July 14, 2015.
Daily Reading: II Kings 6-10.
Background: II Kings 1-5.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Signs and wonders: The majority of this chapter deals directly with signs and wonders that accompanied Elisha as he served as a prophet to Israel. The first sign was the recovery of a axe head that had flown off the end of the tool as one of the sons of the prophets was using it to fell a log. The sons of the prophets had went down to the Jordan to make a place to dwell, and this particular person had borrowed an axe and the head was in the water. Elisha threw a twig in the place where it had fallen and the axe head floated up to the water and was recovered.
The recovery of the axe head, however, was a minor sign in comparison to what Elisha was about to show his servant Gehazi. In what is perhaps one of the most awe inspiring scenes in the scriptures, Elisha (though the power of the Lord) teaches his servant and all who hear a great lesson about the omnipotence of God. The king of Syria had been warring with Isreal, but every time he came up with a plan to go or attack at a certain place, Israel was right there ready for them, like someone had been tipping the king off as to where the Syrians were going. When he tried to find the mole in his army, he was informed that it was Elisha, a mighty prophet in Israel, that was tipping off the king. Thus the king of Syria sends a great army to take just one man, Elisha. The army arrives, and Elisha’s servant is terrified (for good reason). When he asks Elisha what they are going to do, his response likely caught him by surprise: “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” This was as best hard to believe for Gehazi- there was a great army full of horses and chariots at his front door. But Elisha saw what Gehazi could not see, and he prayed to the Lord that he open his servant’s eyes, and what he saw must have been spectacular. When the Lord opened the eyes of Gehazi, he saw the mountains surrounding them filled with horses and chariots of fire- the Lord’s army. Those that were with them certainly, in every way, out numbered/matched the Syrian army. What a scene. Elisha then prayed and the Lord struck the army with blindness, and the prophet led them to Samaria where the king of Israel was. Interestingly enough, when the king asked Elisha if he should kill them, Elisha said no, but rather to feed them and send them back to their own land. They must have learned the power of God in that a great army could not take one prophet, for they did not come back on raids of Israel again. The same God that displayed this wonderful scene is the God we serve today, in all His glory and power. We should always remember that He is in control, and that those that are with Him are more than those who are not.
2. The siege of Samaria: After the above story, Israel gets hit with two difficult situations at once: there is a famine in the land and Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, comes up and sets siege against Samaria. This short section is the set up for the provision of God that we will see in the next chapter. Here we see just how bad things were in Samaria, as mothers were eating their own children to survive. When the king of Israel is overwhelmed at the despair of the land, notice that he sets blame on Elisha (though he has no reason to place this blame whatsoever) instead of considering that it could be for the evil that he had led Israel into (see II Kings 3:1-13). The famine was severe, prices were high due to scarcity and Samaria was facing one of the toughest times yet. Fortunately, the Lord was about to intervene.
God’s provision: As set up at the end of the previous chapter, Samaria (where the king of Israel was) was under siege from Syria, and there was a great famine in the land, so much so that prices for food soared. Here, we find Elisha telling the captain that the king had sent to him that the very next day, all the hardship would be over, and specifically the prices in Samaria would plummet, implying prosperity. The captain in no way believed that this would happen, even implying that it would be impossible for God to do such a thing if He opened up windows from heaven (see parallels in Malachi 3:6-12). For his disbelief and statement, Elisha said that he would see these things come about, but would not partake in them. The story continues that the Lord caused the Syrians to hear a great sound of horses and chariots, so much that they got scared that Israel had hired the Hittites and Egyptians to help them, and they retreated in great haste, leaving most of their things behind. Lepers first found out what had happened when they went out to meet the Syrians, and when it was told to the people of Samaria (and confirmed), the people went out and plundered the camp of the Syrians, taking all of the spoils that they had left in their haste to flee. The people thereby came into great wealth, and the prices plummeted to just what Elisha had spoke. The captain saw what happened, but before he could partake of the spoil, he was trampled at the gate as everyone rushed out, fulfilling the word of Elisha. It is amazing to see the provision of God in this chapter, reminding us of His omnipotence.
1. The Shunammite woman’s land and Hazael: The first half of this chapter tells two different stories, one of the Shunammite who’s son Elisha had raised, and the other of Hazael a servant of the king of Syria. In the first story, we find the king of Israel talking with Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, asking him to tell him all the wonders that Elisha had done. Just as Gehazi was telling the king about how Elisha had raised the Shunammite’s son, she walked into the presence of the king to ask for her land back, as she had departed after being warned by Elisha of the famine that was coming. The timing was perfect, as once the king found out that this was the woman who son had been raised by Elisha, he gladly restored her land. It was perhaps no coincidence at all that she walked in at this moment. In the second story, we read that Ben-Hadad, King of Syria, had fallen sick and he sent Hazael to Elisha to ask him whether or not he would recover. It’s interesting that he sent to Elisha, perhaps implying that he remembered the great work that Elisha had done when he struck the army that was sent to take Elisha with blindness (see Chapter 6). Elisha tells Hazael to tell the king of Syria that he will recover, but then he tells Hazel the Lord has told him that he will not recover. While it might seem like Elisha is telling Hazael to lie to the king, it is because of Hazael, not the king’s sickness, that he will not recover. The king might very well have recovered from the sickness if Hazael we’re not going to kill him. Elisha it Is deeply moved to tears in the presence of Hazel because the Lord shows him all the evil he will do to the people of Israel (see II Kings 10-13). He prophesies that Hazel will become king over Syria, which is precisely what happens after Hazael returns to Ben-Hadad and murders him.
2. Kings of Judah: The latter half of this chapter gives a record of the changes of kings in Judah. The first change comes in Judah as Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram becomes king in his place at the age of 32, And would rain for eight years. Jehoram did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, walking in all the ways of Ahab and even having the daughter of Ahab as his wife. It for the sake of David, the Lord is unwilling to cut off his lineage in the bloodline of the Kings. In his days Edom revolted against Israel and prevailed and this continued in their rebellion. Jehoram died and his son Ahaziah rain in his place. Ahaziah would only reign one year, and he too would do what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He and Joram the son of Ahab made war against Syria, and Joram was wounded and lay sick. Ahaziah then went to Joram to see him in Jezreel because his sickness.
Jehu: this chapter deals with the rise to power of Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi after he was anointed to be King of Israel by Elisha through one of the sons of the prophets. Jehu what is the commander of the army in Ramoth-gilead, the one that was sent to him spoke to him in private and anointed him king over Israel. Jehu was charged to strike down all of the House of Ahab and take vengeance on Jezebel for all of the evil they had committed (such as Jezebel’s murder of the prophets of the Lord, see I Kings 18) and how they had caused Israel to sin. Jehu would thus be filling the prophecies that were made against the house of Ahab and Jezebel (see I Kings 21:17-24). Jehu immediately took action and sounded the trumpet proclaiming that he was king in Israel. He quickly conspires against Joram who had returned to be healed in Jezreel. As Jehu was riding into just Jezreel, a watchman saw him and reported his coming to Joram. Joram sent out a messenger to Jehu asking if he came in peace, but Jehu told the messenger to turn aside. A second messenger was told to do the same, and by this time the watchman could tell it was Jehu by the way he drove the chariot. Joram and Ahaziah then mounted their own chariots to go out to meet Jehu, asking if it was peace, and Jehu killed them both. Then Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel painted her face and looked out the window, calling to Jehu asking if it was peace, though it seems like she knew he did not come in peace. Jehu called to whoever was on his side to throw Jezebel out the window, and two or three eunuchs did, and she hit the ground and the horses trampled her. Jehu then dismounts, goes in and eats a meal before thinking about doing anything with the body of Jezebel. By the time he tells them to bury her, all thats left is her skull, feet and hands, for the dogs had eaten her flesh just as Elijah had prophesied (see I Kings 21:23).
Jehu’s reign and reform: In this chapter we see the fulfillment of the word of the Lord through Elijah in that the house of Ahab is completely destroyed (see I Kings 21:17-28) by Jehu. Ahab had 70 sons living in Samaria and Jehu sent word to the rulers, elders and guardians of the city that he was coming and they should prepare to fight. They were afraid of Jehu because they had heard how he killed both the king of Israel and the king of Judah, and instead of fighting, they told Jehu that they would do whatever he said. He had them slaughter the sons of Ahab and then he killed off all the rest of the house of Ahab, his great men and his close friends and his priests. He then killed 42 of the relatives of Ahaziah who had come down to see the queen mother. Jehu was doing this in his “zeal for the Lord” as all of this had been prophesied, and he would indeed bring about religious reform in Israel, though not completely. He tricks the prophets and the worshipers of Baal to get them on one place and then has them slaughtered. That’s he rained in Israel, and removed Baal from the land, yet he did not bring about complete reform, still walking in the sins of Jeroboam, that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan (see I Kings 12:28-31). Though the Lord had granted to him that his sons to the fourth generation would sit on the throne, parts of his kingdom were given into the hands of Hazael, king of Syria because of the evil that he did not turn from.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 81-83.
The Lord is in control.