Tag Archives: 2 Kings 7

The Message in the Moment

The Message in the Moment (CaD 2 Ki 7) Wayfarer

Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”

The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?”

“You will see it with your own eyes,” answered Elisha, “but you will not eat any of it!”

2 Kings 7:1-2 (NIV)

The stories of the prophet Elisha are so filled with the mysterious and the miraculous that it’s easy for me to get focused on the stories and lose sight of the larger story that’s being told.

After the tribes of Israel were divided into northern and southern kingdoms, the two southern tribes that constituted the Kingdom of Judah clung to the house of David and to the worship of God in Jerusalem. The ten northern tribes making up the Kingdom of Israel denied the house of David and they freely embraced the regional and local pagan gods. Spiritually speaking, the northern tribes were prodigal children, and Father God wanted them to leave the spiritual pig slop of their wayward faith and come home.

The prophetic lives of Elijah and Elisha were exclusively centered among the prodigal children of Israel. They were God’s agents and the sheer number and concentration of miracles that God performed through them during this period of history are rivaled only by the time of Moses and the Exodus and by the ministry of Jesus and His apostles.

As I meditate on this in the quiet, I can’t help but think about what God is saying through each of these three chapters of the Great Story.

In the time of Moses, God’s people are enslaved by Egypt and God desires to free them from their slavery and lead them to a Promised Land.

In the time of Elisha, God’s people have abandoned God, and run away from their spiritual home. God desperately desires to convince them to come home.

In the time of Jesus and the apostles, the world is enslaved to sin and God desires to free me from this slavery so that I might be led to an eternal Promised Land.

I believe the miraculous in each of these chapters of the story are indicative of just how passionate God is in his desire for His creation and His people.

In this context, the story of the siege of Samaria in yesterday’s and today’s chapters take on a deeper and larger meaning than the events they describe. The horrific consequences of the siege should have shaken the leaders of Israel to turn back to God and cry out to God, but they refuse. Even when Elisha (who, along with Elijah, has already performed plenty of miracles that the king and his team know about) announces that God will miraculously lift the siege overnight, the immediate response is doubt. The subsequent miraculous fulfillment shows God’s people how much He wants them to turn their hearts back to Him. The fulfilled prophecy of doom for the King’s doubting official is a stark metaphorical contrast pointing to His people the consequences of their continued spiritual rebellion.

In the quiet this morning, I’m thinking about God’s heart desire as revealed, not only in the events of today’s chapter, but in the sending of Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for my sin, that I might be in relationship with Him. It’s basically the same message:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Like God’s people wasting away behind the besieged walls of Samaria, I can choose to believe, or not.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Everyday Miracles and Deep Water Calling

The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?”

“You will see it with your own eyes,” answered Elisha, “but you will not eat any of it!”
2 Kings 7:2 (NIV)

I listened to a great podcast yesterday while I was in the car. Rob Bell was continuing his series on alternative wisdom and he unpacked an event in Jesus’ life when the religious leaders came and demanded a sign from him. This committee of theological high-brows seemed to want miracles on-demand from Jesus, but Jesus refused to play the game the self-important religious fundamentalists were trying to play. Jesus begins by pointing out that no matter what He did, no matter what signs He might come up with, they would never be satisfied. They didn’t want to believe, nor were they concerned with the bigger picture of why Jesus was there in the first place. Jesus then told the religious authorities they would receive no sign but “the sign of Jonah.”

With that Jesus referred to the ancient prophet who was swallowed by a fish and spent three days and nights buries at sea in the fish’s belly. With this Jesus was foreshadowing the real mission He came to perform, which had little do to with a magical miracle tour. Jesus would be called into the depths just like Jonah; He would descend into death for three days, and come out the other side.

As we make our way through 2 Kings we are reading about a lot of signs and miracles. Both Elijah and Elisha’s stories are littered with stories of the miraculous. There’s no doubt that the scribes and editors who put together this history of the ancient Kings are going to make sure to include these miraculous stories. They are great stories, and they are compelling reads. I have found, however, that it is easy for me to read this stream of miracle stories and forget Jesus’ admonishment to turn a blind eye to the penny-ante miracles for a moment and to consider the sign of Jonah.

I believe in the miraculous. I’ve experienced the miraculous and have  heard the testimony of miracles from others whom I know, trust, and believe. I have never felt comfortable, however, who seem to be in the miracle on-demand business. It seems to me that Jesus was always a bit dismissive of signs and miracles.

This is nothing,” Jesus said to Andrew of his knowing that Andrew was sitting under a tree. “You’ll see more impressive things than this.”

What I’m doing is small potatoes,” Jesus said to the disciples. “You’ll see the same and more by the time I’m done.”

You have no idea how really simple this all is, and what little faith is required for these miracles,” Jesus told his followers.

Jesus was so dismissive of the miraculous that He also was quick to shut down miraculous operations. Not only did He do it with the religious leaders, but He did it with the crowds as well. “You’re following me because I gave you free filet-o-fish sandwiches,” Jesus said to the crowds, “but you’re missing the point. If you want the real food I came to give you you’ll have to eat my flesh and drink my blood.”

In this morning’s chapter, Elisha performed another miracle. In announcing what would happen the King’s captain refused to believe. Elisha announced that the captain’s lack of faith would ensure that he’d see it happen but would miss out on the blessing.

What struck me this morning is that I think it’s quite possible to see and experience the miraculous and miss the point. Jesus performed many signs that the religious leaders witnessed, and yet they came back to him for more. They didn’t want to believe. The crowds followed Jesus fully believing that Jesus could multiply loaves and fish endlessly, but eventually they’d become jaded and demand a change of menu. The miracles were never the point. They are momentary blips on the infinite radar focused on temporal earthly things.

Jesus rolled His eyes and continued to tell us that the miracles were there to point us to deeper things. The real important stuff happens three days and nights buries in the depths. The point is in  torn, sacrificial flesh and spilled blood that accomplishes the miraculous on a cosmic, eternal scale.

I believe in miracles. I believe in shallow, everyday miracles on a small temporal scale and big, “deep water” miracles on the cosmic, eternal scale. I have also come to understand that what Jesus was saying is this:  Never trade the latter for the former.

 

Chapter-a-Day 2 Kings 7

Muchado1lr It happened that four lepers were sitting just outside the city gate. They said to one another, "What are we doing sitting here at death's door? If we enter the famine-struck city we'll die; if we stay here we'll die. So let's take our chances in the camp of Aram and throw ourselves on their mercy. If they receive us we'll live, if they kill us we'll die. We've got nothing to lose."  2 Kings 7:3-4 (MSG)

My wife and I are theatre people, and we have a love for the works of Shakespeare. We've been in productions of his works and have seen them produced in various settings. One of the things that makes the famous Bard's plays so timeless is the way he grasps the human condition and turns very common themes into both comedic and tragic plots and characters.

One of the themes we have noticed in Shakespeare's works is the way the archetype character of "the fool" ends up being the one who sees things to which the strongest heroes are blind. In Shakespeare's world, the fool often speaks with the greatest wisdom.

I have seen a similar theme throughout God's message. God delights in using the weakest, smallest, least important people to do great things. In today's chapter, it was four lepers who lived in the no man's land between the city wall (which they could not enter because of their disease) and the seiging Aramean army who surrounded the town. The lepers, in their desperation, had wisdom to see their only hope and grasp at it. They were rewarded with provision of the choicest plunder. Had the king or his guards discovered the empty Aramean camp themselves, the poor lepers would have been lucky to get some of the left-over scraps tossed to them from the city wall.

God delights in using the least important, weakest, most unlikely characters to do His will. Perhaps, like the lepers, it is because they have the least to lose in worldly standing.

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