God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 3:8-15

In my last post, we began our look at God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim ~ Part 1 beginning in Yesha’yahu 3:1-7. In this post, we continue to look at God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim in Part 2 covering Yesha’yahu 3:8-15.

8 For Yerushalayim is ruined, and Y’hudah has fallen; because their words and deeds defy Adonai, in open provocation of His glory.

Although Y’hudah was experiencing a time of prosperity, the handwriting of decay was on the wall. The Assyrians were already camped at their border. But because the economy was rolling along, many people were not listening to Yesha’yahu warning of destruction.

Sha’ul told us that the signs of the end of our age would be like birth pangs (1 Thessalonians 5:3). In other words, times of travail will be followed by times of peace. It is the wise individual who doesn’t get lulled by times of calm, but rather is constantly aware of the nearness of the Lord’s coming.

9 Their very look witnesses against them! They parade their sin, like S’dom; they don’t even try to hide it – all the worse for them! – they bring evil on themselves.

Yesha’yahu compares Y’hudah to S’dom, the preeminent early example of open, flagrant sin as well as God’s determined judgment (see Genesis 19). Although Yesha’yahu was prophesying the end of their society as they knew it, the people weren’t listening. Instead, they flaunted their sin even as those in S’dom.

10 Say that it will go well with the righteous, that they will enjoy the fruit of their actions; 11 but woe to the wicked, it will go badly with him; for what he has done will be done to him. 12 My people – children, oppress them, and women are ruling over them. My people! Your guides lead you astray and obliterate the paths you should follow.

But not all people will experience the severe judgment of God. The righteous will find reward in a good life, and the wicked will suffer. In both cases, they will get what they deserve. Their guides sound vaguely similar to the Anti-Messiah.

13 Adonai rises to accuse; He stands to judge the peoples. 14 Adonai presents the indictment against the leaders and officers of His people: “It is you who devour the vineyard; in your houses is plunder taken from the poor. 15 What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding down the faces of the poor?” says Adonai Elohim-Tzva’ot.” ~ Isaiah 3:8-15 (CJB)

In Acts 7:56, we read of Yeshua standing to welcome Stephen home. Here, however, we see the Lord standing not to welcome but to judge.

Yesha’yahu returned to the legal language with which the book began. The leaders were guilty of destroying the vineyard, the land of Y’hudah, through their exploitation of the poor.

Those in authority had abused their power and authority. As a result, they were about to find themselves under the authority of the invading Assyrians.

In my next post, we will conclude our exploration of God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 3:16-4:1.

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God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 3:1-6

In my last post, we concluded our look at The Coming Day of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 2:18-22. In this post, we begin our look at God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim beginning in Yesha’yahu 3:1-6.

1 For see! The Lord, Adonai-Tzva’ot, will remove from Yerushalayim and Y’hudah every kind of support – all reserves of food and water; 2 heroes and warriors, judges and prophets, diviners and leaders, 3 captains of fifty, men of rank and advisers, skillful magicians and expert enchanters.

Since God’s people trust in humans (see Isaiah 2:22) rather than in Him, He will remove from them every kind of security. Not only would there be a lack of food and water, but there would be a dearth of leaders, of mighty men, knowledgeable men, wise men, and skilled men.

Siege warfare was designed to isolate a city and create a blockade that would eventually force a surrender. With the enemy camped around the city, the fields could not be harvested for their food supply. No one could get in to bring in food, so the people in the city had to live on whatever had been stockpiled in the city. If the water source for the city were a well or spring outside the city walls, the siege would be short, for the cisterns would quickly run dry. Yerushalayim had a water supply that could be accessed from inside the city walls. To survive a siege would require capable leadership that could keep morale high and successfully manages food rationing.

4 I will put children in authority; capriciousness will govern them. 5 People will oppress each other – everyone his friend, everyone his neighbor. The young will be insolent toward their elders, the insignificant arrogant toward the respected. 6 A man will take hold of his brother in his father’s house and say, “You have a coat, so rule us! Take charge of this ruin!” 7 But on that day, he will protest, “I don’t have a remedy, I lack food and clothing for my own house; don’t put me in charge of people!”

With the removal of the leaders in whom the people trust comes the installation of youths to replace them. The result will be social chaos and oppression.

Whether regarding the last days of the ten tribes or the last days of our society, children will rule. We see that happening to a degree even now, for, in many countries of the world, it is the students who bring down governments. There was a time when gray hair was highly esteemed. Now, however, it is the opinion of younger generations that seems to be most highly valued in our culture.

In Israelite society, the oldest active male was the head of the household. He typically represented the family in the community and made the decisions for the family. As a result, the senior members of the family usually commanded a high degree of respect and honor.

In such a disorderly society, it did not take much to be a leader among men. In the vignette described in these verses, the people are so unwilling and unfit to lead that a man will be pressed into a leadership role just because he has a coat. But what would be left for him to lead? Only a heap of rubble.

In my next post, we will continue to explore God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 3:7-15.

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The Coming Day of the Lord ~ Part 3 ~ Yesha’yahu 2:18-22

[Since this is a fairly short post, I thought I should post it sooner than my usual Sunday/Wednesday schedule.}

In my last post, we continued to look at The Coming Day of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 2:7-17. In this post, we conclude our look at The Coming Day of the Lord beginning in Yesha’yahu 2:18-22.

18 The idols will be completely abolished. 19 People will enter cracks in the rocks and holes in the ground to escape the terror of Adonai and His glorious majesty when He sets out to convulse the earth. 20 On that day a man will take hold of his idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, and fling them away to the moles and bats! 21 Then they will enter the cracks in the rocks and the crevices in the cliffs to escape the terror of Adonai and His glorious majesty when He sets out to convulse the earth. 22 Stop relying on man, in whose nostrils is a mere breath— after all, he doesn’t count for much, does he?” ~ Isaiah 2:18-22 (CJB)

It is clear to me that although verse 18 has certainly been partially fulfilled, it won’t be completed until the ultimate Day of the Lord at Yeshua’s Second Coming.

People will flee in terror from the coming judgment of God. In the ancient Near East, earthquakes are an indication of the divine involvement in battle. Additionally, the dread of a deity as a divine warrior was often believed to precede a powerful, successful army into battle.

Out of fear, they will throw away their precious idols. Just as men have fled from the glory of the Adonai, the idols will be tossed aside as useless.

Verse 22 states an important and pervasive theme in Yesha’yahu connected to the prophet’s concern that God’s people act with humility. They were not to trust in man but to put their confidence in God.

“Don’t look to man,” God says. “You don’t even know if he’s going to have another breath. Instead, look totally, fully, and only to Me.” [1]

Come Lord, quickly!!

In my next post, I will explore God’s Judgment on Y’hudah and Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 3:1-26.

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[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary.

The Coming Day of the Lord ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 2:9-17

In my last post, we began to look at The Coming Day of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 2:6-22. I decided to switch gears for my blog for this series as I will be taking more of a verse-by-verse format. We only covered verses 6-8. In this post, we continue to look at The Coming Day of the Lord beginning in Yesha’yahu 2:9-17.

Why will God judge His people? We learned in Part 1 it was (and still is) because of their idolatry, covetousness, pride, and exploiting of the poor. Instead of holding to the truth of God’s Word, they were full of sorcerers, not unlike many “religious seekers” today. The growth of Eastern religions in the modern Western world is a phenomenon that is both frightening and challenging. Even nonreligious people are practicing Eastern forms of meditation and relaxation, following techniques that are being taught in university classes and business seminars.

9 A person bows down, a man lowers himself — don’t forgive them! 10 Come into the rock, hide in the dust to escape the terror of Adonai and the glory of his majesty.

In the ancient world, a bright or flaming aura surrounding deity is the norm in depicting the glory of his majesty. It is especially evident in the divine warrior motif where the deity unveils his glory as he fights for his people.

11 The proud looks of man will be humiliated; the arrogance of men will be bowed down; and when that day comes, Adonai alone will be exalted. 12 Yes, Adonai-Tzva’ot has a day in store for all who are proud and lofty, for all who are lifted high to be humiliated; 13 for all cedars of the L’vanon that are high and lifted up, for all the oaks of the Bashan; 14 for all the high mountains, for all the hills that are lifted up; 15 for every high tower, for every fortified wall; 16 for every “Tarshish” ship, for every luxurious vessel. 17 The pride of man will be bowed down, the arrogance of men will be humiliated, and when that day comes, Adonai alone will be exalted.

With the words proud looks of man will be humiliated, Yesha’yahu expressed one of the major themes of his book. Through judgment, God cuts down the sinful pretensions of His people.

The prophets of the Tanakh often spoke of a Coming Day of the Lord (Joel 1:15; Amos 2:1,11,31; 5:18,20; Zephaniah 1:7,14; Zechariah 14:1). This day is the judgment of sinners, which means the redemption of God’s people. However, God’s people in this verse were the object of His anger since they were rebelling against Him. While the Day of the Lord ultimately points to the final judgment, God’s temporal punishments of His people are often understood to be anticipatory fulfillment of the final judgment. L’vanon and Bashan were well known for their fertile lands and their impressive trees. Thus, they are representative of arrogance built on abundance. God’s judgment is against all kinds of pride.

The cedars of the L’vanon and the oaks of the Bashan were valued for their size, beauty, strength, and durability. They would be used in the building projects (such as gates and palaces) that were the sources of pride for nations and in which they would put their trust. The cedars of L’vanon and oaks of Bashan speak of men that are proud of their abilities. Who or what do we put our trust in? For my wife and I, it is the Lord and ADT Security.

The high mountains could speak of government. Walls and towers speak of military might. Walls of this period were solid and could be made of mud brick, fieldstone or ashlar [large square-cut] stone. While towers and walls were features of fortified cities, there were also many garrison fortresses built along trade routes and borders. In Isra’el both the fortresses and towers were rectangular. Since city walls have not been preserved to their original height, it is difficult to say how high they were. A width of fifteen to twenty feet was common and judging from their massive foundations and the length of ladders used for scaling the walls, a height of thirty to forty feet would not be unusual.

Trade using seagoing vessels was already taking place in the first half of the third millennium BCE. Excavations of a sunken merchant ship (off the coast of Turkey) from the period gives a good idea of the variety of items being shipped. Trading ships of the first millennium were single-masted with a crow’s nest and could feature either one or two banks of oars. A typical length would be about fifty feet, though larger ones are known. [1]

It is not idols, but only Yeshua who will ultimately be exalted. When He comes back to this planet, before He rules and reigns in the Temple, there will be a time of chastening and judging. As a result, people will take all that they once worshiped to the dump to be left to the rats because, at last, all idols will be seen to be meaningless.

In my next post, I will finish with this topic for now as we explore The Coming Day of the Lord ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 2:18-22.

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[1] The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament

The Coming Day of the Lord ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 2:6-8

In my last post, we examined Yesha’yahu 2:1-5 to learn about The Mountain of the Lord. In this post, we look at The Coming Day of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 2:6-22. You will notice that I have switched gears for my blog for this series as I will be taking more of a verse-by-verse format.

To the prophets, the Day of the Lord was foreshadowed by events in their day. In the Book of Yesha’yahu, Assyria’s conquest of the Northern Kingdom [Isra’el] and invasion of Y’hudah, and the Babylonian captivity of Y’hudah both picture the coming Day of the Lord.

6 For you have abandoned your people the house of Ya‘akov. Now they are filled from the east, full of sorcerers, like the P’lishtim [Philistines]; even the children of foreigners are enough for them!

God had removed His presence from His people because they had imbibed of the superstitions of their neighbors to the East (Edom and Mesopotamia) and the west (Philistia). They practiced divination. Divination was the science of being able to interpret the omens and formulate incantations that would be effective in dispelling the powers that threatened them. The Torah forbade such practices (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:9-14).

Even as people in Yesha’yahu’s day were fascinated by the Babylonian and Syrian cultures with all their magic and mystery, where are people turning today? To Eastern mysticism and spiritism.[1]

7 Their land is full of silver and gold; They have no end of treasures. Their land is full of horses; They have no end of chariots. 8 Their land is full of idols; everyone worships the work of his hands, what his own fingers have made.

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 prohibited kings from accumulating precious metals and military assets, i.e., horses and chariots. Assyrian chariots were large, carrying four men and being pulled by four horses which represented the cutting edge of military technology. Vast economic resources were required to import the animals, build the chariots and train the horsemen and charioteers (for an indication of the expense see 1 Kings 10:29).

Idols came in a variety of shapes and sizes in the ancient Near East. They were typically carved of wood and overlaid with hammered-out sheets of silver or gold and then clothed in the finest attire. Human in appearance (except those from Egypt, which combined human and animal characteristics), they had distinctive, even formalized, poses, clothing, and hairstyles. Sha’ul reflected this understanding when he referred to the folly when they have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for mere images, like a mortal human being, or like birds, animals or reptiles! ~ Romans 1:23 (CJB)

As in our culture today, the people of Y’hudah were not only rich, prosperous, and enamored with Eastern thought, but they had idols. Theirs happened to be made of stone and wood, while ours can be flesh and blood or chrome and rubber.

Have you abandoned the God of our fathers and replaced Him with your idols?

In my next post, I will continue to explore The Coming Day of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 2:9-22.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2.

Elisha ~ Part 22

In my last post, we continued our exploration of the life of Elisha. In this last post of this series, we pick up the story in 2 Kings 13:14-21 to learn of Elisha’s Death.

14 Elisha was now ill with the disease from which he would eventually die. Yo’ash, the king of Isra’el, came down to visit him and wept over him; he said, ‘My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Isra’el!’ 15 Elisha said to him, ‘Bring a bow and arrows’; and he brought him a bow and arrows. 16 He said to the king of Isra’el, ‘Put your hand on the bow’; and he put his hand on it. Then Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands 17 and said, ‘Open the east window.’ He opened it. Elisha said, ‘Shoot’; and he shot. He said, ‘Adonai’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory against Aram! You will defeat Aram completely at Afek!’ 18 He said, ‘Take the arrows,’ and he took them. He told the king of Isra’el, ‘Strike the ground.’ He struck three times, then stopped. 19 The man of God became angry with him; he said, ‘You should have struck five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram completely. As it is, you will defeat Aram only three times.’

20 Elisha died, and they placed him in a burial cave. Now the raiding parties of Mo’av used to make yearly incursions into the land at the start of the year. 21 Once it happened that just as they were burying a man, they spotted a raiding party; so, they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s burial cave; and the moment the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.” ~ 2 Kings 13:14-21 (CJB)

We haven’t heard from or about Elisha since 2 Kings 9:1 when he sent one of the guild prophets to anoint Yehu to be king of Israel. This means over forty years of silence as far as the record is concerned, yet Elisha was at work in the land, and the Lord was with him. Now he was an old man and about to die, and the king of Israel went to see him. Let’s at least give Yo’ash credit for visiting the prophet and seeking his help. Only Elisha knew God’s plan, and the king was wise enough to visit him.

It is a shame that spiritual leaders aren’t appreciated during their lifetime but are greatly lauded after they die. The P’rushim were better at building tombs for the dead than they were at showing thanks to the living (Matthew 23:29-32). Faithful servants of God never “retire” even though they may leave their lifelong vocation and step back from public ministry. Even from his deathbed, Elisha was serving the Lord and his people. As long as God gives us strength and sanity, we should serve Him the best we can in whatever ways He opens for us. As I have said before, the concept of retirement is not in the Scriptures which is why I continue to serve in the church we attend and write my blog posts.

Elisha knew that Yo’ash was in trouble because of the Aramian’s and graciously used his failing strength to help the king. Yes, Yo’ash was a compromising king who disobeyed God, but Adonai is God, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth” ~ Exodus 34:6 (CJB). He had promised deliverance for His people, and He would keep His promise. However, Elisha gave Yo’ash God’s promise of victory but did it in a way that required the king to exercise intelligent faith.

King Yo’ash was not a man of faith, but he could follow directions. However, he lacked the spiritual discernment and insight that people have who live in the Word and walk by faith. When the prophet put his hands on the king’s hands, it symbolized a conveying of power from God. When Elisha commanded him to shoot an arrow toward the area where the Aramian’s were in control, it spoke of victory over the enemy. This much the king could have understood because Elisha gave him a clear promise of victory.

But when Elisha told him to take the remaining arrows and strike the ground with them, he didn’t have the spiritual understanding he needed to make the most of it. Had he been a faithful worshiper of the living God, he would have seen the truth; but he was blind like the dead idols he worshiped. Shooting one arrow guaranteed victory, but the number of times he smote the ground determined how many victories God would give him. Because Yo’ash had ignorant faith, he limited himself to only three victories over the Aramian’s. If he had known the Word, he would have struck the ground at least seven times, the number of completeness.

When Elisha died, the king may have wondered if his promises died with him. To encourage the king, the Lord graciously performed a miracle after Elisha died. The Jews didn’t embalm corpses as did the Egyptians. They merely washed the body and wrapped it in clean clothes along with spices. One day, when the arrival of Mo’avite raiders interrupted a committal service of a man recently deceased, the mourners quickly put the body into Elisha’s tomb and fled. But God used that occasion to give the man life! Surely this miracle was talked about among the people, and the king may have heard the account from the lips of the men who saw it. This miracle told him that, though the prophet was dead, Adonai was still the living God and the God of power. His promises would not fail.

The Prophet Eliyahu never died but was caught up into heaven, but the Prophet Elisha died and was buried. However, Elisha seems to have performed a miracle even after he was dead. God has different plans for each of His servants, and it’s not our business to compare one with the other or to question what He does.

After studying the lives of Eliyahu and Elisha, in my next post (or series), I want to look at this whole concept of what is a prophet and are prophets still on the scene today.

Elisha ~ Part 21

In my last post, we continued to explore the ministry of Elisha by looking at 2 Kings 8:1-6 were we learn three aspects of the Greatness of Our God. In this post, we continue the story of Elisha where we explore the Wickedness of the Human Heart in 2 Kings 8:7-15.

7 Elisha went to Dammesek. Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram, was ill; and he was told, ‘The man of God has come here.’ 8 The king said to Haza’el, ‘Take with you a gift, go meet the man of God and consult Adonai through him; ask if I will recover from this illness.’ 9 Haza’el went to meet him, taking with him a gift that included everything good Dammesek had, forty camel-loads. He came, stood before him and said, ‘Your son Ben-Hadad king of Aram has sent me to you; he asks, ‘Will I recover from this illness?’” 10 Elisha answered, ‘Go and say to him, ‘You will surely recover’— even though Adonai has shown me that he will surely die.’ 11 Then the man of God fixed his gaze on him for so long that Haza’el became embarrassed; finally, Elisha began to cry. 12 Haza’el asked, ‘Why is my lord crying?’ He answered, ‘Because I know the disasters you will bring on the people of Isra’el — you will set their fortresses on fire, you will kill their young men with the sword, you will dash their little ones to pieces and rip their pregnant women apart.’ 13 Haza’el said, ‘But what is your servant? Nothing but a dog! How could he do anything of such magnitude?’ Elisha answered, ‘Adonai has shown me that you will be king over Aram.’ 14 Then he left Elisha and returned to his master, who asked him, ‘What did Elisha say to you?’ ‘He told me you would surely recover.’ 15 The next day he took a blanket, dipped it in water and spread it on his face, so that he died; and Haza’el took his place as king.” ~ 2 Kings 8:7-15 (CJB)

When the Lord met with the Prophet Eliyahu on Mount Horev (1 Kings 19:8-18), He gave him a threefold commission: to anoint Haza’el king of Aram (Syria), to anoint Yehu king of Israel, and to anoint Elisha to minister as his successor (1 Kings 19:15-16). Before his ascension to heaven, Eliyahu had fulfilled only one of those commissions, the anointing of Elisha (1 Kings 19:19-21), so we assume that he told Elisha to take care of the other two assignments. Yehu would become God’s appointed scourge to rid the land of Ach’av’s evil descendants as well as Ach’av’s false religion.

The Mission of Elisha

It took faith and courage for Elisha to travel to Dammesek. After all, he had often thwarted Aram’s plans for raiding Israel’s border towns (6:9-12), and he had humiliated the Aramian army by leading them into Shamron and sending them home with full stomachs but empty hands (6:14-23). Because of Elisha, the Aramian army fled from Shamron and the Jewish people were able to loot their camp (7:1ff). But Elisha had also healed Na’aman the Aramian of his leprosy (5:1ff), and when Elisha brought the Aramian raiding party to Shamron, he showed them mercy and saved their lives. The fact that Ben-Hadad the Aramian king was very ill and wanted help from the Lord made Elisha’s arrival more significant.

This was a pagan Gentile king seeking the help of a prophet of Adonai, but perhaps the conversion of Na’aman had something to do with it. Even more, Ben-Hadad sent Haza’el, one of his high officials, to meet Elisha and give him expensive gifts. But like his master, Elisha undoubtedly refused to accept the gifts (5:15-16). By calling the king of Aram “your son,” Haza’el was seeking to add more honor to Elisha. Then he asked the key question: would the king of Aram recover from his sickness?

Elisha’s replied that the King will surely recover – even though Adonai has shown me that he will surely die. In other words, the sickness was not terminal, but the king’s life was about to be terminated. As a high officer of the king, Haza’el wanted to give the king good news, so he didn’t convey to him the second part of the message.

Elisha stared at Haza’el, as though reading his mind and heart, and then the prophet broke into weeping. The Lord had shown him some of the violence and bloodshed that Haza’el would perpetrate, brutal acts that were normal practices in ancient warfare. Haza’el’s reply indicated that he recognized his subordinate status in the government and wondered where he would get the authority to do those things. Haza’el would have all the authority he needed because he would become king of Aram. The text doesn’t tell us, but this may have been the point at which Elisha anointed Haza’el with the sacred oil. If so, then Haza’el was the only king of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, to have the anointing of the Lord. He ruled Aram for forty-one years (841-801 CE).

In my next post, we conclude our exploration of the life of Elisha. In this last post in this series, we pick up the story in 2 Kings 13:14-21 to learn of Elisha’s Death.

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Elisha ~ Part 20

In my last post, we continued to explore the ministry of Elisha by looking at 2 Kings 7:1-16 where we hear some Good News. In this post, we will pick up the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 8:1-6 were we learn three aspects of the Greatness of Our God

1 Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, ‘Move away, you and your household, and stay wherever you can; because Adonai has called for a famine; and it will be on the land for seven years.’ 2 The woman acted at once and did as the man of God had said— she went with her household and stayed in the land of the P’lishtim for seven years.3 At the end of seven years, the woman returned from the land of the P’lishtim and sought an audience with the king to claim her house and land. 4 The king was talking with Geichazi, the servant of the man of God. ‘Tell me,’ he said, ‘all the great things Elisha has done.”’5 Just as he was telling the king how he had restored a dead person to life, at that very moment the woman whose son he had restored to life came to the king with her claim for her house and land. Geichazi said, ‘My lord, king, this is the woman; and this is her son, the one Elisha restored to life.’ 6 On being asked by the king, the woman verified it. At this, the king appointed a special officer and charged him, ‘Restore everything that belongs to her, including the income her fields have produced from the day she left them until now.’” ~ 2 Kings 8:1-6 (CJB)

This event must have occurred before the healing of Na’aman (2 Kings 5) since the king wasn’t likely to welcome a leper into the palace, and Geichazi was a leper (5:27). The author of 2 Kings doesn’t claim to follow a strict chronology, and we’re not even sure which king Geichazi was entertaining with stories about his master. Perhaps this event occurred early in the reign of KingYoram.

God Controls Nature

We were introduced to the wealthy Shunemite woman and her family in 2 Kings 4:8-37. God often used famines to chasten His people when they were disobedient and needed to be reminded of their covenant obligations. This famine may have been the one mentioned in 4:38. The prophet warned the woman to escape the famine by going to the land of the P’lishtim and becoming a resident alien there. Knowing in advance that the famine was coming, she was able to secure a temporary home in Philistia ahead of the others who would flee Israel. This famine came because the Lord called for it, and He could command it because He is Lord of all. In these times of discipline and distress, if God’s people would pray and confess their sins, God would have delivered them (2 Chronicles 7:14). When people ignore God’s Word, the Lord may speak through His creation and remind them who is in charge.

God Controls Life and Death

The account of the miracles in the life of the Shunemite woman reveals the awesome power of God. She had no children, and her husband was now old, but as with Avraham and Sarai, the Lord gave them both new life and the woman conceived a son. But the son was struck with an illness and died, yet the Lord raised him from the dead thru Elisha. Famines remind us that God alone can make nature fruitful, and death reminds us that God alone gives life and has the power and authority to take it away.

God Providentially Controls the Events in Life

At the very moment, Geichazi was describing this wonderful resurrection miracle, the mother of the child walked into the throne room! She had returned home only to discover that strangers had taken over her estate and robbed her of seven years’ produce. In those days, it was common for people to bring such problems directly to the king and he would decide how property should be divided. The fact that Geichazi stood there as a witness to her ownership of the land made it easy for the king to pass judgment. Years before, when her son had died, little did the mother realize that one day that bitter experience would play an important part in the preservation of her property.

This happy episode in the king’s palace reveals to us the character of God and prepares us for the tumultuous events that follow. Nevertheless, the Lord was on His throne, judging sin and fulfilling His Word., No matter what occurs in history, God is in control. He knows all things and can do all things. He is present everywhere, working out His will. He is a holy God who is longsuffering with sinners but eventually judges those who disobey Him. Our world may be shaking, but our God can be trusted to do what is right.

In my next post, we continue to explore the life of Elisha. In this post, we explore the Wickedness of the Human Heart in 2 Kings 8:7-15.

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Elisha ~ Part 19

In my last post, we continued to explore the ministry of Elisha by looking at 2 Kings 6:24-33 where we learned that God Who Keeps His Covenant. In this post, we continue with 2 Kings 7:1-16 where we hear some Good News.

Recall in my last post, Elisha had instructed his servant to bare the door from King Yoram and his servant. Now, Elisha opens the door.

1 Elisha answered, ‘Listen to the word of Adonai. Here is what Adonai says: ‘Tomorrow, by this time, six quarts of fine flour will sell for only a shekel, and half a bushel of barley for a shekel [in the market] at the gate to Shomron.’’ 2 The servant on whose arm the king was leaning answered the man of God: ‘Why this couldn’t happen even if Adonai made windows in heaven!’ Elisha answered, ‘All right, you yourself will see it with your own eyes; but you won’t eat any of it!’

3 Now there were four men with tzara’at at the entrance to the city gate, and they said to each other, “Why should we sit here till we die? 4 If we say, ‘We’ll enter the city, then the city has been struck by the famine, so we’ll die there. And if we sit still here, we’ll also die. So, let’s go and surrender to the army of Aram; if they spare our lives, we will live; and if they kill us, we’ll only die.” 5 They got up during the twilight to go to the camp of Aram. But when they reached the outskirts of the camp of Aram, they saw no one! 6 For Adonai had caused the army of Aram to hear the sound of chariots and horses; it sounded like a huge army; and they said to each other, “The king of Isra’el must have hired the kings of the Hitti and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us.” 7 So they jumped up and fled in the twilight, leaving their tents, horses, donkeys and the whole camp just as it was, and ran for their lives. 8 When these men with tzara’at reached the outskirts of the camp, they entered one of the tents, ate and drank; then took some silver, gold, and clothing; and went and hid it. Next, they returned and entered another tent, took stuff from there, and went and hid it. 9 But finally, they said to each other, “What we are doing is wrong. At a time of good news like this, we shouldn’t keep it to ourselves. If we wait even till morning, we will earn only punishment; so come on, let’s go and tell the king’s household.” 10 So they came and shouted to the gatekeepers of the city and told them the news: “We went to the camp of Aram, and no one was there, no human voice — just the horses and donkeys tied up, and the tents left in place.” 11 The gatekeepers called and told it to the king’s household inside. 12 Then the king got up in the night; he said to his servants, “I’ll tell you what Aram has done to us. They know that we’re hungry, so they’ve gone outside the camp and hidden in the countryside, saying, ‘When they come out of the city, we’ll take them alive and then get inside the city.’” 13 One of his servants answered, “I suggest letting some men take five of the remaining horses that are left in the city — they’re like everything else in Isra’el that remains, like everything else in Isra’el, practically finished — and we’ll send and see.” 14 So they took two chariots with horses, and the king sent after the army of Aram, saying, “Go, and see.” 15 They went after them all the way to the Yarden and found the entire distance strewn with clothing and other articles Aram had thrown away in their haste. The messengers returned and told the king. 16 Then the people went out and ransacked the camp of Aram — with the result that six quarts of fine flour was sold for only a shekel and half a bushel of barley for a shekel, in keeping with what Adonai had said.” ~ 2 Kings 7:1-16 (CJB)

Good News from the Lord

How fortunate it was for the kingdom of Israel that they had Elisha the prophet living and ministering among them! Throughout Hebrew history, in times of crisis, the prophets had God’s message for God’s people, whether they obeyed it or not. King Yoram could turn to the priests of Ba’al, but they had nothing to say.

Yoram wants something to happen now; he would wait no longer. But Elisha opened his message with “tomorrow, by this time.” Food would once more be available, and the inflationary prices would fall drastically. The fine flour for the people and the barley for the animals would cost about twice as much as in normal times. This was a great relief from the prices the people had paid for unclean food (see my last post).

The king’s servant didn’t believe the words of the prophet and scoffed at what Elisha said. To the humble heart that’s open to God, the Word generates faith; but to the proud, self-centered heart, the Word makes the heart even harder. The same sun that melts the ice will harden the clay. The next morning, all the people in the city except this servant would awaken to life, but he would awaken to death.

Good News from the Enemy Camp

The scene now shifts to outside the locked gates of Shomron where four lepers lived in isolation. Nobody had told them about Elisha’s promise of food. They were discussing their precarious situation when they came to an insightful conclusion: if they stayed at the gate, they would die of hunger, but if they went to the enemy camp, they might receive some pity and some food. Even if the Aramian killed them, it was better to die quickly from a sword’s thrust than to die slowly from hunger. Lest they be observed from the city wall, they waited until twilight before going to the Aramian camp. Most of the camp would be resting, and the lepers would have to deal only with some of the guards.

But nobody was there! The Lord had caused them to hear a sound which they interpreted as the coming of a vast army, and they had left their camp as it was and fled twenty-five miles to the Yarden River, scattering their possessions as they ran. The four lepers did what any hungry men would have done: they ate to the full and then looted the tents for wealth, which they hid.

However, as night came on, they stopped to have another conference and assess the situation. Why should an entire city be starving, and mothers eating their children, while four dying men are selfishly enjoying the resources in the abandoned camp? Furthermore, when morning comes, the whole city will discover that the enemy has fled, and they’ll wonder why the men didn’t say something. When the truth comes out, the four men would be punished for keeping the good news to themselves.

The lepers gave guard at the gate the good news, and one of the officers took the message to the king. Once again revealing his unbelief and pessimism, Yoram said that the whole thing was a trick, that the enemy was hiding and only trying to draw the people out of the city so that they could move in. It wasn’t so much that he doubted the word of the lepers as that he rejected the word of Elisha. Had he believed the Word of the Lord, he would have accepted the good news from the lepers.

One of the officers had the good sense to reason with the king. The spies who were sent out to verify the leper’s story raced back to the city and shared the good news that the Aramian army was gone and their camp was waiting to be looted. It was indeed a day of good news as the people found food to eat and to sell back in the city, not to speak of valuable material goods that could be converted into cash. But the main lesson isn’t that God rescued His people when they didn’t deserve it, but that God fulfilled the promise He gave through His prophet Elisha.

If people don’t believe the Word of the Lord, they won’t be ready for His coming; but if we don’t give them the message, they can’t be ready for His coming. What will we say when we meet the Lord?

In my next post, we continue to explore the life of Elisha. In this post, we will pick up the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 8:1-6 were we learn three aspects of the Greatness of Our God.

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Elisha ~ Part 17

In my last post, we continued to explore the ministry of Elisha by looking at 2 Kings 6:1-7 where we learned that Elisha Restores a Student Ministry. In this post, we continue with 2 Kings 6:15-23 where we learn about the God Who Shows Mercy.

15 The servant of the man of God got up early in the morning; on going outside, he saw an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. His servant said to him, ‘Oh, my master, this is terrible! What are we going to do?’ 16 He answered, ‘Don’t be afraid — those who are with us outnumber those who are with them!’17 Elisha prayed, ‘Adonai, I ask you to open his eyes so that he can see.’ Then Adonai opened the young man’s eyes, and he saw: there before him, all around Elisha, the mountain was covered with horses and fiery chariots. 18 When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to Adonai, ‘Please strike these people blind’; and he struck them blind, as Elisha had asked. 19 Next, Elisha told them, ‘You’ve lost your way, and this isn’t even the right city. Follow me, and I’ll take you to the man you’re looking for.’ Then he led them to Shomron. 20 On their arrival in Shomron, Elisha said, ‘Adonai, open the eyes of these men so that they can see.’ Adonai opened their eyes, and they saw: there they were, in the middle of Shomron. 21 When the king of Isra’el saw them, he asked Elisha, ‘My father, should I attack them? Should I attack them?’ 22 He answered, ‘Don’t attack them! You wouldn’t even attack prisoners you had captured with your own sword and bow, would you? So, give them food to eat and water to drink, and let them return to their master.’ 23 So he provided well for them; and after they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away; and they returned to their master. After that, no more raiding parties entered the land of Isra’el from Aram.” ~ 2 Kings 6:15-23 (CJB)

Elisha didn’t trouble himself about the army; his first concern was for his frightened servant. If he were going to walk with Elisha and serve God, the young man would face many difficult and dangerous situations, and he had to learn to trust the Lord. We probably would have prayed that the Lord would give peace to the lad’s heart or calmness to his mind, but Elisha prayed for God to open his eyes. The servant was living by sight and not by faith and couldn’t see the vast angelic army of the Lord surrounding the city.

Faith enables us to see God’s invisible army and trust Him to give us the victory. “The angel of Adonai, who encamps around those who fear him, delivers them.” ~ Psalm 34:7 (CJB) The angels are servants to God’s people, and until we get to heaven, we will never fully know how much they have helped us.

The God Who Shows Mercy

Elisha didn’t ask the Lord to command the angelic army to destroy the king of Aram’s feeble troops. As with nations today, defeat only promotes retaliation, and the king would have sent another company of soldiers. God gave Elisha a much better plan. He had just prayed that the Lord would open his servant’s eyes, but now he prayed that God would cloud the eyes of the king’s soldiers. The soldiers weren’t made completely blind; otherwise, they couldn’t have followed Elisha, but their sight was clouded in such a way that they were able to see but not comprehend. They were under the delusion that they were being led to the house of Elisha, but Elisha was leading them to the city of Shamron!

When Elisha went out to meet the king’s troops, did he lie to them in verse 19? No, because he was no longer in the city of Dotan and was going to Shamron. The prophet was saving their lives, for if King Yoram had been in charge, he would have killed them (v. 21). Elisha did bring the troops to the man they wanted. When the army arrived at Shamron, the guards must have been shocked to see the prophet leading the troops, but they obediently opened the gates, and then God opened their eyes. Imagine their surprise when they found themselves at the heart of the capital city and the mercy of the Israelites.

The king graciously called Elisha“my father,” a term used by servants for their master, but later, we learn he wanted to take off Elisha’s head (vv. 32)! Like his wicked father, Achav, he could murder the innocent one day and then “walk softly” before the Lord the next day (1 Kings 21). As James declares, double-minded people are unstable (James 1:8).

Elisha’s reply took the matter entirely out of the king’s hands. KingYoram wanted to kill the Syrians, but Elisha “killed them with kindness.” By eating together, they made a covenant of peace, and the Syrian bands would no longer raid the borders of Israel.

Would this approach avert conflicts today? We must remember that Israel is a covenant nation and that the Lord fought their battles. No other nation can claim these privileges. But if kindness replaced long-standing and deeply rooted ethnic and religious differences among peoples, as well as national pride and international greed, there would no doubt be fewer wars and bombings, the same principle applies to ending divorce and abuse in families, riots and lootings in neighborhoods, uproars on campuses, and division and conflict in our communities. As Yeshua instructs us:

“How blessed are those who show mercy! for they will be shown mercy.”
~ Matthew 5:7 (CJB)

In my next post, we continue to explore the life of Elisha. In this post, we will pick up the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 6:24-33 where we see The God Who Keeps His Covenant.

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