2 Kings 8:1-9:13
Elisha was definitely “in tune” with God. He knew a seven year famine was about to hit the area, so he informs the Shunammite and her family, who have shown him kindness, to leave Shunem and go wherever they can. She heeds his word and lives in Philistia for seven years. When the famine is over, she presents herself to the king in order to request the restoration of her land, and it just so happens that when her time with the king arrives, Gehazi happens to be telling the king of how Elisha was used by God to raise the dead.
2 Kings 8:5 (NKJV) “Now it happened, as he was telling the king how he had restored the dead to life, that there was the woman whose son he had restored to life, appealing to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, ‘My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.’”
Why did these two paths, or conversations intersect in such a way?
It wasn’t just a “coincidence.” It was God, letting it be, making it so, so that this Shunammite woman would be sure to have her land restored. All this is God using Elisha to take care of this generous and thoughtful family.
Elisha was a unique prophet in that his ministry included three nations – Israel, Judah, and Syria. Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria was sick and sent Hazael to Elisha to find out if he would recover from this sickness. Elisha wept when he looked into the face of Hazael. Not only would he be the next king of Syria (for he would kill Ben-Hadad) but he would be responsible for atrocities to the children of Israel; not merely victory over the nation but dashing children to death on the rocks and ripping open pregnant women (2 Kings 8:12). Hazael didn’t think he had it in him (2 Kings 8:13) but he did.
In the meantime, Jehoram became king in Judah. He reigned eight years and was a wicked king, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. We can place some of the blame on his father Jehoshaphat, for making an alliance with Ahab and the northern kingdom. As a result, his son married into this family. It would have horrible ramifications. As parents we need to do a better job of protecting our children from ungodly alliances and influences.
Israel and Judah began to weaken. Edom revolted (2 Kings 8:20). Libnah revolted (2 Kings 8:24).
Ahaziah was next in line in the nation of Judah. He reigned one year in Judah. His mother, Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, the granddaughter of Omri, so it makes sense that he aligned himself with the northern kingdom of Israel, even to the point of going to war with them against the Syrians. Ahaziah was wounded in the battle and went to Jezreel in order to recover.
Elisha, meanwhile, calls one of the sons of the prophets to take a flask of oil, head over to Ramoth Gilead and anoint Jehu as the next king of Israel. Which he does, as he delivers a message to Jehu that he was to wipe out the household of Ahab, even Jezebel would be eaten by dogs. These prophecies not only predicted the future, but also fueled those who were prophesied over – Jehu and the men around him, received that “confirmation” they needed, to take the next step.
It’s important for us to keep in mind, that it’s not Elisha calling the shots. It’s just that Elisha was in tune with God, gifted by God, and called by God for this type of ministry.
I think it’s also important to notice that eventually ungodliness in any kingdom, organization, or family will be judged. If only these kings would have ruled God’s way, their nations would have been established.
Psalm 75:6–7 (NKJV) “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. 7 But God is the Judge: He puts down one, And exalts another.”
Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV) “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”
The church in Philippi turned out to be a huge blessing to Paul, but it wasn’t easy to establish that church (good things never are).
Acts 16:16 (NKJV) “Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling.”
Did you notice WHEN it happened? As they went to prayer. The enemy will do all that he can to interrupt, to disrupt – to keep us from praying.
A certain slave girl followed Paul and Silas for days, crying out for all to hear, that they were servants of the most high God, who proclaimed the way of salvation. At first glance you might think it’s true, and it’s good advertising. But we need to consider the source. I don’t think people would be drawn to God by a demon-possessed girl. So Paul did something wonderful, he cast out the demon in the name of Jesus Christ. You would figure there would be rejoicing over such a feat, but not everyone was happy. Her masters, realizing they lost a great source of income, turned Paul and Silas in, to the Roman authorities.
Acts 16:20–21 (NKJV) “And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, ‘These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; 21 and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.’”
As you study church history, you will see that the Romans saw the Christians as atheists (because they didn’t believing in all their gods). The Romans saw christians as cannibals, because of their misunderstanding of communion. And the Romans were actually stumbled by the way Christians had a deep, deep love for each other; the Romans perverted it.
So Paul and Silas are beaten bloody, and thrown into prison – not just jail, but the bottom of the dungeon, feet in stocks, down in the inner prison!
I’m amazed and inspired, however, how Paul and Silas were praying and singing songs from that place – at midnight (see also Job 35:10; Psalm 42:8). Such pure praise shook heaven and earth, and led to the salvation of the Philipian jailer, who was just about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had gotten away. Not only was he saved, but his entire household (perfect reason to rejoice as seen in Acts 16:34).
So simple, so beautiful, so wonderful is the gospel, as we read in:
Acts 16:30-31 (NKJV) “And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”
What an amazing miracle! What an awesome God!
When the authorities came to release Paul and Silas, they didn’t jut go on their merry way. They were Roman citizens who were beaten without a trial. If this was reported, the authorities in Phillipi would likely be disciplined by Rome. So Paul and Silas demanded an escort and no doubt in the process hang this over their heads as leverage to make sure that these authorities do not persecute the church in Phillipi. Wise as serpents, harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).
Again David is down. Again David prays. That God would hear and answer and save, even though he’s not worthy. When we survey David’s situation with Saul, David was blameless – but still it’s true – what he says that in God’s sight, “…no one living is righteous.”
David was not just down, he was way down. Notice what he wrote:
Psalm 143:3–4 (NKJV) “For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell in darkness, like those who have long been dead. 4 Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed.”
Depression, anxiety, suicide, and suicidal thoughts have been around for a long time. Even the “best,” and the “blessed,” suffer from it. Covid-19 seems to have amplified it. Our hearts go out to those in this state, crushed, in darkness, overwhelmed, and distressed. David was there – and somehow from that place he lifted his eyes, his voice, he prayed to God:
“Cause me to hear You…”
“Cause me to know,” what to do
“In Your mercy LORD, cut off all my enemies, because I know who I am…”
“…I am Your servant.”
It helps to know who we are – created in His image. It helps to know who we are in Christ, we are children of God, servants of God – may we never forget, may we always look up to our Lord who loves us.
It may seem silly to even have to say this, but because we live in fallen bodies inclined to do evil, which leads to a backward way of thinking, it’s almost inevitable. Eventually good is seen as evil, and evil seen as good (Isaiah 5:20).
Proverbs 17:26 (NLT) “It is wrong to punish the godly for being good or to flog leaders for being honest.”
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.