Early Let Us Seek Thy Favor

2 Kings 3, 4

[Teachng outline}

  1. Elisha and the Kings
    1. Character of Jehoram 1-3
      1. He made some reforms in mitigating the horrid idolatry of Ahab
      2. Nevertheless he retained the errors introduced by Jeroboam – see 1 Kings 12:25-13:5, 33, 34 – This same sin remained with Jehu who eliminated Baal worship from Israel [2 Kings 10:28f
      3. Though there are degrees of right and wrong, we are never justified in comparing our sins to the greater sins of others. Nor can we think that the guilt of our lesser sins stops short of being worthy of wrath.
    2. Rebellion of Moab 4, 5
      1. Moab had rebelled after Ahab’s death and Ahaziah had failed to take action 1:1
      2. This represented a significant loss of revenue to Israel 3:4 – Material concerns often will drive us to action where honor, truth, and justice will not
    3. Cooperation of Israel, Judah, Edom 6-10
      1. Common enemies make strange bedfellows [Pilate and Herod became friends because of their common mystification as to what to do with Jesus--Luke 23:6-12]
      2. Their chosen route of attack landed them in great distress
      3. The King of Israel blames their distress on Jehovah – ""Alas! For the Lord has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab." Those who have not intention of following the Lord, who know little of his ways, and care little for his glory, find him nevertheless worthy of blame for calamity.
      4. The King of Judah desires to inquire of the Lord– Had they consulted the prophet before their action, they might have avoided this distress [Psalm 107]
    4. Consultation with Elisha 11-21
      1. A servant of the king of Israel knew of Elisha’s presence [cf. 5:2, 3: A young Israelite girl taken captive in a Syrian raid on Israel knew about Elisha and informed Naaman of the prophet]] God has chosen the weak things to shame the strong 11] This shows that often unknown persons in the service of those greater in worldly splendor have more useful knowledge and a brighter and more secure standing in reality than their worldly superiors.
      2. Jehoshaphat of Judah immediately concedes that such consultation is right – The sheep recognize the voice of the shepherd [For Jehoshaphat see 1 Kings 22:8, 41-44]
      3. Elisha retains his prophetic stance in rebuking Jehoram for his idolatry –Jehoram seems to know that the gods of his father can do him no good 13, 14 – the presence of kings neither flatters nor cowers Elisha. He has no earthly favor to court but sees himself as always before the throne of God and responsible to him.
      4. Elisha made serious inquiry of the Lord and received the prophetic word – They should dig ditches and they would be filled with water without rain; also the Lord would deliver the Moabites into their hands -–God does exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think- not only Jehoshaphat but idolatrous Jehoram and the Edomite king benefited from this inquiry. The saints of god are often the reason for the blessings that fall on the profane. Had there been ten righteous persons in Sodom, for their sake God would have spared even that putridly corrupt city.
    5. The Route of the Moabites 21-27
      1. The prophecy is exactly fulfilled – It occurs at the time of the morning sacrifice; The answer to prayer comes only by virtue of the propitiatory work of Christ [1 John 2:1, 2; 5:5-8] Daniel finds special regard to his prayer at the time of the evening sacrifice [Daniel 9:21];
      2. the scheme took advantage of the tendency to self-deception and rapacious greed [3:23]
      3. The Moabite king is able to reverse the slaughter only by the sacrifice of his son, the heir to the throne – This is a cruel act to seek to propitiate a despotic blood-thirsty deity. Its shocking appearance brings the Israelites to a point of both disgust and pity and they withdraw without consummating the route. This public display of desperation gave the people of Moab a renewed detestation of the attacking forces that drove the king to such measures ["there came great wrath against Israel."]This action shows how utterly horrid a human sacrifice is, in and of itself, and shows that the death of Christ should be viewed with just as much disgust if there is not some infinitely worthy cause by which it is justified. Any view of the atonement that stops short of asserting its necessity for the forgiveness of sins turns it into the most horrid and cruel bit of arbitrariness worthy only of Molech. God gives his only Son to stay his own wrath against sinners, as the king of Moab sacrificed his own son to stay the wrath of Israel and Judah against his nation. God does this as conforming to an eternal and intrinsically divine moral order as an act of infinite mercy toward sinners. The king of Moab performs what is unnecessary, killing a person whose death has no efficacy as a sacrifice, given to an atrocious unholy deity invented by the perversions of fallen imaginations.
  2. Elisha and the Common People – We do not find Elisha now as a secretary of war for Jehoshaphat or as a confidant of Jehoram. It seems that after his inquiry of God, the kings had no further use of him. He is satisfied, however, to be used as a caretaker for the seemingly insignificant people of the land. The power of God is not more remarkable or "important’ when expended in the support of kings than when active in the rescue of a nameless widow of an obscure prophet.
    1. The Widow and the cruse of oil 4:1-7
      1. Her past is one of true piety and her present is one of wrenching distress 4:1
      2. The prophet looks to her present resources, a cruise of oil. We need to recognize that even the meager things we have are given of God, are good in themselves and, as their very existence is a testimony to the omnipotence of God, so they can become vehicles for the demonstration of that omnipotence.
      3. The oil is multiplied enough to pay her debts and provide for the future 3-7; Perhaps tempted to use this sudden bounty on herself, she is told to pay her debts. We must be careful that we do not consider things or money as ours while we are in debt to others. Honesty and dependability along with modesty and simplicity always is becoming to God’s children.
      4. To show that there is no contradiction between God’s uncreated eternality and immense, indivisible spirituality on the one hand and his activity upon localized created matter on the other, he uses these things as conduits for his grace. When Jesus multiplied fish and bread he used that which already existed; when he changed water to wine he used the matter present but simply bypassed the chemical actions resident within the grape vine [because he is the vine!]. The incarnation occurs through the seed of the woman when the Holy Spirit came upon her to create the impregnation of her egg and at the same moment the power of the Most High overshadowed her. This second part of the event constituted the immediate union of the Son of God, eternally generated by the Father [Luke 1:35], with the human nature procreated in Mary, of her flesh, of the seed of David, made like his brothers in all things. Marcion’s misperceptions in the early church that led him to assert that the God of the Old Testament was inferior to the God of the New because he was more grossly connected with the matter of earth [among other problems he noted] led him also to radical reconstruction of the doctrine of the incarnation. God created all things, is the only sovereign and ruler, and operates his sovereign purposes, eternally conceived, through the world he has created and specifically through sinners redeemed that constitute his church [Ephesians 3:8-11]
    2. The Woman of Shunem 4:8-37
      1. The woman, though prosperous and well-connected, had compassion on Elisha before she knew that he was a prophet. 4:8, 9 – It appears, therefore, that this was an act of pure benevolence with no expectations of return.
      2. When she learns he is a man of God, she wants to make permanent provision for his well-being when he is passing through. She anticipates what John admonished in 3 John 5-8.
      3. When the prophet asked what could be done for her she made no request, though he spoke to her of the highest earthly advantages. She was content with the place she had among her own people and did not aspire to higher earthly recognition or honor. 4:11-13
      4. The prophet’s helper, gehazi, perceives what would be most joyful and fulfilling for the woman. Compare this moment of insight to Gehazi’s later greed in chapter 5:20-27.
      5. The prophet, therefore, grants her what is obviously the deepest and most blessed gift any couple or woman could want, a child. All material things and all social positions of influence will pass, but the soul of a person is without price. Each is made in God’s image and may be instructed in the knowledge of God with the hope of conversion and an increase of knowledge that will never end, never pass away and involves the richest most unsurpassable blessings imaginable and far beyond imagination. So precious is this promise, that she could not bear the thought that it would not be true.
      6. When old enough to go the field to visit his father and the reapers, he became sick, was sent back to his mother, and died in her arms. She immediately makes provision for another miraculous intervention of God through the prophet. She does not prepare the body for burial but takes it to the prophets room for his action. When her husband asks where she is going she only responds "All is well."
      7. The prophet, though kept from discernment by the Lord, knows that she would not have come to him on her own without an urgent issue at hand. The mere mention of the circumstance of the promise he gave her about a son reveals to him the problem 4:28, 29
      8. He sends his servant with his staff, but the woman is not satisfied without his coming.
      9. The recovery to life involves the direct involvement and the earnest action of the Prophet. He was attempting to do that which is impossible for any man to do; he knew that only God could restore life and that He could have done it by means of the staff laid on the lad. This case, however, is given to show that God, the giver of life, will have his servants yearn for the blessings of grace. They must not stop with the initial warming of the spirit but still work until life is given. Matthew Henry remarks, "Those that would be instrumental in conveying spiritual life to dead souls must thus affect themselves with their case, and accommodate themselves to it, and labour fervently in prayer for them."
  3. Elisha and the Prophets –As a teacher among the prophets, Elisha has one of his main concerns their well-being.
    1. Scarcity of Food 4:38
    2. Death in the Pot 4:39, 40 Carelessness and lack of knowledge was about to create death for the sons of the prophets; "The sons of the prophets, it seems, were better skilled in divinity than in natural philosophy, and read their Bibles more than their herbals." [MH] If they were not to die from this, it certainly ruined their meal. Elisha’s miracle shows the concern that God has for our daily sustenance. The meal was simple, but necessary. God brought the famine, but made this simple fare sufficient and safe for their consumption. "Give us this day our daily bread."
    3. Feed many people with few loaves 4:42-44 – This clearly anticipates a similar miracle by Jesus. [Luke 9:12-17; John 6:9-14] Miraculous works marked Moses, the prophets, especially Elijah and Elisha, Christ, His apostles and their representatives. [Hebrews 2:3,4; 2 Corinthians 12:11, 12; Acts 3:4-9; Acts 5:12-16] IN distinction from the others, Christ acts on the basis of his own authority and intrinsic power [Mark 2:1-12].
  4. Lessons
    1. The wicked want to use religion for their own ends. They may panic in a time of need but have no heart to give glory to God.
    2. No event of life or particle of matter escapes the sovereign will of God or can be sustained apart from his involvement. War, food, conception, birth, death, victory, defeat, famine, provision, oil, bread, water, all constitute arenas in which God operates to his glory in a fallen rebellious world.
    3. True godliness does not seek personal advantage but operates in the realms of goodness and faith. We must decide to do things, because they are good, not necessarily because they are advantageous to our worldly estate. In faith, we expect blessings from God based on his character and promise, not on our deserts. We seek Him, not temporal advantage from him [Hebrews 11:6, 35].
    4. God has instituted means and persons by which he shows his presence and performs his will in this world. That he employs means does not minimize the directness of his power in the accomplishment of his good purpose.
    5. God is aggressive with is tender mercies and grace toward people of low estate who do not vaunt themselves but see themselves as beggars and wait patiently for his favor. [Luke 1:46-55]

[Class Outline]

  1. Elisha and the Kings
    1. Character of Jehoram 1-3
      1. He made some reforms in mitigating the horrid idolatry of Ahab
      2. Nevertheless he retained the errors introduced by Jeroboam – see 1 Kings 12:25-13:5, 33, 34
      3. Though there are degrees of right and wrong, we are never justified in comparing our sins to the greater sins of others.
    2. Rebellion of Moab 4, 5
      1. Moab had rebelled after Ahab’s death and Ahaziah had failed to take action 1:1
      2. This represented a significant loss of revenue to Israel 3:4 – Material concerns often will drive us to action where honor, truth, and justice will not
    3. Cooperation of Israel, Judah, Edom 6-10
      1. Common enemies make strange bedfellows [Pilate and Herod --Luke 23:6-12]
      2. Their chosen route of attack landed them in great distress
      3. The King of Israel blames their distress on Jehovah –
      4. The King of Judah desires to inquire of the Lord– Had they consulted the prophet before their action, they might have avoided this distress [Psalm 107]
    4. Consultation with Elisha 11-21
      1. A servant of the king of Israel knew of Elisha’s presence [cf. 5:2, 3]
      2. Jehoshaphat of Judah immediately concedes that such consultation is right – The sheep recognize the voice of the shepherd [For Jehoshaphat see 1 Kings 22:8, 41-44]
      3. Elisha retains his prophetic stance in rebuking Jehoram for his idolatry –
      4. Elisha made serious inquiry of the Lord and received the prophetic word –
    5. The Route of the Moabites 21-27
      1. The prophecy is exactly fulfilled – It occurs at the time of the morning sacrifice; 1 John 2:1, 2
      2. the scheme took advantage of the tendency to self-deception and rapacious greed [3:23]
      3. The Moabite king is able to reverse the slaughter only by the sacrifice of his son
  2. Elisha and the Common People –the kings had no further use of him. He is satisfied, however, to be used as a caretaker for the seemingly insignificant people of the land.
    1. The Widow and the cruse of oil 4:1-7
      1. Her past is one of true piety and her present is one of wrenching distress 4:1
      2. The prophet looks to her present resources, a cruise of oil.
      3. The oil is multiplied enough to pay her debts and provide for the future 3-7;
      4. To show that there is no contradiction between God’s uncreated eternality and immense, indivisible spirituality and his activity upon localized created matter
    2. The Woman of Shunem 4:8-37
      1. The woman, though prosperous and well-connected, had compassion on Elisha an act of pure benevolence with no expectations of return.
      2. When she learns he is a man of God, she wants to make permanent provision
      3. When the prophet asked what could be done for her she made no request, though he spoke to her of the highest earthly advantages. She was content with her own people
      4. The prophet’s helper, Gehazi, perceives what would be most joyful and fulfilling
      5. The prophet, therefore, grants her what is obviously the deepest and most blessed gift
      6. When he became sick, She immediately makes provision for another miraculous intervention
      7. The recovery to life involves the direct involvement and the earnest action of the Prophet.
  3. Elisha and the Prophets –As a teacher among the prophets, Elisha has one of his main concerns their well-being.
    1. Scarcity of Food 4:38
    2. Death in the Pot 4:39, 40
    3. Feed many people with few loaves 4:42-44 –similar miracle by Jesus. Luke 9:12-17; John 6:9-14]
  4. Lessons
    1. The wicked want to use religion for their own ends.
    2. No event of life or particle of matter escapes the sovereign will of God
    3. True godliness does not seek personal advantage but operates in the realms of goodness and faith.
    4. God has instituted means and persons by which he shows his presence and performs his will
    5. God is aggressive with is tender mercies and grace toward people of low estate