Daily Bible Reading

Daily Bible Reading
Valley of Ellah, where David fought Goliath

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Apr 23, 2 Kgs 6-8

Today's readings are 2 Kgs 6-8.

We see an ax head float in 2 Kgs 6:1-7. This is not meant to dazzle us with the things Elisha can do. It is intended to show us that God is working powerfully in and through Elisha. Notice, he has something important to say afterward (1 Kgs 6:9-10). The floating ax head is one of the many proofs God provides to encourage His children to listen to His prophet. It is evidence that Elisha speaks for God.

The northern kingdom, Israel, falls under attack from Syria. King Ben-hadad wants to kill Elisha (2 Kgs 6:11-14). God delivers them miraculously and graciously but uses Elisha to tell them exactly how it will happen (2 Kgs 6:15-19). While the Syrian army is blinded, Elisha leads them to Samaria where they surrender and are taken captive by Israel’s king (2 Kgs 6:20-23). Instead of executing the Syrian army, Elisha tells the king to prepare a meal for them and set them free (2 Kgs 6:22-23). The king, who now considers Elisha a close confidant, listens.

This entire passage about Syria and Israel is a series of contrasts. We see a pagan nation (Syria) come up against a nation of God (Israel), albeit a troubled one. We see the word of God (Elisha) compared to worldly ways (Syrian military strategy). Furthermore, we see those who are blind and humbled (the Syrian army) being led by those who see (Elijah and his group). Finally, we see those who surrender and receive grace contrasted with those who fight and die.

Regardless of the previous defeat, Beh-hadad lays siege to Samaria again. With the city surrounded and famine taking a toll, the king of Israel is helpless and blaming Elisha for the troubles of Samaria (2 Kgs 6:21-24). The king sends a messenger to behead Elisha. With the king close behind, the messenger acknowledges that the trouble in Samaria is from the Lord, but the king thinks that killing Elisha will appease the Syrians and cause them to leave. (2 Kgs 6:25-33).

The king is struggling spiritually. He is double-minded toward the Lord, acknowledging His supremacy but still holding on to the ungodly practices and unholy associates. This causes confusion and a multitude of problems for the king. Exacerbating the dilemma is the king’s penchant for taking matters into his own hands and “doing something” when he feels things are not moving along fast enough. In this passage, he sincerely mourns for his people but tries to remedy their plight on his own without consulting God. The king foolishly believes that attacking God’s messenger will improve his lot.

Elisha prophesies a sudden end to the famine and the death of the king’s messenger (2 Kgs 7:1-2). The prophecy is fulfilled when the Lord supernaturally intervenes, and the Syrians simply run away leaving their belongings behind to be discovered by the lepers who have been cast out of the city. The lepers notify the town and everyone shares in the bounty (2 Kgs 7:3-20).

Note that the outcasts of the community are the ones who bring the good news of victory (2 Kings 7:9-10). God’s grace has once again been shed on His people. This is a harbinger of the role the shepherds outside of Bethlehem will play on the night Jesus is born.

We hear that the Shunammite woman had been warned to leave the country during the famine and return in seven years. She does, and as she returns, she goes to see the king at the very moment the king hears about Elisha’s signs and wonders. The woman is blessed by the king, and we get to see God’s perfect timing and faithfulness in the events of her life (2 Kgs 8:1-6).

In 2 Kings 8:7-15, King Ben-hadad, who was trying to kill Elisha, is now gravely ill and seeks him out. Elisha instructs a messenger to lie to the king (another passage that bears some careful contemplation), prophesying that he the messenger, will become king of Syria. The messenger lies to the king, then kills him.

In 2 Kings 8, Jehoram is king of Judah. He's not a good king. Nonetheless, we see this:
2 Kings 8:19 Yet the Lord was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David his servant, since he promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.
This is another case in which we see that God's promises are not predicated on the behavior of His people, but on His integrity. Judah begins to pay the price for their ungodliness (2 Kings 8:20-22).

Notice that Judah, at the same time, begins a slide downward that roughly parallels that of Israel. They ally themselves with Israel and begin acting in a similar manner to them. There is a scriptural caution against this type of behavior:
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.
It is a mistake to think that we can align ourselves with the sins of the world and not be affected by them. 

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