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God Gets All the Glory

May 3, 2017

Come with me as we venture into the past. No, really, ‘cuz this all starts there.

Eleven years ago, I was 5 months pregnant with our oldest son, and we were looking at houses to buy. We wanted to be somewhere we could build equity instead of just paying someone else, and we also wanted stability. Someplace that was ours.

Problem.

We didn’t have a ton of money. Not much in fact. So, as we looked, many of the houses that we looked at were either in sketchy neighborhoods (not a good thing when you are expecting a child), were deteriorating and needed a lot of work, or were just too expensive. So, we broadened our search and found…a condo.

A lovely condo, on the second floor of the building, apartment style. Still not a huge amount of space, but it was ours. And it was safe. And we could build equity. But there was a lurking thought, even as we moved in, that said “This may be difficult to sell when we are ready…condos aren’t super popular…” Still, we put those thoughts aside, trusting that God would help  us deal with that when we needed to deal with that.

We bought the condo, welcomed our first child, then our second child…and 4 months after our second child was born, the “big one” hit. The flood of 2008 hit Cedar Rapids with a vengeance. At that point, we realized something. All the homes that we had looked at? Were destroyed by the flood. All of them. They were now either gone or had to be gutted to be livable again. And, if we had chosen not to buy the condo and to buy any of those other homes, we would have had two children under the age of two and been trying to figure out how to fix a ruined home. God had protected us from buying a home that might have seemed easier to re-sell, and provided a safe, dry place for us. We couldn’t have seen that flood coming; no one did. We couldn’t have predicted that those houses would all be impacted. Yet, here we were, sitting high and dry in our condo on the top of one of the biggest hills in town. Literally.

We have been so blessed living here. Having the pool here, having space for the boys outside to run and play, and, best of all, the amazing people who I’m delighted to call “Friends” as well as neighbors who have been with us watching our boys grow up. Truly, this has been far more than “the place we live”. This is home.

Well, last year, the condo started feeling small. With two growing boys and 948 square feet, that’s no wonder! So, we had been saving up to do some things to the condo. Paint the majority of the house. (Only the bedrooms are not painted as I write this.) Replace 3/4 of the carpet. Remodel the bathroom. New light fixtures and faucet. That kind of thing. We have budgeted carefully so that we could deal with all of this without killing ourselves or our budget. Starting in March, I’ve been packing up the house a piece at a time, and currently the garage is almost filled with boxes. Our goal: put the house on the market the first week in May. That’s this week. We had a goal, we were pacing ourselves, we were moving forward, stewarding what we had to be able to have an up to date, well cared for home for someone else, and so that we could look at a larger home.

But. God.

We have been anxious. The truth is, we know we have to sell before we could buy. We can’t have two mortgages; it simply won’t happen. So, we have been praying for a buyer to come, and, all along the way there have been moments to give us pause and moments to encourage us. One unit in our complex struggling for months to find a buyer…then another one sells in a week. A moment’s terror at finances as unexpected expenses loomed…and then God stepped in and provided, truly providentially, for those needs. Discouragement followed by random encouragement from strangers. All leading up to us listing our house.

But. God.

Ten days ago, while outside, one of our neighbors asked if we were still planning to sell. Husband said yes. The  neighbor had a friend who might be interested. Husband encouraged the neighbor to give the friend our information, with the warning that we weren’t quite ready to sell…we still needed to do the final bit on the kitchen. Monday of last week, I spent the day on the ladder in the kitchen, painting. Vaulted ceilings, again. Oy. I had to borrow an 8 ft ladder from our hero of every day life to finish the final corner of the kitchen. That evening, we got a phone call. From our neighbor’s friend. She wanted to know if she could see the condo. We agreed, with the understanding that we weren’t actually done getting it ready to sell. After all, I still had paint in my fingernails, and the faucet hadn’t been fixed! She wanted to come anyway, was very gracious understanding we do live here and have offspring, and came to view the condo. She loved it. She wanted to make an offer.

At this point, we hadn’t looked at houses for us yet. We had to sell first, and so, while we had browsed some online, things around here were going so quickly, we were really just getting a feel for what is out there right now. So, knowing that she wanted to make an offer, we decided to go to some open houses this past weekend. And we found two houses that were decidedly options…but one house just outshone the others. And it is also for sale by owner, so no realtor needed. We were amazed it was still on the market; but then, we weren’t amazed because, you see, we knew Who had orchestrated all of this. It wasn’t us. It was God.

Last night, the potential buyer for our condo came back through to check the place out again. This morning, we received her offer. Our condo is sold. Done. We never had to put it on the market. I, a homeschooling mom, didn’t have to keep making the children clean up so that we could show it. Done. And, our buyer can delay the closing if we need her to, because she had already arranged to live with a friend if she had to until she could find a place, so the timing is…perfect. Things I didn’t even think to worry about, and voila! God had already dealt with it.

Last night, we walked thru the house we want to buy. Today we are putting an offer on that house. If all goes well, we will be moving mid June to the house we want and our home? I never even had to list it! God is SO GOOD!

  

Friends, as you read this? Give all praise and glory to God. There is simply no way we can take credit for this. For any of it. God brought us to this home in the right time. His time. God protected us, at that point, from dangers and trials we didn’t even know were possible…but He did. God blessed us and helped us to thrive in this small space, being content and happy until the time was right for us to move forward. God helped us budget and use the best deals we could to do the work on our condo. Yes, we did obey what Scripture teaches in caring for what we have been given, stewarding the resources He has given us, and trusting in Him and His provision, being content…in all circumstances. (All 948 sq feet of them.) But, at the end of the day? We didn’t do this. We didn’t bring the buyer; God did. We didn’t put the house up for sale and keep it up there as long as it has been…God did. We didn’t struggle finding a buyer who could work with us on a closing date…God brought that. All in one person. No realty fees. On either side. We all benefit from this, and, truly, I’m not sure how much more perfectly it could have worked out! Moving now, in the late spring/summer? That means we are moved and done before school starts in the fall. We have all summer to unpack and get things put where we want them.

I’ve said this before, and I’m gonna say it again. God is in the details. He is. He knew all the things that had to happen for us to sell and then to buy. He brought it all together, in His perfect time. Because that is who He is. He is God. There is no other. And I’m still in shock over this whole process. I know how rare and unusual this is, and I’m so thankful. God is so good, my friends. Why would I try to do any of this on my own, when I can see His faithfulness in this?

But yanno what? As I’ve talked with some precious friends about this over the past 10 days, one thing has kept coming up…especially in those discouraging moments. For those who love God and are called according to His purpose? He is, truly, working everything for our best and for His glory. If that meant that we didn’t sell and stayed here another year? Then that would be God’s best for us. And, while we would be disappointed, and it might be hard at first, I will still praise God for His faithfulness and provision, even if selling a house is hard and wearying. Even still. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord. I mean that. Even as I’m rejoicing at the way God has orchestrated all of this, I know He is trustworthy even if it all fell apart today. For those who are truly His? Everything in our lives is for His glory and for our good. Even the hurtful stuff. There is no such thing as “meaningless suffering” for a true believer. All of it is for our sanctification and for His glory, and He alone is worthy of that glory. PRAISE GOD with me today, friends!!

What a mighty God we serve!!

SDG

Beth

Daily Dose of Truth July 5, 2016

Good morning! We were able to enjoy a lovely cookout with some friends last night, followed by being the meal for some hungry mosquitos while we attempted to watch the fireworks from our hill. Let’s just say we didn’t endure it well last night, and we weren’t sad to come home and get antihistimines for all the bites on our children. Oy. But, today, we’re back in the pool for the morning…and afternoon…and evening…so, without further ado, today’s DDT:

2 Kings 9:30-37

When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it. And she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out of the window. 31 And as Jehu entered the gate, she said, “Is it peace, you Zimri, murderer of your master?” 32 And he lifted up his face to the window and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked out at him. 33 He said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down. And some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her.34 Then he went in and ate and drank. And he said, “See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king's daughter.” 35 But when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. 36 When they came back and told him, he said, “This is the word of the Lord, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the Tishbite: ‘In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel, 37 and the corpse of Jezebel shall be as dung on the face of the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no one can say, This is Jezebel.’”

So, yesterday we saw Jehu kill off two of Ahab’s descendants, Joram his son and Ahaziah his grandson, kings of Israel and Judah respectively. All this occurred in Jezreel, where Joram was resting after his injury and Ahaziah was visiting his uncle. So, when Jehu came to Jezreel, this wasn’t a secret, and we see that Jezebel heard of it. She prepares herself to meet him, but the meeting she has planned isn’t the one that will happen. She got dressed up, painted her eyes and adorned her head, and then begins this conversation out the window…and we begin to wonder of Jezebel is a bit senile as she calls him “Zimri” instead of “Jehu.”

Remember Zimri? He didn’t get to be king very long. Zimri was used, by God, to destroy one of the evil kings of Israel. So, quick reminder. The kings of Israel were a mess. They were always killing each other off, mostly because each one was more evil than the one before. So, Jeroboam was the first king of Israel, and God destroys his line because of his evil, and he does so through a man named Baasha. Baasha plotted against Jeroboam’s son and killed him and took the throne, and then Baasha killed all the rest of Jeroboam’s line. Well, Baasha wasn’t a step up. He reigned and did evil in God’s sight, and then died and his son, Elah, takes the throne. Elah only lasts two years before his servant, commander of his army, Zimri, plots against him, kills Elah and takes the throne. But Zimri wasn’t much of a leader, to be honest, and he only lasts 7 days before Omri kills Zimri and takes over. And who was Omri’s son? Ahab. So, now we sorta see how this all comes full circle.

So, when Jezebel calls him “Zimri” this isn’t a “senior moment” on her part; she is referencing the past usurper who took control right before Ahab’s powerful line came to power in his father, and she is basically saying to Jehu “You’re gonna be like Zimri; you won’t last long either and my family is more powerful than you are.” She’s wrong, of course; God has sent Jehu on this job, but still, that’s the implication behind her calling him Zimri.

Of course, calling him a murderer is rather hypocritical of her, too. Seriously, how many people has she murdered?? But, I digress.

Jehu doesn’t even respond to her comments. He just looks up and asks a question to those he knows are listening from inside. “Who is with me?” See, that’s the thing about ruling by fear and being a totalitarian dictator; no one is actually on your side. Everyone knows that they could be next on the chopping block; totalitarian leaders have no sense of loyalty to their people, and are simply out for themselves. If the whim fits, despite your loyal service to that dictator? You could easily be killed for any reason.

So, when he asks this question, what happens? Two or three eunuchs (this word could mean men who were employed as guards and attendants of the royal harem or officials who served in the royal court) from inside the house look down at him. Jehu addresses his comments to them, not to Jezebel. He doesn’t even talk to her, which, for a dowager queen, was a pretty disrespectful thing for him to do. So, he calls out to these men and says “throw her on down” and guess what? They do it. No question, no apparent hesitation; they just pitch her out the window. And when she falls, it is a big ol’ mess, and gets the poor horses messy too. The men on horseback trample what is left of her, and then? Before they deal with her remains? Jehu goes inside to have a meal.

Now, Jehu hadn’t forgotten about Jezebel’s body. He was planning to bury her, but, well, she wasn’t going anywhere and this had been a long day for Jehu. When he goes back out to bury her remains? There’s really nothing left. It is interesting, too, that Jehu never refers to Jezebel as the queen; he refers to her by name and calls her “daughter of a king” (Ethbaal, the Sidonian king, to be exact), but never as the queen of Israel. She is, to him, simply the daughter of a foreign king and has no authority over him. As God foretold through Elijah, Jezebel has been food for the dogs. The men take what they have left of her and fling it on a dung heap, thus no one can find her tomb. There will be no place to go and pay homage to Jezebel; she will be a curse and a stench in the people’s nostrils…literally. That was the cursed end for the queen of Israel who spent her time in open, hard hearted defiance of the true and living God.

If you’re like me, the end of Jezebel has some satisfaction to it. She was, to put it simply, evil, and, really, I can’t think of any redeemable qualities about her. Yet…I know what her eternity is like. I know that she is in hell and will never escape hell, and that’s sobering. I do not question the judgment God delivered to Jezebel; He is God, vengeance is His, and He repaid, in this life and in the one to come. God is perfectly holy, wise, good, and just and His decrees are too. Knowing her eternal fate, though, that there is no chance for her redemption (and, indeed, she had absolutely no desire to be redeemed; she wanted nothing to do with God) should be enough to give us all pause. Hell is real, and it is eternal.

God decreed Jezebel’s fate, from her gruesome death and following dismemberment by the dogs to her eternal punishment for her rebellion against Him. She knew this was coming and still thought she was untouchable. I can only imagine her shock when her own guards pitched her out the window. Still, here’s the thing I can’t help but see: God has warned us that the day of judgment is coming, too. We’ve been “given notice” to repent because we aren’t promised even another day. We’ve been warned that we will all stand before God to give an account of our lives, and if we aren’t covered with Christ’s blood, there is absolutely nothing we can do to get ourselves into heaven. Friends, if you haven’t called on Him to save you, if you are still relying on your own good works and thinking you are “good enough” to get into heaven, I ask that you would examine yourselves today. We need to be sharing the warning we have been given with the world, along with the promise of salvation that we know we have in our Savior. There is only one path to God, and if we know that way and don’t share it, how reprehensible of us to withhold knowledge of eternal life with God from those around us!

Today, as we ponder Jezebel’s fate and the judgment that she was under, don’t forget that, while there is nothing we can do about Jezebel, there are people we know who need to be warned about the path they are on, because it only leads to destruction. May we heed that warning, knowing that our God is good…and He is just. Justice will be served, and your sins must be paid for. Either you will pay for them yourself, or you will cast yourself upon His mercy to have your sins paid for by His Son, upon the cross. Only the righteous get to be in heaven, and the only righteousness we have is that which was imputed (credit to our account) to us by Christ on the cross. Our sin was imputed to Him, and His righteousness to us, but only if we have surrendered our lives to Him. Thank God for providing what you couldn’t provide in your salvation, and share that gift with others today. May we be vigilant to share the good news to those who are perishing in these days, as the days grow darker and the time grows shorter.

Have a good day, folks!

Blessings-

Beth

 

Daily Dose of Truth June 27, 2016

Good morning! It’s Monday, and I’m up for air (for the moment) and sitting down for a short time with my Bible and my laptop. The next 5 weeks are full swing swim world, so just bear with me as I endeavor to survive the water world that is mine.

Today’s DDT:

2 Kings 9:14-29

Thus Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. (Now Joram with all Israel had been on guard at Ramoth-gilead against Hazael king of Syria, 15 but King Joram had returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds that the Syrians had given him, when he fought with Hazael king of Syria.) So Jehu said, “If this is your decision, then let no one slip out of the city to go and tell the news in Jezreel.” 16 Then Jehu mounted his chariot and went to Jezreel, for Joram lay there. And Ahaziah king of Judah had come down to visit Joram.

17 Now the watchman was standing on the tower in Jezreel, and he saw the company of Jehu as he came and said, “I see a company.” And Joram said, “Take a horseman and send to meet them, and let him say, ‘Is it peace?’” 18 So a man on horseback went to meet him and said, “Thus says the king, ‘Is it peace?’” And Jehu said, “What do you have to do with peace? Turn around and ride behind me.” And the watchman reported, saying, “The messenger reached them, but he is not coming back.” 19 Then he sent out a second horseman, who came to them and said, “Thus the king has said, ‘Is it peace?’” And Jehu answered, “What do you have to do with peace? Turn around and ride behind me.” 20 Again the watchman reported, “He reached them, but he is not coming back. And the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously.”

21 Joram said, “Make ready.” And they made ready his chariot. Then Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah set out, each in his chariot, and went to meet Jehu, and met him at the property of Naboth the Jezreelite. 22 And when Joram saw Jehu, he said, “Is it peace, Jehu?” He answered, “What peace can there be, so long as the whorings and the sorceries of your mother Jezebel are so many?” 23 Then Joram reined about and fled, saying to Ahaziah, “Treachery, O Ahaziah!” 24 And Jehu drew his bow with his full strength, and shot Joram between the shoulders, so that the arrow pierced his heart, and he sank in his chariot. 25 Jehu said to Bidkar his aide, “Take him up and throw him on the plot of ground belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. For remember, when you and I rode side by side behind Ahab his father, how the Lord made this pronouncement against him: 26 ‘As surely as I saw yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons—declares the Lord—I will repay you on this plot of ground.’ Now therefore take him up and throw him on the plot of ground, in accordance with the word of the Lord.”

27 When Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled in the direction of Beth-haggan. And Jehu pursued him and said, “Shoot him also.” And they shot him in the chariot at the ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo and died there. 28 His servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his fathers in the city of David.

29 In the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab, Ahaziah began to reign over Judah.

Okay, before we “dissect” this passage, a couple of things: In verse 20, we see that the watchman thinks he recognizes who is driving the chariot because of the ferocity/recklessness with which he drives. We get a  hint, here, about the recklessness of Jehu, and perhaps about his temper as well. Knowing this, it makes more sense what we read yesterday, where Elisha told that prophet to give Jehu the information and then flee. Jehu is unpredictable; telling that prophet to flee was a good call, as we can see from the testimony of the watchman for Joram.

Secondly, we need to remember that Jehu is being used, by God, to remove the line of Ahab. The whole line. That includes, at this point, the king of Judah as well as the king of Israel. Remember, Ahaziah’s mother is from the line of Ahab. So, this is all part of God’s judgment against the house of Ahab. This always confused me a bit, because this doesn’t happen often to the kings of Judah (the whole “God sending someone to kill them thing”) but, in this case, he was part of the problem to be dealt with.

Okay, so, now, onto the passage.

So Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, conspired against Joram. This isn’t a surprise to us, because that was really why he was anointed king: to deal with Joram and the other descendants of Ahab. Joram, if you recall, had gotten some owies in battle. (I really wanted to say owies. So I did.) Jehu says “if this is you decision, don’t spread it around so people in Jezreel learn of it”. He is counseling Joram to keep this on the low down. Remember, too, that Ahaziah is Joram’s nephew, and they are related through the line of Ahab. Ahaziah goes to visit Joram in Jezreel (the city) and it is to Jezreel that Jehu goes as well.

The watchman sees Jehu et al coming; it is a full company of the army. He tells Joram who tells him to send out a messenger to ask them why they are coming to Jezreel. Are they coming to inform them that peace has been achieved in Ramoth-gilead? Are they coming to share some other news? Jehu doesn’t really answer the messenger but tells him to ride behind Jehu, joining with his company. And the messenger does this.

The watchman sees the messenger isn’t returning and sends a 2nd guy. Again, this guy joins Jehu and watchman reports this back to Joram. This time, though, the company of Jehu is closer to the city, and the watchman thinks he recognizes who is leading this company: Jehu. Notice how he knows that it is Jehu:  “for he drives furiously”. This word could also suggest that he is reckless, and we get a glimpse, here of the character of Jehu that he is known to be a furious/reckless man and that was evident in his chariot driving as well.

Joram tells them to make ready. Remember, Jehu was commander in the army for Joram; Joram knows Jehu and, at this point, isn’t expecting anything underhanded to occur. He goes out to meet Jehu, and Ahaziah joins them, and where do they meet? Why  at Naboth’s property. (Remember, Naboth was the man who the queen had killed so that the king could take his vineyard. And the prophesy against Ahab and Jezebel included the information that this would be the site where Jezebel would die and would not be buried.)

So, Jehu arrives. Joram then asks if Jehu comes in peace and Jehu answers without sugar coating it: NOPE, not while all the idolatry and sorcery Joram’s mother started is still going on. Jehu’s question about peace hits the heart: no true peace can exist where there is idolatry and witchcraft.

Joram tries to flee, telling Ahaziah “treachery!” and Jehu kills Joram with bow and arrow to the heart. Jehu has Joram’s body tossed onto Naboth’s land, fulfilling the prophecy that God gave against the family of Ahab.

Ahaziah (king of Judah, grandson of Ahab) also tries to flee, but Jehu pursues and they shoot him, too. He dies in Megiddo, where he fled and they bury him in Jerusalem, with the kings of Judah.

There is a problem here. Jehu is NOT authorized to kill the descendants of David who are related to the house of Ahab. He is over zealous and Hosea criticizes him for this and the “blood of Jezreel” in Hosea 1:4. Make no mistake, God didn’t need Jehu’s help in dealing with the house of David. Although, as my husband said in regard to Jehu’s killing of Ahaziah, “Well, it was sorta an honest mistake…” Hee hee.

Here’s the thing that we see, over and over again in Scripture: God knows what He is doing. God will bring judgment where He will bring judgment, and, just because we may not see it in our lifetime, never doubt that, not only is God a good God, but He is also just, which means that the guilty don’t get away unpunished. It is only when we are covered with Christ that He no longer sees us as guilty; our sins have been paid for, and, again, because He is just, He will not require us to pay for sins that His Son has already paid for. They must be paid for, make no mistake of that, but they don’t need double payment.

Seriously, as I read through this passage, I am so thankful that God knows what He is doing. He is in charge, and He truly is a good and holy and just and merciful God. He continues to give air to breathe to the rebellious, sinful men and women in this world, that some might come to repentance and faith in Him.

Friends, God doesn’t mess around when it comes to judgment. He doesn’t. If you are not covered by Christ’s blood, you will face His judgment one day, and it will be worse than what Joram and the rest of Ahab’s family faced. Remember, vengeance belongs to God, not to us. It is not ours to repay, it is His; and He will do a far better job of it than we would, anyway. We are to pray for our enemies,and pray for the unbelievers, that they might come to faith in Christ. And that is more than just praying a prayer once upon a time. A true believer is one who is characterized by a desire for God’s word, for His people, for holiness and sanctification, as we hate the sin we once loved. That’s a true believer. If you wonder about your own state before God, read through 1 John. Remember, Christians still do sin; we are still in these jars of clay and will struggle against sin all our lives. But if we don’t see that as a problem and we don’t strive to please God, we need to test ourselves and see whether we are actually saved, or not. The life of a believer will be different from the world, as we put off the  “old man/woman” and put on Christ.

Spend some time today and just consider that the God we serve is worthy of our praise and worship. He is the only one who is worthy. If you have unconfessed sin in your life, don’t let it go another minute. Confess it and give it to Him. And know that He is faithful and just and will forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness as you learn how to rely on Him and to seek Him first every day. Be sure of your salvation, friends; eternity depends on it.

Have a great day!

Blessings-

Beth

 

Daily Dose of Truth June 22, 2016

Let me just say, at the start, if this doesn’t make any sense, I apologize. We are in full swim season gear now; yesterday we were at the pool at 6:15 for the boys’ 2nd swim meet, and then I was in the water from 9-11:30 to teach, and back again in the afternoon…and I’m tired today. Still, if what I wrote makes no sense? Just keep re-reading the scripture ‘cuz that’s always the most important part anyway!

Without further ado, today’s DDT:

2 Kings 8:16-9:13

In the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, when Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, began to reign. 17 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. 18 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. 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.

20 In his days Edom revolted from the rule of Judah and set up a king of their own. 21 Then Joram passed over to Zair with all his chariots and rose by night, and he and his chariot commanders struck the Edomites who had surrounded him, but his army fled home. 22 So Edom revolted from the rule of Judah to this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time. 23 Now the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 24 So Joram slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.

25 In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, began to reign. 26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Athaliah; she was a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. 27 He also walked in the way of the house of Ahab and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was son-in-law to the house of Ahab.

28 He went with Joram the son of Ahab to make war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramoth-gilead, and the Syrians wounded Joram. 29 And King Joram returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds that the Syrians had given him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Syria. And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick.

Then Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets and said to him, “Tie up your garments, and take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead. 2 And when you arrive, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi. And go in and have him rise from among his fellows, and lead him to an inner chamber. 3 Then take the flask of oil and pour it on his head and say, ‘Thus says the Lord, I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and flee; do not linger.”

4 So the young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead.5 And when he came, behold, the commanders of the army were in council. And he said, “I have a word for you, O commander.” And Jehu said, “To which of us all?” And he said, “To you, O commander.” 6 So he arose and went into the house. And the young man poured the oil on his head, saying to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, I anoint you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel. 7 And you shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord. 8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. 9 And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah. 10 And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and none shall bury her.” Then he opened the door and fled.

11 When Jehu came out to the servants of his master, they said to him,“Is all well? Why did this mad fellow come to you?” And he said to them, “You know the fellow and his talk.” 12 And they said, “That is not true; tell us now.” And he said, “Thus and so he spoke to me, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, I anoint you king over Israel.’” 13 Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.”

Okay, before we jump right in today, a little “clarification”. At this point, Israel and Judah have kings whose names are very similar. Very similar. The king of Israel was Joram, but he was sometimes called Jehoram. At the same time, the king of Judah’s name was Jehoram, but he was sometimes called Joram. So, at any point, these two have interchangeable names. And, to make matters more interesting, Judah’s king is the son in law of Ahab, the infamous and awful king of Israel. They are that closely related. So, it’s important to try to read this carefully to be sure we know who we are  talking about. (In my head, I liken this to names like “Nicholas”. Sometimes ya call them Nicholas, sometimes you call them Nicky. And vice versa. Even if they don’t have a “long” version of their name, sometimes people call them by the “long” version anyway.) At this point in history, when the two kingdoms most closely resembled each other in evil doing, they had kings with the same name. Sheesh.

    

Jehoram/Joram, king of Judah, became king at age 32, and reigned only 8 years, which, for kings of Judah, was a pretty short reign. But we see the reason for this; Jehoram/Joram walked in the way of his father-in-law, Ahab, and the other kings of Israel. Jehoram/Joram did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and he was removed. It is likely that Jehoram reigned with his father, Jehoshaphat, for five or so years before he became the sole king. Yet, the Lord remember the promise He had made to David and didn’t destroy the entire nation of Judah, not because they were following Him, but because of His promise to David. Thus we see that the punishment on the nation of Judah was that of the “rod of man”, while for the nation of Israel it is the destruction of an entire dynasty when they do evil in God’s sight.

During Jehoram/Joram’s reign, Edom broke off from Judah and set up their own kingdom. Jehoram/Joram went and struck the Edomites in an effort to quash their rebellion, but this effort failed, and his own army fled home. So, Edom succeeded in revolting from Judah. At the same time, Libnah took adavantage of Jehoram/Joram’s weaknesses and revolted as well. Libnah was designated a Levitical city by Joshua (Joshua 2:13) and so they revolt because Jehoram has become apostate and led Judah astray. So, under Jehoram/Joram’s reign, the kingdom of Judah shrinks, and the king leads the people in to evil. How’s that for a legacy?     

 

Jehoram/Joram died, and is son, Ahaziah, reigned in Judah. Now, this was not the same guy as Ahab’s son, although they shared a name. Remember, he would be the great-grandson of Omri; his mother was Omri’s granddaughter. Ahaziah was 22 when he became king of Judah, but he only lasted 1 year. He walked in the ways of Ahab, doing evil in the Lord’s sight.

Ahaziah goes with his uncle, Joram/Jehoram king of Israel to make war against Hazael king of Syria. Remember the encounter between Elisha and Hazael? Where Elisha weeps because he knows what Hazael will do? Well, Hazael did murder Ben-hadad and is now king of Syria, and things are progressing just as God prophesied through Elisha.

In this battle, Joram/Jehoram is wounded, and returns to Jezreel and Ahaziah goes to visit his sick uncle (his mom’s brother). The ruling dynasties of north and south are now linked by ideology  and by blood  through intermarriage.  Athaliah promotes Baal worship in the south as her mother Jezebel does in the north. (Never let it be said that women have no power or influence!)

In the meantime, as all this is going on with these kings, Elisha calls one of the sons of the prophets to him and gives him specific instructions. This man is to prepare to hurry (picking up his robes) to Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat (so, not of the line of Ahab at all), and anoint him as king of Israel.He also tells the man to be prepared to run off as soon as he has done this.   The young man obeys, runs to Jehu to give him this information, and tell him his marching orders, and to anoint him.  He anoints Jehu and tells Jehu to strike down the house of Ahab to avenge on Jezebel the blood of the prophets she killed and the blood of all the servants of the Lord who died at her direction. In this way, Jehu will fulfill the prophesy against the house of Ahab, and the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and all males of Ahab will be completely cut off. In fact, the house of Ahab will be like house of Jeroboam and house of Baasha and the dogs shall eat Jezebel and she will not be buried, just as was prophesied.   

Jehu comes out and his servants ask him about the mad man who was there. Jehu almost sounds casual about it all. “Oh, you know these prophets and their talk” but the servants want to know what was said. When they hear that? They make haste to proclaim Jehu as king, to show honor to him as king, and to prepare to take the throne with Jehu. (This sign, as they “took their garments” and placed them on the ground is reminiscent of Jesus’ triumphal entry in Matthew 21:8 where we see the people doing the same for Jesus as He entered Jerusalem.) The eagerness of the military to proclaim Jehu as king shows an instability in the army, perhaps because of Joram/Jehoram’s lack of military success. Jehu has proven himself a leader and his men are ready to follow him and fight for him.

I gotta say, watching these kings go round and round, leading the people into sin, makes me long (on their behalf) for their perfect prophet, priest and king. Seriously, the people followed these kings who led them away from God, and then wondered why God would allow their enemies to conquer them? It is absolutely no wonder why God allowed those things; the people didn’t stay loyal to God, and they dealt with the consequences of their rebellion. They turned from Him and went after false gods, and, truly, God was merciful in allowing the people to live as long as He did without wiping them out. Yet, especially as you see Ahab’s family taking over the kingdoms, I can’t help but shake my head in disgust. These people needed a real king; they needed to turn back to the only true King.

Still, we can see God working out the details here, as He brings forth Jehu to deal with Ahab’s descendants. We can see the Levites of Libnah also rebelling against their sinful, evil king, and God allowing them to rebel successfully against the king of Judah. God hasn’t missed what is going on in Judah and Israel, and He isn’t slow to act; He is being patient and He is acting, according to His purpose and for His glory. The consequences of rebellion against God are imminent, for He is not only good, but He is also just and must punish sin.

It really just reminds me of our Savior. He took the punishment we should have been given so that we could go free. Our sin still had to be punished, yet God imputed to Christ our sin, while imputing His righteousness to us, so that we might be let go while He suffered and died in our place. It is only through His sacrifice that we can come before our God and enter in to His presence. He cannot abide sin, any sin. If we try to come in to His presence on our own merit, we will never succeed because we have no merit. No inherent righteousness. Praise be to our King who offered what was necessary so that we might enjoy His presence for all eternity! All the demands of justice were satisfied on the cross; Christ paid it all. We benefit from that gift in ways we still don’t comprehend.

Today, as you look at the broken world around us, as you ponder the ridiculous political options we face, remember: this world isn’t your home, and your true King has already brought you in to His kingdom, if you have believed upon the Lord and are counted among His sheep. Know that your eternal home is secure and there is a King who is good beyond our comprehension, and worthy to be praised all the time. Nothing ever mars His glory. He is holy beyond our comprehension and He is worthy to be praised and worshiped!

Have a good day, friends!

Blessings-

Beth

    

 

Daily Dose of Truth June 20, 2016

Good morning and welcome to Monday! Today is the official start of summer and  the official start of my summer swimming lessons, now that the pool is behaving itself. So, I’m up, the boys will be up in 40 minutes, and I’m gonna enjoy my Bible and coffee in the meantime.

Without further ado, onto today’s DDT:

2 Kings 8:7-15

Now Elisha came to Damascus. Ben-hadad the king of Syria was sick. And when it was told him, “The man of God has come here,” 8 the king said to Hazael, “Take a present with you and go to meet the man of God,and inquire of the Lord through him, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this sickness?’” 9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, all kinds of goods of Damascus, forty camels' loads. When he came and stood before him, he said, “Your son Ben-hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this sickness?’” 10 And Elisha said to him, “Go, say to him, ‘You shall certainly recover,’ but the Lord has shown me that he shall certainly die.” 11 And he fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was embarrassed. And the man of God wept.12 And Hazael said, “Why does my lord weep?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel. You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women.”13 And Hazael said, “What is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?” Elisha answered, “The Lord has shown me that you are to be king over Syria.” 14 Then he departed from Elisha and came to his master, who said to him, “What did Elisha say to you?” And he answered, “He told me that you would certainly recover.” 15 But the next day he took the bed cloth and dipped it in water and spread it over his face, till he died. And Hazael became king in his place.

Elisha is in Damascus, the capital of Syria. It is unusual for Israel’s prophets to visit foreign capitals, but Elisha is on an unusual mission to implement the first of the three commands God gave to Elijah on Mt. Horeb. (Remember all the anointing that Elijah was supposed to do, and yet, didn’t do? Ahab’s 2nd apostate son is now king, and even though Elijah failed to anoint Hazael and Jehoram, those men are about to come into play.) While Elisha is there, the king of Syria is sick. The king learns that Elisha is in Damascus, and sees an opportunity. He tells Hazael (who we meet here and are given no background information on him) to take a gift to Elisha and ask him to inquire of God as to whether he (the king) will survive his illness. Hazael obeys the king and goes to Elisha with…40 camel loads of stuff! I mean, can we talk about over kill? Sheesh. That’s a ton. Still, it seems to be customary to offer something to the prophet as you came to ask something of them.

Hazael tells Elisha that Ben-hadad, “your son”, the king of Syria, wants to know if he will die from this illness. This “your son” business was a way to show honor to Elisha and to demonstrate the king was humbling himself before Elisha. It’s a diplomatic way to show honor to Elisha.

Now, pause here for a second. We see this pagan king who has fallen ill seeking out Elisha, the prophet of the most high God. Elisha happens to be in Syria on God’s business, and, despite the fact that the Syrian king had access to his own false gods and prophets of his false gods, he seeks out Elisha. Contrast that, for a moment, with Ahaziah, king of Israel, son of Ahab. When Ahaziah fell out the window trellis thing and was laying dying, what did he do? Who did he send questions to? The false god of Ekron, Baal-zebub. The king of God’s people sought out a pagan, false god for information on whether he would live or not. The consequence of that was Elisha was sent to the king and told the king he would, most definitely, die. Yet, here, the king of pagans sends to Elisha for help. The pagans knew where the power really was, better than God’s own people.

Elisha tells Hazael to tell the king two, seemingly conflicting things: that the king will recover…but is also certain to die. Then? Elisha stares at Hazael. Just stares at him. I sorta am reminded of the “Paul Washer stare” as I think of this. And Elisha keeps staring at Hazael until Hazael becomes embarrassed. We don’t know how we know that Hazael is embarrassed, but I picture him averting his gaze. At that point, Elisha begins to weep.

Hazael asks Elisha  why he is weeping. Elisha responds, and the response is enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck. Elisha is crying because God has shown him what Hazael will do in the future, to the people of Israel. He will set fire their fortresses. He will kill their young men with sword. As if that weren’t enough, he will also dash their little ones to pieces, and even “rip open” their pregnant women. Horrifying. Absolutely disgusting and awful. Elisha doesn’t approve these actions; he mourns them.

Yet what is Hazael’s response? He considers this a “great thing”, that he is not powerful enough to bring about. Now, it’s hard to tell what he means in that. Does he mean that he thinks it would be a wonderful thing to do all these things to Israel? Or does he mean that, in order to do this, one would have to be a “great man” with a lot of power? Hazael knows that, at this point, he doesn’t have that kind of power, but there is a hint, here, that he would like that power and would not balk at doing those things.

Elisha ends by telling Hazael that he (Hazael) will be king over Syria. Elisha knows that whatever he tells the man, he intends to kill the king and take his place. Keep that in mind; God is raising Hazael up for this purpose. God will use Hazael and the Syrians to deal with Israel and their idol worship and rebellion against Him. Hazael is a willing participant in this; God isn’t forcing Hazael to do something that he doesn’t want to do. And God will also deal with Hazael for what he will do to Israel. 

Hazael returns, and tells Ben-hadad that Elisha said he (Ben-Hadad) would most certainly recover. Notice he doesn’t share with Ben-hadad the last part of what Elisha said, that God had shown Elisha that Ben-hadad would still, surely die, but not from this illness. The next day, Hazael goes in to the king and, fulfilling the prophecy from Elisha, he murders Ben-hadad so he (Hazael) can be king. It appears that Hazael has taken Elisha’s prophecy as a license to commit murder.

Ya know, as I read this passage, my heart hurts for Elisha. God showed him what was coming, and Elisha saw it, clearly, and it was awful. And once Elisha saw that? He couldn’t un-see it. He knew he was standing before a completely depraved man, and he also knew that this man was being brought to power because of the rebellion of God’s chosen people. Yet, knowing that this was according to God’s plan didn’t mean that Elisha could smile as he gave this prophecy. This was still incredibly painful to bear up under.

Now, I’m not speculating that Elisha doubted God’s sovereignty or even that he questioned God’s plan. Still, this was tough stuff to consider! Sometimes, people suggest that, if you believe strongly in God’s sovereignty, that somehow means that, when tragedies happen, you are calloused to those things and to the loss of life. As we can see in Elisha, that is simply not true. When tragedies happen and lives are lost, we mourn with those who mourn. We grieve the loss they experience and the senselessness of death to terrorism or depravity. But we don’t think that means that God wasn’t paying attention when that happened; we take comfort in the knowledge that, even in the midst of that pain, God is still God and we know that He promises that, for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, He is working all things together for His glory and for our good. All things. Good, bad and neutral. All of it is part of His plan and He is fully in control of all things. He isn’t caught by surprise or taken off guard. He knows what He is doing. And sometimes, what He is doing is part of His own judgment on the people who are rebelling against him.

As we will see, here, this is all part of what God has ordained for Israel as a result of their rebellion and worship of false gods and all that has introduced into their midst. We know that God is sending them into exile; this is part of that. Again, though, that doesn’t mean it was easy, and especially for God’s prophets, this was excruciating to prophecy and then witness occurring.

I sometimes feel that today, I admit. As I see the false teachers and their deadly doctrine seep into the church, and as warnings are given and ignored, I feel this way. I can see the train rushing toward the cliff and I see the passengers on the train happily ignorant as they they plug their ears at the alarms sounding, and I grieve. I know that I can’t “make” people see, but it grieves me to see the people led astray nonetheless. It is painful and I have to remember what my “job” is: to warn and to point to Scripture, and to let God do the rest. I can’t do anything else.

At the end of the day, my confidence is not in men, but in God and in the finished work on the cross that was done for me, and all who believe. I trust that He does know what He is doing and I am so thankful that He is not playing catch up. He knows it all before it happens and He also knows the end game. I know how it all ends, too; and I know the Victor.

That’s all for today friends. Have a great day!

Blessings-

Beth

 

 

 

 

Daily Dose of Truth July 15, 2016

Good morning! It’s Wednesday! It was a crazy busy morning yesterday, but my boys did great at their first swim meet, both of them garnering 2 first place wins and 1 second place win; not bad for their first ever meet! They even wanted to go to practice last night, so, once again, we started and ended our day at the pool. And now it is Wednesday, and they are outside playing, and I’ve got coffee…and life continues on.

So, without further ado, today’s DDT:

2 Kings 8:1-6

Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can, for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years.” 2 So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. 3 And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went to appeal to the king for her house and her land. 4 Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.” 5 And while he was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” 6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”

Okay, now, first of all, this snippet, we’re not 100% sure who the king of Israel is at this time. If this is all falling in line chronologically, it could be Jehoram, but the fact that he asked Gehazi to tell him about the things Elisha had done makes that a problem. Jehoram knew the things Elisha had done. He’d witnessed it. So, either this is told out of order (which is possible and this was early on in Jehoram’s reign) or the king here is Jehu, not Jehoram. So, just keep that in mind ‘cuz when we get to that point in the passage, it makes much more sense if the king isn’t Jehoram.

Anyway, so, Elisha had told the Shunammite woman (who had prepared a place for him in her home for when he was travelling) to take care of her family and hit the road for a while because a famine was being sent from the Lord. The woman heeded the warning of Elisha and she and her household went off to the land of the Philistines while Israel was dealing with the famine. This way, the woman and her household were fed and cared for while the famine was happening.

Well, after 7 years, she returns to Israel, and she goes to the king. See, while she was absent, someone has taken her land. However, in Israel, the end of the 7th year was a time for restoration and cancellation of debt, so, it has been 7 years and it is now the appropriate time for this land to be restored to the Shunammite woman.

We then switch views and we see the king of Israel (again, likely Jehu) talking with Gehazi, Elisha’s servant. He asks Gehazi to tell him about Elisha and Gehazi does so. However, I admit I have a little problem with our buddy Gehazi here. Gehazi doesn’t give the glory to God; he gives it to his master. He points to Elisha as the one who restored the dead to life, not God. Elisha didn’t do those things. Elisha was used by God to do those things, true, but the one who raised the dead to life was God. If Elisha tried to do that on the command of a king, it would fail; the power wasn’t in Elisha, but in the One he serves. (It kinda makes me wonder if Gehazi really learned his lesson from his interaction with Naaman; Gehazi just can’t seem to stop seeking glory for Elisha and therefore for himself.)

Anyway, as the king and Gehazi are standing there talking, that is the exact moment when the Shunammite woman comes to speak to the king about her property. Gehazi recognizes her and introduces her to the king. Of course, this is not a coincidence; this is the providence of God. That the king would be talking with Gehazi about this woman and the miracle performed through Elisha for her son at this exact moment is God ordaining all the details. And oh,  how well He provides for this woman!

The king appoints an official for the woman, instructing him to “restore all that was hers together with all the produce of the fields from the day she left until now”. So, not only is this official told, publicly, to return her lands to her, but she gets the bounty from her land while she was away. Someone had moved into her home and taken over her lands while she was in the land of the Philistines, but even so, they won’t profit from that. The king’s instructions take care of that. (Of course, the amount of wealth gained from her fields during this time probably wasn’t impressive because, um, she left because there was a famine, so the crops were probably pretty lousy.)

Isn’t it amazing to see how God provides for this woman? This woman was special; she was a woman who sought God’s will and whose desire was to serve Him. We saw that when she first started feeding Elisha on his way through her area. We saw it more evidently as she then consulted with her husband and built the room for Elisha, so not only would have have food when he came through, but he would have a place to rest in his travels. We saw, again, that she honored and feared God when her son died and she ran to Elisha, wondering if she had done something that had displeased God and was being punished because of it. This was a woman who loved God. And God rewarded her faithfulness. He sent Elisha to warn her when the famine was coming; and He provided far beyond her expectation when she returns and seeks the king’s help in restoring her property.

I love seeing how God works behind the scenes. We don’t always see it clearly today, but He is always working everything out for His glory and for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. The way things line up to be in the “right place at the right time”? We have no idea the work that goes in to lining everything up, all the little details, from who knows how far back, so those things are ready to happen at just the right time. He is sovereign. He is in charge. He hasn’t blinked and missed something. That doesn’t happen with God. He notices every hoppy little sparrow; He knows what we need and He knows what to send and when.

Now, don’t start looking for signs, okay? Seriously. That doesn’t mean you should imagine things that aren’t there. So, if your church talks to a missionary from Mozambique that really gets you thinking about missions, and then the next day you hear about a flood or something in Mozambique that makes me think more; and then your boss comes and shows you his travel plans for the next week are cancelled…to Mozambique and then you get home and your husband says “Honey, Mo quit today and we don’t know how to replace him” that does not mean you should drop everything and move to Mozambique as a missionary. It doesn’t. Before doing something like being a missionary, you need to go to God’s word and see what the qualifications are for those who are missionaries. You need to see what your priorities need to be. Talk to people in missions and see what is really required and if that is even feasible for the responsibilities God has already given to you. Do not just jump up and say “Oh, God is sending us to Mozambique! I know it ‘cuz Mozambique kept popping up for 2 days!” That’s looking for signs and wonders and it is thinking like a pagan. We take our thoughts captive, we hold them up to the light of Scripture, and we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, not by the events going on around us. (Seriously, if we are transformed by events, we’re gonna be a mess.)

So, today, consider all the things that went into lining up the first meeting between you and your spouse. (And remember al those other people who are NOT your spouse who you have met, too, and consider how God has provided the wisdom to discern who was spouse material and who wasn’t.) Consider the things that went into bringing you the true message of the Gospel so that you cried out to God for salvation. Thank God for His might, for working out all things for your good and for His glory. Trust Him, even when it gets hard and you can’t see how this could possibly be good. Let’s be honest; the Shunammite woman was probably worried that the king wouldn’t help her when she returned. She got word that there was someone else in her property, and she was anticipating a fight to get it back. That probably didn’t seem like a “good thing” to her at the time. Yet, God knew what He was doing.

Trust Him. He is faithful and He is trustworthy.

Have a great day everyone!

Blessings-

Beth

 

Daily Dose of Truth June 13, 2016

Good morning! Welcome to Monday. We had a great time this weekend at the conference we go to for homeschooling; even got to shake Tedd Tripp’s hand. Then came the newest evidence that evil exists in the world, and a reminder (for me anyway) that this world is not my home. I am happily enjoying my french toast for breakfast (loooove the “Pantry II”) and the quiet of the morning. Aaaaahhhh. So, without further ado, onto today’s DDT:

2 Kings 7:3-20

Now there were four men who were lepers at the entrance to the gate. And they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘Let us enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die.” 5 So they arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians. But when they came to the edge of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no one there. 6 For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, “Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us.” 7 So they fled away in the twilight and abandoned their tents, their horses, and their donkeys, leaving the camp as it was, and fled for their lives. 8 And when these lepers came to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent and ate and drank, and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and went and hid them. Then they came back and entered another tent and carried off things from it and went and hid them.

9 Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king's household.” 10 So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city and told them, “We came to the camp of the Syrians, and behold, there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied and the donkeys tied and the tents as they were.” 11 Then the gatekeepers called out, and it was told within the king's household.12 And the king rose in the night and said to his servants, “I will tell you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry. Therefore they have gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the open country, thinking, ‘When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive and get into the city.’” 13 And one of his servants said, “Let some men take five of the remaining horses, seeing that those who are left here will fare like the whole multitude of Israel who have already perished. Let us send and see.” 14 So they took two horsemen, and the king sent them after the army of the Syrians, saying, “Go and see.” 15 So they went after them as far as the Jordan, and behold, all the way was littered with garments and equipment that the Syrians had thrown away in their haste. And the messengers returned and told the king.

16 Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Syrians. So a seah of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the Lord. 17 Now the king had appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate. And the people trampled him in the gate, so that he died, as the man of God had said when the king came down to him. 18 For when the man of God had said to the king, “Two seahs of barley shall be sold for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour for a shekel, about this time tomorrow in the gate of Samaria,” 19 the captain had answered the man of God, “If the Lord himself should make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?” And he had said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.” 20 And so it happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gate and he died.

Famine is hard. Really hard. Being hungry makes people sorta go crazy. They do terrible things (as we saw yesterday) and their consciences aren’t even stricken by those horrendous things. And today, we see the desperation of four lepers in this time of famine.

Remember, lepers were unclean. That meant they couldn’t come into the city (for fear of them contaminating other people) and they couldn’t worship God in the temple (their uncleanness was ceremonial as well), and they were completely isolated from the rest of the population. They were, very literally, the outcasts. So, it isn’t unusual to see lepers at the gate to the city. They depended on the charity of others to feed themselves, since they couldn’t get “real” jobs, and they couldn’t go into the city, so they would hang out outside the city hoping to find people coming and going to give them help. That’s where these lepers are. They aren’t inside the city, starving with the people besieged, but they aren’t really in any better position. They can get to the gates of the city, where the people in the city might see them from the walls, and where the enemy could also see them. But that’s as close as they got to healthy people.

These lepers? They have no hope. None. I mean, seriously, when you are depending on the food flung by people inside a besieged city to feed you, you’re in a pretty desperate state. So, they decide they aren’t just gonna sit there and wait to die. They are going to be bold, and if that means that the Syrians kill them immediately? Well, better to die that way than to sit and starve to death in agony. At least being killed by the Syrians will be quick. However, they also see some hope in the Syrian camp; perhaps the Syrians, who do have food, will share with them. If they don’t? Well, they aren’t worse off for the effort.

The lepers go off to the Syrian camp, where the besieging horde has been. When they arrive, though, they are in for a huge shock. There is simply no one there. It’s completely quiet, aside from the sounds the animals are making. It’s still. The enemy has disappeared.

Now, because the writer of Kings was inspired by God, we are given a little segue that tells us what happened to the Syrians. God has dealt with the Syrian army. The Lord had made the Syrian army hear the sound of horses and chariots; the Syrians know that sound. It was the sound of a great army.  The Syrians were terrified. Even though they saw absolutely nothing, the sound that they heard was enough to make them flee. And flee they did! God has done this; never doubt that. God sent the sound that terrified the great army. God sent them fleeing in panic as they trusted what they heard, and didn’t wait to see the army they expected at any second.

Now, the Syrians knew that Israel didn’t have this kind of an army. They did. But they also knew that Israel may have made an agreement with another king of a different nation, and that king might have come with his army to fight Syria. They don’t know which king might be there, so they don’t know exactly how big that kingdom might be, but they “know”, from the sound, that this is gonna be a huge battle. They simply weren’t expecting that. They were just there, waiting for Israel to give up so they could take over Samaria. That’s really what a siege ends up looking like; wait until the people surrender. (Here the Syrian army may confuse Egypt with a minor state that was next to the Hittites, the name of which is similar to the Hebrew name for Egypt.) So, up against an “unknown foe” with potentially huge numbers, they ran. And in running? They didn’t stop to take stuff with them. They just ran. (I get this image in my head of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” as the knights all flee yelling “run away! run away!”)

So, the lepers arrive after the Syrians have fled, leaving everything behind. They find the animals, the tents, and…everything else. Including food and wine and provisions…and stuff. Pretty stuff. Expensive stuff.

The lepers were caught up in the frenzy of what they have discovered. They go into a tent, eat and drink and then carry off silver, gold and spoils with them. They hide the stuff they’ve grabbed, return to the camp, and move on to the next tent and repeat the process. The outcasts of Israel, the unwanted, unclean, rejected and despised men of Samaria are now living high on the spoils of the enemy. From outcast to winner of the spoils.

The glee and frenzy of these men doesn’t last super long, though. They sorta come to themselves and realize what they are doing. They also realize the implications of what they are doing. When (not if) the king of Israel figures out that the Syrians are gone, and then realizes that these lepers knew it and were enjoying the spoils and the food for themselves? The king isn’t going to be pleased with them. However. If they go to the king themselves, and tell him what they have discovered, they will be hailed as heroes! So, they decide to do just that, and they head back to the city to pass the information along.

Now, remember this king isn’t the smartest guy in the world and he’s also not the most trusting. (Mostly that is because he, himself, isn’t trustworthy, so he expects everyone else to be untrustworthy as well, but that’s a different study.) The king is expecting a trap. (Just like he was expecting a trap when Namaan came to him and he flipped out then.) He thinks this is an effort to lure the people in Samaria out of the city to get the food promised, only so their enemies can capture the city and kill the people once the doors to the city are opened. Still, it is always wise to check out information you have been given, and that’s what the king does. He sends out eight men on 5 horses to check it out. (The horses, by the way, were really there to carry back whatever they found, if they found something.) Sure enough, these men verify what the lepers told them and the Israelites go and plunder the Syrian camp. 

Now, remember yesterday, the captain who mocked Elisha and God when Elisha told him that food would be plentiful the next day? Well, he is standing by the gate now. And, as the starving people of Samaria are let out of the city to go to the Syrian camp to find food and plunder, the captain is in the way. These starving people don’t stop and don’t look twice; they are a mass moving forward to attain what they want…food. In the process, this captain is trampled to death. (That, by the way, is ironical. He disbelieved the promise of food, and mocked God and dealt with the consequences in his death. The people who killed him? Believed the reports of the food and it was because of their eagerness to get the food that this guy was killed.)

This whole scene of rescue coming from the hands of the most unlikely source is simply amazing to me. Do you see the foreshadowing of Christ here? Who was chosen to find these treasures? Treasures that all the people valued and needed? It wasn’t the king or the captain of the army. It was the outcasts. The downtrodden. The weak and foolish. (Sound familiar?) These men take the message of their salvation back to the rest of the city and what is the initial reaction? “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But the people in the city were curious enough to check out these reports and found the reports were all true! In fact, the reports may have undervalued what was found in the camp! It was true…and it was better than they imagined.

And the one who mocked God? The one who doubted His power and refused to listen to the voice of His prophet? Was killed. His life is over.

Our Savior brought salvation, not to the wise and learned, but to simple, common, people…outcasts even. (Think about what Matthew did for a living…) They were young, they weren’t old and respected. And yet, that is who Jesus chose to bring the words of eternal life to the whole world. When the people saw what He truly offered, and when the Spirit opened their hearts to receive it, they were overcome with what had been provided. It was immeasurably more than all they could ask or imagine! Salvation had come through the son of a common worker, but that Savior was anything but common. And His message of salvation wasn’t limited to the first few lucky people to stumble upon his teaching; no, in fact, the salvation He brought was open to all, even to the furthest outcast…the Gentile.

When Jesus came, and especially after His death and resurrection, we see, throughout Acts, people flocking to the message, receiving the words of eternal life, and going back out with those words, passing them on. Thousands were added to their number in a very short period of time; and that was not the work of men, but of God. The thing we have to remember, always, is that it wasn’t the messenger who was the key to salvation; it was the message. That message hasn’t changed to this day.

Unlike the people in Samaria, who realized they needed food, the people in our world today don’t think they need saving. They think they are fine without any help from anyone else, and they certainly don’t need help from God. That’s why it is so important to make sure that people see God’s law as it is: holy, just, and perfect. They need to see that they do not measure up; they are not good, according to God’s standard. That’s a big deal. If they don’t see that they have a problem, they don’t see any reason for a Savior. Especially if their life, by this world’s standards, is going pretty well. They don’t see any need to change anything…especially if, as we give them the full Gospel, they see that there is a cost to following Jesus. Why would someone making 6 figures with a good reputation in the community want to “rock the boat”? Serving Jesus may cost you everything, especially in this world that we are living in today, a world that is given over to depravity. That simply doesn’t make sense, right? That’s why they need to know that, their bigger problem is a sin problem, and it’s going to have eternal consequences. We need to show them, through Scripture, that the only way of salvation is through Jesus. That’s it. Only Him. It is only then that they will even consider the fact that they may be missing a bigger piece of the puzzle.

We must warn people that, despite what the world tells them, there is a bigger reality at stake, and they aren’t equipped for that reality on their own. It is only when we repent and trust in Christ; truly turn from our sin and cry out to Him to save us, that we will be preparing ourselves for the life that is to come. But the life of a Christian doesn’t end there. It is a life of ever increasing desire to love, serve and please God. Ever increasing grief over the sin in our lives, and an increasing desire to be rid of this “body of death” that we are in. It is a desire to grow in holiness, to grow in knowledge of our Lord and Savior, and to honor Him with our whole lives. We won’t do it perfectly in this life. But the overall pattern should be one of repentance as we continue to be sanctified by our Father.

Guess what, though? Like the king of Samaria, the people may not believe us. Guess what else? That’s okay. That’s not a personal affront to you; that’s a rejection of our Savior. We are the message bearers; it is God who opens eyes and changes hearts, not us. Keep praying for them, and keep sharing the truth that you know from Scripture, but do so with grace and with love. We don’t have to intentionally be stinkers to share God’s word with a fallen world; the Gospel is offensive enough on its own! Share the Gospel; the whole Gospel; without apology. Hold fast to Scripture, knowing that you have the words of eternal life. Eternal. Life. Trust God to bring the increase, ‘cuz that is what He does. But don’t hoard the message and keep it to yourselves. Even the lepers, once they realized what they were doing, stopped and went and told the city. True, they did so out of punishment and out of knowledge that they “weren’t doing right”. Their desire to be right with their king led them to share the wealth. Our desire should be to share the treasure we have with everyone we meet, because we know that they need it and we know that they are missing out. And? There will never be “less” because you shared the Gospel with someone. It doesn’t work that way. Your salvation is secure in Christ, through His grace and through faith alone; offer that to those around you. Don’t hide it.

Have a great day, friends!

Blessings-

Beth

 

Daily Dose of Truth June 8, 2016

Good morning!! I got to enjoy the fruits of “The Pantry II” this morning, including coffee, waffles and strawberries for breakfast in bed. A mommy could get used to this. But, it is now time to be up and join the rest of the world and get on with our day, so, without further ado, onto today’s DDT:

2 Kings 6:24-33

Afterward Ben-hadad king of Syria mustered his entire army and went up and besieged Samaria. 25 And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey's head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove's dung for five shekels of silver. 26 Now as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!” 27 And he said, “If the Lord will not help you, how shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the winepress?” 28 And the king asked her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ 29 So we boiled my son and ate him. And on the next day I said to her, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him.’ But she has hidden her son.” 30 When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes—now he was passing by on the wall—and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath on his body— 31 and he said, “May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today.”

32 Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. Now the king had dispatched a man from his presence, but before the messenger arrived Elisha said to the elders, “Do you see how this murderer has sent to take off my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold the door fast against him. Is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?” 33 And while he was still speaking with them, the messenger came down to him and said, “This trouble is from the Lord! Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?”

But Elisha said, “Hear the word of the Lord: thus says the Lord,Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.” 2 Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned said to the man of God, “If the Lord himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” But he said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”

Okay, so we saw how God delivered Elisha’s enemies miraculously into Elisha’s hands, and how Elisha then refused to let the king kill those men and sent them all home. Well, this is after that, and now we see that Ben-hadad didn’t stay calm for long. Here is Syria, again, going after Israel, specifically besieging the capital of Israel, Samaria.

Now, sieges were ugly. (Still are…) Basically, the idea of a siege is to cut off all the resources a city has from the outside. Sooner or later, when water and food are scarce to nonexistent and the threat of death at every turn becomes unbearable, people give up. Cities full of people can’t last forever on no food. What also happens in a siege is that the illness begins to spring up and spread quickly. Without access to fresh food, consistently clean water, and a way to get rid of waste? You’re asking for plague on top of starvation.

Sadly, that’s exactly what we see here. There was a great famine in Samaria. They didn’t have food. Cities aren’t known as great places to grow food; besides which, growing food takes time. When you don’t expect a siege, it’s hard to plant and grow food once a siege has already started. You are left with the resources you had on hand, however minimal they were. And the people are now at the point of eating….weird stuff. Like donkey heads. And dove poo. And those things were expensive!! It honestly reminds me of what we are seeing in Venezuela right now, as a dozen eggs is going for $150 because their economy has collapsed. In the case of Venezuela, they have (sorta) besieged themselves.

In the midst of this, we see the king, completely powerless, walking on the wall. As he does this, a woman below cried out to him for him to act on her behalf. The king’s response tells you exactly his mental state: “God won’t help any of us, what do you expect me to do?” The king, like the people, is waiting for the inevitable. He has no plan and sees no hope. Still, after his fatalistic response (he’s being super sarcastic here, asking if he should help her in the threshing floor or the winepress; there is no grain to thresh, no crop to harvest; there are no grapes to press to make into wine and he knows it) he asks her what her specific problem is. And now we cringe in horror.

The people had resorted to cannibalism. They were eating their children. This woman’s complaint? She made an agreement with another woman, both of them agreeing to kill and eat their sons. This woman “went first” and they killed her son and ate him. But now that her son is gone, the other woman refuses to hand over her son to eat. This woman is mad, but about the wrong thing. She’s mad because she feels cheated; she should be mourning because she murdered her child and sinned against God. The other woman helped in the murder and sin, but now refuses to murder her own child. Wow. This is truly a grim picture here, of desperate people doing horrifying things. And the fact that she would bring this complaint to the king shows that her conscience is seared, too. She doesn’t even feel shame for killing and eating her own child; she just feels “wronged” ‘cuz she is being denied the child of another woman.

The king’s reaction is appropriate. He is grieved and horrified and repulsed. As. Should. We. All. Be. However, he takes no responsibility for what is going on and instead points the finger at Elisha. He wants Elisha dead now, as Elisha is the ambassador for God.

 

This plea of the woman to the king is a plea to  the ultimate court of human justice but Israel is a long way from the time when a wise king could ensure justice. In fact, if we look backward a bit, we actually see that, when the people refuse to listen to God and refuse to obey Him? This type of stuff is a curse that the people are told to expect. Leviticus 26:27-29 shows God speaking here and He says this: “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold of your sins. You shall eat the flesh of  your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.” The curse goes on from there, but this is exactly what is going on in Israel, as a direct result of the disobedient, sinful, rebellious hearts of the people. (Add to that Deuteronomy 28:52-57 which says “They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land. And they shall besiege you in all your towns throughout all your land, which the Lord your God has given you. 53 And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you. 54 The man who is the most tender and refined among you will begrudge food to his brother, to the wife he embraces,[d] and to the last of the children whom he has left, 55 so that he will not give to any of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because he has nothing else left, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your towns. 56 The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces,to her son and to her daughter, 57 her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns.You can look up Lamentations 2:20 and Ezekiel 5:10 for yourselves, but we see the same “theme” there.)

 

Now, as this is going on with the king and the city, the leaders of the city are not talking to the king about this problem, but talking to Elisha. They have gone to Elisha for help, looking for help from God. As they are sitting there, God lets Elisha know that the king is sending a messenger to kill him. And Elisha announces that to the elders, that “this murderer” (the king) has sent someone to take off Elisha’s head. Elisha tells them not to open the door to the messenger. And the messenger arrives and says, “God did this to us. This is God’s fault. So, we aren’t gonna wait for God to rescue us; we’re gonna kill God’s prophet.”

Elisha responds with a promises of food, but not just food—abundant and cheap food. The captain who was with the king doubts this. He can’t imagine overnight economic recovery. He uses the prophetic word God has given to Elisha to mock God Himself, saying, basically, “will God Himself hand out these fabulous blessings?”

Well, we should know by now that mocking God isn’t a great idea. Elisha says to the captain “you will see how this can be…but you shall NOT eat of it”. Although the captain will see that this is true and God will really do this, the captain will be unable to enjoy it. The implication being, that the captain will be dead.

Okay, we need to consider what is going on here. When rebellious, unrepentant sinners start to see the consequences for their sins? When they are face to face with the sin they have indulged in and when God’s wrath rests upon them and they no longer get any real pleasure from the sin they loved, the response, sadly, is most often what the king does here. The response is to blame God. Curse God. Lash out against Him more for “being unfair.” Friends, that’s what we see in our world today. That “list” in Romans 1:18-32 is a list of things that are evidence that God’s wrath is upon a society/culture. Guess what? We’re there. Our society is already subject to God’s wrath as He removes His restraining hand and the people do whatever they want to. And when that happens? Anyone who says “you are doing what ought not be done” is gonna be attacked by those doing what ought not be done. There is nothing that they can do to God, but they can persecute His people. And they will. Anyone who dares to say to the woman who ate her child “Stop trying to eat this other woman’s child; you shouldn’t have done that to YOUR child” will be vilified and told they are mean and hateful and prejudiced and not tolerant.

The king blames God for this, not acknowledging that God has been gracious in not wiping Israel off the face of the earth for their myriad sins and disobedience against Him. The king is mad and the king is also powerless…humiliatingly so. His people are eating the next generation!! That’s…stark. And not a good commentary on his leadership. Yet, instead of acknowledging that he never had any power; that all the power is God’s; instead of humbling himself before God and repenting? He digs in deeper.

Recently, in our series on Revelation at church, the passage about the big hailstones falling onto people was our text. My oldest heard that and his eyes got wide and he said “Oh, surely after that there were at least some who repented!” And yet? That’s not what we see.  When he realized that the people still didn’t repent? He was dumbfounded. The fact that the people’s response to giant hail crushing them was to curse God, was totally inconceivable to my son. Yet, that’s what we see. We have to remember that it is God who changes hearts always. Only God. Not us. And our world has been given over to their depravity, to do the things which ought not be done. We need to be on our knees praying for those people because, the reality is, they continue to heap judgment on themselves as they do this. They are making their judgment worse. That should horrify us and we should pray for their eyes to be opened and their hearts to be softened. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Friends, we have to remember where our hope lies: In Christ and His finished work on the cross. As these days get darker, standing for the Bible is going to cost you, and many will decide it isn’t worth the cost. There will be a target on our heads because we line up with Him. Remember, we aren’t greater than our Master…and the world killed Him. We need to remember that our hope is not for safety and security and comfort here, but for an eternity with God in heaven. That’s where our hope is at. And friends? That is so worth it. There is nothing we could experience here in this world that would be better than what we will find when we get to heaven. Nothing. Don’t forfeit eternity for the comforts of this world. Don’t forfeit eternity for the approval of men. Hold fast to Christ and always be ready to give an answer for the hope you have…with gracious words, not with anger.

And know this. At the end of it all? At the end of your life? As you are brought into the presence of your Savior? You will know, for certain, that it was worth it. All the pain, suffering, fighting, hurt, aggravation was worth it, and all of that will be completely gone.

Persevere, saints. Hold fast to your confession of faith and know that He who began the good work in you will complete it. He is the author and perfector of your faith; and He who promises is trustworthy.

Have a great day, friends!

Blessings-

Beth

 

Daily Dose of Truth June 6, 2016

Good morning!! It’s Monday and I have been ordered to go “back to bed” so that the boys can have “boy time” with Papa. HAH! Knowing that likely means coffee and potentially breakfast for me in bed….I obeyed…but snagged my laptop first. It’s day one of our time with Papa, and we are all enjoying the relaxed pace of our day today. God is so good, isn’t He?? Anyway, onto today’s DDT:

2 Kings 6:8-23

Once when the king of Syria was warring against Israel, he took counsel with his servants, saying, “At such and such a place shall be my camp.” 9 But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are going down there.”10 And the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God told him. Thus he used to warn him, so that he saved himself there more than once or twice.

11 And the mind of the king of Syria was greatly troubled because of this thing, and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me who of us is for the king of Israel?” 12 And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” 13 And he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him.” It was told him, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” 14 So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city.

15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. 19 And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.

20 As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw, and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. 21 As soon as the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “My father, shall I strike them down? Shall I strike them down?” 22 He answered, “You shall not strike them down. Would you strike down those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” 23 So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel.

Now, this event may not have taken place chronologically here, but it did occur. So, keeping in mind that we just saw Gehazi get cursed for his greed and pride, when we see “Elisha’s servant” here, it may well have been Gehazi, and this may well have been out of order chronologically. That doesn’t mean it isn’t accurate. We tell stories today and we want everything to be very linear; that wasn’t always true and, in fact, in some cultures it still isn’t the way you tell a story. So, don’t worry about the timing of this, just focus on the text.

Well, Israel as its own kingdom never had much rest, and voila! We have another war with Syria. The Syrian king decides to go camp somewhere with his army for battling Israel. Wherever this was, it appears that it was likely that Israel would pass by and be ambushed or overwhelmed. God sends His prophet, Elisha, to warn the king of Israel not to go there. The king of Israel sends a scout to that place and finds, sure enough, that the army of Syria is there, so the Israelites avoid the attack. This doesn’t just happen once or twice, though; this is a frequent occurrence. As a result, the Syrian’s are being foiled at every corner and the Syrian king is getting frustrated.

Now, here’s the funny part: the King of Syria thinks he has a mole, giving information to Israel so he can’t sneak up on Israel and attack. He doesn’t have a mole; he is fighting a battle against the living God. No need to look any further for the source of his thwarting. However, the king’s men know who God is using to give this information to Israel: Elisha. Now, Elisha is just the mouthpiece of God; he isn’t God. There is no inherent power in Elisha. Still, the king naively thinks that, if he can get rid of Elisha, that he will stop being thwarted. All the king will potentially be able to do is remove the “speaker”; the One doing the speaking will still be as powerful as ever and can raise up a new speaker if need be.

Still, the king of Syria thinks “might” is the answer, so he sends horses, chariots and a great army to surround the city where Elisha is at night. All of this, this whole armed hoard, to capture or kill one man. The king really did think the power was with Elisha…but he also thought he could defeat that power with brute force. He really doesn’t understand the true nature of battle that he is fighting.  

The servant of Elisha (likely Gehazi) goes out in the morning and finds they are surrounded and he promptly begins to panic. Elisha, however, does not. He says a seemingly strange thing, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them”. I imagine the servant thought Elisha had gone over the deep end at this point; he can count to two and he can see that they are vastly outnumbered! But then Elisha prays that his servant might see what he, Elisha sees, and suddenly, the true nature of the battle is revealed to this servant. His eyes are opened and he sees tan absolutely terrifying and amazing sight. The mountain is full of horses, chariots and fire, and all of it is around Elisha. 

I always wonder what this servant’s reaction was at this point. Was he calmed down? Was he more terrified? Did the terror of the army of the Lord cause him to go into a catatonic state? We don’t get to know, so it’s obviously not important for us to know it, but I still wonder.

When the Syrians come to attack Elisha, he prays again. The previous prayer was for the eyes of his servant to be opened; this prayer is that the enemy might have their eyes closed. Notice, he doesn’t pray for their death or destruction; he prays for them to be, basically, incapacitated. An army without its eyes is completely impotent and, in fact, a danger more to itself than to others. Elisha’s request is granted and the force of Syria that came to kill him is blind.

Now, at this point, the enemy is completely at Elisha’s mercy. They are, really and truly, defenseless, despite their weapons. And it appears that this blindness is possibly not actually physical but may be more like “extreme confusion”. Elisha goes to the men and speaks to them, turning them from their path of destruction to his doorstep, and leading them away. And lead them away he does. They go with him for 10 miles all the way to Samaria, Israel’s capital city. It is because of this 10 mile trek and the way that Elisha speaks to them that suggests this may have been a mental confusion. Blind people are hard to lead…especially this large of a force. But if they were not physically blind but, rather, all suffering from a mass delirium, confused and meekly following the one who offers to lead them. And look at what he offers to lead them to: “the man whom you seek.”

Guess what? Elisha delivers on this promise. He does lead them to the man they sought and then he prays that God will open their eyes. When they do, they are standing before Elisha (whom they sought) and the king of Israel. They are now fully awake and aware and brought straight into the heart of enemy territory, as meekly as lambs.

Now, all of this has occurred without the king of Israel having any idea about it, but now that this hoard of Syria’s army is standing in his city, he is as shocked as the Syrian army is! He wants to know what to do with them, and his first thought is “Can I kill them?” Oy. Bloodthirsty little twinky…

In no uncertain terms, Elisha tells the king of Israel to knock it off; there shall be no killing of these men. In fact, Elisha tells the king of Israel he doesn’t have the right to kill these men; the king isn’t the one who captured them, God did. And, additionally, captives at the mercy of their captors were not normally killed, anyway; that was a breach of war etiquette and honor. Elisha tells the king to treat these men like guests, feed them well, and send them home. And that’s exactly what happened. After they had eaten and drunk the king sent the Syrian army home and guess what? The Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel.

Now pause on that thought for a minute. The Syrians were in Israel. This was more than a foothold. They were 10 miles from the capital city. They made serious inroads into Israel. Yet after this, they backed off.

Elisha’s intervention to help this king, likely Jehoram, has nothing to do with Jehoram’s worthiness. The time has not arrived yet for final judgment on this royal dynasty, but when that comes, it will be clear that God is taking action against Jehoram. All of the warnings Elisha gave about Syria’s plans against Israel were given not because he of Jehoram’s good behavior. Elisha warned of Syria’s actions first because God told him to and also because he is a watchman for Israel and he is doing his duty to protect the covenant people of God.

Ya know, the Syrians were a mighty force to be reckoned with. They made huge inroads into Israel, even with the supernatural warnings provided by Elisha. They were within 10 miles of the capital but guess what? It wasn’t time for Jehoram’s dynasty to be destroyed yet. God had a plan for that, and this wasn’t it. The Syrians, though, for all their force and strength of numbers, didn’t know where the real battle was. They knew something was going on and their “hand was being tipped” (so to speak), but they looked for a human source, and sought a human solution to that problem: kill the squealer. But when Elisha looks out the door with his servant and calmly replies that “those  with us are more than those who are with them”, we realize, too, that the real battle is not against this army. And the image that we get here of the mighty host of God, ready for battle! Simply awesome!!

Now, some have taken this scene and made entire (fictional) books about them. I’m just gonna say this: please don’t get your theology from fiction. This event really did happen; there really are hosts of angels; and, as we know from Ephesians 6, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of this dark realm. However. Even reading that in Ephesians 6, we see that Paul doesn’t go into details there; he doesn’t even speculate. Instead, he spends the next section listing what we should be focused on: our “armor”. That’s where our focus should be, not on speculation. We need to focus on the “belt of truth” the “breastplate of righteousness” the “shoes of the gospel of peace” the “shield of faith” the “helmet of salvation” and the “sword of the Spirit”. We are told what those are for and why we need to focus on them; that where the focus should be. We need to understand, yes, that the person over there isn’t the actual enemy. We need to stop treating them like they are the enemy. Yes, there is balance there in terms of “don’t just let people kill your family” and “attack everyone who comes within 40 yards of your family”, but we need to be focused where God tells us to be focused, and that isn’t on the works of demons. Very little is actually said about those things in the Bible, but we are told how to handle ourselves in spiritual battle.

Back to the point. The battle we see may not be the big battle we are actually fighting. That unbelieving person who is continually seeks to do harm to you? They aren’t the enemy. They are a tool in the hands of the ruler of this world; they are deceived and trapped and slaves to sin. Pray for them. Share the gospel with them. Be wise as serpents and innocent of evil. Don’t play the game the way they play it; don’t repay evil with evil or insult with insult but with blessing because that is your calling.

Elisha knew where the real battle was, and he was not scared of those who could not do anything to his soul. He wouldn’t even let the king kill all those men who had come to Dothan for the expressed purpose of killing Elisha. Elisha showed mercy and grace to those men, and even led them to the king to be treated well.

Ya know what? That’s really what God has done for us, friends. We were His enemies when He died for us. Enemies. We wanted His death and His blood. That’s what we cried out for. We were blind to what we really needed and we called for His death. Yet His response? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Forgiveness. He knew what we needed; He knew where the real battle was being played out, even when we didn’t.

We didn’t deserve forgiveness, but we were given it. Not only that, but we were given His righteousness so that we could stand in the King’s presence and be accepted into His feast; the wedding feast. And our mediator, Christ, stands with us before the King, interceding for us to His Father. In many ways, Elisha is a type of Christ here in this scene. He was the intermediary, pointing to the larger picture, and interceding for these men who were blind and didn’t even know what they were doing to the king, not only saving them from death, but also treating them as welcomed guests. We have so much better than that; we aren’t just guests, we are His children! How great the Father’s love that we should be called children of God!!

Something to keep in mind today: we are called to not live as the world lives. We should be striving to live at peace with everyone, as much as it is up to us. We should be repaying evil with blessing, not insults and more evil. And we should remember that men will hate us for that. And they’ll hate us even more for sharing the gospel with them. They killed our Savior; they aren’t gonna be nicer to us than they were to Him. The battle we fight is often not what is in front of us, but is far bigger than that. But ya know what? We know the Victor and He claims us as His own. As His own, precious, children. Whoa.

When you really realize the depths of the grace God has poured out on us, it is overwhelming. We deserved eternal damnation; we were gracious forgiven, given righteousness that is not our own, and adopted as sons and daughters of the One whom we were in open rebellion against. Amazing love! Amazing grace.

Have a wonderful day, friends!

Blessings-

Beth

 

Unexpected Pause in Life

Next week begins my summer swimming schedule. That means I'll be underwater a lot. This has required some wrangling for this coming week. Monday is the day when I have to be online at 10 am to register our boys for the classes they will take through our homeschool assistance program; I can't do that from IN the water, so I had to shuffle a few lessons to carve out a slot to do that. (No, husband can’t do it. He has been called to a meeting that is all day, downtown, and he won’t have internet access reliably to do what needs to be done.)

Thus, Monday morning looks like this: 8:30-9:00 swim lesson, run home, register boys, hop back in car and be back at pool by 10:30 to teach for another hour. And that’s just Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday involve much more water time than Monday. And I’m honestly fine with that! I may groan a bit in the “getting to the pool” part of my day, but once I’m in the water, I am where I am supposed to be, and I love teaching the kids. I really do or I wouldn’t do this every summer.

On top of that, next weekend is the homeschool conference we like to go to and Ted Tripp is the keynote....soooo...my dad is coming to visit on Sunday so he can watch the boys while we are doing the conference thing. My dad is great, and he'll just go along for the ride. Literally. As in he will not complain about being dragged to the pool multiple times a day OR he will offer to keep the boys at home so only I have to go to the pool...that kind of thing. But, it's a bummer that, while he'll be here, I'll be a crazy person, teaching lessons and running hither, thither, and yon.

But God has other plans for my week next week.

I had taken the boys up to our condo pool to play, and was ruminating over a passage in 2 Kings (for a DDT that will be posted in a few days) about how God providentially lines up soooo many things we don't even see coming, and yet He has it all worked out. How we often may worry over things or anticipate a “fight” that never comes because God has a different plan in mind for us. As I finished up the DDT I was working on, I was just still kinda contemplating all the ways that God prepares things for us, and as I was thinking, I got an email from my boss at the Y.

The pool is broken. The pumps are down. What that means is the water is not circulating in our pool. When water doesn’t circulate it gets stagnant. Then it gets nasty and grows things. You can dump all the chlorine you want in the pool, and it will sit, right where you dumped it, and go absolutely nowhere, ‘cuz the water isn’t circulating. They know what part needs to be replaced; it is ordered. However, the longer the water sits there, stagnant, the longer it will take to get it circulated and get it swimmable again. And right now, Wednesday is the very earliest estimate that we have for any possibility of swimming…and that’s a slim hope.

So, guess what? God has my week in His hands. (He always does, but this is a vast difference from what I anticipated.) I no longer will be rushing around on Monday to make it to the pool to teach, home to register, then pool to teach again. I will be able to enjoy my dad’s visit next week, taking the days as they come, without rushing about. We can plan our days to do as little or as much as possible, and we have the flexibility to do it. Ah-ma-zing.

So, yanno, I just had to share, ‘cuz I know that this didn’t surprise God. I did the best I could to make wise choices with the swim lessons and with my dad’s visit, and we were content with that. And, if the pool miraculously was fixed by Monday, we could go back to plan A. (It won’t be. Don’t get excited. It’s Friday and they ordered the part this morning. It won’t be here this weekend.) So, I am bound and determined to enjoy the rest that God has provided; not to fill it up with “all the things” but to take it one day at a time and go from there. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to relaxing with my dad, instead of rushing about with my dad. YAY GOD!

Enjoy your weekend, friends. Life will restart full throttle in a week, and I’m ready for that when it happens. But for now? I’m gonna take the unexpected “pause” in my days and just enjoy them.

Blessings-

Beth