Old Testament: 2 Kings 4:16-5:27
2 Kings 4:18-37 Second Time Is The Charm
In our last episode Elisha had prayed for a woman to have a son. In today’s episode, the child becomes ill out in the field on a very hot day. His father got him back to the house with his mother and then he died. She didn’t want the Dad to know in case he wanted to bury the boy immediately. So she took the boy to Elisha. Elisha first told his servant, Gehazi, to put his staff on the boy but nothing happened. The boy was laid out on Elisha’s bed and Elisha laid on top of him, mouth to mouth and hands to hands. He got up and then did it again. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. In the same way, connecting ourselves to the Lord by faith results in our salvation.
2 Kings 4:38-44 The Multiplication Of The Loaves And The Loaves
There was a famine in Gilgal that no doubt encouraged the boys at the prophet’s school to put some veggies in their stew that they normally wouldn’t have eaten. As they ate it, they realized it could kill them. Elisha told them to put some meal in the mix. That solved the problem.
A man came after that with some grain and twenty loaves of bread as a first fruits offering. This normally wouldn’t be enough for a hundred men but it ended up feeding all of them!
2 Kings 5:1-14 Seventh Time Is The Charm
Naaman was head of the armed forces for the king of Aram. Although he didn’t have a saving relationship with Yahweh, the Lord had granted him success in battle. Unfortunately, he had a bad case of leprosy. Naaman had taken a young Israeli girl captive and gave her to his wife to serve her. The slave girl recommended to Naaman’s wife that she take him to see Elisha. Naaman got a letter of recommendation from his king and brought it to Joram, the king of Israel. When Naaman brought the letter to the king of Israel, he said, “I don’t do healings!” Joram thought that the king of Aram was trying to pick a fight and he tore his clothes in anger.
Elisha heard of the incident and told the king to bring Naaman to him. Elisha told Naaman to wash in the Jordan River seven times and his leprosy would be healed. Naaman about busted a gasket and stormed off. Naaman wanted to be cured his own way. Naaman thought Elisha would come out and wave his hand over him and cure him. He thought if Elisha wanted him to wash in the water that there were cleaner rivers than the Jordan that Elisha could’ve chosen. But his servants brought him to his senses and convinced Naaman to do what Elisha had asked. And whadaya know? After Naaman went down into the Jordan seven times, he was healed! Many people want to be saved their own way but Jesus tells them that they can only be saved by trusting in Him alone with no works of their own (Eph. 2:8-9).
2 Kings 5:15-27 Gehazi, A Little Hazy
Naaman tried to give a gift to Elisha but Elisha refused. Grace is always free. But Naaman still insisted on taking enough Israeli soil with him to build an altar in his native land.
Gehazi couldn’t stand the thought of letting the riches of Naaman slip through his fingers. So he caught up with Naaman’s caravan and made up a story about a couple of needy seminary students. He asked for $11,000 of silver and two Armani suits. Naaman said that’d be fine but he’d actually given him $22,000 of silver and a couple changes of clothes.
When Gehazi got back to Elisha, Elisha asked, “Don’t you realize that as a prophet, I knew what you just did? For taking a gift like that you can also have the gift of Naaman’s leprosy. Gehazi went away as white as Casper.
Leprosy is symbolic of sin. Just as leprosy rots skin and bones causing even parts of the body to fall off, so sin rots the inner parts of man and destroys a person.
New Testament: Acts 15:1-35
Acts 15:1-12 The Rule Of No Rule
Some of the early Jewish Christians thought that all Christian men should be circumcised even if they had been converted as Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas considered this a travesty and were sent out by their home base in Antioch to represent them in Jerusalem. Some of the converted Jewish Pharisees adamantly disagreed with Paul and Barnabas. Peter voiced his concern, “Brothers, the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit the same as we did, just as Jesus said they would. We all were saved by just believing in Jesus. Why now would we insult God by adding a rule like circumcision to the mix? We were all saved by grace plus nothing.”
That pretty much shut everyone up and then they just listened to Paul’s and Barnabas’ accounts of the miracles that God was doing amongst the Gentiles.
Acts 15:13-35 My Body, She Sent Me A Letter
James, the brother of Jesus, and the pastor of the church in Jerusalem confirmed what Peter had said by quoting Amos 9: 11-12. Amos states that Jesus “will return” (v. 16) and restore the ruins of Judaism in the Millennium. At that time the Gentiles would also be worshipping the Lord. Just as in Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, the speaker is not saying that Amos was being fulfilled right then. He is saying that it is similar to the fulfillment and therefore, the Gentiles should be admitted to the fellowship since they would ultimately be admitted to the fellowship in the Millennium. The “tabernacle of David” had fallen after Pentecost and the spiritual reality would be visually seen in the sacking of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70 by the Romans. For now, James is concurring that the Gentiles should not be forced to be circumcised, that salvation is by faith alone.
James did believe that Gentiles should abstain from fornication, and from eating animals that had been strangled, food offered to idols, and from blood. The council agreed that those Old Testament laws were still in force in the church era. A letter was sent back to the Gentile home base in Antioch via Paul and Barnabas with this information. They also sent two representatives from the church there in Jerusalem to accompany Paul and Barnabas.
When the letter arrived, everyone rejoiced and the two prophets from Jerusalem delivered a message of encouragement. Then one of them left and went back to Jerusalem, but one of them, Silas, stayed and edified the body along with Paul and Barnabas. We’ll hear more from Silas later.
Psalm 141:1-10 A Lament By David
Psalm 141:1-10 A Good Oily Smelly Prayer
Psalm 141 is a prayer that is like incense to the Lord. In Revelation 5:8, the prayers of the saints are described as incense, When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” David asks that his prayer be considered an incense to God (vv. 1-2). Our prayers, prayed in God’s will (cf. 1 John 5:15), have a sweet savor to the Lord.
David asked God for help with keeping his mouth clean (v. 3). Isaiah apparently had a problem with his language that God helped him with before he went into the ministry (cf. Isa. 6:5-7).
David did not even want to eat with wicked men (v. 4, cf. Prov. 23:1-2, 6). We are warned against the same thing in the New Testament. We are to watch who we hang out with (cf. 1 Cor.5:11; 15:33). Anyone wanting to spread bad doctrine should not even be allowed in your home (cf. 2 John 10). I don’t think that means that we can’t witness to cult members that come to our house but it means if someone has been stirring up trouble in the local church, we should not fellowship with them.
David had already prayed in Ps. 19:14 and 139:23-24 that God purge him of unknown sins. When we confess our sins according to 1 John 1:9, we are forgiven of the sins we confess as well as any sins we can’t remember. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins” and the end of the verse makes clear that all our unknown sins are also forgiven, ” . . . and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (emphasis mine).
Solomon understood that a humble person invites criticism and correction. He said “A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool” (Prov. 17:10). He must have learned it from David (v. 5). The Holy Spirit is often symbolized by oil in the Old Testament. It was a custom in Bible times to be anointed before a meal (Luke 7:44–46). David would rather be smacked a bit than be favored with the anointing of a guest. The Bible is a book of correction and rebuke (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16).
David prayed against the enemies of the Lord (v. 5d-7). He predicts that their leaders, “judges,” will be thrown off cliffs and their bones scattered at the doors of Hell (Sheol was the OT holding tank for the dead until judgment). If they had listened to David’s “pleasant” words (v. 6b), they could have avoided their fate. Why do people not listen when the gospel is shared? I don’t know. Some people just are not receptive and want to continue to rebel against the Lord (cf. the parable of the four soils, Matt. 13:3-23).
David knew to depend on the Lord (v. 8). As we saw in yesterday’s psalm, he expected the Lord to mete out the same harm that they had planned for him (vv. 9-10, see Ps. 140: 4-5, Day Trippers).
The Lord is the only One Who can keep us from harm (cf. Ps. 121, Sleepless In Sion). Things may look bleak for us but just as in salvation, the Lord is the only One Who can save us from physical harm. Are you trusting Him? David was.
Proverbs 17:23 Penned Down
Years and years ago, not long before I was called to ministry and went to seminary, I worked for a fella who was less than ethical. He actually had taught me a lot about Christianity. Since I had not been raised in an evangelical family, he was able to fill me in on a lot of things since his Dad was a minister. But he was definitely less than ethical, to say the least.
At one point I quit working for him but was lured back by the promise of some fancy gold pens that I had wanted badly. I paid a high price for those pens and for going back, much more than the value of those writing instruments.
My employer was sincere. He really wanted me back. His “bribe” was from his “bosom.” I should have stayed separated, nonetheless. However, God has a way of using even our miscues. After being cast off by him a short time later, I learned that suffering is a prerequisite of those wishing to serve the Lord.
I also learned not to always trust someone because they call themselves a believer. Some hide in the church because it’s a good place for “perverting justice” (v. 23b).
Choose Life: Scripture: 2 Kings 5:11 NASB “Nay-man”
“But Naaman was furious and went away and said, ‘Behold, I thought, “He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.”‘” 2 Kings 5:11
Jesus told a parable about two sons in Matthew 21:28-31. Their father asked them to work in his vineyard. One son said he would but didn’t. The other son said he wouldn’t but did. Have you ever told God you would do something and didn’t? Have you ever told God you wouldn’t do something and then you did?
Naaman was a prestigious captain in the Arabian army. He was used to being served. And he was used to getting the best of everything. He was used to giving commands. His problem was that he had leprosy and no one could help him. He had to condescend to taking advice from a young Israeli girl he had captured. She advised Naaman to procure the services of a prophet in Israel, Elisha.
Elisha told Naaman what he should do to be healed of his leprosy. But Naaman said, “Nay, I won’t do it.” So he didn’t get healed. So eventually, he said, “Oh, all right, I’ll do it.” Funny how distress, trials, and ill-health can affect us.
God often molds our character by “putting the squeeze” on us until we obey and conform to His wishes. They are always best for us anyway. Is there anything that God has been wanting you to do but you’ve been refusing? Now might be the time to do it.
If you do, you will find that you have chosen life (Deut. 30:19)!
A verse in our New Testament reading says, “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10). Peter said it as a rebuke to the legalists at the first church council ever which was held in Jerusalem. Peter wanted Christians to be free. He didn’t want to put more of a burden on believers than God wanted them to have. The Apostle John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Sometimes we make the Christian life too hard. It is usually not that God asks something hard of us but that our heart is too hard to do what He asks.
Write down some things that you think God wants you to do. Are you not doing them because you think they are too hard? Or are they things that you just don’t want to do?
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: Seventh Time Is A Charm