Saturday, April 14, 2012

2 Kings 13 - Elisha Finished Well but Israel's Kings Did Not

LINK: 2 Kings 13

BACKGROUND

Jehoahaz of Israel - 2 Kings 13:1-9

Reigned: 814-798 B.C. for 17 years

Character: Bad
 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD by following the sins of Jeroboam . . . which he had caused Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them. So the LORD's anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son. (2 Kings 13:2-3)
Overlap with Judah's King: Joash (835-796 B.C.)

Manner of Death: Died

Jehu's son, Jehoahaz, followed the sins of Jeroboam, and God allowed the Arameans to dominate his kingdom. Yet, eventually, Jehoahaz sought the LORD's favor! This resulted in the relief from the Arameans, but it did not last for long. The people of Israel went back to their wicked, idolatrous ways. Drat!

Aram was always an enemy of Israel because Israel blocked most of Aram's trade from the south, and Aram blocked most of Israel's trade from the north.  Consequently, they were always conquering each other in order to free up their trade routes. Sadly, because they were so preoccupied with fighting each other, they did not notice that Assyria was growing into a superpower that would soon make their presence very known (2 Kings 16:9, 17:6)!

Jehoash (Joash) of Israel - 2 Kings 13:10-14:16, 2 Chronicles 25:17-24

Reigned: 798-782 B.C., 16 years, 11 year co-regency with his son, Jeroboam II (793-782 B.C.)

Character: Bad
He did evil in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam . . . which he had caused Israel to commit . . . he continued in them. (2 Kings 13:11)
Overlap with Judah's King: Joash (835-796 B.C.), Amaziah (796-767 B.C.)

Manner of Death: Died

Jehoash is a variant of the Hebrew name Joash.  It is confusing that two kings by the same name ruled at the same time in both Israel and Judah. He did evil just like the kings before him. Jeroboam II succeeded Jehoash. In fact, he co-reigned with Jehoash five years into his reign. He made war with Amaziah King of Judah. 

Even though Jehoash followed in the ways of Jeroboam, he honored Elisha with a final visit and called him "father." Also, he called him the "chariot and horseman of Israel." in the same way Elisha acknowledged Elijah when his ministry on earth had ended (2 Kings 2:12). Elisha invited the king to shoot all his arrows to symbolize the victories he would have over Aram, but he only shot three exemplifying his lack of faith in the power of God.

This chapter marks the end of the phenomenal life of Elisha, servant of the Lord.  Elisha died after 56 years of ministry. God's tremendous power through him was illustrated in the fact that a dead man was brought back to life when he was thrown in Elisha's tomb!

REFLECTION

Elisha was a compassionate prophet. The Bible records 18 encounters between Elisha and people in need. He is a tremendous example of someone who was actively involved with ministering to people right up to the very end of his life!

Some of the kings we have read about have started out well but have not finished that way. Elisha was one of those people who finished well.

I want that to be said of me. How about you?

APPLICATION

How about taking a "life check-up" by evaluating your life up to this point to see where you have been. It will help you to know where you are going.

Here is an exercise that might help you in the process:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthian 1:3-4)
God has designed your life for a purpose and uses every experience: the good, the seemingly bad, and the ugly to fulfill His purpose for you in the course of history (HIS-story). Isn’t this exciting?

Experience can be a wonderful teacher, and the sum total of those experiences has contributed greatly to our unique SHAPE (Spiritual Gifts, Heart Passions, Abilities, Personality, and Life Experiences). Examining our life experiences can help us identify how God, in His infinite sovereignty, has worked through those experiences to equip us for His future plans and purposes.

This exercise is not meant to be an exercise in self-absorption or introspection but a positive and prayerful examination and evaluation of where you have been and where you are going.

DIRECTIONS:

Find a quiet place to examine your different life experiences using the questions below. Then record those answers in one of two ways:


1. Journal
Journal your answers to the questions.  Try to have it be an open dialogue between you and the Lord. 
2. Time-Line 
If you are a visual learner, making a visual time line can be very helpful. Draw a line across or down a piece (or several pieces) of paper and “map” out your life! I have known some to attach several sticky notes to the line with a summary of the most significant events in each of the five areas. Some have created a timeline on their computer with vertical lines for each year or decade of their life. Others have created a “story board” much like the cartoon storyboards of animation. Do whatever fits you!
1. SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES

What have been the “spiritual markers” in your life? A spiritual marker is “a time of transition, decision, or direction when you clearly knew that God had guided you” (Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, p. 101). What things did God use in your life to bring you to where you are today? What people, circumstances, or events did God use to woo you to Himself? Reflect upon your desires, passions, longings, and struggles in your early years. How have they affected your spiritual journey in positive and negative ways? What have been the most meaningful and decisive times with God in your life? When were the times that you weren’t growing? What were the circumstances surrounding that time?

2. PAINFUL EXPERIENCES

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

God uses everything for His eternal purposes. I talked to a young single mother today who has a Down’s syndrome child. When her child was first born, she was mad at God. As a single mother, it has been tough for her to cope, but she sees how God has used this for her growth and maturity in Him. God never wastes a hurt.

What are the problems, hurts, and trials that you have learned from? You may have already covered these when you answered the questions for your spiritual experiences because often God uses painful experiences to help us grow spiritually! Don’t worry about the overlap.

3. MINISTRY EXPERIENCES

How and where have you served God in the past in the church, in the community, and/or out in the world? How have those experiences confirmed your gifts or made you realize you were outside of your gifting?

4. EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES

Write down the places you went to school. What were your favorite subjects? Why were they your favorites? Don’t forget to include any other educational training that you might have received that was not in a “traditional” school setting.

5. VOCATIONAL EXPERIENCES

What jobs have you enjoyed and achieved results while doing them?

Copyright Carol Weaver 2007

PRAYER

Lord, it is our heart's desire to finish well for Your glory. Give us the power to do that. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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