Today: [2 Kings Chapter Eight] Prophets, Kings and Widows. In this chapter Elisha gives a widow a word after which she loses her home as a result. He prophesies to a servant and a king is murdered as a result. There are many aspects of Elisha’s ministry that would get him censored by the so-called prophetic authorities today. Yet he was greatly used of God so much so his life becomes a part of the sacred narrative we call the bible.
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[2Ki 8:1-29 KJV] 1 Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years. 2 And the woman arose, and did after the saying of the man of God: and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. 3 And it came to pass at the seven years’ end, that the woman returned out of the land of the Philistines: and she went forth to cry unto the king for her house and for her land. 4 And the king talked with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done. 5 And it came to pass, as he was telling the king how he had restored a dead body to life, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, My lord, O king, this [is] the woman, and this [is] her son, whom Elisha restored to life. 6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed unto her a certain officer, saying, Restore all that [was] hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now.
In this chapter we find a narrative of several successive kings in Israel and in Judah. Remember that the kingdom was divided after Solomon’s reign because of the idolatry Solomon promoted in the land. The line of kings in the Northern Tribes were not just rebels because it was ordained by God that they exist, however they were idolatrous because they erected in Bethel an altar to the golden calf the people worshipped in the wilderness. This was done because the northern kings did not want the people to return to Jerusalem to worship. They were also steeped in the worship of Baal under the influence of Ahab and his wife Jezebel.
Elisha sends word to the woman who had provided him a room in her house whose son had been raised to life. Her husband has subsequently died and there is a famine forthcoming in the land. He instructs her to flee from Israel that she and her son might live. Afterwards she returns and finds her lands have been taken over in her absence. She goes to the king of the northern tribes and cries out to him for justice that her lands might be restored. At the very time that she stands without making her voice heard the king is asking Elisha’s former servant Gehazi to tell him a story about Elisha. Gehazi is Elisha’s servant who was struck with leprosy in the matter concerning Naaman the Syrian general who was cured of the same disease. Gehazi has not faded from view, he in fact has ingratiated himself into the royal court because of his knowledge of Elisha. Gehazi points out that this is the woman whose son was raised to life and the king orders her lands restored.
The important thing to see here is the ongoing relationship of the woman with Elisha. Elisha tells her to make a geographical move. Now the prophets today who are well known strictly prohibit any prophecy concerning “dates, mates, geographical moves or babies…” If Elisha had subscribe to this then he would have never prophesied that this woman would have a baby. If he had subscribed to this then he would have never told this woman to flee the famine to come. Notice now that the flight of this woman at the word of Elisha was not without consequences. Yet she survived but she also lost all her property. What would the prophets today say if one of their own prophesied to a woman to make a temporary geographical and as a result her home was foreclosed on. You have an uproar. Tongues would cluck and the prophets like armchair quarterbacks would say “tsk! Tsk! Tsk!”. Yet God had it all under control Elisha is not responsible for what happens after he gave the word of the Lord. God had it all under control. When God gives you a word His highest priority is not to keep your blood pressure down or to promise you there will be no upheaval in your life. Yet things worked out nonetheless and all that really happened is that the woman’s lands did not fall into neglect. The people who wanted to steal her land actually only served to keep things going until her return.
7 And Elisha came to Damascus; and Benhadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither. 8 And the king said unto Hazael, Take a present in thine hand, and go, meet the man of God, and enquire of the LORD by him, saying, Shall I recover of this disease? 9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels’ burden, and came and stood before him, and said, Thy son Benhadad king of Syria hath sent me to thee, saying, Shall I recover of this disease? 10 And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the LORD hath shewed me that he shall surely die. 11 And he settled his countenance stedfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept. 12 And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child. 13 And Hazael said, But what, [is] thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The LORD hath shewed me that thou [shalt be] king over Syria. 14 So he departed from Elisha, and came to his master; who said to him, What said Elisha to thee? And he answered, He told me [that] thou shouldest surely recover. 15 And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick cloth, and dipped [it] in water, and spread [it] on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead.
Here is an instance of the king of Syria sending a servant by the name of Hazael to Elisha for a word. Notice that he takes a gift in his hand. This was common practice in those days. You never came before the Lord or the prophets empty handed. He actually brought forty camels loaded with every good thing from Damascus. I wonder why those who gainsay a donation for prophetic ministry don’t reject the ministry of Elisha? Was Elisha wrong to receive this gift? Was he a hireling or selling a prophetic word because he answered the king after the gift was given? One might say “well that was in the Old Testament it doesn’t apply today…” Then why does Jesus say in Matt. 10:41 that when you give to a prophet you receive a prophet’s reward? The prophet is actually the only one of the 5-fold ministry (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) that Jesus mentions by name and encourages people to give to? What is really at issue here is the encroachment of prophetic ministry on the traditional purview of pastoral territory. The people who scream insults at prophets for receiving an offering think nothing of supporting their pastors, in fact they do it willingly. God wants them to know that pastors do not own the church or the purse strings of the kingdom of God. God wants men to relinquish church as they know it for church as God wants it and that includes the pastors yielding the territory they hold to prophets, and apostles and the other ministries as well. Believe the prophets so shall you prosper – until the church yields to the ministries God places in their midst she will not prosper to the extend God desires.
The king of Syria wishes to know if he will recover. Elisha says that the disease is not unto death but that the king will die anyway. What he actually sees is that Hazael will return to Syria and murder the king by suffocation. He weeps because he sees that Hazael will become a brutal enemy of Israel. Hazael hears this and promptly goes back to Syria and does this very thing. Why didn’t Elisha keep his mouth shut? Did Elisha merely see that this would happen or did he bring it about? Sometimes a prophet sees what is coming, other times he speaks things into being with unforeseen consequences.
16 And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat [being] then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign. 17 Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. 18 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab: for the daughter of Ahab was his wife: and he did evil in the sight of the LORD. 19 Yet the LORD would not destroy Judah for David his servant’s sake, as he promised him to give him alway a light, [and] to his children. 20 In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves. 21 So Joram went over to Zair, and all the chariots with him: and he rose by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him about, and the captains of the chariots: and the people fled into their tents. 22 Yet Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time. 23 And 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 And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.
Now we come to the time of Joram reigning in Jerusalem and Jehoram Ahab’s son reigning in Israel. Joram of Judah decides to follow in the steps of the northern kings as an idolator. He liked what he saw in the Northern Kingdom and fashioned his own reign after Jehoram’s. He did evil in the sight of the Lord and as a result the tribes of Edom revolted under his rule and in the long term he was unable to subdue them. He was worthy of death and a grief to the Lord but God did not destroy him because of His promise to king David to always keep a light of David on the throne in Jerusalem.
You see here that for David’s sake Joram was spared. David is a type of Jesus. Just as Joram was spared for David’s sake so you and I are spared for Jesus’ sake. We do many things worthy of death – always remember that God judges from his perfect law. Under the law even picking up sticks on the Sabbath makes you worthy of death (Numbers 15:32). Today the church applies a hybrid mixture of Hebrew law and religious culture as a form of pseudo-righteousness as to what makes a Christian a “good Christian”. Christians pick and choose certain laws from the Old Testament but ignore others without a clear line of demarcation to explain why it is ok to exceed a Sabbath day’s journey and to eat ham sandwiches but it is not ok to forbear tithing, etc. Remember the words of James:
[Jas 2:10 KJV] 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all.
This tells us that you don’t have permission to pick and choose what points of the law you are required to obey and which points you can ignore (don’t be messing with my eggs and BACON!). At the same time just because we belong to Christ does this means we are exempt from any expectation of obedience? (This is commonly practices among many Christians). Jesus had this to say:
[Mat 5:20 KJV] 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus did not come to exempt us from the law but that the law might be fulfilled and exceeded in us. As an example the law says give 10% but Jesus said sell all, give all and come follow him. To that most Christians reply “I would rather just be obligated for 10%” and thence we have a polluted, corrupt religious culture that strains at a gnat and swallows a camel and the world laughs at our powerlessness. Now listen to what I’m saying and what I’m not saying. I am not speaking by exclusion I am speaking by emphasis. As a sincere Christian you want Jesus to have everything of your life and not just a portion – therefore we must seek a place of honest accountability before God in our own hearts each and every one of us.
So when we look at Joram and his idolatry let us not cluck our tongues that he was only spared because of David’s sake for you and I depend every day on the mercy of God who spares us who fail his standards every day because of Jesus’ sake. Then let us unlike Joram who continued in idolatry to seek the Lord and find out what our lives should look like in the light of God’s mercy.
25 In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah begin to reign. 26 Two and twenty years old [was] Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name [was] Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel. 27 And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the LORD, as [did] the house of Ahab: for he [was] the son in law of the house of Ahab. 28 And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to the war against Hazael king of Syria in Ramothgilead; and the Syrians wounded Joram. 29 And king Joram went back to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which 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.
The chapter ends with Jehoram the idolatrous king of Jerusalem traveling to Samaria to comfort the idolatrous king of the Northern Kingdom. The world loves it’s own. Those who mock and rejoice openly when something bad happens to a well known Christian will mourn and lament when the favorite pagan experiences some set back. Jesus says this to us:
[Jhn 13:35 KJV] 35 By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
The world is unimpressed by our religious culture. It is unmoved by the buildings we build, the sermons we preach or the signs and wonders we claim to perform. Prophets are not the key to winning the lost, nor evangelists, or some cataclysmic event that the turn the eyes of the world to the cross. The key that Jesus plainly and unequivocally proclaims will cause our witness to Christ to be know is simple – love one another. Genuinely, with authenticity – love one another. If we manage to do that then our obedience is fulfilled. In the absence of this all the energy and expenditure of lives and resources is nothing but sounding brass unless we love one another with a pure heart fervently.
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