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
Synopsis 2Sam 3:10-21 11/18/2018
Ishbaal was the son of Saul and the second king of Israel. Abner was the general over Ishbaal’s army. He was also Saul’s first cousin.
But Ishbaal’s kingdom was in trouble. After Saul died, the tribe of Judah had named David as their king. And Samuel had anointed David as the next king. Samuel had anointed David as the next king of Israel. And it was widely known that the great prophet, Samuel anointed David for this purposed. And he prophesied about David’s kingship. But, as time dragged on, Ishbaal could feel his power weakening. But he blamed Abner his problems. And, in an effort to undermine him, Ishbaal accused Abner of a crime.
Ishbaal’s charge enraged Abner. And he responded by committing to helping David become king over the whole of Israel. He made a pact with David. Likewise, the tribal leaders from all the tribes of Israel made clear their disdain for politics as usual. So Abner consulted with the tribal leaders of all the tribes of Israel. He got them to ally with David. And he even secured the return of Michael, David’s estranged wife whom Saul had given to a man named Peltial.
Finally, Abner met with David face-to-face in Hebron. There they made a pact. The kingdom was about to finally come to David, just as God had promised and the prophet Samuel had spoke.
David Was Shrewd
David demanded the return of Michal as a prerequisite to meeting with Abner. But David’s motive transcended the romantic. His request was a brilliantly timed political demand that was intended to accomplish two things.
First, it was an implicit threat of war. When Ishbaal received the demand from David to restore his wife Michal, he immediately sent Michal back to David. Michal was Ishbaal’s sister. So, he sent his own sister back to his archenemy even though Saul had given Michal to a second husband named Paltiel. Ishbaal did this despite the lawful pleas of her second husband. Ishbaal clearly feared that David would use any refusal as a premise for war.
Second, the demand for Michal created a set of circumstances by which Abner could meet with David without suspicion.
David trusted God. But he also looked for ways to agree with what God was doing in his life. This is how he positioned himself to generate the unique value that he alone was created to bring into the world.
God is Faithful But I Still Have Work To Do
I have to agree with God if I’m going to enter into the possibility of my life.
He says, “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself”. And so I focus my attention on these two things. And, God saves me through the circumstances I encounter. As they are given. So, I encounter the circumstances through which I will create the value that I was created to bring into this world.
Potential to actual. The true manifestation of an eternal reality.
Num 13:25-14:2 11/13/2017
The scouts gave their report to Moses in the hearing of the people. The information they reported was accurate. However, their interpretation of what they had seen left the people despondent because most of the scouts had concluded the land was unconquerable.
There is an inevitable despair that comes when I am faced with the prospect of having to do something I know is impossible for me. My natural response is to avoid the situation – if I can, then somehow escape. If not, I face it with grim resignation in the knowledge that my effort is futile.
Nicodemus once said to Jesus, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”
It sometimes sounds like a theological exchange – I think that’s how I have often read it. A Pharisee looking for an intellectual joust; marveling at the wisdom of an unlearned teacher.
But this morning, I am struck by the thought that Nicodemus was really as frightened by Jesus’ message as his ancestors had been at the prospect of entering a land inhabited by giants. His response suddenly seems like a frightened cry; A deeply personal “I can’t do this.”
God made you powerful to accomplish every good thing. Whatever you face today – you are more than a conqueror through your belief in Him.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17
Lev 12:5-13:4 8/5/2017
Uncleanness and the community.
It’s hard in the post-Christian age to think of what it must have been like to have a medical condition in ancient days. Even something routine in our time was the cause of stress and anxiety, both for the individual and the community.
Death was always lurking. Community was the only consolation and hope for security. Community was everything. God created man for community. The needs of the community before the needs of the individual.
A system that erases stigma and suspicion allows the community to heal and overcome.
Priest, sacrifice, community.
Twice Joseph is betrayed – each time his garment is used to bear false witness against him. In both cases, if his “judges” had scrutinized the testimony they received, they could have gotten to the truth.
Yet, in both cases, the false claims were accepted and Joseph suffered having done no wrong.
Joseph’s defamation seems to have done nothing to help him. In the famine to come, God could have as easily introduced Joseph to Pharaoh as the leader of the small Hebrew clan – and the dream that Joseph was originally given would have still come to pass. But for some reason, all of this suffering was necessary.
Though he wasn’t the benefactor on either point, Joseph’s suffering clearly accomplished two things: It provided testimony about his integrity and motives. Second, it created a path for the redemption of Judah and his brothers.
Oh Lord, let me be so saved.
But of course, He already has.