2 Kings 2:11
11 As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire with horses of fire suddenly appeared and separated the two of them. Then Elijah went up into heaven in the whirlwind. 12 As Elisha watched, he kept crying out, “My father, my father, the chariots and horsemen of Israel!”
In 1 Kings Elijah had called Elisha to come and be a prophet of the Lord just like him. It’s a pretty cool look at discipleship. Elisha had the opportunity to walk with Elijah and see the way God used him to direct people back to the Lord. In the previous verses, you see Elisha’s dedication to Elijah and God. Elijah knew the Lord was going to take him away so he asks Elisha what he could give to him. Elisha’s response was to allow him to receive two shares of the Spirit of God. He is asking that God would use him two times more than He used Elijah. Elijah says that this is difficult to give, but if he sees God take Elijah up, he will receive the two shares.
This brings us to our verse. God swoops down with a chariot of fire and takes Elijah to Heaven. Think about it this way, it’s as if God looked down on Elijah and said, well done my good and faithful servant (Matthew 25). This is an amazing exit for an amazing prophet but, don’t miss out on the fact that Elisha saw it and will now receive double the power and ability of Elijah. This is the end of one great prophet and the beginning of another.
God wants to use us to do great and mighty things in His name. All to point back to His glory and honor. How great would it be if our heart desired to make two times the impact for God than those who came before us? And we do this all to work towards that day when we hear, “well done my good and faithful servant.” What do we need to do to focus our hearts on living for God and striving for that glorious day in Heaven? Will you hear well done?
2 Kings 5:7-10
7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and asked, “Am I God, killing and giving life, that this man expects me to cure a man of his skin disease? Recognize that he is only picking a fight with me.”
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king: “Why have you torn your clothes? Have him come to me, and he will know there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house.
10 Then Elisha sent him a messenger, who said, “Go wash seven times in the Jordan and your skin will be restored and you will be clean.”
Today's story is about a commander of the army of King of Aram. The King of Aram is a foreign king. His commander Naaman has an incurable skin disease and this worries him. He wants his commander to be healed but he doesn’t know how this could be possible. A slave girl speaks up and mentions a prophet who lives in Israel. As a last-ditch effort, King of Aram sends a messenger with gifts and a letter asking for the king of Israel to heal Naaman. When the letter arrives to the king of Israel you see his reaction in today’s text. He cries out, “Am I God” and proceeds to throw a fit. Elisha hears about this and says, "Why have you torn your clothes? Have him come to me, and he will know there is a prophet in Israel.”
Oh, how the kings of Israel have fallen away from God. The king of Israel is so far away from God that he looks at this act from king Aram as a way for Syria to pick a fight with Israel. He thinks that he has been asked to do something impossible. He doesn’t see how this is an amazing way for God to reveal Himself to both Syria and Israel. This could easily be a turning point but Israel has missed it. Elisha is there to once again reveal that God is in control and that He has the power to heal this man. Elisha gives God the floor and lets Him go to work.
This is a problem for Israel. They have forgotten God. Even the nations around them are looking to them for answers yet they aren’t pointing to God as the answer. What category do you think you are in? Are you like Elisha where you say, “Look at what God can do” and you point people to God? Or, are you like the king of Israel and you think you have to do everything in your own power. So you scream out to people, “You are asking too much of me. Am I God?” Let’s be the follower of Jesus who constantly points people to Jesus and looks to Jesus as the one with the answers to everything. I mean, if you think about it, wouldn’t the creator of everything have the answer? Let’s look to Jesus and follow His word.
2 Kings 6:13-17
13 So the king said, “Go and see where he is, so I can send men to capture him.”
When he was told, “Elisha is in Dothan,” 14 he sent horses, chariots, and a massive army there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
15 When the servant of the man of God got up early and went out, he discovered an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. So he asked Elisha, “Oh, my master, what are we to do?”
16 Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them.”
17 Then Elisha prayed, “Lord, please open his eyes and let him see.” So the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
There came a time where the king of Syria decided to go against Israel. He tells his men that he is going to set up camp at a certain place to wage war against Israel. Elisha, through the knowledge God gave him, tells the king of Israel to avoid that area. This makes the king of Syria think that he has a leak in his organization but his men remind him that Elisha knows everything he says even in his bedroom. Because of this, the king of Syria sends men to capture Elisha. This is where we pick up in our reading today. The king of Syria sends his men and they surround Elisha. Elisha’s servant looks outside and is worried because they are surrounded. Pay attention to Elisha’s response. He’s not worried at all. He says, “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them.” And then he asks God to open the servant’s eyes. When this happens the servant sees into the spiritual realm and sees the horses and the chariots of fire all around the mountains and realizes God’s got them covered.
This should remind us that God has us covered as well. God is stronger and more capable than anything that surrounds us in this life. Our prayer should be for God to open our eyes to what He is doing. Not just in how He is protecting us, but the way He is moving and working all around us. This is not so we can sit around and do nothing. This is so we can see where God is moving and working and go be in the middle of it. I don’t know about you, but I want to be in the middle of where God is working. Ask God to give you eyes to see the way He is moving and working in this world.
2 Kings 17:7-13
7 This disaster happened because the people of Israel sinned against the Lord their God who had brought them out of the land of Egypt from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt and because they worshiped other gods. 8 They lived according to the customs of the nations that the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites and according to what the kings of Israel did. 9 The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right. They built high places in all their towns from watchtower to fortified city. 10 They set up for themselves sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. 11 They burned incense there on all the high places just like the nations that the Lord had driven out before them had done. They did evil things, angering the Lord. 12 They served idols, although the Lord had told them, “You must not do this.” 13 Still, the Lord warned Israel and Judah through every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commands and statutes according to the whole law I commanded your ancestors and sent to you through my servants the prophets.”
This is the plain and simple answer as to why Israel had fallen. Remember, Israel has split into two kingdoms. Israel the northern kingdom and Judah the southern kingdom. At this point, the capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel, Samaria, has fallen to the king of Assyria. Israel has been captured and sent into captivity. God takes the time in this section of scripture to show why Israel had fallen. When you read this section you see that Israel had sinned against God by worshiping other gods and living just like the godless nations around them. They had fallen so deep into their sins that they were no longer recognizable as God’s chosen and holy nation. Israel could not go on like this. The consequences for their actions had finally caught up to them.
Take a look at what verse nine says, they “secretly did things against the Lord.” Understand that they were not secret to the Lord but it was done in “secret.” Now take some time to evaluate your life. How are you in your secret times? Know that God sees you and knows everything you have done and everything you have thought. Jesus even said, knowing the thoughts of the scribes in Matthew 9:4 “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in you hearts?” This shouldn’t worry us, God loves us even though he knows all of this, but it should make us think about those secret times. We are not defined by our outward actions or who we portray ourselves to be in front of others. We are defined by who we are. Someone once said character is who you are when no-one is looking. Are you the same person in secret as you are out and about? Are you one person at church and another at school? God wants us to be consistent in our walk with Him. I pray that our secret actions will be so God-honoring that they will pour out into our day-to-day lives.
2 Kings 19:14-19
14 Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers’ hands, read it, then went up to the Lord’s temple, and spread it out before the Lord. 15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord:
Lord God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you are God—you alone—of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth. 16 Listen closely, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see. Hear the words that Sennacherib has sent to mock the living God. 17 Lord, it is true that the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but made by human hands—wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. 19 Now, Lord our God, please save us from his power so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are God—you alone.
Israel has fallen and it seems as if Judah is next. The king of Assyria has let it be known that he is coming to take over the southern kingdom of Judah. King Hezekiah, the king of Judah, received a letter from the king of Cush to tell him that the Assyrian army is coming to take him out. The king of Cush even went as far as to say to not be deceived by your God, everyone who has gone against Assyria has fallen. Hezekiah looked at this and thought, you don’t know my God. He takes the letter to the temple and lays it out before God and prays to God the prayer that is in today's text. He presents the problem to God with the full expectation that God is the solution.
This is something that we can hold onto. We pray to a God who sees the struggles we are going through. He hears our prayers and listens closely to them, holding onto every word we pray to Him. He loves us that much and He truly is great enough to hear and answer every prayer we pray to Him. How is your prayer life? Do you have times where you feel God isn’t listening? Know that he hears you just as he heard King Hezekiah. He is always just a prayer away. Layout your problems and difficulties at His feet just as Hezekiah laid out the letter before God. Pray, knowing you are heard and loved.
2 Kings 21:1-3a & 22:1-2
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, imitating the detestable practices of the nations that the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had destroyed and reestablished the altars for Baal.
2 Kings 22:1-2
1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the Lord’s sight and walked in all the ways of his ancestor David; he did not turn to the right or the left.
Today's verses show us the recurring theme of the southern kingdom of Judah. It was a kingdom that went back and forth between following the one true God and following false gods. Although they were better than the northern kingdom who had all 20 of their kings do what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They still only had eight kings who could be listed as a king who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. These verses show the method as to which the kings were judged. They either did what was right before God and lived a life to honor Him and bring Judah closer to Him or they lived a life that was evil before God and pushed Judah to worship false gods.
Which category do we fall into? We may not be Kings and Queens but we are leading the people that are around us whether we intend to or not. Are we living a life that brings honor and glory to God and sets an example of God’s love to those around us, pointing them to Jesus as their savior? Or are we living a life against God, pointing people to ourselves or other idols in this world? How are you using your influence in your circle of friends or classmates? Only you can answer these questions, but let’s strive to live a life that magnifies the name of Jesus and points people to the cross where they can find forgiveness of their sins and the love of Christ.
2 Kings 25:1-2 & 8-10
1 In the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon advanced against Jerusalem with his entire army. They laid siege to the city and built a siege wall against it all around. 2 The city was under siege until King Zedekiah’s eleventh year.
8 On the seventh day of the fifth month—which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guards, a servant of the king of Babylon, entered Jerusalem. 9 He burned the Lord’s temple, the king’s palace, and all the houses of Jerusalem; he burned down all the great houses. 10 The whole Chaldean army with the captain of the guards tore down the walls surrounding Jerusalem.
Israel had already fallen to the Assyrian king because of the evil they had done in the eyes of the Lord. Even though Judah had some good kings who followed God, the evil kings that followed led Judah to the same ending. Judah has been captured and the holy city of Jerusalem is destroyed. All of Israel and Judah are now in captivity. This is a low point for Israel and Judah. They have lead God’s chosen people back into a life of slavery. Everything that God had given them has been destroyed, but know that God is not done with them. This is not the end of the story. God’s covenants will be fulfilled and God’s grace will once again pour out to Israel.
Although 2 Kings ends with Israel and Judah being in captivity. God is still working. The last few verses show a glimmer of hope as it talks about Judah’s king Jehoiachin. Although he was a prisoner, the Babylonian King pardons him and gives him a seat at his table until the end of his life. Even in captivity, God is still working.
Remember this and apply this to your life. No matter where you are in this life, God is not done with you yet. Even if you are in the lowest darkest place in your life, God is not finished with you. As long as there is breath in your lungs, know that God can and will use you to bring honor and glory back to Him. You just have to turn back to Him. Ask God to forgive you of your sins and repent (to turn away). He will restore you just as He will once again restore Israel later in the Bible.