2 Kings 10 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+10
I think perhaps this phrase perfectly sums up Jehu’s dedication the Lord. He talks a big game while he is killing and slaughtering and making morbid public displays – that’s all stuff he likes to do. Jehu is clearly a blood man. He could talk about performing all the the Lord had promised and fulfilling His Word as long as it was that thing which he enjoyed. But that was the end of His obedience to the Lord.
The chapter before us shows to things in glaring contradiction – Jehu’s energetic dedication to the destruction of Ahab’s house and his total apathy towards restoring the true religion. He followed in the sins of Jeroboam – that is, he didn’t call the people back to the Lord but had them “worship the Lord” at the golden calves which Jeroboam had set up. Why would he do this? Either because he didn’t care, or more likely, because he like Jeroboam didn’t want his people leaving Israel to go to Jerusalem as they had been commanded and then move down there. It was self-interest. Either way, it is clear that while he spends tremendous energy killing Ahab’s house and the prophets of Baal, he spends nothing on teaching the true Word of God for forgiveness and salvation. Why? Because while he liked killing, he didn’t care about God. He didn’t have faith. And so he didn’t love God nor did he love the things God loved.
When you and I find ourselves only obeying God’s Word “as far as it suits me,” the answer is not just to do it anyway but first to receive Christ’s forgiveness for that sin and then to have a change of heart – to desire those things which God desires. The latter is only caused by the former. “We love Him because He first loved us.” Christ’s death and resurrection set us free from the penalty that our sins deserve (the same penalty that Ahab’s house received) and strengthen us to love all God’s Word – Psalm 119:97 – Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
2 Chronicles 22 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Chronicles%2022&version=ESV
We take a brief foray south now into the Kingdom of Judah. For the evil of Ahab’s house has spread there. You may remember that Jehoram had been king after Jehoshaphat and Jehoram was a terrible king. He did not walk in the ways of his fathers David and Jehoshaphat. He undid the good which Jehoshaphat had done. And the main reason was who he got into bed with. You’ve probably heard that phrase before in reference to a business deal with a shady character or making a “deal with the devil” and the like. With Jehoram, we are talking about who her married – the daughter of Ahab Athaliah. She would pervert Jehoram to her ungodly ways. Only it would be much worse than that, the destruction that this ungodly woman would bring to Judah and to David’s royal line was nearly entirely catastrophic. After Jehoram died, she essentially ruled through her son Ahaziah whom she perverted and manipulated and he killed all his brothers! Then when Ahaziah died, Athaliah thought she should be queen, so she killed every single member of the royal family of the house of David – her own family! But she missed one daughter and her child. Joash was whisked away, unknown to Athaliah and hidden.
See what destruction can come from choosing an ungodly spouse! This does not mean that it is a sin to marry someone who is an unbeliever. God can and certainly has changed hearts before and of course most unbelievers are not going to murder their family like Athaliah did. But it serves as a reminder to value godliness and faith as the most important characteristics in those we seek to entrust our lives and our children to. Perhaps one great question to ask is – if I have children with this person, would I want them to believe what he/she believes? What kind of an influence would he/she have on my faith? On my children’s?
Of course, no matter what happens – whether we make a decision for good reasons and it doesn’t turn out the way we expect, whether we make a decision for a bad reason, even if your spouse were to murder your whole family, God loves. God works all things for good. The most important aspect of this account is that little child of hope – Joash. He was rescued and kept safe. He would later blossom into a godly king. But far more importantly, in him the line of the savior was continued. Even in the most terrible situations, God is faithful. Because of Jesus, even for the greatest troubles and in the greatest sins, there is forgiveness and there is peace and there is hope because our God works wondrous blessings in all situations. Trust Him!
2 Kings 8:1-15 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+8%3A1-15&version=ESV
God is not a God of evil. He did not make it. He does not want it. He hates it. He weeps at it just as Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus and as Elisha wept at what Hazael would do. Many then ask why he doesn’t just stop it? He could, it would mean the destruction of all things – including you because you too are evil in your sinful nature. We all have evil inside. God, in His mercy instead planned to save us, to forgive our sins and to destroy all evil on the last day. That means that in the meantime, He allows evil as He would through Hazael. But He does so only to work good things. Good things, peaceful things, things to correct, instruct, rebuke, relieve and comfort – those are the things that God is always doing. And as if just to remind us of that, the Holy Spirit includes in the first half of this chapter a reminder of the resurrection: Elisha raised the shunamite woman’s son because that is the kind of God our God is. He who died and rose again will raise you too on the last day. He will take you to glory where the evil will be gone and there will be no more weeping or sorrow. He will do this because He, rather than destroying you and all things for your sin, has forgiven you. That’s the kind of God our God is. He allows evil because He is loving and patient and forgiving.
2 Kings 7 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Kings%207&version=ESV
Despite all that Israel and it’s king had done to God, despite the blame that they had laid at His feet for their sins, He chose to deliver them from the hand of the Syrians and from the terrible famine they faced. He did so in an incredible, nearly unbelievable way. In fact, it was apparently unbelievable to the King of Israel and his messenger. The messenger’s response when he heard was basically “Not even God could do that!” And the King’s extreme caution when hearing that the camp of the Syrians was abandoned shows that he too did not believe the word of the Lord. Why? God’s Word had always come to pass before and this word was a great promise of deliverance – yet they were so slow to believe – that’s unbelief for you. Martin Luther said that believing the promises of good news that Christ makes to us is the hardest thing for we sinners to do. And he was right. In fact, it’s impossible for us to do. Only Christ can give us that faith. Otherwise it’s a complete mystery to us (1 Corinthians 2:7-9).
But this account warns reminds us of the urgency to believe in Christ, to turn to His Word and believe it. The man who didn’t – the king’s messenger found out that a “wait-and-see” approach to God’s Word won’t work. By the next day it was too late – he saw the deliverance that God brought but he himself did not enjoy it, he was trampled to death. So it will be for any who take a “wait-and-see” approach to God’s promises on the last day. God’s promise is offered to you now. Full and wonderful forgiveness is given to you in Jesus Christ. Believe this and you will live. If you do not, if you reject, if you scorn it, or even if you simply wait to see – you may find yourself seeing God’s great deliverance, seeing Him taking the saints with Him to eternal bliss and you cast into the outer darkness. As the hymn says “Delay not, delay not, 0 sinner, to come, For mercy still lingers and calls thee today. Her voice is not heard in the vale of the tomb; Her message, unheeded, will soon pass away.” Link to that hymn is here: http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh278.htm
2 Kings 6:24-33 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+6%3A24-33&version=ESV
Those have to be some of the most sickening words in all of scripture. That a mother would boil her baby to eat it to survive a famine is something so horrifying…it’s beyond words. Imagine that was you and your child. What could possess someone to do something so heinous? That was a question which the king of Israel didn’t sufficiently ponder. He was outraged and disgusted by what happened but he blamed God and God’s prophet Elisha! He claimed it was God’s fault for allowing such a famine to happen. As kids say – when you point the finger at someone else, three fingers are pointing back at you!
The king showed his unbelief here. He put the blame in the wrong place. He should have blamed many things – his own sinful, unbelieving heart, continually rejecting a God who was so patient with him; the horrible selfish disgusting actions of those women; the terrible, destructive malice of the Syrians. All these, the sins of man, were properly to blame. But God? God is never to blame for the evils that men do. He may allow them but that does not mean He approves and the only way for Him to stop such evil altogether would be to destroy this whole sinful, blame-worthy world. No, God is not to blame for our sins or their consequences.
Nevertheless, he did take the blame. That’s what Jesus was doing on the cross. He paid the penalty deserved for all sins – for a mother who ate her baby, for a king who rebelled against God, for the murdering Syrians. He paid the price for you no matter what you have done. He did it willingly and lovingly because He didn’t want to destroy the world. He wanted to recreate it – a new heavens and a new earth for you to live in in righteousness and holiness. People in this world including us at times will continue to blame God for the way things are. They will continue to say “Why God? Why would you allow this?” But that’s the wrong question. The right question is “Why God? How could you be so loving, so gracious as to take my place, to take my blame? Why did I ever do to deserve it?” The answer is nothing. The answer is love. Place the blame for sin and death where it belongs – on mankind. Place the credit for God’s love where it belongs – on Jesus and praise Him for it. Thanks to Him, you have forever to do just that.
Hymn – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aowdjLeaCYs
2 Kings 6:8-23 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+6%3A8-23&version=ESV
Usually numbers win out. In a war, it’s usually the side with more soldiers, more weapons, more money that wins. The civil war is a good example of that. The Union certainly didn’t have the better generals…they still won. It’s the same in baseball. That’s why everyone hates the Yankees (and now the Dodgers). They get the best free agents because they have the most money!
This might seem like a depressing thought for the Christian. If we were to look around us and count up all those who are with us verse those who are against us, what would we find? Even if we were to include all nominal Christians, we would still be woefully outnumbered. And you can’t even include all nominal Christians for many Christians are teaching things directly contrary to the Sciptures. Whether they mean to be or not, such are attacking Jesus’ Word and pose a danger to your faith. Then there are those who openly attack the gospel message – humanists, atheists, idolators – they may not be trying to harm you physically but their words are deadly to your soul. Then there is Satan and all his evil angels. Then there is the enemy on the inside – your own sinful nature.
With all these enemies surrounding us, what chance do we have? They have the numbers, they have the resources, they seem to be winning. But those who are with us are more than those who are with them. Even if we can’t see it, God never leaves us alone. Whatever is happening around us, whatever enemies we face, the Lord of Armies is our God and His angelic hosts surround us. That means that nothing happens to us that God does not allow. And if God has allowed it then we know that it is for our eternal well-being. He proved that when He who had the power to call 12 legions of angels down from the skies to reign fiery destruction on those who were falsely accusing and abusing him…didn’t. He suffered alone, enemies everywhere – every man turned against Him and even God attacking Him, punishing Him for all the sinners’ sins – for yours and mine. Seeing that, let our eyes be opened to see that He is with us because He has forgiven us. He will not leave us to the wolves. In Jesus, those who are with us are more than those who are with them.
2 Kings 6:1-7 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+6%3A1-7&version=ESV
Ah, the good old days! When all you had to do to make a new building was borrow a few axes, cut down a few trees and stack them together! I suppose those were also the days of no electricity…no bathrooms…no air conditioning!
Things were certainly easier but there is something important to be learned here. These sons of the prophets recognized a need that they had – their building was too small! It was a practical need but a need nonetheless. They developed a plan to build. They brought it to Elisha and he gave his blessing. The “tragedy” that befell the man who lost the axe-head was obviously a pretty minor one. Things go wrong all the time in building projects. But the man was upset because he had borrowed the axe and did not want to lose it! Elisha, by God’s power and grace helped.
And so we He will help us. We too at Living Hope have determined a need – our building is too small! We are right now in the process of determining how best to address this. Let us trust that once we have considered and prayed and decided, God will bless us. We don’t know how that will be but we know that He will. He cared enough about a small thing like returning a borrowed axe and we know he cares about us and all we do in service to Him for He died for us and has called us to use our time, our talents, our resources to spread that news to all – He cares and He will bless. So, with renewed energy, let’s do the work He has given us to do and trust Him to bless it!
2 Kings 5:15-27 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+5%3A15-27&version=ESV
Being single-minded is usually a good thing. Focusing all your energy, all your work, all your thinking capacity on one thing can yield wonderful results. However, single-mindedness in itself is a neutral thing. It is only good if it is applied to a good goal. When applied to what is not good, it shows what a great capacity man has for evil.
What Gehazi did in our text, may not be considered evil by most. Wrong, yes. Deceitful and greedy, yes. But not evil. However, as Paul reminds us “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Such was the case for Gehazi. He was single-minded in a bad way – that’s what greed is, when we focus all our considerable, God given energies on getting more for me. When we do that, we have a very considerable ability to hurt others and destroy ourselves.
But Christ is His mercy has forgiven our greed by His own single-mindedness. He came to earth with one purpose and focused all His powers and will, both divine and human, on going to calvary to pay for the sins of the world. And this, His love, gives birth to our own. His love can give us a better kind of single-mindedness – that shown by Elisha and Naaman. While Gehazi was drooling over this world’s goods, they were seeking first the kingdom of God. Let this be our single-minded pursuit every day and when we get distracted by greed, may Christ’s warning law and forgiving love bring us back.
2 Kings 5:6-14 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+5%3A6-14&version=ESV
900 years. Not for about 900 years after the events of this chapter, would John the Baptist come into the wilderness of Judea proclaiming the Kingdom of God and baptizing people “for the remission of sins.” What Elisha does to Naaman is not Baptism but there are some striking similarities.
Naaman was dirty, so to speak – he was sick. Leprosy was a terrible wasting sickness that claimed the lives of many people. There was no cure. Naaman’s prognosis was bleak. We too are dirty, covered by a terrible wasting sickness – sin, those selfish, foolish things that you and I do every day. Those are not just mistakes. They are sins. Since which lead, inevitably, to death. There is no cure in this world. There is nothing that you can do. It will certainly result in eternal death.
But God has a cure. Elisha told Naaman to wash in the Jordan. Naaman was offended. It seemed like a foolish request. Why didn’t he just speak the word and heal Naaman? Couldn’t God have done that? Obviously he could have. He didn’t. And it wasn’t the water itself that healed Naaman’s leprosy, it was the promise of God in the water.
The same is true of Baptism. Paul calls baptism a “washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” Peter says “Baptism now saves you…it saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Romans tells us that we were “buried with Christ through baptism into death.” And Jesus says in Matthew 28 that the church should make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them. God’s promise is clear. In the waters of baptism, the remission of sins in Christ’s blood is given. Do we find this offensive? Like Naaman, do we suppose that God is above such earthly means? Do we doubt because it looks so…normal. It’s just water. How can water do such great things? Remember Martin Luther’s explanation here: “The water doesn’t actually do anything by itself. The power is in God’s Word, which is in and with the water, and in faith which trusts this Word of God in the water. Without the Word of God it is just plain water, and there is no baptism. But with the Word of God it really is a baptism; that is, a gracious water of life and washing of rebirth through the Holy Spirit.”
After 900 years, after 2900 years, God doesn’t really do things any differently. His powerful word is given to us in humble ways just as it was to Naaman. Yet it accomplishes wonderful things. We are given life, forgiveness and healing in Jesus’ name. Baptism doesn’t cure leprosy, it does something much greater, it cures sin by bringing us Jesus’ own righteousness and forgiveness. It is a great word that has been spoken to us.
2 Kings 5:1-5 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+5%3A1-5&version=ESV
Imagine if it were you, when you were a child – taken away from your family who were probably killed, sold as a slave in a foreign land to a people with a foreign god. You are helpless and alone. How many revenge movies have you seen that start this way? The child grows up and fights and overthrows the captors bringing sweet recompense.
That’s not this story. A little girl, taken away from home and country takes a very different, much harder road – she clearly forgives and loves her master. She hears that he is sick and knows how to help him – she tells him about the true God and His true prophet Elisha. She, though a slave, though so small, does a big thing, the biggest of things, the most loving thing she could do. Where does that come from? Where does one get such a big love? Only Jesus. Only His love. A love wider, higher and deeper than all things, a love which forgives us and speaks to us words of eternal life. That love was in this little girl’s heart. There’s nothing small about that love.
So what about you? Do you feel to small to do big things? Do you feel like taking revenge on those who have wronged you? Do you want to rise up and make yourself large and your enemies small. Do something harder, do something larger – forgive, love and tell the love of Jesus. Tell them about the true God and His True Word. There’s nothing bigger than that.