Script for the May 9th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.
Welcome to the May 9th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.
Today’s reading is in 2 Kings 7-9. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.
2 Kings 7
As we pick up from yesterday’s reading, we realize that the army of Aram has surrounded Samaria. The people inside have run out of resources and some have resorted to cannibalism. The king of Samaria is furious, is blaming this all on Elisha, and has sent a messenger to decapitate the prophet.
Then, Elisha spoke of a miraculous turn of events. He prophecies that Samaria’s fortunes will turn around within 24 hours.
2 Kings 7:1 (CSB): “Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Lord says: ‘About this time tomorrow at Samaria’s gate, six quarts of fine flour will sell for a half ounce of silver and twelve quarts of barley will sell for a half ounce of silver.’”
In other words, there is absolutely no food at the present but within 24 hours, it is going to be dirt cheap. In order for that to happen, a massive amount of food needed to be accessible to them within 24 hours. But where in the world would it come from?
This is essentially the question that the king of Israel’s captain asked. But he asked, clearly doubting that it would happen. So Elisha announced, “You will in fact see it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat any of it” (v.2).
Four men, who had a skin disease, were forced to live outside the city gates. They considered all of their options and realized the only remote opportunity they had to outlive the army-inflicted famine was to surrender to the Aramean army.
2 Kings 7:5-6 (CSB): “5 So the diseased men got up at twilight to go to the Arameans’ camp. When they came to the camp’s edge, they discovered that no one was there, 6 for the Lord had caused the Aramean camp to hear the sound of chariots, horses, and a large army. The Arameans had said to each other, ‘The king of Israel must have hired the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to attack us.’”
The diseased men had the camp all to themselves. They ate to their hearts’ content. They filled the pockets full of silver, gold, and other valuables. But then they began to feel guilty. It was a day of celebration but they were keeping it to themselves. So they went back to Samaria to inform them about what had happened. The gatekeepers were told and the king eventually heard.
But the king doubted what he heard. Elisha, a prophet of the Lord, clearly spoke regarding what the Lord would do for Samaria. The king’s captain had doubted the Word of the Lord then. Now that the Word of the Lord seemed to be coming to pass, the king doubted.
2 Kings 7:12 (CSB): “So the king got up in the night and said to his servants, ‘Let me tell you what the Arameans have done to us. They know we are starving, so they have left the camp to hide in the open country, thinking, “When they come out of the city, we will take them alive and go into the city.” ’ ”
Naïveté is a bad thing. We should never be so simple-minded. But the balance for a Christian is to know when faith is right and appropriate – when we choose to believe things that we cannot fully validate.
For the Christian, this comes when God speaks. When we read His Word and hear what He is saying, we believe it whether or not we see immediate signs that God will honor His Word. When we have cultivated a close walk with the Lord and He reveals to our heart a message that has not yet happened, we consult His written Word to make sure we have actually heard from Him. If we come to see that God has spoken, then we believe.
Hebrews 11:6 (CSB): “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, …”
Since God has spoken through His prophet, and he was not believed by the king and his captain, this was no small thing. God is sorely displeased. In fact, the Lord has already said through Elisha that He would provide food for the city but the king’s captain would not eat it. We’re not quite sure how this will play out but we believe it and are simply waiting for the hammer to drop.
An idea was brought up to send messengers to the Aramean camp to validate what the men with skin diseases had told them. They arrived at the camp and saw that things were just as they had been told. They even saw a trail of litter, clothing, and equipment all the way to the Jordan River. Obviously, the army had been running for their lives.
So what do you think happened when the hundreds, maybe thousands, of starving people in the city of Samaria heard that there was a ton of food outside their city walls? And we are still wondering why the king’s captain isn’t going to eat the food that would be available because of his doubt that God could immediately bring the famine to a halt.
2 Kings 7:17 (CSB): “The king had appointed the captain, his right-hand man, to be in charge of the city gate, but the people trampled him in the gate. He died, just as the man of God had predicted when the king had come to him.”
Friends, God doesn’t primarily speak through prophets now. Instead, He primarily speaks through His written Word. There is much in there that we simply must take by faith. But it’s not the kind of faith that God is pleased with unless it changes our outlook and changes the way we behave.
God really does want us to live in a trusting relationship with Him, believing Him and the words that He has said. So how are you doing in the area of faith?
2 Kings 8
2 Kings 8:1 (CSB): “Elisha said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, ‘Get ready, you and your household, and go live as a resident alien wherever you can. For the LORD has announced a seven-year famine, and it has already come to the land.’”
The woman obeyed and lived for seven years in the land to the west of Judah, in Philistine territory. At the end of that time, she came back to ask for her house and field back.
When she entered the king’s presence, he had been inquiring about Elisha.
2 Kings 8:4-5 (CSB): “4 The king had been speaking to Gehazi, the attendant of the man of God, saying, ‘Tell me all the great things Elisha has done.’ 5 While he was telling the king how Elisha restored the dead son to life, the woman whose son he had restored to life came to appeal to the king for her house and field. So Gehazi said, ‘My lord the king, this is the woman and this is the son Elisha restored to life.’”
Some may be tempted to say: “What a coincidence!” But for the Christian, we don’t believe in such a thing. Coincidence assumes that things in life just happen, every now and then happening at incredibly opportune times.
But for the Christian, we resolutely believe that there is a God who is working behind the scenes that orchestrates the events of planet earth. When unbelievers see something happen and assume that it is a coincidence, we look at the same event and believe that it is providence. Providence is simply God’s act of working all things together for our good and His glory.
So, the fact that the woman entered the king’s presence as he was talking to Gehazi about her wasn’t a coincidence. It was providential.
2 Kings 8:6 (CSB): “6 When the king asked the woman, she told him the story. So the king appointed a court official for her, saying, ‘Restore all that was hers, along with all the income from the field from the day she left the country until now.’”
As we get into verse 7, we read that Elisha’s ministry wasn’t solely for the benefit of Israel. The man of God wasn’t loyal to any particular nation. Instead, he was loyal to the Lord. So we aren’t surprised when he makes his way deep into the Aramean territory.
2 Kings 8:7-8 (CSB): “7 Elisha came to Damascus while King Ben-hadad of Aram was sick, and the king was told, ‘The man of God has come here.’ 8 So the king said to Hazael, ‘Take a gift with you and go meet the man of God. Inquire of the LORD through him, “Will I recover from this sickness?” ’ ”
Hazael went to find Elisha with all of the gifts from Ben-hadad. And he asked Elisha if the king of Aram would recover from his sickness. The answer that Elisha gives will leave you scratching your head, that is until Elisha explains his message.
2 Kings 8:10-12 (CSB): “10 Elisha told him, ‘Go say to him, “You are sure to recover.” But the LORD has shown me that he is sure to die.’ 11 Then he stared steadily at him until he was ashamed. The man of God wept, 12 and Hazael asked, ‘Why is my lord weeping?’ He replied, ‘Because I know the evil you will do to the people of Israel. You will set their fortresses on fire. You will kill their young men with the sword. You will dash their children to pieces. You will rip open their pregnant women.’”
How utterly horrific. Elisha is staring at Hazael and telling him that he will become a barbarian and a terror to people.
When we listen to Hazael’s response, he doesn’t say, “How could I do such things? That’s not like me. I couldn’t dare treat people like that.” But he doesn’t say that. Instead, he asks “How could your servant, a mere dog, do such a mighty deed?” (v.13). Hazael simply thinks that someone who could treat someone like that must be a powerful man in a powerful position. So, as a mere servant, how could he do such things?
And then Elisha drops the bombshell.
2 Kings 8:13 (CSB): “… Elisha answered, ‘The LORD has shown me that you will be king over Aram.’”
Hazael left. From what we can tell and how quickly he acted, it would seem that he used his trip back to the king of Aram to determine how he would assassinate the king.
2 Kings 8:15 (CSB): “The next day Hazael took a heavy cloth, dipped it in water, and spread it over the king’s face. Ben-hadad died, and Hazael reigned in his place.”
In verse 16, the spotlight now focuses on Judah. We learn that Jehoram becomes king of Judah. He reigned in Jerusalem for 8 years. We further learn that he was utterly wicked. One reason he was so wicked, according to the author of 2 Kings, is that he was married to Ahab’s and Jezebel’s daughter.
The one big event that happened by Jehoram was when Edom rebelled against Judah. Generally, rebellions happen when they see weakness. So King Jehoram was apparently not seen to be a strong leader. However, that didn’t keep him from leading the army of Judah against Edom. Unfortunately for them, they lost that battle and went into a retreat. So as of the time when 2 Kings was written, Edom was still in rebellion against Judah’s control.
Jehoram eventually died and his son, Ahaziah, became king in his place. King Ahaziah only reigned one year in Jerusalem. When we read verses 26-27, we realize why he was such a godless king.
2 Kings 8:26-27 (CSB): “26 … His mother’s name was Athaliah, granddaughter of Israel’s King Omri. 27 He walked in the ways of the house of Ahab and did what was evil in the LORD’s sight like the house of Ahab, for his father had married into the house of Ahab.”
In verses 28-39, we read that King Ahaziah of Judah went with King Joram of Israel to fight against King Hazael of Aram. We remember King Hazael from earlier in this chapter. He assassinated the king of Aram by smothering him with a wet blanket.
The outcome of this battle isn’t fully given but we do find out that King Joram of Israel is wounded in the fight and returns to Jezreel to recover. Judah’s king also travels to Jezreel to join him. By the end of the next chapter, these two kings will be dead, shot with arrows.
2 Kings 9
2 Kings 9:1-3 (CSB): “1 The prophet Elisha called one of the sons of the prophets and said, ‘Tuck your mantle under your belt, take this flask of oil with you, and go to Ramoth-gilead. 2 When you get there, look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi. Go in, get him away from his colleagues, and take him to an inner room. 3 Then take the flask of oil, pour it on his head, and say, “This is what the LORD says: ‘I anoint you king over Israel.’ ” Open the door and escape. Don’t wait.’ ”
The young prophet went to Ramoth-gilead, anointed Jehu king of Israel, and then ran. Why did he run? Because when people are doing things for the Lord, it may not be safe. Sometimes, obeying the Lord actually makes our life more difficult. Just consider Mary who gave birth to Jesus. There were many, many heartaches that she would have never had if she had never been the mother of Jesus. Yet, someone who is truly devoted to the Lord doesn’t consider safety nearly as important as obedience to the Lord.
As the prophet spoke privately with Jehu after anointing him as the next king of Israel, he mentioned something that is of particular interest. The Lord had already spoken about Ahab’s death but what about Jezebel? She was the one who orchestrated the unjust murder of Naboth! Just listen to what the prophet said to Jehu…
2 Kings 9:7-10 (CSB): “7 ‘You are to strike down the house of your master Ahab so that I may avenge the blood shed by the hand of Jezebel—the blood of my servants the prophets and of all the servants of the LORD. 8 The whole house of Ahab will perish, and I will wipe out all of Ahab’s males, both slave and free, in Israel. 9 I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 The dogs will eat Jezebel in the plot of land at Jezreel—no one will bury her.’ Then the young prophet opened the door and escaped.”
When Jehu went back to the guys he had been speaking with, they asked him “What was that all about?!” After a bit of coaxing, he told them that he had just been anointed as the next king of Israel. This was problematic because there was currently a king of Israel.
A ram’s horn was blown and Jehu was proclaimed to be king. King Joram was in Jezreel recovering from some battle wounds while his army was in Ramath-gilead on guard against the king of Aram. Jehu saw his opportunity.
Jehu headed with his commanders to Jezreel and was spotted by the watchman. He shouted, “I see a mob!” A couple of riders were sent out to assess what Jehu was up to but his forceful language caused them to fall in behind him as he got closer to Jezreel.
Finally, it was assessed that the leader of the group was Jehu. He seemed like someone who was safe so the leaders in Jezreel went out to meet him. Israel’s King Joram and Judah’s King Ahaziah met Jehu’s group in a location that was incredibly providential.
2 Kings 9:21 (CSB): “ … Then King Joram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah set out, each in his own chariot, and met Jehu at the plot of land of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
This is the piece of property next to the palace. It is the land owned by the man who was unjustly killed by Ahab and Jezebel. So, it seemed appropriate that as God would work for justice, it would be clear that it was over what happened concerning this piece of property.
Joram asked a question. He wanted to assess that everything was OK. He assumed it was but he just wanted to know.
2 Kings 9:22-23 (CSB): “22 When Joram saw Jehu he asked, ‘Do you come in peace, Jehu?’ He answered, ‘What peace can there be as long as there is so much prostitution and sorcery from your mother Jezebel?’ 23 Joram turned around and fled, shouting to Ahaziah, ‘It’s treachery, Ahaziah!’ ”
Jehu sent an arrow through Joram’s heart. But Jehu is making it clear that he is simply fulfilling the prophetic word that the Lord spoke through Elisha.
2 Kings 9:25-26 (CSB): “25 Jehu said to Bidkar his aide, ‘Pick him up and throw him on the plot of ground belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. For remember when you and I were riding side by side behind his father Ahab, and the LORD uttered this pronouncement against him: 26 “As surely as I saw the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons yesterday” – this is the LORD’s declaration – “so will I repay you on this plot of land” – this is the LORD’s declaration. So now, according to the word of the LORD, pick him up and throw him on the plot of land.’ ”
Then, the king of Judah fled. Why Jehu had Ahaziah shot and killed is unknown. It certainly didn’t fulfill any prophecy. King Ahaziah hadn’t done anything that the Lord was seeking justice for. It seems that Jehu was merely taking advantage of the moment and killed the man who would be a threat to him in his new kingdom.
Jehu then traveled back to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard that he was coming, she put on her makeup and fixed her hair. Was she thinking that she could be seductive and get out of dying? The Bible doesn’t tell us.
As Jezebel looked down out a window, Jehu came into view. When we listen to how the Bible describes the impact, she must have been a considerable distance from the ground.
2 Kings 9:32-33 (CSB): “32 He looked up toward the window and said, ‘Who is on my side? Who?’ Two or three eunuchs looked down at him, 33 and he said, ‘Throw her down!’ So they threw her down, and some of her blood splattered on the wall and on the horses, and Jehu rode over her.”
While this is gross and it is not excusable behavior, the Lord’s prophecies concerning Ahab and Jezebel were now completely fulfilled.
2 Kings 9:34-37 (CSB): “34 Then he went in, ate and drank, and said, ‘Take care of this cursed woman and bury her, since she’s a king’s daughter.’ 35 But when they went out to bury her, they did not find anything but the skull, the feet, and the hands. 36 So they went back and told him, and he said, ‘This fulfills the LORD’s word that he spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: “In the plot of land at Jezreel, the dogs will eat Jezebel’s flesh. 37 Jezebel’s corpse will be like manure on the surface of the ground in the plot of land at Jezreel so that no one will be able to say: This is Jezebel.” ’ ”
Sometimes justice will not happen until everyone stands before Jesus on Judgment Day to hear how He will right all wrongs. But some things will be judged and reconciled here.
Our God is a good God and a righteous judge. So, let’s be careful in how we speak about and treat other people. Let’s carefully set our hearts to studying, understanding, and obeying God’s Word. Because God is a judge and cannot tolerate injustice.
Lord Jesus, thank You for being a good judge. There are all kinds of injustices that take place in this world and it would be too much to bear if we thought that injustice would go unpunished. So help us, Lord, to treat our enemies with goodness and grace, resting in the fact that You observe how we have been wronged and will make it right. But also help us to have a greater desire that those who mistreat us would find grace at the cross, rather than finding justice on the Day of Judgment. We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!