Old Testament: 2 Kings 1:1-2:25
2 Kings 1:1-18 That Burns Me Up!
King Ahaziah of Israel, son of Ahab, fell through the lattice of his upstairs room and wasn’t feeling so well. He sent messengers to ask the god of Ekron, Baal-zebub, if he’d get better. The angel of the Lord, most likely Jesus in the OT, was sent to Elijah to meet those messengers and ask, “What’s going on? Is there not a God in Israel that you can ask questions that you have to go to the god of Ekron? Well, now you can save your trip because Yahweh says you’re not going to get up from your bed again.” Then Elijah left.
Ahaziah’s messengers told him what had happened. “What’d the guy look like?” asked Ahaziah. “Hairy with a big leather belt,” they replied. “Great,”said, Ahaziah, sullenly, “it was Elijah.”
The king sent out fifty men to Elijah to bring him before the throne. Elijah said to them, “If I’m a man of God, fire will come down and vaporize you.” As it happened to turn out, he was a man of God.
Another fifty came. Same thing happened. Even another fifty came to fetch Elijah. The captain of that fifty begged for his life. The angel of the Lord told Elijah to go ahead with him so they were shown mercy. Then Elijah told the king what he had already been told, that he was going to die for attempting to inquire of a pagan god.
So Ahaziah died but had no son so Jehoram became king as Jehosophat’s son, Jehoram, was in the second year of his reign.
2 Kings 2:1-2:25 Going Up?
The prophets used to hang together and Elisha knew that Elijah was going to depart for Heaven. The other prophets kept reminding Elisha what was going to happen and he just told them to shut up. Elisha was accompanying Elijah to the Jordan. Elijah kept telling Elisha he didn’t have to make the trip but Elisha insisted on going with him.
Three miracles occurred. First, Elijah parted the Jordan by striking it with his mantle so he and Elisha could cross on dry ground. Elijah told Elisha to ask him for something as a parting gift. Elisha asked for double amount of Elijah’s spirit. He was not asking for double the power or prestige of Elijah but only to carry on his ministry (cf. Deut. 21:17 for usage of the term “double portion” for an heir). Elijah said that was a tough one, because it would have to be God’s decision, but if Elisha could see him as he departed, he’d have his wish. As they were talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire came between them. Elijah went to heaven in a whirlwind (cf. v. 1) to Heaven. Elisha observed it and knew he had obtained his wish of a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. He picked up Elijah’s mantle that had been left behind and used it to strike the Jordan and it separated for him just as it had for Elijah. Note the chariot and the horses did not take Elijah to Heaven, the whirlwind did. The whirlwind was a storm with thunder and lightning representing the presence elf Yahweh Himself (cf. Exod. 13:21 and the pillar of cloud for something similar).
Only one other man had gone to Heaven without dying, Enoch in Gen. 5:24. Some believe that Elijah and Enoch going straight to heaven is an illustration of Christians being Raptured directly to Heaven before the Tribulation (cf. 1 Cor. 15:51; 1 Thess. 4:17).
2 Kings 2:15-25 The Bear Facts
Elisha took over for Elijah but the rest of the prophets didn’t understand what had happened. They wanted to go out and look for Elijah and find him. They thought the Lord had picked him up and deposited him somewhere. They kept pressing Elisha to let them send out a search party. Finally, he relented. After three days, the fifty that went out gave up. When they returned, Elisha said to them, “I told you it was a waste of time.”
The men of the city, Jericho (cf. 18), came to Elisha with a problem: their water was unclean and they couldn’t drink it or use it for irrigation. So Elisha had them bring him a jar with salt in it and he fetched some water out of the spring. Then he put some more salt in it. So the water became pure. Salt is symbolic of purification (cf. Matt. 5:13). Wiersbe says on tours of Israel, the tour guide shows the fountain of Elisha and invites people to taste the water. This was Elisha’s second miracle.
Elisha’s third miracle involved a gang of thugs that threatened Elisha’s life. Some mockers have used this story and misinterpreted it to try to show how dumb the Bible is. They should heed the warning in the story! Here is the proper interpretation: the “young lads” were actually a street gang from the city, cult worshippers from Bethel who opposed Elijah and now wanted to end Elisha’s ministry. They weren’t just little kids, they were young adults. There was a lot of them, more than forty-two (cf. 24). They mocked Elisha because he was bald but what they were actually doing was mocking him as a prophet of Yahweh and thus mocking Yahweh Himself. A full head of hair was a sign of power and baldness was rare so they were in essence calling Elisha powerless. You know this is not going to end well! You should not tug on Superman’s cape! Elisha cursed them in the name of the Lord (cf. curse for those disobeying the covenant, Lev. 26:21-22). That meant something really bad was going to happen to them if they didn’t back off and change their minds about what they were doing. Sure enough, two bears came out of the woods and ripped them to shreds.
This should be a lesson for some, who like the former SNL comedienne, who use the Bible as their main source of material! I saw part of an entire cable-only special based on the mocking of God’s Word. I couldn’t finish watching it. It was a travesty but a sign of the times we live in.
Back to our story, Elisha left for Mount Carmel and then went back to Samaria.
New Testament: Acts 13:42-14:7
Acts 13:42-14:7 Some Believers And Some Turkeys
The next Sabbath everyone turned up at the Temple to hear Paul preach. When the religious leaders saw the crowds that had come to hear Paul, they were jealous and starting heckling Paul and blaspheming.
Paul and Barnabas got intense and said, “We came to you Jews first because God has decided to let you know the Good News first (cf. Rom. 1:16). But since you are rejecting it and showing yourselves unworthy, we’re leaving and going to the Gentiles.” Then Paul quoted Isa. 49:6 to show that the message must go out to non-Jews as well as Jews. The Gentiles listening to Paul broke out in joy and praise to God and the word of God spread throughout the region. This ticked off the Jews in the area who started attacking Paul and Barnabas. They drove them out of the area. Paul and Barnabas were glad to see that group in their rear-view mirror and scraped the dust from the town off their sandals. The disciples were actually ecstatic at the response they got and were filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 52).
Paul and Barbabas moved on to Iconium in present day Turkey. They were so powerful that many people trusted Christ, Jews and non-Jews. However, the unbelieving Jews raised a ruckus and stirred up the non-Jews. Paul and Barnabas spent a long time there leading people to the Lord with God confirming their words with signs and wonders. The whole city was divided. Some were on the side of the Jews and some on the side of the apostles. When those who opposed them tried to stone them, the apostles found out and absconded for Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, which were other cities in Turkey. They were continuing to preach the Gospel.
Psalm 139:1-24 A Lament By David
Psalm 139:1-24 A Womb With A View
Psalm 139 is perhaps best known as the clearest explication of an apologetic on life beginning in the womb in verses 13-16. It also has two verses in closing that remind us to keep clean in our relationship with the Lord (vv. 23-24).
David begins by admitting that he knows God knows him inside-out (vv. 1-3). I can understand how God can know everything outside of Himself but how does he give us self-consciousness? I can understand that God knows everything. One of the most puzzling thoughts to me is that God has given self-awareness to beings outside of himself. How can we know that we exist and that we are separate from God? I have no idea. I think if I think about that too much, my brain would pop. But we do have self-consciousness and He does know what we think. He knows what we think before we think it and even all the possibilities of what we could have thought if we had thought about it all. It’s mind-blowing.
David puts it more succinctly. He says God knows our rising and sitting, even from His distance from us and being separate from us (vv. 2-5). Like I said, it’s mind-blowing (v. 6). We can’t figure it out. You probably don’t even know what I’m talking about. In fact, maybe I’m not sure what I’m saying. But God knows.
There is no place we can flee from God so He won’t know what we’re thinking or doing (v. 7). He is in Heaven and the temporary holding area for dead people, aka, Sheol (v. 8). We can’t flee on the seas or hide in darkness (vv. 9-12). He knows everything including where we are and what we’re thinking.
When Charles Stanley was raising his kids and they got old enough to leave the house, he reminded them that even if he couldn’t see them that God could. And God would know everything they did even if he didn’t. That’s pretty powerful and a good thing to teach children. The most important thing we can teach is responsibility and the idea that God knows our every move can be a great motivation toward godly living. Just think of how the world would be different if Hilter, Mussolini, the Caesars, and Attila the Hun has cogitated on Psalm 139! Well, maybe they just didn’t care what God thought, though.
Obviously, the world would be a different place if everyone believed in God. Godless evolution has led to such atrocities as euthanasia and abortion. The abortion controversy has always centered on when life begins. However, the Scripture right here in verses 13-16 tells us that life begins in the womb. This psalm gives the answer to the great abortion question.
I had a seminary professor who framed the abortion issue this way. He asked if someone was out hunting in the woods and saw something move, would that hunter shoot at the moving object? Most people would not shoot since they wouldn’t know whether the moving object was an animal or a person. If you don’t know what you’re shooting at, you don’t shoot. Since all abortionists say that they don’t know if a fetus is a person or not, my professor would say it should not be aborted. Simple logic. If there’s a chance a fetus is a baby, why kill him or her?
But people don’t get abortions based on logic. (In fact, there is no sin that is committed logically and reasonably but that is another discussion.) Unborn babies are the most defenseless beings in the cosmos. I doubt any of them would choose to abort themselves. They are dependent on loving fathers and mothers to take care of them and protect them.
Verse 13 states that God is the one who puts a baby together in the womb. Even a baby with physical problems is a wonder (v. 14). Life is a wonder. (It is amazing that many who believe abortion of human babies is acceptable would never think of aborting an animal fetus.) If we think about life and the manner in which God imparts it, our inner being is stunned and we give thanks (v. 14c).
Since God knows everything (see vv. 1-12 above), God certainly knows how our skeletons and organs developed (vv. 15-16a). God even knows the date of our birth as well as the date of our death. It is as certain as if they were written in a book (v. 16). I’m glad I don’t know my death date. Though when giving my credit card information when making a purchase and I’m ask my expiration, I always ask, “for me or for the card?” I chuckle, anyway. But God knows all the important dates of my life and even my expiration date.
Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” David understood this and probably even taught it to Solomon who wrote Proverbs.
Science was a discipline begun originally to discover what God had created. One early scientist, Johannes Kepler, spoke of “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” David is essentially saying the same thing in verses 17-18. He says that God’s thoughts outnumbered the grains of sand on the seashore. As you bask in the sun on the beach this summer, you can start counting and test David’s words. In fact, David indicated if he started counting, he’d fall asleep. So perhaps if you have insomnia, counting sand could be the antidote.
David’s meditation proceeds from God to God’s enemies in verse 19. David wishes all evil vanquished in the world (v. 19). They take God’s name in vain and blaspheme (v. 20, cf. Exod. 20:7). David hated those who hated God (v. 21). Verse 22 in the King James indicates that David hated God’s enemies with “perfect” hatred. David hated God’s enemies perfectly.
Jesus said we should love our enemies (cf. Matt. 5:43-44). So there seems to be a contradiction here. But Jesus was speaking of our own personal enemies. David was speaking of God’s enemies. One is a righteous anger and the other is not. We should ask God to take care of our enemies and leave vengeance to Him (cf. Rom. 12:19). As far as it is possible, and sometimes it’s not possible, we are supposed to live at peace with all people (cf. Rom. 12:18).
Someday God will balance all the books. Justice will be done. God will judge all His enemies with a perfect judgment (see The GWT, John 12:48; Rev. 20:11-15). David was praying for that day or days that would foreshadow that great event (v. 19).
As for David’s personal purity, he prayed that God would put His spotlight on his inner being and test his inner thoughts (v. 23). If God were to find anything offensive, David implied he would change. Therefore, David would be taking the high way to Heaven.
Have you asked God to x-ray your inner being? It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? Are you afraid of what He might find? Are you afraid of thinking about things that you might need to change? Disciples are built for change. Any follower of Christ should be undergoing a metamorphosis from one degree of purity to another. Paul put it this way, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). We sing a song in church to remind that we should be changing as Christians.
Peter said this of our salvation, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6-7).
Suffering is what results in our change. Job said, “But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). As we are purified, as silver or gold are purified by the smelting process, we become more pure and therefore better reflect the glory of the Lord. Of course, that process involves being melted down so impurities can be extracted before the cooling results in pure metal. But God knows how much we can stand.
Are you willing to repeat David’s prayer in verses 23-24? Are you willing to undergo the discipline that results in better representing the Lord (Heb. 12:3-11)? The rewards are astounding (see Bema Me Up, Scotty)!
Proverbs 17:19-21 Close The Door!
Whoever likes to sin likes to cause trouble, too (v. 19a). It’s the way their mind works (v. 19b). They tend to have potty mouths, too (v. 20). Makes sense since Jesus told us that a person’s mouth would spew what was inside of that person (Matt. 15:11, 17-18).
Watch a comedy movie from around 1928 or the thirties and then watch a contemporary comedy. OK, you don’t have to watch the new ones. I think you get my idea. We have become more and more sinful, breaking God’s laws. Those same type of minds are writing and acting out the movies. We are to take “every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).” No matter what you watch, you are responsible to analyze it and notice how closely it conforms to the gospel. Or notice how it deviates from the gospel. And if you can’t stand watching something, leave the theater or turn off the TV. If you can’t do something in faith, you shouldn’t do it (cf. Rom. 14:23; Heb. 11:6; James 1:5-8)!
A “fool” in Proverbs is code for an unbeliever. To “sire” is to birth something or somebody. If a man spawns an unbeliever, Father’s Day will be a joyless occasion (v. 21).
The way to avoid such a fate, marry a believer, first of all (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14). But also, don’t leave your door up (v. 19b)!
Jesus told us that “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light” (cf. Matt. 6:22). In other words, watch what you watch. Watch out where you go. Watch out who you hang with (cf. 1 Cor. 15:33). So when verse 19 talks about “raising” your “door,” I believe it means opening your spiritual self up to evil. We always check the garage door when we leave the house. We don’t want to leave a welcome sign for robbers. Of course, if they did come in, they could help themselves to my vast library of theology books and Bibles. But I don’t think they’d take them. But if they take my Mac, imagine their surprise when they get it home and it’s filled with these blogs!!!
Nevertheless, don’t expose yourself unnecessarily to evil. Life will put you in many compromising situations. Just keep your doors shut!
Choose Life: Scripture: 2 Kings 2:11 NASB “Whirlwind Of Excitement”
“As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.” 2 Kings 2:11
I preached one time that Elijah went up to Heaven in a chariot. My favorite heckling congregant corrected me right after I said it. (He didn’t even wait till I finished. Just interrupted.)
Well, he did go up in a chariot! And he was powered by a whirlwind. Along with Enoch (cf. Gen. 5:24), he is one of two people that didn’t experience death. At least, they haven’t died yet (poor Lazarus died twice!, cf. John 11:14). That is the reason many have conjectured that Elijah and Enoch may be the two prophets who get offed prophesying during the Tribulation (cf. Rev. 11:3-12).
Hebrew 9: 27 says, “just as it appointed for man to die once and after that comes the judgment . . . .” Everyone is going to die physically once. If you have trusted Christ, when you’re body gives out, you’ll be in Heaven before you know it! You don’t have to wait for the next chariot. Scripture says that you have already “passed [past tense, it has already happened] from death to life” (John 5:24).
You don’t have to wait for a chariot. In fact, angels will escort you to Heaven (cf. Luke 16:19-22). Isn’t that a comfort? If you haven’t already, trust Christ today!
If you can, do will find that you have chosen life (Deut. 30:19)!
When my mother died years ago, she was basically in a coma. Nurses told me that she couldn’t talk but that there was a good chance that she could hear me.
My mother had trusted Christ years earlier. I had just flown in and hadn’t gotten to talk to her before she lost her ability to communicate. I whispered in her ear that angels would be coming to take her to Heaven. I sure hoped I was right since I couldn’t recall the Scripture to prove it. What a terrible thing to give false information to a dying person, especially your own mother! Looking back, I think I was inspired by the Holy Spirit since Luke 16:22 would seem to indicate that angels are involved in getting to the right place.
Do you know anyone who is dying? Are they saved? If they are, you now have a comfort to share with them.*
*You can google “ICU nurses and angels” for testimonies of those who have sensed the angels’ presence around those who have trusted Christ and are about to be transported to Heaven.
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: The Bear Facts