Friday, March 30, 2012

2 Kings 1 & 2 - Ahaziah's Judgment/Elijah and Elisha

LINK: 2 Kings 1 & 2

BACKGROUND 

Overview of 2 KINGS

Memory Pointer: 2 Kings is all about 2 Kingdoms. 1 Kings was about 1 Kingdom until it was split into two parts at the middle of the book (End of chapter 11 out of 22).

2 Kings continues the story of the bad kings of Israel until its captivity and dispersion by the Assyrians in 2 Kings 17. 

Memory Pointer: 2 Kings is 17 bad kings of Israel until 2 Kings 17.

It is also about the six good and ten bad kings of Judah that lasted 150 years longer than Israel until its 70 year captivity in Babylon.

It also tells the shining stories of two men of God: Elijah and Elisha!

BACKGROUND 

1 Kings 1

Ahaziah of Israel - 1 Kings 22:40-2 Kings 1:18
Reigned: 853-852 BC for 2 years
Character: Bad
Overlap with Judah's King: Coregency of Jehosphaphat and Jehoram (853-848 B.C.) 
Manner of Death: Fell through a lattice
Parallel Story: 2 Chronicles 20:35-37

Ahaziah hurt himself in a fall and showed just how far he had fallen from the Lord God of Israel by asking his messengers to go and consult Baal-Zebub. Baal-Zebub was a popular, male fertility god that also had curative powers. The angel of the LORD (the preincarnate Christ!) gave a message for Elijah to deliver to his messengers that let them know exactly how He felt about that: 
"You are going to die for consulting a pagan god instead of Me!" 
Ahaziah knew exactly who he was dealing with. Elijah was the same guy who gave Ahaziah's parents, Ahab and Jezebel, so many problems! Many of his soldiers died by fire trying to get Elijah to come down to meet with Ahaziah. The angel of the LORD finally directed him to go down. He pronounced God's judgment to Ahaziah directly, and Ahaziah died. Because Ahaziah had no son, his brother, Jehoram (Joram) became king in his place in 852 BC. The king of Judah at that time was also named Jehoram!

1 Kings 2 - Elijah Passes the Mantle to Elisha

In this chapter, Elijah is taken up in a whirlwind with a chariot and horses of fire. Before he did that he walked while Elisha faithfully followed, refusing to be left behind. They walked by four significant different places that are significant in Israel's history:
1) Gilgal - the first place after the Israelites crossed the Jordan and where they submitted to the covenant of circumcision before they entered the Promised Land (Joshua 4). 
2) Bethel - Abraham worshipped there (Genesis 12 & 13). Jacob saw the ladder to heaven and vowed to make his father's God His God if God continued to bless and care (Genesis 28). By Genesis 35, Jacob had returned to Bethel and made Isaac's God, his God.

3) Jericho - The sight of Israel's first victory in the Promised Land (Joshua 5 & 6). 
4) Jordan River - God opened this river to let them into the Promised Land (Joshua 1-4).

(These are all places we have trod as we read the Old Testament last year!)

Before Elijah was taken up, Elisha asked for a double portion of spiritual blessing to carry on the work that Elijah had started, and God granted him his desire because his heart was pure. Elisha would go on to perform even more miracles than his master, Elijah!

REFLECTION

I love the story of Elijah and Elisha. Elisha wanted to be with Elijah to the bitter end because he knew that Elijah's time was short.

That is how I feel about my Elijah's, Ginny and Lorraine, they are two wonderful women of God in their 80's. I have been meeting with them monthly since November of 2001. I also met with them weekly for about six month back in 1997 right before I went to Southeast Asia. They were coworkers in Japan shortly after World War II and lived there until 1987. They cannot believe I would want to make the hour drive north to McMinnville every month to see them, but like Elisha, "As surely as the Lord lives and [they] live, I will not leave [them] (2:2, 4, 6)!

They have been rocks in my life. They process with me and pray for me and impart wisdom to me that I can get nowhere else. I have so appreciated their presence in my life.

In his commentary on 2 Kings 2, Warren Wiersbe writes:
It rejoices my heart when I see younger Christians and Christian
workers appreciating the “senior saints,” the veterans of Christian service, and learning from them. One day, these “giants” will be called home and we’ll no longer be able to learn from them. 
These two men [Elijah and Elisha] represented different generations and opposite personalities, yet they were able to walk together. What a rebuke this is to those in the church who label the generations and separate them from each other. I heard one youthful pastor say that he didn’t want anybody in his church over the age of forty, and I wondered where he would get the wise counsel that usually comes with maturity. I thank God for the “Elijahs” in my life who were patient with me and took time to instruct me. Now I’m trying to share that same blessing with others.
(Wiersbe, W. W. (2002). Be distinct (12). Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor.)
I am so grateful for these two "Elijahs" in my life. I, literally, have received a "double portion" just like Elisha!

2012 Update: Ginny has recently been moved to an assisted-living facility. At age 87, she is becoming weaker and weaker. Lorraine could not take care of her anymore. 

2014: Ginny was "called home" in 2013. How I miss her! Lorraine and I still meet monthly, and she will be 90 years old in June 2015. 

APPLICATION

Where is your Elijah (someone mentoring/discipling you)? Where is your Elisha (someone you can mentor or disciple)?

The Elijah/Elisha relationship also illustrates this principles from Many Aspire, Few Attain by Walt Henrichsen:


7. Avoid an independent spirit 
The seventh reason why people will never finish the race is they have an independent spirit. They are mavericks, loners. They want to serve God, but in their own way. Perhaps you are like the fellow I asked about the Episcopal form of government. He answered, “Well, I’m against bishops unless I can be one.” 
A lot of Christians have that attitude. They are against spiritual authority and leadership unless they are the authority and leader. But God says He will not give you that which is your own until you have been part of that which is another man’s (Luke 16:12). 
The prophet Elijah, as he was about to be taken out of this world, said to his follower Elisha, “Tarry here,” (2 Kings 2:2). Elisha answered, “No way, friend. Where you go, I go. There’s no way you can get rid of me.” Where is the guy or gal you have committed yourself to in an Elijah/Elisha relationship? Where is your Elijah? Where is the person that you are going to lock into by the will of God, and go for broke with? You might say, “Well, God is my teacher. He can speak to me as easily as He ca speak through someone else. After all, doesn’t the Bible say that you shouldn't be like little tin gods?” 
That’s true. Nobody is your lord except Jesus. But I’m not referring to lordship. I’m talking about your independent spirit. 
Do you remember the argument that Dathan, Korah and Abiram gave Moses (Num. 16)? “You take too much upon yourself, Moses. God can speak to us just as easily as he can speak to you. We don’t need to follow you.” Don’t we today say the same thing? Don’t we believe in the priesthood of the believer? Don’t our prayers get through to God? Can’t God speak to us? After all, why should we follow someone else’s leadership? 
Moses, in response to this argument, said, “Well, let’s talk this over with God and see what He says.” “Okay, let’s do it.” 
So they went to God and He said, “Moses, step aside and let me show you what I think of that idea.” So Moses stepped aside, and God opened up the earth and Dathan, Korah, Abiram and all that belonged to them fell in. God closed the earth back up and then sent fire and consumed the one hundred or so princes that were with them in rebellion. 
God then asked the children of Israel, “Any more questions?” 
The children of Israel got mad at Moses after that and said, “Moses, you dirty rat, you sicced God on us!” Thousands more died of the plague that day because of their attitude. 
Again God asked, “Any more questions?” 
This time the children of Israel answered, “No, we got the point.” 
God does not hanker to an independent spirit. You can be a maverick, you can be a loner and you can go your own way. It’s up to you. But that’s a quick way to climb up on that shelf. It is safer to have a servant’s heart and submit to a spiritual authority. We need to make ourselves accountable to others.

PRAYER

God, thank You for the example of the godly life of Elijah who was not afraid to deliver Your message to a wicked and perverse generation. Help us to be bold in our generation. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen
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