Saturday, June 24, 2017

June 24: 2 Kings 6 – 7; Psalm 142; Proverbs 17:24-25; Acts 15:36-16:15


            2 Kings: Some of the prophet wanted to build a larger dwelling and went to the Jordan to cut timber. Elisha went with them. When a borrowed axe head fell in the river, Elisha tossed in a stick and the axe head floated up.
            The king of Syria was warring against Israel. Elisha would warn the king of Israel where the Syrians were camped. The Syrian king thought he had a mole but was told that Elisha was able to tell the king of Israel whatever the king of Syria said in his bedroom.
            The king of Syria sent his army to Dothan to capture Elisha. Elisha’s servant was afraid, but Elisha prayed and the servant was able to see even more horses and chariots of fire around Elisha. Elisa then prayed for the Syrian army to be blinded. Elisha then led them to Samaria.
            The king of Israel wanted to know if he should kill them, but Elisha told him they were like captives, so feed them. They had a great feast and the Syrians didn’t raid Israel again.
            Later, Ben-hadad, king of Syria besieged Samaria. The siege caused a famine and when the king discovered that a woman had eaten her son., he swore to kill Elisha. When the king came, Elisha told him that the famine would be over the next day. The king’s captain didn’t believe that God could do that. Elisha told him he wouldn’t eat of it because he doubted.
            Two lepers decided to desert to the Syrians. They thought they would die in the city but there was a chance the Syrians would not kill them. When they went to the camp, it was deserted because the Lord made the Syrians hear a great army and they fled. The Lepers stashed some booty but then felt guilty for hording it all. They told the city about it. The king verified the Syrians were gone. The people stampeded out of the city and trampled the captain who doubted the Lord.
            Psalm: David is in trouble again. He is hiding in a cave. He asks the Lord for mercy and tells the Lord all his troubles. However, he knows that when he is overwhelmed, God knows the way out. Traps are laid for him and there is no refuge. No one cares for him. So he cries to the Lord, who is his refuge and protection while he is still alive. He asks for rescue from those who are too strong for him. He wants to be set free so he can thank the Lord. When that happens, the righteous will rally to him because God is good.
            Proverbs: A person who can figure out the difference between right and wrong always seeks wisdom. A fool, on the other hand, will keep his eyes on earthly things. The fool brings grief and bitterness to his parents.
            Acts: Paul and Barnabas have a big fight over taking John Mark along to visit the new churches they established. Paul didn’t want to take him because he had abandoned them in Pamphylia. Barnabas took Mark with him and went to Cyprus. Paul took Silas and went to Syria and Cilicia.
            In Lystra, Paul had Timothy join them. He first circumcised Timothy to avoid criticism from Jews. When they visited churches, they told them about the decision made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. The churches were strengthened and increased in number daily.
            The Holy Spirit didn’t let them speak in Asia and they continued westward. In Troas, Paul had a vision of a man asking him to come to Macedonia. (Luke joins them in Troas.) They finally arrive in Philippi and stayed there a while. They went to a place of prayer by the river and met Lydia, a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to believe, was baptized, and had them stay with her.

What Stood Out

            2 Kings: “Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.’ So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17).
            Psalm: “I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my troubles before him” (Ps 142:2).
            Proverbs: “The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth” (Prov 17:24).
            Acts: “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6).


            2 Kings: This incident in Elisha’s life where the king of Syria tries to capture him is awesome. It is awesome in several respects. The first is that the Lord tells Elisha all the plans of the Syrian king. The king of Israel, who presumably is the same one when Samaria is later besieged, is greatly benefited. It is awesome that the Lord would keep on protecting this evil king (none of the kings of Israel were righteous).
            It is awesome because Elisha has a heavenly perspective where he can see the heavenly forces and what is going on there. He even asks that his servant see the protection the Lord has given Elisha (By the way, we should not assume that the Lord does the same for us in the same way. There is no indication that this is a universal promise to all believers.) It is awesome that the makers of Star Wars copied Elisha by having the Jedi use mind control that sounded almost the same as the way Elisha spoke to the Syrian army, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek” (2 Kings 6:19). It goes to show that elements of the Bible show up in unexpected places and if so, they have no excuse for not believing God.
            It is awesome because Elisha showed his enemies mercy. They were helpless before him because the Lord was with him. The king of Israel would have slaughtered them. Instead they had a feast and war was averted instead of increased.
            Psalm: Some of the Psalms of lament end up wanting all sorts of disastrous things to happen to the Psalmist’s enemies. This one is a bit different. This is focused not so much on the enemies but on David’s response to them. He sets the tone by saying he pours out his complaints to the Lord and clarifies that he isn’t complaining about the Lord, but simply telling the Lord about all his troubles. Sometimes we are overwhelmed and need to do that. We should be careful because these can get out of hand and turn into bitterness and other sinful attitudes. David ends his plea for help by saying he wants to be able to give thanks to the Lord and this will result in glory to God. We always need to focus on the end in the same way Jesus did when he endured the cross looking to the joy of sitting down with the Father.
            Proverbs: A wise person is one who is able to look forward to what is good instead of all the distractions of the world. Just as David was able to keep his eyes on the Lord when in destress and overwhelmed, and Jesus was looking to all the would be accomplished after the cross, so we should make sure we are heavenly minded instead of earthly minded (Col 3:2).
            Acts: I don’t know how the Holy Spirit prevents someone from speaking the word. Maybe Paul and Silas simply kept running into people who were not interested. Maybe Paul just had a feeling that he had to keep moving. Unfortunately, Luke didn’t say anything more specific. People today say a lot about the way the Holy Spirit leads them. I’ve heard people talk about a strong impulse to go and share the gospel with someone and find the person is ready and willing to become a Christian. I’ve had instances where I “just knew” that a person was not ready. However, some can take a verse like this and think that all their feelings are inspired by the Holy Spirit. Obviously, the Holy Spirit worked so that Luke recorded exactly what he did and they had the proof by a vision and by the work they found in Philippi.
            Just like we can’t take Elisha’s experience to be the Christian norm, neither can we take Paul and Silas’ experience as the norm. What we can do is be faithful to the Lord in our lives and discover how the Spirit works in us, especially when reading and apply God’s word to our lives.


             While I would really like to see into the heavenly realms and see horses and chariots of fire, have visions, or hear the Holy Spirit directly talking to me, I must also realize these are special instances of the way God works. I need to be able to apply Scripture to my life, doing God’s will and working on sanctification. If these other things happen, that is God’s doing not mine.

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