Spiritual Rants: June 24 “Thanks For Ax-ing” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: 2 Kings 6:1-7:20 Acts 15:36-16:15 Psalm 142:1-7 Proverbs 17:24-2

Old Testament: 2 Kings 6:1-7:20

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2 Kings 6:1-5  Thanks For Ax-ing

Why is it such a big deal that Elisha recovered an axe head?  In that day, there were not many tools available to the Israelites — and it was a borrowed axe head!  It would have been almost impossible to replace.  They needed it to fell trees to build a larger school since they were growing so fast.  Fortunately, they had Elisha on the faculty who miraculously recovered the ax head by throwing a stick where it had sank.  That made it float to the top and made it easy to retrieve.  Try making an ax head float sometime.  It’s not that easy.  Elisha ended up saving the day.

2 Kings 6:8-23   I Once Was Blind But Now . . .

Elisha warned Joram, the king of Israel, not to pass by a particular place because he knew that the king of Aram was getting ready to attack him there.  He warned the king several times.  When the king of Aram realized that the king of Israel knew where he was, he was enraged.  He wanted to know who the mole was in his camp trading information to the enemy.  He was told that Elisha, the prophet, knew what the king was saying even in his own bedroom.    The king of Aram asked where Elisha was so he could kidnap him.  He was told Elisha was in Dothan so he sent out troops to capture him.

When Elisha got up the next morning, his servant told him they were surrounded by horses and chariots.  Elisha comforted him saying, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (v. 16). Elisha prayed that the servant’s eyes would be opened to the spiritual world and when he did the servant could see horses and chariots of fire protecting Elisha.  Then Elisha prayed that the enemy would be struck with blindness. Then he led them to the king of Israel in Samaria.

Elisha prayed that their eyes would be opened and when they were, they could see they were in Samaria.  The king of Israel asked Elisha if he should off them.  Elisha said the king should just feed them and let them go.  So they ate and left for their own land and never came back!

Jesus takes the blindness from His enemies and then sets them free (John 9:14, 15; cf. Eph. 1:18; 2 Cor. 4: 4).

2 Kings 6:24-33  When Doves Cry

Ben-hadad, the king of Aram, besieged Samaria and caused a famine so great that the head of a donkey was selling for $612 and two quarts of dove poop was going for $38.26.

Joram, the king of Israel, was passing by a wall one time and a woman called out to him who wanted justice.  She had made a deal with another woman that they’d eat each other’s babies one at a time.  The first lady gave hers up the first day but the second day the other lady broke the agreement.  When the king heard it, he tore his robe in disgust and anger and the people could see the mourning sackcloth underneath.  The king blamed Elisha for defeating the Aramean king and not killing all the army.

Elisha was in a meeting with the elders of Israel when a messenger from the king approached followed by the king himself.  The king told Elisha that all the recent trouble was from Yahweh so he wondered why should he wait any long for God to work when he could just surrender.

2 Kings 7:1-20   Lepers In The Camp

Elisha announced that the price of everything was going to go way down the next day.  Seven quarts of flour and fourteen quarts of barley would both be going for $7.65.  The king’s top officer was sitting next to the king and  said even if Yahweh put storm windows on Heaven so everyone could see in, the prices were going to drop like that.  Elisha said it was going to happen and the officer was going to see it but not be able to buy anything.

There were four lepers sitting at the gate of the city at Dothan and figured they had nothing to lose to go over to the camp of the Arameans.  If they hung where they were, they’d die of the famine.  If they defected to the Arameans they might die but then again they might be accepted in and live.

When they got to the Aramean camp, everyone had absconded!  Turns out they heard the noise of horses, chariots, and an entire army.  They figured the Israelites had hired some mercenaries from the Hittites and the Egyptians to come against them.  So they fled, leaving everything behind.  The lepers entered a couple of the tents and gorged themselves with food and took some of the booty and hid it.

The lepers decided they better report everything they had seen to Joram or they’d be in trouble if they waited till the next day.  They went back to Dothan and told the gatekeepers who relayed the information to the king.  They king thought it was a plot to draw them out but someone with more sense suggested they send out a party to scout things out.  They figured there was nothing to lose.  So five men were sent out to see what was going on.

The scouts came back with their report:  the Arameans had indeed fled in haste and left their clothes and equipment by the side of the road.

The Israelites plundered the camp of the Arameans, forcing the price of four and barley down to the price Elisha had prophesied.  The same officer who had been sitting by the king that day was put in charge of the gate.  When the people were storming out of town to grab whatever they could from the Arameans, they trampled that officer to death.  So it saw the market change but died and couldn’t take advantage of it just as Elisha said.

It is not a good thing to insult Yahweh!

New Testament:  Acts 15:36-16:15

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Acts 15:36-16:15  Mission Journey, Part 2

Paul decided it would be a good thing to retrace the route of their first missionary journey.  Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark but Paul objected since JM had absconded in the middle of their last trip.  Things got so heated that Barnabas took Mark and headed for Cyprus but Paul took Silas and headed for Syria and Cilicia in modern day Turkey.

Paul traveled to Derbe and Lystra in western Turkey and found a disciple there named Timothy whose mother was a Jewish believer.  His father was a Greek.  Paul circumcised him so there wouldn’t be any problems with the Jews in the area.  The churches were growing every day and Paul was teaching them as much as he could.

Paul and Silas moved through the northwestern portion of Turkey.  Paul wanted to preach in that region or in Asia but the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let him move into those areas.  In fact, at that time Paul had a vision during the night of a man of Macedonia, above Greece, yelling to him to come over and help him.

All of a sudden Luke must have joined them because the narration moves from a third person account to a first person account.  Luke says they ended up in Philippi in Macedonia which was a Roman colony.  On Saturday they went out to find a place of prayer and found some women who had gathered.

One of the women was from the city of Thyratira and sold purple fabric.  Her name was Lydia and she worshipped God.  While listening to Paul, God opened her heart and she believed.  She and her entire family were baptized.  She insisted that Paul and Luke stay with her so they did.

 

Psalm 142:1-7    A Lament By David

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Psalm 142:1-7   The Complaint Department

David is not only a man after God’s heart, he’s a man after my heart, too.  I love his psalms.  He gets right to it.  He “cries out loud” in verse 1.  Maybe that’s where that phrase comes from, I don’t know, “for crying out loud.”

No schmoozing in this psalm.  No praising, no thanking, he’s got a complaint and he’s shouting it out (v. 2)!  I think I’ve had days like that.  Haven’t you?  He’s in trouble and wants God to know about it.  He went to just the right place.

The trappers are out again trying to trip him up (v. 3).  Stalkers are following him.  David is deeply depressed, his “spirit was overwhelmed.”  But he can look down and see God’s footprints in the sand, God knew what he was experiencing.  David had no where else to turn but to God (v. 4).

This short psalm mentions David crying three times!  In verse 5, he says he is crying out to the Lord but at the same time remembers that God is his refuge (cf. Ps. 62:8).  God was David’s all in all in life (v. 5c).

David was extremely depressed (v. 6).  His stalkers had really gotten to him (v. 6c-d).  This psalm could’ve been written while he was in exile during his own reign, fleeing his own son (cf. 2 Sam. 15-18).  But it wasn’t.  The superscription tells us that David wrote it while he was evading Saul and holding out in a cave (cf. 1 Sam. 22:1; 24:3).  I would think either situation would be very nerve-wracking.  Why would God not protect his favorite ones better?  He disciplines the ones He loves as a Father (cf. Heb. 12:3-11).

David felt like he was in a prison (v. 7).  Have you noticed how many of God’s saints He has allowed to be in prison?  Paul?  Micaiah?  Jeremiah.  Peter and John.  John Bunyan.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Alexander Solzhenitsyn.  Others.  John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress while in prison.  Paul wrote several of his epistles while in prison.  David wrote several psalms while hiding out and in exile.

I’m writing this commentary while in what I affectionately call “the Bunker.”  I am allowed to leave on weekends.  Maybe you feel trapped in your situation.  You can ask God to release you as did David.

Then you can give thanks and glory to God for what He has done for you (cf. John 14:13-14).  The saints will rejoice with you (cf. Heb. 12:1).

You can trust God to “deal bountifully” with you (v. 7d).  I was recently meditating on how fortunate our family has been.  I’ve almost finished a commentary on the entire Bible.  We had a new, high quality roof provided after hail damage.  Two great kids.  An unbelievably hardworking wife and mother and a great little church on Sunday mornings.  We are blessed.  It is good to contemplate all God has done for you.

As is often the case in the psalms, though the writer starts with complaints, he ends up with praise in trusting the Lord.  It’s fine to voice our complaints to the Lord but we should also keep in mind that God knows what He is doing (cf. The Idiot Rule).  The words of the hymn are true, we should count our many blessings and “name them one by one.”

Proverbs 17:24-25   Start Me Up

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It is good to have goals but it is also good to be realistic (v. 24).  Wisdom is sometimes, in the words of Harry Callahan, knowing your limitations.  A fool shoots for the stars though he may not be an astronaut.  A person with understanding will understand in the words of G.K. Chesterton, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”  My history prof in seminary used to say that if we set our goals low enough, we can sometimes hit them.  Don’t forget that George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life promised to lasso the moon for his girlfriend but ended up getting gravely depressed.

Probably the best thing in life is to ask God want He wants and then do it.  I remind myself that Jesus changed the world without much of an education or traveling very far from his hometown during His entire lifetime.  The things of the world will pass but whoever does the will of God will live forever (cf. 1 John 5:17).

Verse 25 is like deja vu all over again.  We saw it in Proverbs 10:1.  Basically, if a son or daughter doesn’t trust the Lord, it greatly pains saved parents.  All we can do is pray and trust the Lord (cf. Prov. 3:5-6).  All you can do as parents is “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.  He will bring forth your vindication as the light, and your right as the noonday” (Ps. 37:5-6).  Also, the Lord gives us the general promise, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Prov. 22:6 NIV).

 

Choose Life: Scripture:  2 Kings 6:16    NASB    “Com-pan-ee!!”

“So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.'”  2 Kings 6:16

 

When I was growing up, people used to turn around in our driveway all the time.  I guess it was because we were at the end of a circle and they realized they weren’t going to get where they were going if they went any further.  We had a large picture window in the front of the house.  When a car we didn’t recognize would pull in the driveway, my mother would yell, “Com-pan-ee!”  But she knew they were going to back right out again and leave.

In our OT story today, the prophet Elisha was told by his servant that the capital of the northern kingdom, Samaria, was surrounded by enemy troops.  Elisha comforted his servant by praying that his eyes would be opened to see the supernatural forces protecting and surrounding God’s people.  They had a lot of invisible company of whom they weren’t aware.

There are many comforting Scriptures throughout the Bible  that tell us God is with us.

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Matthew 28:20, ” . . . teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

Are you trusting that you are in good company?

 

If you are, you will find that you have chosen life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application:   

 

Paul tells us that we should not judge people only according to the flesh.  We should also look at them spiritually.  “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know [Him] [in this way] no longer,” 2 Cor. 5:16.

We should use the same principle in judging our circumstances.  Is there some enormous need you have that you think God can’t take care of today?  Would you like to rethink that?

 

The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:   I Once Was Blind But Now . . . 

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