Synopsis 2 Kings 4:36-44 8/5/2019
There was a famine in the land of Israel. At one-point during this time, Elisha hosted the guild prophets at Gilgal. So, he directed his servant to make a pot of vegetable stew.
However, someone who was helping to prepare the stew inadvertently added wild, poisonous gourds. Upon being served, the guild prophets recognized immediately that there was something wrong. So, they complained to Elisha that the stew was deadly. But Elisha simply added some meal to the stew and it was made good to eat.
On another occasion, Elisha was brought twenty barley loaves and some fresh (unroasted) grain as an offering. He happened to have one hundred guests to feed when it arrived. So, he told his servant to put the food out before the people.
Despite it not being enough by any normal standard to feed so many people, there was enough for everyone to eat and still have some left over.
Elisha Multiplying Loaves
The stew wasn’t good for feeding the prophets. And there wasn’t enough bread to serve the masses. And yet, somehow with God, it was enough.
You Give Them Something To Eat
Like the prophet’s servant, it’s easy to think that what I have to offer isn’t life-giving. Or similarly, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the belief that what I have isn’t enough to be helpful to other people.
But the truth is that our gifts are enough. What you have been given, is perfectly positioned to be just what’s necessary for someone else to experience the fullness of life.
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;” 1 Cor 12:4
Synopsis 2 Kings 4:26-35 8/2/2019
The Shunamite woman and her husband built a friendship with the prophet Elisha. Because of their generosity to him, he prayed for her to have a son. And so, the woman bore a son. And the child was healthy and grew naturally.
However, the child died after unspecified head pain. And so, the woman laid him in the room that they had built for the prophet. And then she rode a donkey a full days’ journey from her home in Shunem to Mt Carmel.
When she arrived there, she prevailed upon Elisha to come and heal the child. So, he went to her home. And there, he prayed over the child. And like Elijah had done in a similar situation, he actually spread himself over the child. After repeating this twice, the child’s life was restored.
The Shunamite’s Faith
The child had died in his mother’s lap. Yet she did not accept the finality of this death. Instead, she went out a day’s journey and then returned with the prophet. Even though her son was multiple days dead, she was still sure Elisha could heal him.
There is a temptation to think that I am beyond the power of redemption. My moral failures and general inadequacies tempt me to believe that God couldn’t really love something as ugly and imperfect as I am.
And yet, it is believing just this that changes everything.
“Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,” John 11:25
Synopsis 2 Kings 4:14-25 8/1/2019
Just like his mentor Elijah, the prophet Elisha lived on Mount Carmel. However, he travelled about the kingdom of Israel ministering to the people.
In the village of Shunem, there was a wealthy woman who prevailed upon the prophet to accept her family’s hospitality whenever he was nearby. She and her husband went so far as to build and furnish a second story room on their roof where the prophet could spend the night.
Elisha was impressed with her kindness. She had been generous to him and his servant. And yet, she had no obvious needs. Elisha had no way to bless her for her generosity. His servant observed that the woman had no son – and therefore no security should her husband die.
So, Elisha prophesied that she would give birth to a son. And so, the following year she conceived and bore a son. And the child grew up healthy.
But then, one day the child fell ill while in the fields with his father. He was taken back to the woman where he died as she held him. She immediately placed the child on the bed of the prophet, mounted a donkey and rode to the prophet for help.
Shunamite Calls for Help
With her mouth, she never asked the prophet for any particular blessing, including a son. But through her actions she showed that she was willing to accept whatever God brought into her life. And so, she loved the child that Elisha had prophesied that God intended to bring into her life.
As a result of her faith in receiving the child, she had the faith to recognize that the child came from God for God’s purpose. And so, prayer and intercession for the child needed to be directed back to God. She rode to the prophet to gain intercession with God.
Call on God in the Day of Distress
Trusting God means trusting God always. But in the moment of affliction, it’s rarely easy.
And, it seems, that my trust will always be challenged by the unexpected and distressing things that happen in life.
But it’s precisely in those moments that God is most proximate. And it is in those moments where learn the value of trusting God no matter what outcome.
“Then call on me on the day of distress; I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.” Psalm 50:15
Synopsis 2 Kings 4:33-13 7/31/2019
The wife of a guild prophet approached Elisha. She was recently widowed. And her husband left her in debt. So, her husband’s creditors came to take her children and sell them into slavery. So, she appealed to Elisha to help her.
The prophet asked her what resources she had. And she reported that she had only a single jug of oil. So, he instructed her to borrow as many jars and containers as possible. Once she had collected as many as possible, he instructed her to fill them from the jar she had.
She did as instructed. And she filled jar after jar until all the jars she had borrowed were filled. Then the oil ran out. She returned to Elisha and reported what had happened. He instructed her to go to the market and sell the oil. From this, there was enough money to settle all her husband’s debts and provide a living for her and her children.
God Provides Oil
The woman was faithful to the instructions of the prophet. She borrowed as many containers as she could. And then, God used what resources she had on hand to provide an extraordinary blessing.
But what if she hadn’t been faithful. What if she was too embarrassed to ask for help. What if she had only borrowed two or three containers. She would have regretted not attending more faithfully to the instructions she had heard. And this would have most likely been her dying regret.
The woman’s success was dependent on her action. She believed Elisha and so her actions followed – she collected a lot of jars.
It is the same for you and me. We, each of us, have some gift. And maybe in its present form it seems meager and insufficient. But God is in the habit of meeting faithful effort to accomplish His purposes in the earth.
He takes what you or I can do, and through our faithful use of his gifts, He makes the extraordinary.
“Abraham named that place Yahweh-yireh; hence people today say, “On the mountain the LORD will provide.” Gen 22:14
Synopsis 2 Kings 3:12-21 7/29/2019
King Jehoshaphat led King Joram and the king of Edom on a visit to the prophet Elisha. The three kings had united to fight against Moab. And so, the approached Moab through the wilderness. But along the way they had run out of water. So, the kings asked Elisha.
Elisha did not hide his disdain for King Joram – the king of Israel. But, because of his respect for Jehoshaphat, he agreed to help. In the end, he assured the kings that God would supply water and that they would have success against Moab.
Three Kings: Hearing and Doing
Despite Elisha’s clear disdain for King Joram, he gave a good prophetic word. They were told through prophecy that God supported their plans. And with this, they pressed on.
Hearing and Doing
It is a moment of reassurance – to hear the word of the Lord.
So, we live in the time of the revelation of Christ Jesus. And as it is written, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
May we all walk in this blessed assurance today.
“Some rely on chariots, others on horses, but we on the name of the LORD our God.” Psalm 20:8
Synopsis 2 Kings 3:22-4:2 7/30/2019
The three kings had combined the forces of Israel, Judah and Edom. However, they had run out of water for their armies. And so they sought counsel from Elisha. And the prophet had encouraged them.
God miraculously provided a flow of water in the wadi near where the Israelites had camped. As the sun rose, the Moabites saw the water and thought it was blood, since there had been no rain. They wrongly concluded that the three armies had turned on each other.
So, the Moabite men ran headlong into the Israelite camp in a rush to get the booty. However, as they arrived, they found the three armies very much alive. The three armies overtook the disorganized Moabite forces and pursued them throughout the nation – destroying the infrastructure of the nation along the way.
As the sun rose, the water God had sent appeared as red as blood. Additionally, there had been no rain. So, a natural conclusion might be that the water was actually blood.
And no one seems to have challenged this conclusion. So, the Maobites ran headlong into a massacre.
Misunderstanding All We See
It’s in ignorance that I make my most egregious mistakes. And if I’m not diligent with God’s prescription for truth, then I remain ignorant. The Word says, “establish every truth on the basis of two or three witnesses.”
And it doesn’t matter if I choose to remain ignorant because of my pride or if I just lack much experience in life.
However it happens, when I misidentify the circumstances of my life, my sense of value forces action. And the action makes visible for me and all the world what is really going on inside my heart.
This is the gift of feedback. And it’s built into the fabric of our moral life.
Embrace the feedback.
“At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” Heb 12:11
Synopsis 2 Kings 2:17-3:2 7/25/2019
Elisha saw Elijah taken up in a fiery chariot. And he knew that he would see Elijah no more. But the local prophets wanted to search for Elijah. And so, he waited.
Elisha remained in Jericho while the guild prophets searched for Elijah’s remains. After this, Elisha performed two miracles. First, he healed the foul spring of Jericho and made the water fresh. Second, he cursed a large group of boys who were mocking and threatening him. In this case, two mother bears came out of a forest and attacked the children.
After all this, he returned to Elijah’s home at Mount Carmel before going on to stay in Samaria.
Meanwhile, Joram replaced his brother Ahaziah as king. And, he then reigned twelve years.
Elisha Established in Power
Elisha’s life had changed. Before he was Elijah’s assistant. But now, he was imbued with power.
He had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. And he had recovered Elijah’s mantle when the prophet was taken up. But the evidence of his anointing was made visible in power. He was able to respond to his circumstances in power.
And, like Elijah before him, the manifestation of his power was a testimony to God’s power.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit has been with me since my baptism. So, why the lack of power? How come I don’t look like Elisha?
It’s all about love.
Love is the effort of creating value for another. It is action directed another that allows them to enter into the full possibility of their life. The Holy Spirit is geared toward this effort alone. He will only show up in power to the extent that my immediate object is the salvation of a soul.
“But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Synopsis 2 Kings 2:8-16 7/24/2019
Elijah used his mantle to part the waters of the Jordan river. And so, he and Elisha crossed over on dry ground.
Though neither had discussed it, both prophets knew that Elijah was soon to be taken by God. And so, Elijah asked Elisha if there was anything that he could do for him. Elisha responded by asking for a “double portion” of his spirit.
Soon thereafter, Elijah was taken up by God on a fiery chariot powered by fiery horses. But Elijah dropped his mantle when he was taken up. And Elisha recovered it.
After this, Elisha crossed the Jordan river by parting the waters with the mantle. There, he encountered other prophets from Jericho who had witnessed Elijah’s departure. He told them not to spend their time looking for Elijah.
Elijah’s Spiritual Legacy
Elisha had grown to love Elijah like a father. And so, he cried out when Elijah was taken from him. And, he tore his clothes.
But Elijah’s departure was necessary in order for Elisha to enter into the fullness of his ministry. And so, he took up Elijah’s mantle and returned to Israel in power.
My Spiritual Legacy
A basic premise of our faith is that God works through fathers and mothers to invest a legacy in the lives of their children.
I want that for my children. We all want that for our children.
And so, we pray that our example will contribute in a positive way to their formation. And we pray that their eyes will be open at their moment of encounter with God.
“A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” John 16:16
Synopsis 2Kings 1:17-2:7 7/23/2019
Ahaziah was the king of Israel. He died after reigning for only two years. He had no sons and so Joram became king after him.
Meanwhile, God had called Elijah to the Jordan. Elijah knew this would be his final encounter on earth. And so he asked Elisha to remain behind. At several different locations along the journey, he encouraged Elisha to remain. However, Elisha would not leave Elijah.
Elisha Held Tight
Elisha followed Elijah. Years before, he had been personally called to follow Elijah. And he had given up everything else in his life in order to follow.
He was looking for something from this relationship. And he wasn’t going to be dissuaded from following through to the end. He was determined.
Hold On Tight To Your Dreams
Always in life, the temptation is to quite just before the blessings come. The voices I hear encourage me to “let go” and “give up” at a moment just before the fulfillment of my dreams. And sometimes I have succumbed to this temptation.
It’s a lesson from life and scripture.
God doesn’t stop this from happening. In fact, sometimes it feels like Elijah. It feels like the discouragements of the journey are a deliberate test to see how determined I really am to enter into all that God has promised.
“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force.” Matt 11:12
Synopsis 2Sam 17:8-14 1/9/2019
Hushai the Archite remained behind in Jerusalem. King David asked him to do whatever he could to frustrate the wisdom of Ahithophel. So, he approached Absalom and offered his services. Absalom accepted his offer. And then, he asked Hushai his opinion of Ahithophel’s plan.
Hushai knew that David needed more time to escape the area and consolidate his forces. He argued that Ahithophel’s plan was rash. In opposition to Ahithophel, Hushai counseled Absalom to wait for the creation of a very large force. And then, he advised that Absalom himself should go out and crush David along with all of his followers.
Absalom accepted Hushai’s counsel over Ahithophel’s.
Ahithophel was a trusted advisor to King David. And he was renowned for his wisdom. However, he was also the grandfather of Bathsheba. And it’s likely that his son Elias, was among David’s mighty men.
So, David’s adultery with Bathsheba was a deep offense. And David’s murder of her husband was a grave injustice. Ahithophel was offended. Moreover, it’s likely that he interpreted Absalom’s coup as God’s wrath on David for these offenses.
But this is curious. Ahithophel was the wisest man in the world. Yet, because he felt the feelings of offense, he made the very unwise decision to support Absalom against David. And, of course, God thwarted his wisdom in the end.
The Emotion of Offense
When I am offended, I feel the offense. The experience is not a matter of thinking.
In fact, the feelings of being offended are one of the quickest ways to exit rational thought and behavior.
God’s grace is enough. The offenses come and the offenses go but steadfast is the grace of the Lord.
“Thus says the LORD: Let not the wise boast of his wisdom, nor the strong boast of his strength, nor the rich man boast of his riches;” Jer 9:22