Monday, June 30, 2014

"God, a prophet and the everyday things of life ..."

Day #185:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - July 1st

Scripture Reading:  II Kings 1 - 5 ...

Elijah and Elisha were two of the first of a line of prophets who spoke for God during the times of the kings of Israel and Judah.  During this time there were "schools" of prophets.  These apparently began during the time of Samuel, at the end of the period of the Judges.  The schools of the prophets were similar in some ways to the theological schools of today.  While there were some "inspired" prophets to whom God gave specific messages, most taught God's law to His people, perhaps like Ezra some time later.  While we often remember the familiar stories of miracles that some of the prophets performed, it is important to understand that the God who sometimes foretold events is the same God who is intimately involved in the details of everyday life ... the big things and the little things.

Throughout these five chapters God uses Elijah and Elisha to speak His word to kings and common people alike.  Whether it was Ahaziah, King Ahab's son, or a widow or a commander of an army, God does what only God can do ... He brings judgment on those who despise Him and He brings blessings to those who seek Him.

In Chapter 1, King Ahaziah consults Baal-Zebub rather than God.  In other words, he prays to a false god rather than the God of Israel.  He sends a captain with a company of fifty men to get Elijah, after Elijah intercepted the messenger he had sent to Baal-Zebub.  God sent fire down and killed them all.  A second captain and his fifty men are sent to get Elijah.  The same thing happens.  A third captain and his fifty men are sent to get Elijah ... but this time the captain humbles himself before Elijah and pleads for mercy.  God spares them.  Why?  Because God is merciful.  What about the 102 innocent men who died?  They were not innocent, and neither were the ones who were spared.  Yet those who humble themselves before the Lord receive mercy.

When Elijah ran away from Queen Jezebel in I Kings 19 and he asked God to take his life because he was the only one left to stand for God, God had told him that there were still 7,000 who believed in Him and that Elijah had more work to do, including anointing Elisha to be the next "spokesman" for God.  Here in II Kings 2, Elijah is taken away in a chariot of fire, but before he is taken, Elisha asks, "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit" (2:9).  Elisha had been called of God, as Elijah was, and he knew that he could not fulfill his calling without the Spirit of God.  How true that was then and how true that is today.

The company of prophets were watching all of this take place and they recognized that the Spirit of God that had been with Elijah now rested on Elisha.  The same should be true of us!  People should be able to see that the Spirit of God rests on us as we believe in Jesus and as WE declare God's Word to those around us.  Paul said to the Corinthians that even more than being able to speak in another language, he wished all of them would prophesy (I Corinthians 14:5).  Speaking God's Word to those around us is part of our calling.

God's principle of blessing those who seek Him is repeated again in Chapter 3, when Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, joins with the kings of Israel and Edom to fight against Moab.  It was only Jehoshaphat that sought the Lord and God said it was only because of him that He would bring victory to them (3:14).  God sees people's hearts and He sees your heart and mine.  He knows when we are sincere and humble and He promises to hear and answer the prayers of those who truly seek Him ... like the widow, like the Shunammite woman.  God HEARS US when we cry out to Him!!

This God that we are reading about is OUR God!  We know God does not always work in miracles and you can't coerce God to do a miracle by sending a donation to a TV ministry, but God always hears our prayers.  When Naaman, a commander in the army of the king of Aram, was struck with leprosy, a girl from Israel who had been captured in war told him that Elisha could heal him.  He went to Elisha, anticipating that Elisha would do a miracle.  Instead, Elisha told him to go wash himself seven times in the Jordan River.  Naaman was outraged and embarrassed and refused to go, until his servant convinced him to do as the prophet said ... and he was healed.

There was a God in Israel who heard and answered prayers ... and the same God hears and answers the prayers of those who humble themselves before Him and who seek Him today.  He is the God who can do miracles, and He is the God who works in the everyday circumstances of life.  Do you know Him?  Have you been to the "school of the prophets?"  Are you speaking God's Word to those around you?  Jesus said to His disciples, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you!"  

Go and tell others about our God!

"Lord God of heaven and earth, You are the God who rules over kings and nations, and yet who cares for those who humble themselves and call out to You for help.  I thank You for Your Word and for Your Spirit.  May we who believe today live to testify to the world that there is a God who rules today, not only in Israel, but over all the world!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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