Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Parthenon at night

Friday, April 21, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Apr 22, 2 Kgs 4-5

Today’s readings are 2 Kgs 4-5.

In 2 Kgs 4, God continues to provide for and protect Elisha, performing several miracles through him, continuously validating him as a true prophet and building his credibility in the eyes of the people of both kingdoms.

Each of the miracles represents an attribute of God. In the widow’s oil (2 Kgs 4:1-7), we see the power to multiply. When the elderly Shunamite has a son (2 Kgs 4:8-17), we see God’s faithfulness and omniscience. When the son dies and is brought back to life (2 Kgs 4:18-37), we see God’s sovereign authority over life and death. When the stew is cleansed of poisons (2 Kgs 4:38-44), we see God’s command over the elements and His purity.

All of the attributes we see in Elisha will be seen again in Christ. Elisha prepares God’s people for what God’s Son will do when He arrives.

After seeing God demonstrate His attributes through Elisha, we get a lesson on how God is perceived to the lost. The Syrian king sends a letter to the king of Israel asking for help for Naaman, another Syrian who has leprosy. The king of Israel thinks the Syrian king wants him to heal Naaman (2 Kgs 5:1-8). Elisha gets things squared away but, when Naaman arrives, Elisha sends a messenger rather than meeting Naaman face-to-face. Naaman gets offended, he wants Elisha to "wave his hand" to bring a cure (2 Kgs 5:8-11). He's not interested in obeying God. All he wants is healing from a “holy man.” If he has any faith at all, it is not in the living God, but his desire to be delivered from his circumstances. Ultimately, his servants convince Naaman to do what he is told and to put his offense aside (2 Kgs 5:12-13). Naaman is healed and sees that obedience to God is what brings blessing (2 Kings 5:14). Naaman gives praise to God and wants to reward Elisha (2 Kgs 5:15). Elisha refuses, for it was not he who healed Naaman but God (2 Kgs 5:16-17).

We don't hear if Namaan carried through on his desire to worship God (2 Kgs 5:17-19) but that's not really the point of the passage. The passage is here to show us that God heals whom He desires to heal. Namaan was not a Jew, he was a Syrian. Furthermore, we see that God does not bless based on the sincerity of our desires but on the sincerity of our obedience. In any case, healing is not reserved exclusively for those of faith, or even for those of great faith, but for the glory of God.

As if to emphasize the point, Elisha’s servant Gehazi is struck with leprosy for his greed and deception (2 Kgs 5:20-27).

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