Thursday, May 5, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 88. A Miracle, Jehoash Recovers Israeli Towns

Prophets And Kings
Day 88
A Miracle
Jehoash Recovers Israeli Towns

Elisha died in yesterdays passage and today an unusual miracle occurs regarding hims bones. Also, as Elisha predicted, Jehoash defeats the Arameans three times.

2 KINGS 13:20b-25
"Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring." (2 Kings 13:20b) As we learned while studying the life of King David, the spring was when kings went to war. The fall and winter was the rainy season and conflicts were usually suspended til the spring. Evidently the Moabites were in the habit of making forays into Israel every spring. They were as regular as clockwork about it.

"Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet." (2 Kings 13:21) A man has died and the people have brought his body to the cemetery for burial. Before they can get him in the ground, they spot a raiding party and so they don't have time to complete a proper burial. Instead they throw his body into Elisha's tomb and head back to the fortified city of Jerusalem. 

What an unusual miracle takes place! When the man's body touches the bones of Elisha, he comes back to life. Nothing more is said about this man. We aren't given his name. We aren't told the reaction of the men who just a few minutes ago were attempting to bury him. And I think there's a good reason for that. I think the author wants to keep our eyes on the Lord and not on any of these men. 

Yesterday we talked about how little was said about the death and burial of Elisha. We discussed how this is probably just as Elisha would have wanted it. He lived his whole life pointing people to the Lord, not to himself. He never made any kind of big deal about himself, though if any man in the Old Testament had reason to take pride in himself, it was Elisha. But he never did; his pride was in the God of Israel. So today's miracle doesn't glorify the man who came back to life. It doesn't even glorify Elisha because all that's left of him are some dry lifeless bones. His spirit has gone on to be with the Lord and his bones have no power to resurrect anyone. The power is of the Lord. 

This miracle seems so strange and it occurs right in the middle of ordinary events, such as the Moabites attacking every spring. In my background research, most of the scholars discuss this miracle without giving any particular reason for it, but I did find a possible reason and I think it's a good one. The miracle takes place after Elisha made a prophecy to the king of Israel about three future victories over Aram. And it takes place before the three victories over Aram. So this suggests that the miracle is related to what comes next: Jehoash defeating the Arameans three times. Maybe this unusual miracle is a reminder to Jehoash that the Lord's promise didn't die with Elisha. Israel's security was not in Elisha but in her God. Remember how yesterday Jehoash wept over the impending death of Elisha, fearing that the favor of the Lord would disappear with him? Today's miracle is proof that God is going to keep His word. 

"Hazael king of Aram oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Jehoahaz. But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day He has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from His presence." (2 Kings 13:22-23) The author reminds us of how God preserved Israel during the reign of Jehoahaz, King Jehoash's father. Yesterday as I studied, and as I listened to Christian music in the car, and as I listened to the pastor at church, there was a connected theme of thankfulness for past victories. It's important to look back on all that God has done for us. Remembering how He delivered us in the past strengthens our faith that He will deliver us today and tomorrow. It's easy to feel discouraged in the midst of troubles. It's easy to feel apprehensive about the future. But when we take time to look back and be thankful for all the Lord has brought us through, we find new life, just like the man whose body touched Elisha's bones. We are revived and renewed.

"Hazael king of Aram died, and Ben-Hadad his son succeeded him as king." (2 Kings 13:24) The Lord protected Israel during all the years of King Hazael. Though this king oppressed them, he was never permitted to destroy them. And now he comes to the end of his life, not having been successful in wiping Israel out. No one will ever wipe Israel out. Today she sits surrounded by enemies who would love to see her cease to exist but our promise-keeping God will keep His word to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Our promise-keeping God will keep His word to King David. Israel will never cease being a people before Him. 

Hazael's predecessor was named Ben-Hadad and this is the man he secretly smothered to death as he lay on his sickbed. No one in Aram knows what Hazael did and he even has the nerve to name his own son after the man he murdered. He hypocritically tries to honor the man he killed by naming his heir after him. But his heir will not be as powerful as the first Ben-Hadad, for God will keep the promise made to King Jehoash through the prophet Elisha. "Then Jehoash son of Jehoahaz recaptured from Ben-Hadad son of Hazael the towns he had taken in battle from his father Jehoahaz. Three times Jehoash defeated him, and so he recovered the Israelite towns." (2 Kings 13:25) 

If only Jehoash had shot more arrows yesterday he could have defeated the Arameans so soundly that they would never again have been a threat to Israel. This is why Elisha was angry with Jehoash yesterday, because he lacked the faith to ask for a decisive victory. The king's faith was weak and he only had the courage to ask small things of God. But still the Lord was faithful to His word: He gave Jehoash the three victories he asked for. 

Let's not stop short of full victory. Let's not ask to win the battle but to win the war. Our God is greater than anything our minds could possibly imagine. This is the God who said, "Let there be light," and the universe sprang into existence. Can a God who did that not solve our daily problems, big and small? Can a God who created all things not bring our lost loved ones to Christ? Can a God who parted the Red Sea not help us pay our bills? Can a God who brings the dead back to life not put our marriages back together? Can a God who walked on the water not bring wayward children home? 

Today is the National Day of Prayer so when we pray let's look back and be thankful. Let's also look forward and ask big things of our big God. He is able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine. In bringing big things to Him, we honor who He is. We display our faith that He is able to handle whatever we ask of Him. Our God can do all things so let's ask for nothing less than total victory. 

No comments:

Post a Comment