in his chariot”.  Lucky shot?  I think not.  God directed the arrow as to complete his plan.  “Ahaziah the king of Judah….fled in the direction of Beth-haggan….shot him in the chariot”.  Both these kings are killed as Jehu takes the throne.  But there was one more thing to do – deal with Jezebel.  Jehu comes to the palace and says “Throw her down….See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king’s daughter”.  God’s prophecy has come true.  Jezebel is dead and the dogs ate her flesh.

2 Kings 8

2 Kings 8 has a flashback to the woman whom Elisha had brought her son back to life.  He told them to flee the country as there would be a seven year drought and famine, so they went to Philistine to live.  Now she was back and wanting to get her home and land back.  It just so happened that Gehazi was with the king telling him the great things that Elisha had done, and the story of this woman and her son was the topic of discussion.  Was it an accident or coincidence.  Not hardly.  There are no coincidences in God’s world.

So the king says “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now”.  God worked it out that Gehazi would be there at that exact time when the woman would come and ask for her possessions back, even after abandoning them to go to Syria.  And God did give them back through the king.  Meanwhile, the king of Syria is not doing well and sends a messenger to Elisha to find out if he will recover or not.  Elisha gives him the news, but knows that it will be altered.

Elisha knows that the illness the king has will not kill him.  But he also knows that Hazael will end the king’s life.  And it didn’t take long.  Hazael “the next day he took the bed cloth and dipped it in water and spread it over his face, till he died”.  Elisha was saddened by that truth.  Hazael took over the throne and walked without the Lord.  This was a messy time in the history of Judah.  The Edomites decide they want to revolt and set up a king on their own.

Then Libnah revolted at the same time.  It gets pretty messy all around.  None of the nations were led by godly kings at all.  They all walked in the ways of their evil fathers and did evil in God’s eyes.  There was wars all over the place.  King Joram is wounded as he did battle with the Syrians and headed to Jezreel to take some time to heal.  And while there, Ahaziah king of Judah came to visit.  There are some strange relationships going on in the ranks of God’s people.

2 Kings 7

2 Kings 7 has Elisha prophesying about what God was going to do.  The land has been under famine.  There is little to no food and yet Elisha makes this prophecy.  “Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria”.  How could that be?  There is no flour or barley to sell at all, let alone at this kind of price.  But Elisha stands firm on his prophecy and telsl the captain in charge of running things for the king that it will be so, but he won’t be able to enjoy it.

There were four lepers who lived at the entrance gate but couldn’t come into the city because of their disease.  They were starving to death and decided that staying and doing what they had always done wasn’t going to work out, so they came up with the bright idea of heading to Syria to see if they might have a better chance of survival there.  The worst thing that could happen was they would be killed, but they knew they would die if they didn’t do something differently anyway.  So they head off toward Syria and came upon an army encampment, but “when they came to the edge of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no one there”. 

It seems God had spooked the Syrian army by making it sound like the enemy was coming to attack them so they ran and left everything behind in their tents.  The lepers ransacked one tent and hid the spoils.  They did a second as well but then decided they better go tell the king what was happening.  He thought it was a setup, and that the Syrians wanted to make it look like they deserted but were merely hiding waiting for a chance to attack.  But he sends a few scouts out and they come back saying what the lepers had shared was indeed true – the camp was empty and there were many spoils to be had.

So they “went out and plundered the camp of the Syrians”. They took all the spoils and carried it back to the city.  The king appointed the captain to have charge of the gate. “And the people trampled him in the gate, so that he died, as the man of God had said”.  The captain dies as the people bring back their spoils.  Elisha’s prophecy comes true.  He had told the captain “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it”.  That is exactly what happened.  He saw the famine broken by God’s hand, and the spoils gathered, but he died trying to manage the gate and control the crowd.

2 Kings 6

2 Kings 6 has another of Elisha’s miracles.  The prophets were living in cramped quarters and asked if they could go cut some wood and build more space to live in.  Elisha agrees and goes with them.  One of the guys was chopping wood and his axe head fell into the Jordan River.  It obviously sank and was not able to be found.  “But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water, and he cried out, “Alas, my master! It was borrowed”.  It might not have been a big deal, but it was borrowed so the guy was beside himself.

 

But Elisha wasn’t worried.  He asked where it had happened and then “he cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float”.  Elisha was able to rely on God’s power to overcome a situation that seemed beyond hope.  He made iron float.  Then the Syrian king kept running into situations where his enemies in Israel always seemed to know what his plan for battle was. He thought there was a trader in their midst, but his servants said “Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom”.

That is problematic so the king of Syria sent horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city. In the morning Elisha’s servant goes out and sees the overwhelming show of force by the Syrians.  He tells Elisha but is told “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them”.  That certainly wasn’t obvious to him.  The city was surrounded and it looked pretty bleak.  But then Elisha prayed asking God to open his eyes.  “The Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha”.

Elisha prays and asks God to strike the Syrian army with blindness.  He didn’t even need the mountains full of horses and chariots.  God blinded the men and Elisha led them to Samaria where God restored their sight.  They realized they were in enemy territory and the king of Israel was ready to wipe them out.  But Elisha instead instructs them to feed them and treat them well.  A strange way to treat an enemy that is out to kill you.  But the result was great as “the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel”.

2 Kings 5

2 Kings 5 has the story of “Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper”.  He was a great leader but had a problem – he was a leper.  Naaman hears of a prophet in Israel that may be able to heal him, so he asks the king if he can go.  The king writes a letter and sends him on his way to look for healing.

When he gets to Israel and delivers the letter to the Israeli king, he is sent away.  But Elisha hears about it and says “Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel”.  Elisha knows our mission here on earth is to make God known among all the people. So Naaman came to Elisha’s house and is sent this message through Elisha’s servants.  “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean”.  Pretty simple instructions from the prophet on being healed.

But Naaman was expecting a lot more.  After all, he had traveled a great distance and was a pretty powerful man in Syria.  “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper”.  Instead all he got was an instruction from Elisha through his servants to go dip himself in the Jordan.  So he runs off angry with the instruction.  But “his servants came near and said to him” that he should reconsider and do as he was told.  Someone with a bit less ego could see this wasn’t a shunning by the prophet, but a simple direction to be healed.  And he was when he followed Elisha’s instruction.

Namaan realizes he was wrong, and returns to give Elisha the silver and gold he had brought as payment.  But Elisha refuses.  Then something big happens.  “But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance….Gehazi followed”.  He saw an opportunity to get some treasure and went after Naaman to get it.  After all, he had brought it to leave in Israel.  Why should Elisha prevent them from gaining a bit of wealth?  So Gehazi says “Please give them a talent of silver and two festal garments”.  He only took a little of what Naaman had brought with him.  Gehazi goes back home and Elisha is there to ask where he’d been.  Of course, Gehazi lies and tells Elisha he was right there but the prophet knew.  And because of that lie and disobedience, Gehazi is told “the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever”.  Sin always carries a cost.  For Gehazi, it was a severe one.

2 Kings 4

2 Kings 4 has Elisha being confronted by the wife of one of the sons of the prophets.  Her husband had died and she was living in poverty.  And Elijah asked “Tell me; what have you in the house”?  Seems like a strange request considering she had lost her husband.  But the woman tells him she has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.  Elisha doesn’t hesitate to give her a solution.  “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few….Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside”.

That seems a little strange.  She has one jar of oil and Elisha instructs her and her sons to go borrow all the jars and vessels they can from those around them.  They did it, and then went in and shut the door and began pouring from her jar into the ones they collected.  She asked her sons to bring another and they were gone and said “There is not another.  Then the oil stopped flowing”.  The size of their faith determined how much God would give.  Had they gathered more jars, undoubtedly the oil would have flowed to fill them all.  But God went only as far as the woman’s faith allowed.

Elisha moved on traveling with his servant Gehazi and they came upon a Shunammite woman who fed them and became a regular stop on their travels.  In fact, they were so regular that she had her husband build a room up on the roof of their home for Elisha to use when passing by.  She and her husband had no child, but God had a different plan and Elisha told her she would become pregnant and give birth.  Even though she couldn’t believe it, “the woman conceived, and she bore a son”.  The child grew but one day became ill while out harvesting with his father and “the child sat on her lap till noon, and then he died”.  She was filled with grief and went to find Elisha.

Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed….he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord…..he went up and lay on the child….the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes”.  There’s a miracle for you.  Elisha came at the insistence of the woman and God used him to restore life to the young man.  Elisha moves on without much fanfare and came to Gilgal when there was a famine in the land. A man came to him from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread and other things in a bag.  Elisha tells his servant to give it to the prophets who were hungry from the famine, but they said “How can I set this before a hundred men”.  There just wasn’t enough to go around.  But as we saw with Jesus, God can take little and turn it into enough.  They obeyed Elisha’s command and the men “ate and had some left, according to the word of the Lord”.

2 Kings 3

2 Kings 3 has the new king of Israel wanting to do battle with the king of Moab who owed him 100K sheep and the wool of 100K rams.  Seems once Ahab died the king of Moab didn’t feel compelled to continue paying the fee owed.  Unfortunately King Jehoram “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, though not like his father and mother, for he put away the pillar of Baal that his father had made”.  He was an evil king, but not as bad as his father had been.  He reaches out to Jehoshaphat, who had gone into battle with his father, and asks for assistance again.

This time Jehoshaphat agrees but just goes along with the plan.  “By which way shall we march”?  They take off following Jehoram’s lead and “made a circuitous march of seven days, there was no water for the army or for the animals”.  He obviously should have asked what he did next – that they get a word from a prophet before going any further.  “Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire?”  Jehoshaphat knows that God is the source of truth.  He finds out that “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here” and they seek his counsel.

Elisha has no use for Jehoram, but does respect Jehoshaphat so he agrees to go to the Lord.  When he does, he finds out this.  “I will make this dry streambed full of pools”.  God’s going to turn the water back on and things will be covered.  So it won’t be a small amount of water, but massive wetness.  “You shall not see wind or rain, but that streambed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your livestock, and your animals”.  It won’t be showy in how it comes, but it will be a lot and meet the needs of the people and their livestock.

Elisha goes on to answer the question about the Moabites.  “He will also give the Moabites into your hand”.  No real instruction on how, just that the outcome will be victory.  God delivers them using the water he promised to send.  When the Moabites got up in the morning, “the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood….the kings have surely fought together and struck one another down”.  They were deceived into thinking the battle was over and all they had to do was mop up.  But they discovered that the three kings were waiting with their armies intact and they defeated the Moabites just as God had said.

2 Kings 2

2 Kings 2 has Elijah leaving the scene. Elijah asks Elisha to stay put while he was going on to Bethel.  But Elisha says no. “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you”.  Elisha has no intention of missing Elijah’s last days.  So they went down to Bethel. The local prophets ask Elisha “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you”?  Of course he does and says “Yes, I know it; keep quiet”.  He doesn’t want to create a stir.  So they repeat this as Elijah going also to Jericho and the Jordan.  At the edge of the Jordan River, “Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground”.

It’s his last days and Elijah asks Elisha what he would like as a parting gift.  “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me”.  That was a huge but very wise ask, similar to what Solomon had asked for earlier.  Elijah says it will happen but Elisha had to see him ascend.  Then there were “chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them”.  But Elisha saw it and watched as Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Elisha “saw him no more”.  He was gone for good.  So “he took the cloak of Elijah….struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over”.  That was sort of the test to see if he in fact had received Elijah’s powers.  And he had.  “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha”.  The torch has been passed and while others thought Elijah still had to be around somewhere, their search party came back empty handed as Elijah truly had been taken up to heaven.

Elisha is put to the test as in one of the cities “the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful”.  It has been bad for some time.  So Elisha asks for a new bowl, and put salt in it and threw salt in it.  He said “I have healed this water” and it was now good.  As he went on down the road, a group of young boys began jeering at him.  “Go up, you baldhead”.  That was a bad choice as Elisha got a bit upset and “he cursed them in the name of the Lord….two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys”.  It’s obvious you don’t want to mess with a prophet that has the kind of power that Elijah and now Elisha has.

2 Kings 1

2 Kings 1 has Ahab’s son now on the throne.  Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice in the palace and lay in bed in a bad way.  So he sends some of his men to find an answer to the question of whether or not he would ever recover.  God intercepts their mission. “But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king”.  God wasn’t about to let these guys go to a false god for answers.  He calls his main man and prophet Elijah to intervene.

Elijah was without fear.  He did many very direct and unpopular things in his life.  And this was another.  “You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die”.  He delivered a very unpopular message to the king.  As you might expect, the messengers returned rather quickly and Ahaziah wanted to know how they got their answer so quickly.  When they tell the king about Elijah, and delivered the bad news, the king wants to talk to the prophet so sends out a captain and 50 men to bring him back.

They bring the message: “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down”.  Wasn’t really much of a request, and Elijah wanted no part of it.  So he says no and then makes it clear that it wasn’t just him rejecting the offer.  “Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty”.  Ahaziah doesn’t get it the first time, so he sends a second captain and 50 more men and they suffer the same fate.  Fire comes and consumes them all.  So he sends a third captain and 50 more men.  But word had certainly spread, and this captain took a very different approach.

The captain “came and fell on his knees before Elijah and entreated him”.  No more trying to tell Elijah what to do.  They ask nicely and the angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him”.  So Elijah obeys and goes down with the captain and the guard and comes to the palace.  And the truth comes to be – Ahaziah dies according to the word of the Lord.  Jehoram now becomes king of Israel because Ahaziah had no son.  Elijah continues to just speak God’s truth without regard for his own safety of the reception of those he is speaking to.  He completely trusts God for his safety!

1 Kings 22

1 Kings 22 has both the kings of Israel and Judah lining up to go after the king of Syria to recover Ramoth-gilead which belonged to Israel.  Ahab comes to Jehoshaphat and asks him to help.  Jehoshaphat says “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses”.  They were two kingdoms but both knew their heritage.  But before Jehoshaphat was willing to go to battle he said “Inquire first for the word of the Lord”.  So the king “gathered the prophets….four hundred men….Shall I go to battle”.  They wanted to be sure this would be a good decision.

There was a unanimous response.  “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king”.  Seems pretty clear.  But something didn’t quite add up.  “Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the Lord of whom we may inquire”?  He just got 400 opinions but he wants one more.  So he presses Ahab about another prophet, and one comes to the front.  “There is yet one man….Micaiah….but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me”.  Sounds like someone who Ahab didn’t have in his pocket who would speak truth

 Micaiah wasn’t one to be bought.  “What the Lord says to me, that I will speak”.  The messengers who came to get him warned him what the king wanted to hear, but that didn’t matter.  He gave it straight.  “Hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left”.  Micaiah is plugged into the Lord.  And he tells both kings “the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you”.  He calls the 400 prophets liars and they throw him in jail.  It wasn’t the message they wanted to hear.

So they go to battle refusing to listen to Micaiah’s word from the Lord.  Jehoshaphat leads the charge and Ahab goes into battle as a warrior – incognito.  The Syrian army was only after Ahab, so when they realized that Jehoshaphat wasn’t their target, they turned back.  Meanwhile, “a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate”.  Ahab got his due anyway.  God has a way of working things out like that.  And as the prophecy had been issued, “the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the Lord”.  Jehoshaphatwalked in all the way of Asa his father. He did not turn aside from it”.  And God honored him in that.  He reigned for more years – twenty five in all.

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