Spiritual Rants: June 25 “Hazael Raising” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: 2 Kings 8:1-9:13 Acts 16:16-40 Psalm 143:1-12 Proverbs 17:26

Old Testament: 2 Kings 8:1-9:13

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2 Kings 8:1-6   One “Lucky” Gal

Elisha knew that a seven-year famine was coming so he warned the Shunammite woman whose son he had raised.  She absconded.  After seven years, Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, happened to be telling the king about Elisha and all his deeds including the story of the Shunammite woman.  (Either the story here occurs before Gehazi incurred the leprosy or his type of disease did not require isolation.)  The woman showed up in the middle of the conversation to ask the king for her land and house back.   The king was so impressed that she got everything back again including all that was harvested off her land.

2 Kings 8:7-15  Hazael Raising

Elisha traveled to Damascus where rotten King Ben-hadad was ailing.  Ben told Hazael to bring a gift to Elisha and ask if he would recover or not.  Hazael met Elisha with forty loaded camels and asked him if Ben-hadad would recover.  Elisha told Hazael to tell that he would recover though the Lord has shown Elisha that Ben-hadad would die.  Then Elisha stared Hazael down until he was embarrassed.  Then Elisha broke down and cried.  “What are you crying about?” Hazael inquired.  Elisha said it was because he knew what Hazael was going to do, set the Israeli fortifications on fire, kill the young warriors, smash little kids to pieces and rip up pregnant women.  Hazael asked how he could do such things since he was nothing in the kingdom.  Elisha answered that Yahweh had shown him that he’d end up king of Israel.

Hazael returned to Ben-hadad and told him he’d recover.  The next day he returned and soaked the king’s covers in water and smothered him with it.  The Hazael became king.

2 Kings 8:16-23  A String Of Kings, Pay Attention

This chart may help you follow all the kings being discussed in the blogs.  Try clicking on it to expand it.

Kings Israel and Judah

Five years after Joram starting reigning in Israel, Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat became the king in Judah.  He was thirty-two years old and reigned for eight years.  He was as evil as any of his predecessors.  He was married to the daughter of the evil Ahab/Jezebel duo.  We have mentioned what happens when someone good marries someone bad or an unbeliever.  Jehoram “did evil” as if he was in the line of Jeroboam and Ahab.  But for the sake of David, Yahweh did not destroy him.

During this time, the land of Edom broke from Judah so Jorah with his troops from the northern kingdom attacked but were surrounded and had to retreat.

Then Jehoram died and Ahaziah took over in Israel, the northern kingdom.  Ahaziah was only twenty-two years-old at the time.  He was only king for one year.  His mother was Athaliah, the granddaughter of Omri, a former king of Israel.  He acted like his kin, doing as much evil as he could just like Ahab, whose son-in-law he was.

Ahaziah of Israel became an ally with Joram of Judah against Hazael, the king of Aram.  The Arameans wounded Joram so that Joram had to retreat to Jezreel to try to heal up.  Ahaziah went there to visit him.

2 Kings 91-13   Je-Who?

Elisha asked one of his seminary students to anoint Jehu as king over the northern kingdom of Israel.  He was to go Ramoth-gilead and get the job done and then abscond quickly back out the door and not let it hit him in the rear.

When the student got to town, the army commanders were sitting around yapping.  So the young prophet asked Jehu to step inside. Then he poured the oil on the head of Jehu and told him that he would strike the relatives of Ahab.  He said that he would decimate them like Yahweh had taken care of the houses of Jeroboam and Baasha before him.  He said the dogs would have Jezebel for lunch in Jezreel and there wouldn’t be enough of her left to bury.  Then he did his best Jesse Owens imitation and was gone.

Jehu came out to the other commanders and one of them asked if everything was OK, why the “madman” had come to visit.  Jehu said that they all knew why the man had come.  They asked to be told more.  Jehu said, “He came to anoint me as king.”  Then they all hurried to rip off their cloaks on the stairs and blew a trumpet to announce his ascendancy to the throne.

New Testament:  Acts 16:16-40

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Acts 16:16-40  Fortune-ate

Luke and Paul were headed to the Temple but a slave-girl was trailing them and yelling, “These guys are God’s slaves and proclaiming the way of salvation to everyone!”  She made her master money by telling fortunes.  She did this for quite a few days and finally Paul got irked.  He turned around and addressed the spirit in the girl, “In the name of Jesus Christ, come out!”  And it did.

When her employers saw they were going to lose a fortune, they forcefully brought Paul and Silas to the people in charge of the market.  They accused them of breaking Roman customs since they were Jewish.

The crowd there got into a dither and the chief magistrates had Paul and Silas’ clothes ripped off to beat them with rods.  After they had beaten them pretty badly, they had them thrown in prison.   The guard was told to hold them securely so he had them placed in an inner jail with their feet clamped in stocks.

About midnight the two of them were praying and singing hymns with the other prisoners listening to them when an earthquake shook the joint down to its foundation.  It caused all the jail doors to open and everyone’s chains to come undone.  When the jailer woke up and saw what had happened he drew his sword to off himself.  But Paul cried out for him to stop since all the prisoners were still in the jail.  Lights were brought in and the jailer fell at Paul and Silas’ feet, asking what he needed to do to be saved.

Paul and Silas told him that he needed to believe in Jesus and that he and his entire household would be saved.  Paul preached to everyone in his house.  The jailer cleaned Paul’s and Silias’ wounds and then he and his whole family were baptized.  The jailer fed everyone and was one very happy gardarme.

At daybreak the chief magistrates sent some policemen to release Paul and Silas.  The jailer relayed the words to Paul and Silas and told them they could go in peace.  Paul said, “Huh?  They beat us in public with no trial, threw us in prison and now tell us to go in peace?  I don’t think so.   After all, we’re Roman citizens!  Tell them to come themselves and escort us out!”  The policemen went back to the magistrates who became very afraid when they heard they had beaten and arrested Roman citizens.   So they went themselves and pleaded with Paul and Silas to leave town.  Next stop was Lydia’s place.   They encouraged the Christians there and then left again.

Psalm 143:1-12    A Lament By David

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Psalm 143:1-12    Goals

This is the last lament psalm in the book of psalms.  (Oh, don’t cry!  We have mostly hymns and a royal psalm left.)  It is the third to last psalm attributed to David.

As I age, I don’t care about so many things in this world.  As a result, I am more content.  I think that’s what Paul meant when he said, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” (Phil. 4:11 ).

Paul also said, “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Tim. 6:8).  That anonymous guy said in the book of Hebrews, possibly Paul, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU’”  (Heb. 13:5).  If you aren’t as free from stuff in the world as you’d like, don’t worry, God will help you with it.

Years ago, after I was first saved, I wrote in my Bible, “Lord, I want nothing for myself.”  Not long afterward, I wondered, “Why did I write that?”  I had seen it in someone else’s Bible and thought it was really cool.  Decades later, I’m still not quite at that level.  Sometimes I want things.  But I’m better than I used to be.  And I can tell you it’s very freeing not to want so much.  The things I need God makes sure I get them and even more and better quality than I need (cf. Phil. 4:19).

David once again implored God to hear him (v. 1).  He asked not to be judged which is similar to having sins forgiven (v. 2, cf. 1 John 1:9).  David didn’t understand about Christ and forgiveness through him though I bet he sacrificed a lot of bulls and now, in Heaven, understands the theology that animal sacrifice presaged the sacrifice of the Ultimate Lamb, Jesus.

David, again, is being pursued (v. 3).  Being in a dark cave, hiding out, he may have felt almost as bad as Jonah in the huge fish (v. 1 Sam. 22:1; Jon. 1:17; 2:1).  David felt like he was “crushed” (v. 3b).  He was depressed emotionally, in “heart,” and spiritually (v. 4).

David’s antidote for his depression is the same one we should use and it’s not a pill or a gallon of ice cream.  He remembered the things he had done in the past (v. 5).  So he could have recalled how God had spared him when Saul was stalking him but he also could have remembered God’s wondrous works in creating the world, separating the Red Sea, protecting Joseph from his brothers, and the occupation of the Promised Land.

When we are down, we can do the same things.  I always like to recall what God has done in my life and remind myself that whenever I think God doesn’t care or isn’t answering my prayer, I always end up looking back and feeling like an idiot (see The Idiot Rule).

David praised God even when he felt like his life had dried up like a desert (v. 6).  He asked God to answer him quickly because he felt like he was just going to collapse under the pressure of his persecution (v. 7).  He felt like he was going to die and “go down to the pit” of Sheol, the holding tank for the OT dead.

I love verse 8!  David asks to hear of God’s hesed, lovingkindness, every morning.   Every morning, David would wake up and affirm his trust in God and ask God for guidance (cf. Prov. 3:5-6).   He could have confessed with Jeremiah, ” The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness (Lam. 3:22-23).

Verse 8 is a great prayer for us to memorize and pray as we get out of bed every day.  David looked to God as he awoke daily.

He concludes by asking once again to protect him from his stalkers who wanted him dead (v. 9).  God was certainly the all-powerful One Who would be able to keep him from harm (v. 9, cf. Ps. 121, Sleepless In Sion).  Hiding in God, David realized, was better than hiding in a cave.

David was humble and teachable.  A disciple must be teachable.  It is part of the definition of disciple.  A disciple is a learner.  David asked for God to teach him His will (v. 10).  There is no reason for God to answer a prayer like that unless the person praying actually is willing to do His will.

David asked to be revived (v. 11) and for God to help him resolve his struggle (cf. Ps. 71:20-21).

Since God was bound to David in covenantal love, hesed, he could trust God to destroy his persecutors (v. 12).  As a servant, David could trust God to answer his prayer.  John said as much in John 14:12-14.   “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.  Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”  To ask in Jesus’ name presupposes servanthood.  If you are seeking to serve God with all your heart (cf. Jer. 29:13), God will hear you and give you what you ask.

Are you making requests in Jesus’ name?  Or are you asking for things selfishly?  Can you write in your Bible, “Lord, I want nothing for myself?”

As my teenage daughter would say, “Goals.”

Proverbs 17:26   A Fine Thing

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A friend of mine says “no good deed goes unpunished.”  He didn’t make it up but he had helped a lot of people that were unappreciative.  Remember Proverbs is a book of advice from a father to a son.  Solomon collected the Proverbs.  He is warning his son not to punish people who are trying to help him.

I have often wondered why people don’t appreciate things I do for them.  I think, “Don’t they know I’m their friend and want the best for them?”  Oh, well.

Paul asked the Galatians, “So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16).  Sometimes you just can’t win.

 

Choose Life: Scripture:  Acts 16:25   NASB    “It Was Hymn!”

“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them”  Acts 16:25

 

Years ago, like too long ago to admit, when I was going to college, I went to a Christian summer camp in Michigan sponsored by our college ministry.  I hadn’t grown up in a hymn singing church so I just learning the hymns.  Our campus group was singing some folk-type tunes and choruses right out of Scripture along with hymns.

One day at the camp, I remember one of the speakers broke into a hissy-fit rant about hymns fading from use in Christian fellowships.  Of course, this was in the seventies, long before the trend of churches to replace choirs with rock bands.  I didn’t know what she was so upset about but I noted it and put it in the back of my brain’s hard drive.  Now I know.

I’ve been to numerous churches that sing songs played on Christian radio.  I used to be a DJ on Christian radio and never imagined anyone would want to sing the songs I was playing.  They were for entertainment, not for worship.  I’m not saying that none of the radio songs are suitable to be sung in churches but when soloists in church sound more breathy like Marilyn Monroe than worshipful like Ethel Waters, then maybe we have a problem Houston!

Our Scripture today says that Paul and Silas sang hymns not pop songs.  The result was an earthquake, a jail break, and a revival!

Why not see if you can find a hymnal somewhere, sometime and take a dustbuster to it.  Then compare the lyrics in the hymnal to the average radio pop song sung in church.  Notice what you find.  You may find . . .  Him.

 

 

 

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

Fun Application:   

 

Find a hymnal online or maybe there are still some stacked in the back of your church in the closet.  You may not know what all those funny dots with lines on them are but you can just read a few of the lyrics.  Are they deep?  Are they like the songs you sing in church.  Just notice.  What teaches you more about God, salvation, sin, sanctification and other doctrines?

 

 

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:   Hazael Raising

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