2 Kings 1:1–2:25
Ahaziah, the king of Israel fell through a lattice and sent messengers to the false prophets of Baal-Zebub to see if he would recover from his injury. As the prophets were on their way, they were intercepted by Elijah, the prophet of the LORD. Elijah asked them why they would go to the god of Ekron, when there was a God in Israel? Elijah sent them back to their master with the news that the king would surely die from this fall.
King Ahaziah was surprised his messengers returned so soon, and they relayed the story with the description of the man – he was hairy, and wore a leather belt around his waist. The king knew it was Elijah, he also knew he was a man of God, so he sent for him.
Fifty men were consumed with fire that Elijah called down from heaven. Another fifty were consumed. The third group of fifty had a wise leader who pleaded for their lives. God showed them mercy and sent Elijah to the king with the same word – he would die for his idolatry.
2 Kings 1:16 (NKJV) “Then he said to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of His word? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’’”
Imagine calling fire down from heaven! Elijah was sent for that sort of reason and season, and he will do it again one day. The Bible predicts that Elijah will return during the Tribulation Period. I believe he is one of the two prophets in Revelation 11:5 and he will do the same things. He will prophesy to the people, open and close the heavens (controlling the rain), and call fire down to devour those who want to hurt them (Malachi 4:5; Mark 9:12; Revelation 11:5-6).
As Elijah prepares to depart from planet earth, I was impressed by these “sons of the prophets.” Apparently there was some sort of schooling and training for them and all these guys in the different cities knew that Elijah was to be taken from them that day (they were in tune). Elijah commanded Elisha his assistant to leave him, but this was one time Elisha refused to submit. He repeatedly insisted, “As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.”
As Elijah was about to depart, he asked Elisha what he wanted. Elisha was wise to ask for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit (anointing). Elijah wasn’t sure if such a lofty request would be answered, we have his response:
2 Kings 2:10 (NKJV) “So he said, ‘You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.’”
It was up to God.
God DID allow Elisha to see Elijah depart, as he was taken up in a chariot of fire, and a double portion was given to Elisha who did twice as many miracles as his predecessor. It was obvious to the prophets, that the spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha.
As we see the amazing work God did through Elijah some might ask the same question Elisha asked, “Where is the LORD God of Elijah?” Why don’t we see God move in mighty ways as He did “back then?” We might ask, “Where is the God of Elijha?”
But maybe the better question is, “Where are the Elijahs?”
Just in case you’re struggling with what happened to the 42 youths, here’s some insight from Thomas Howe and Norman Geisler:
“First of all, this was no minor offense, for these young men held God’s prophet in contempt. Since the prophet was God’s mouthpiece piece to His people, God Himself was being most wickedly insulted in the person of His prophet.
Second, these were not small, innocent children. They were wicked young men, comparable to a modern street gang. Hence, the life of the prophet was endangered by their number, the nature of their sin, and their obvious disrespect for authority.
Third, Elisha’s action was designed to strike terror in the hearts of any other such gang members. If these youngsters were not afraid to mock a venerable man of God such as Elisha, then they would have been a threat to the lives of all God’s people.
Fourth, some commentators note that their statements were designed to challenge Elisha’s claim to be a prophet. They were essentially saying, “If you are a man of God, why don’t you go oil up to heaven like Elijah did?” The term “baldhead” might be a reference to the fact that lepers shaved their heads. Such a comment would indicate that these young men looked upon Elisha as it detestable outcast.
Fifth, it was not Elisha who took their lives, but God who alone could have providentially directed the bears to attack them. It is evident that by mocking this man of God, these young men were revealing their true attitudes toward God Himself. Such contempt for the Lord was punishable able by death. The Scriptures do not say that Elisha prayed for this kind of punishment. It was clearly an act of God in judgment upon this impious gang.” – Big Book of Bible Difficulties, The: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation
Paul’s first sermon recorded in the book of Acts is in Antioch of Pisidia, it went well. We read that many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, they were open to the message of Jesus. The Gentiles begged them that they come back and preach on the next Sabbath. In the meantime Paul and Barnabas, “persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” (Great counsel!)
On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came out to hear the Word. Imagine that!
You would figure the Jewish leaders would rejoice with all the people, but the enemy got to them and they were filled with envy (what an ugly sin). Paul and Barnabas were forced to turn to the Gentiles in that city as the Word of God had predicted (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6). People were getting saved, and the message began to spread throughout all the region (Acts 13:48-49). It’s so beautiful to witness what God does whenever we take those steps of faith.
Eventually the day came when Paul and Barnabas were expelled by the leaders of the city. No worries, they shook off the dust and simply went to the next city – they weren’t bummed out, they were called out.
Acts 13:52 (NKJV) “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
As they continue their journey, they reach Iconium and preach the gospel. Some believed, others opposed, and God was moving. We don’t know how long the team stayed there but the Bible does give us a little information:
Acts 14:3 (NKJV) “Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”
You can be sure, that whenever God moves, the enemy counters, and because the opposition escalated and got dangerous, they moved on to the next city, led by the Spirit and choosing not to test God. Little did these persecutors know that they were instrumental in the spreading of the gospel.
This is one of most amazing Psalms of all! I almost feel bad trying to summarize it, so I’ll provide some links below, just in case you want to go a little more in depth.
In this Psalm we see the Omniscience of God (He knows everything). He knows everything about us, individually, and personally. When we read of God knowing my sitting down and rising up – in Hebrew poetry this is called a “merism.” It’s when the poet uses two extremes or opposites and intends to include everything in between.
We also see God’s Omnipresence. There is nowhere we can go to escape the presence of God, even if we traveled the speed of light, and took the wings of the morning (186,000 miles per second), God would be right there – with us.
If I had to neatly outline this Psalm I would say it this way:
I. God knows you Perfectly
II. God’s with you Constantly
III. God made you Purposely
And that latter point is what we see in verses 13-18. God knit us together in our mother’s womb for a life He planned out for us.
Psalm 139:16 (NKJV) “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”
I wish the world could see this truth – that life begins at the moment of conception. That God Himself makes us all uniquely (there are no mistakes on His part). There are purposes for every child conceived and their lives should not be taken from them.
I’m in awe of the way that God loves us so much, that His thoughts toward us, are as the sand of the sea.
Apparently David (the writer of this Psalm) is going through some hard times, some fierce opposition. With all this understanding He prays for God’s intervention. He also prays for God to search his own heart. It’s a good prayer to pray, “Lord, if there’s anything wrong in me that I can’t see – please reveal it, that I might forsake it…and lead me in life.”
David also pray for God to help him with his anxiety.
Psalm 139:23–24 (NKJV) “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
This is such a beautiful Psalm, making clear, God is near…working out this amazing plan for our lives.
Click HERE if you’d like to view the notes when I taught this Psalm.
V. 19 – He who loves a quarrel loves strife, just think, there are some people like that. The gate here MAY be speaking of this person’s mouth – he brags, talks smack, and is headed for destruction.
V. 20 – I like the way the NLT puts it, “The crooked heart will not prosper; and the lying tongue tumbles into trouble.”
(see the connection between the heart and the tongue in Luke 6:45)
V. 21 – A scoffer is one who ridicules, mocks, scorns and scoffs when we try to share God’s Word of wisdom. A fool is one who acts unwisely or without prudence, they’ve been “fooled” by the world under the sway of the wicked one.
If our children are scoffers or fools, our sorrow is deep, our joy is depleted. This is a lesson in life, not just a statement of truth, but a word to parents, and even to children, let’s do all that we can to not raise (or be) scoffers or fools.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.