2 Kings 11-17; I have included a number of chapters together. Most of the reading over the last couple of weeks seemed to get boring if not redundant. King and king is described with how he took the throne, and how he was removed from the throne. The kings we read about are from Aram, Assyria, Judah and Israel. Out of my own curiosity I search to see if there was a single document that listed all the kings – yes there is – Google The kings of Israel & Judah and you will get a nice colorized version of all the kings during the united and divided kingdoms. This period of time in bible history is very depressing. Kings would come to power in Israel [northern kingdom] through coup de tat or through relatives killing the off. Of the 19 kingdoms in the North – all did evil, the only exception was Jehu, who was considered mixed. The Northern ten tribes are whisked off the pages of history with the fall of Samaria in 722 BC. I found it quite interesting how Israel and Judah tried to buy their security with the very enemy that would destroy them, and in Judah’s case, the buying cost came from the riches of the Temple that Solomon built. Two historical figures from world history are identified – Tiglath-pileser of Assyria and Shalmanesar also king of Assyria. These two kings from Damascus were used by God to punish the idolatry and wickedness that reigned in Israel. I kept reading the same sentence over and over in regards to the evil Israelite kings – “He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat; which he made Israel sin.” All I could think of was how shameful the name and legacy of Jeroboam was to be identified with the continual sin of Israel for 19 generations!
Judah was somewhat better, but Judah doesn’t get a free pass. Judah had their evil kings too. Twelve of Nineteen did evil in the sight of the LORD. Two long reigning kings Asa and Uzziah were the longest “good kings.” If we go back to the united kingdoms we find that Saul did evil, and Solomon did right in his youth, but evil in his old age.
When I think of all the despots and tyrants that have ruled the earth in the last few hundred years, I wonder how our God in heaven has been able to tolerate we – His creation?! The times of the kings indicates how absolute corruption is the default condition for most earthly kings. I’m reminded the Jesus said – “My kingdom is not of this world.” Even when there were good kings, there was always one BUT. . . they did not tear down the high places, and people offered incense on the high places. This tells me that there were “reforms” but not repentance. We find that King Josiah a good king, did a great work in trying to restore Judah back to the Father. However, it was seen as Josiah reforms, not the people, for as soon as he departs history, four evil kings follow.
I think back at our own day and time – we ask the question whether a president is a good one or a bad one? We have to be careful with this because we do have deconstructionists that are trying to rewrite history to their liking. Time has to pass of sufficient length for that to be known. Our deconstructionists friends have brought great dispute on what many of us have been taught throughout our lives. Anyway! Scripture tells us that there is no power given except that which is given by God. A thought I had when reading about all the evil in high places; what about the people that lived during the time of an evil king? Now I know back then most of the people were far enough removed, that who was in power didn’t affect their lives. Let’s ask that question of today? Are w living in good government or bad? The question has an answer besides yes or no – God knows! He is in control, therefore we are admonished to be in subjection to all authority over us. Kings and Presidents will give an account for their power given them to rule; we will give account for our obedience.
Kings and Queens concepts that as Americans we miss – We have a King in Jesus Christ – He has absolute power to rule, it has been given to Him [Matthew 28:18-20], yet how many of us subjects of His divine kingdom, give him the just due respect and obedience? We are subjects of an eternal kingdom; we must not let ourselves be taken in by the here and now kingdoms. Be found faithful in honoring and obeying laws of the Land and the Law of Truth in our hearts.
2 Kings 3-7; we have all probably heard the song “These are the days of Elijah” on Christian radio; but this blog will reflect on the days of Elisha, the successor to Elijah. Elisha followed Elijah around to various places including Bethel and Jordan before being taken up in a whirlwind and as we all know the Chariots of fire. Elijah was a renown prophet, famous for being caught away by the Spirit just when people thought they had captured him. Elisha followed Elijah in a very strange exchange from one prophet to another. While reading the story it seemed as if Elijah could care less about Elisha. We know that Elijah has a second person like unto him – John the Baptist, who was prophesied in Malachi 4. Elijah tells Elisha only if he is present and catches the mantle/coat of Elijah as he is taken up will he receive his request of getting a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. As the story goes, Elisha does catch the mantle and is ushered in as the prophet heir-apparent during this very volatile time in Judah/Israel history.
What follows in our reading is miracle after miracle from the hands of Elisha. I wondered why we don’t celebrate miracles more often? Could it be that we are not looking for them? Or worse yet we really don’t believe that God still does miracles; so we don’t “pray through” for them? In our current skeptical and charlatan days where people fake miracles to draw a crowd or to take advantage of naïve desperate people in their malady’s; few see healings as miracles.
Faith healers have given a bad testimony to the work of the Lord Jesus and the faith expressed by praying saints. In our day of science and modern medicine, and I guess we could include the ever-increasing “essential oils” movement – people attribute healings or cures “other than God.” Jesus spoke truth to people, but they clamored inside packed houses and even tore roofs off houses to get a chance at being healed. Jesus told his skeptics that “if they didn’t believe His words, believe the works that He did” as testimony that He was the Son of God, doing the work of God.
In the stories recounted for us in our readings this week, they are desperate situations; yet they are not without similar stories in the Old and New Testament elsewhere. The Widow’s oil miracle in 2 Kings 4- resonates with Jesus feeding of the 5,000 and the miracle with Elijah and the widow of Zarephath oil and meal being replenished. Even the story of the Shunamite woman becoming pregnant reminds us of Hannah and Samuel and Elizabeth and John the Baptist. Elisha continues miracles with the Shunamite woman when her son dies and is brought back to life. Three people were raised from the dead by Jesus, and Paul revived a boy who fell out of the balcony while he was preaching. Elisha and the healing of the leper Naaman by dipping in the river Jordan, speaks of the mud and blind man Jesus heals. Over and over in the scripture we have story after story of how people were healed or delivered from a crisis by the work and word of God.
The greatest work of miracles is the salvation of people by the “faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior’s work at Calvary.” Can a leopard’s spots be changed? Yes, a thousand times yes. Can a sinner’s past sins and reprobate mind be transformed – absolutely. Now I know that God doesn’t heal everyone, in the bible and in our day. What determines if a person gets healed or not? Not up to me – I have no answer for that – way above my pay grade. Yet I cringe at pastors and other believers who condemn people because healing didn’t occur. The indictment for those not healed is explained away by “you just didn’t have enough faith.” Nothing could be more asinine that to tell someone who in their despair. DO I believe miracles happen today? Yes, sure do, but I think the miracles are missed because we can explain them away. Does a miracle have to be something that is only explainable by God’s doing – probably. But doesn’t God work in the world we live?
Elisha was used to show forth the glory of God through countless miracles – even the floating axe head that was borrowed. The vision/miracle in 2 Kings 6 with the King of Aram coming against Israel, and the fearful servant asks “what shall we do?” Elisha says “Oh Lord I pray open his eyes that he may see!” Opening the eyes of the servant – he saw the Mighty army of God – I challenge all of us to open our eyes and see that our salvation draweth nigh!