Introduction: 2 Kings 6 is best known for when God miraculously showed Elisha’s fearful servant that an army of angels was protecting him from an enemy army. The guardian angels reveal that this chapter deals with spiritual warfare. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12). In this chapter, God reveals seven lessons for succeeding in spiritual warfare. These include: (1) evangelism, (2) trust, (3) vigilance, (4) faith, (5) love, (6) obedience, and (7) repentance when you sin.
First, at one point in Elisha’s ministry, God led the prophets to expand their ministry from near Samaria to outside of the Promised Land into Jordan. This foreshadowed Jesus’s call to evangelize from Jerusalem, Samaria, and to the outermost parts of the world. For you to succeed in spiritual warfare, you should also work to spread God’s Word. Second, a prophet faced indentured servitude when a borrowed axe flew off into a lake. God used Elisha to make the axe miraculously float to the surface. This small miracle showed that God cares about a person’s smallest needs. To succeed in spiritual warfare, God wants you to trust in Him when you are in need. Just as there is no problem that is too big for Him, there is no problem that is too small for Him. Third, after Elisha used his prophetic gift to protect the King of Northern Israel, an enemy Aramean king retaliated by sending an army to capture Elisha. The enemy’s attacks on God’s servant foreshadowed Satan’s attacks on God’s servants. To succeed in spiritual warfare, you must also be wary of Satan’s attacks when you are doing God’s will. Fourth, when an Aramean army surrounded Elisha and his servant, the servant became filled with fear. Through Elisha’s prayers, God then allowed the servant to see the army of angels that surrounded them. To succeed in spiritual warfare, you must have faith that God and His angels are protecting you when you are serving Him. Fifth, after spiritually blinding the enemy Aramean army, Elisha led the captured army to the King of Northern Israel. The king wanted to kill the enemy troops. Elisha told him to instead show compassion. After showing compassion, the Aramean troops did not attack again. To succeed in spiritual warfare, God also wants you to love your enemies. Sixth, despite God’s many interventions to protect the Jews, the Jews continued to disobey God’s Word. As a result, God removed His hand of protection, and the Jews experienced a new siege and a famine that was so severe that some turned to cannibalism. This fulfilled a warning that God gave in the book of Deuteronomy. From the Jews’ mistakes, God reveals that you must obey His Word to succeed in spiritual warfare. Finally, instead of repenting, the King of Northern Israel blamed God for their suffering and tried to kill Elisha. Unlike the hard-hearted King of Northern Israel, to succeed in spiritual warfare you must repent when you sin.
Elisha commissions the prophets to expand beyond Samaria to east of the Jordan River. The growth in Elisha’s ministry caused the prophets’ accommodations near Samaria to become too crowded. The Holy Spirit then led them to expand outside the Promised Land into Jordan: “1 Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘Behold now, the place before you where we are living is too limited for us. 2 Please let us go to the Jordan and each of us take from there a beam, and let us make a place there for ourselves where we may live.’ So he said, ‘Go.’ 3 Then one said, ‘Please be willing to go with your servants.’ And he answered, ‘I shall go.”’ (2 Kgs. 6:1-3). The prophets lived together in a communal home in Jericho near Samaria. The fruit of Elisha’s faithful ministry caused the number of prophets to grow beyond the ability of their home to support them. Led by the Holy Spirit, the prophets asked to build a new facility in Jordan outside of the Promised Land. Elisha blessed their efforts and even offered to help them.
Fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission by spreading God’s Word. God’s Word was at this time still being taught in Jerusalem. Elijah and Elisha had faithfully taught God’s Word in Northern Israel. The expansion of God’s Word from Samaria to east of the Jordan River, beyond the Promised Land, foreshadowed Jesus’ Great Commission to spread His Word throughout the world: “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” (Matt. 28:19). “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”’ (Mk. 16:15). Are you serving to spread Jesus’ Word to others?
Elisha miraculously causes a prophet’s lost axe to float on water. Elisha worked to actively support the prophets as they expanded their ministry. When a prophet faced destitution after a borrowed axe flew into a lake, God used Elisha to cause the axe to miraculously float to the surface: “4 So he went with them; and when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5 But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, ‘Alas, my master! For it was borrowed.’ 6 Then the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ And when he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there, and made the iron float. 7 He said, ‘Take it up for yourself.’ So he put out his hand and took it.” (2 Kgs. 6:4-7). Because the prophets were poor, they had to borrow an iron axe to chop down trees. At the time, iron was rare and expensive in Israel. Under God’s law, the prophets were required to pay restitution for the loss of borrowed property: “If a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it, he shall make full restitution.” (Ex. 22:14). If the young prophet could not recover or repay the cost of the axe, he faced indentured servitude. Through Elisha, God miraculously kept the prophet out of servitude by causing the axe to float on the surface of the waters.
Elisha miraculously causes a prophet’s lost axe to float on water1
God provides where He guides. In this miracle, God protected the young prophet in training because he obeyed the call of the Holy Spirit to spread the Word to Jordan. Because the young man was doing God’s will, God wanted him to know that he could trust God to protect him and provide for him. “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.” (Prov. 28:26). “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). If you are serving God, give your burdens to Him when things go wrong or when you are in trouble.
All things are possible with God when you have faith and rely upon His strength. The story of the floating axe is considered a minor miracle that few remember. Yet, most people don’t need God to miraculously part the Red Sea. They instead need Him to perform a minor miracle by providing for their next project at work. Some might need Him to provide their next meal. God wants you to know that there is no miracle that is too small for Him when you are in need: “Is anything too difficult for the LORD?” (Gen. 18:14(a)). “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jer. 32:27). “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2). “‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’ (Matt. 19:26(b); Mk. 10:27(b); Lk. 1:37). “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Ro. 8:31). If you assume that your burdens are too small for God, you are really questioning His love for you.
King of Aram plots to capture Elisha. Elisha used his gifts to protect the King of Northern Israel from the attacks of the Arameans. The Arameans then sought revenge against Elisha by sending their army to capture him: “8 Now the king of Aram was warring against Israel; and he counseled with his servants saying, ‘In such and such a place shall be my camp.’ 9 The man of God sent word to the king of Israel saying, ‘Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Arameans are coming down there.’ 10 The king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God had told him; thus he warned him, so that he guarded himself there, more than once or twice. “11 Now the heart of the king of Aram was enraged over this thing; and he called his servants and said to them, ‘Will you tell me which of us is for the king of Israel?’ 12 One of his servants said, ‘No, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.’ 13 So he said, ‘Go and see where he is, that I may send and take him.’ And it was told him, saying, ‘Behold, he is in Dothan.”’ (2 Kgs. 6:8-13). The King of Aram was Ben-hadad II. He fought many battles against the Jews of Northern Israel. Yahweh had recently healed Ben-hadad II’s top general Naaman from leprosy (2 Kgs. 5:14). At this time, the King of Northern Israel was Jehoram, the second son of Ahab. Jehoram also had no relationship with Yahweh and did not deserve Yahweh’s protection. Yet, out of mercy and grace, Yahweh let Elisha see visions of Ben-hadad II’s plans for attacking Jehoram. Elisha then showed God’s love for His wayward son Jehoram by revealing Ben-hadad II’s plans for attacking him. Ben-hadad II at first assumed that someone within his army was betraying him. Possibly through his spies in Samaria, Ben-hadad II discovered that Elisha had been protecting Jehoram. Ben-hadad II then decided to send an army to capture Elisha. His spies determined that Elisha was in Dothan, between 10 and 12 miles north of Samaria.
King Ben-hadad II plots to capture the prophet Elisha2
Be vigilant against Satan’s attacks when you do God’s will. Satan acts like a roaring lion and seeks to destroy those who do God’s will. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8). “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13). “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:41). Believers are also called “sheep,” animals without natural defenses. (e.g., Jo. 21:16, 27). Lions usually attack animals that stray from the protections of the herd. Are you guarding yourself by staying in an accountability relationship? If not, you may stray from God’s guardian angels?
An army of angels supernaturally protects Elisha and his servant. When an Aramean army surrounded Elisha and his servant, the servant became fearful. In response to Elisha’s prayer, God then allowed the servant to see the army of angels that protected them: “14 He sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. 15 Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ 16 So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, ‘Strike this people with blindness, I pray.’ So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.” (2 Kgs. 6:14-18). Ben-hadad II sent an army to seize one prophet. This established that he was well aware of the miracles that Yahweh had performed through him. His general Naaman may have even testified to Yahweh's power to heal him from leprosy. Ironically, Ben-hadad II seemed to show more fear of God than Elisha’s servant. The servant had no faith because he trusted only what he could see. Elisha’s prayer merely showed the servant what was missing in his faith.
God opens the eyes of Elisha’s servant to see the army of the Lord3
The Lord’s army of angels surrounding Elisha and his servant4
Faith requires your belief in God’s unseen protection over your life. God does not want you to fear like Elisha’s servant when your spiritual enemy attacks. Instead, He wants you to have faith that He is protecting you either directly or through unseen angels. Believing in the unseen is the very definition of faith: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). It is impossible to please God if you expect visible proof of His protection: “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6). Do you trust in God’s unseen Hand?
God is stronger than any evil you may face. God can summon an army of angels to defeat any force that Satan may throw against you (Matt. 26:53; Ps. 68:17; Gen. 32:1-2; Zech. 14:5). Thus, you should never fear Satan when you are serving God: ‘“Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him. With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.’ And the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.” (2 Chr. 32:7-8). “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.” (Dt. 20:1). “The chariots of God are myriads, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them as at Sinai, in holiness.” (Ps. 68:17). Do you trust in God to defeat Satan when he attacks you or your family?
God can bring spiritual blindness to those who oppose Him. Elisha prayed for God to blind the enemy forces (2 Kgs. 6:18). This was the same term used to describe the blindness that the angels placed upon the people of Sodom (Gen. 19:11). Throughout the Bible, many suffered a physical blindness so that God could show them that they had become spiritually blind inside. For example, Jesus put scales over Paul’s eyes to show him that he had become spiritually blind (Acts 9:18). Eventually, a believer will become numb to sin (1 Tim. 4:2). In Paul’s case, he was persecuting God’s people and could not even see the errors of his ways until Jesus blinded him. Throughout the Old Testament, God imposed physical blindness to show believers when they suffered from blindness on the inside: ‘“Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.’ And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand.” (Acts 13:11). “The Lord will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart; and you will grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you.” (Dt. 28:27-29; Ex. 10:21). “We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at midday as in the twilight, . . .” (Is. 59:10(a)). “By day they meet with darkness, and grope at noon as in the night.” (Job 5:14; 12:25; 38:15). “They wandered, blind, in the streets; . .” (Lam. 4:14(a); Amos 8:9). “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” (Prov. 4:19). A person is blind to their sins when they can no longer see their sins. Are you salt and light to persons who try to rationalize, justify, or ignore their sins?
Elisha teaches the King of Israel to find peace through compassion. Elisha led the spiritually blind enemy forces to the King of Israel. While the king wanted to kill the enemy troops, Elisha commanded him to show compassion towards his enemy: “19 Then Elisha said to them, ‘This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.’ And he brought them to Samaria. 20 When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, ‘O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.’ So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. 21 Then the king of Israel when he saw them, said to Elisha, ‘My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?’ 22 He answered, ‘You shall not kill them. Would you kill those you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.’ 23 So he prepared a great feast for them; and when they had eaten and drunk he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the marauding bands of Arameans did not come again into the land of Israel.” (2 Kgs. 6:19-23). The Syrian army was spiritually captive to evil. When Elisha guided them into the captivity of the Jewish army, he then opened their eyes. Suddenly, their physical captivity matched their spiritual captivity. Yet, Jehoram was also captive to evil. His first instinct was to kill the enemy that God had supernaturally captured. Elisha showed him that he could be more successful in stopping evil if he learned to share God’s love with his enemies. For a time, Jehoram’s compassion ended the attacks. The enemy left humbled and indebted to the Jews for their mercy.
Elisha led the blinded Aramean army to the King of Northern Israel5
Love your enemies, even those who hurt you. Just as Elisha ordered Jehoram, God commands His people to love those trapped in sin: “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19:18). Because the people ignored this commandment, Christ made it a central teaching. Moreover, He expanded it to include a person’s enemies and strangers: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (Jo. 13:34; 15:17; Matt. 5:43-47; 22:39; 19:19). Every New Testament writer repeated this central commandment: “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” (Ro. 13:8, 10). “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”’ (Gal. 5:14; Heb. 13:1; 1 Pet. 1:22; Eph. 5:2; 1 Jo. 3:11, 23; 4:7, 21). Will you show love to your enemies?
Vengeance belongs to God alone. Jehoram initially wanted to take vengeance into his own hands. Yet, God commands that we leave vengeance to Him: “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Ro. 12:19). Have you forgiven your enemies?
Under both a military siege and a famine, the people in Samaria turn to cannibalism. Because the Jews abused God’s mercy and grace by repeatedly disobeying His Word, God eventually allowed the Jews to fall under an enemy siege and experience a famine. Because the famine was so severe, some Jews turned to cannibalism: “24 Now it came about after this, that Ben-hadad king of Aram gathered all his army and went up and besieged Samaria. 25 There was a great famine in Samaria; and behold, they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver. 26 As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall a woman cried out to him, saying, ‘Help, my lord, O king!’ 27 He said, ‘If the Lord does not help you, from where shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the wine press?’ 28 And the king said to her, ‘What is the matter with you?’ And she answered, ‘This woman said to me, ‘Give your son that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ 29 So we boiled my son and ate him; and I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son.’ 30 When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes—now he was passing by on the wall—and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath on his body.” (2 Kgs. 6:24-30). At some point, Ben-hadad II from Syria decided to attack Samaria, the capital of Northern Israel. This was his second attempt to destroy this city (1 Kgs. 20:1). The Jews’ prior acts of kindness caused the Syrian raiders to flee. Yet, their acts of kindness did not transform the heart of the Syrian king. His hatred of the Jews was so great that he planned to surround their fortified capital and starve the people into surrender. God had previously ordered Ahab to kill this same king after God caused him to be captured. Yet, Ahab refused (1 Kgs. 20:42). As a result, the entire nation suffered. During the siege, the Jews first broke God’s law by eating unclean animals “donkey’s head.” (2 Kgs. 6:25; Lev. 11:2-7; Dt. 14:4-8). And they ate these things at grossly inflated prices. One of Solomon’s prized horses from Egypt cost 150 shekels of silver (1 Kgs. 10:29). In contrast, the donkey’s head sold for 80 shekels of silver, almost half the value of a prized, imported horse (2 Kgs. 6:25). They also bought “dove’s dung,” possibly for fuel (2 Kgs. 6:25). Finally, out of desperation, the Jews turned to cannibalism (Lev. 26:27-29). At one point, a woman cried out for the king to judge her for eating her son. He tore his clothes in agony because he could do nothing to stop this calamity without God.
Ben-hadad II’s siege of Samaria causes great suffering6
God warned that repeated disobedience would one day result in famine and cannibalism. Before Moses died, he told the Jews that their faith-led obedience would result in God’s blessings. In contrast, disobedience to His Word would result in progressive forms of discipline. If the Jews ignored God’s attempts to change the Jews’ behavior, one of the Jews’ final forms of discipline would take the form of severe famine that would eventually result in cannibalism: “49 “The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand, . . . 52 It shall besiege you in all your towns until your high and fortified walls in which you trusted come down throughout your land, and it shall besiege you in all your towns throughout your land which the Lord your God has given you. 53 Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom the Lord your God has given you, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you.” (Dt. 28:49-53). “Further, you will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you will eat.” (Lev. 26:29). Famine and cannibalism would first precede the fall of Samaria. Famine and cannibalism would later follow Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem (Jer. 19:9; Lam. 2:20; 4:10). Famine and cannibalism would again follow the siege of the Roman legions under Titus Vespasian following Jesus’ death. God’s Word always comes true and should never be ignored.
God disciplined the Jews out of love. God previously warned that the Jews would not exempt the kings from discipline, just as a loving father disciplines a wayward son: “14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,” (2 Sam. 7:14). In a similar way, God disciplines His people out of love: “Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.” (Dt. 8:5). “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Heb. 12:7). “But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.” (1 Cor. 11:32). If God has disciplined you, rejoice because He loves you. If He has corrected you, have you changed your ways for Him?
God will not forsake you when He disciplines you. Even though God disciplined the Jews, He promised never to forsake them: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6; Heb. 13:5). ‘“Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you.”’ (Lev. 26:11). “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.” (Josh. 1:5). “For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.” (1 Sam. 12:22). “ but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” (2 Sam. 7:15). Sin would, however, limit the extent of their blessing to the land of Judah: ‘“However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.”’ (1 Kgs. 11:13). “So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.” (2 Kgs. 17:18). “But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness.” (Ps. 89:33). Sin may prevent you from experiencing the fullness of God’s blessings. Yet, He will never leave you or abandon you because of sin unless you reject Jesus as your source of atonement.
God desires obedience more than sacrifice. God wanted the Jews’ obedience more than their sacrifices. “Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Sam. 15:22). David previously learned that “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Ps. 51:17). Are you obedient in your walk with Jesus?
Jesus is not your Lord if you refuse to do what He says. A believer may proclaim Jesus as Lord. Yet, Jesus is not your Lord if you disobey Him: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt. 7:21). “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Lk. 6:46). “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (Jam. 1:22). “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt. 7:24). “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” (Matt. 7:26). If you call Jesus your Lord, is there any area of your life where you are refusing to obey Him?
The King of Northern Israel blames Yahweh for the evil inflicting Samaria. Even though God warned the Jews that they would experience enemy attacks and severe famines if they rejected His Word, the King of Israel instead blamed God for their suffering: “31 Then he said, ‘May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on him today.’ 32 Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. And the king sent a man from his presence; but before the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, ‘Do you see how this son of a murderer has sent to take away my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold the door shut against him. Is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?’ 33 While he was still talking with them, behold, the messenger came down to him and he said, ‘Behold, this evil is from the Lord; why should I wait for the Lord any longer?’” (2 Kgs. 6:31-33). After his initial grief and feeling of helplessness, Jehoram blamed God’s prophet Elisha for the Jews’ calamity. His advisors may have advised him of Moses’ warnings of foreign invasions leading to famine and cannibalism (Dt. 28:49-53; Lev. 26:29). He knew that Elisha had previously used his gifts to deliver the Jews. He must have assumed that Elisha was withholding his God-given gifts to punish his kingdom. Or, he may have blamed Elisha for letting the previously captured soldiers leave unharmed. Before he sent his men to kill Elisha, God warned Elisha. Elisha then alerted the elders of Northern Israel that their king, the “son of a murderer” (2 Kgs. 6:32), had come to take his head. Elisha equated Jehoram with his murderous father Ahab (1 Kgs. 21:1-16). Elisha managed to convince the elders to stop the king’s men from taking him. The king then blamed Yahweh for their predicament and concluded that it was useless to assume that Yahweh would do anything to help them. In his mind, Yahweh existed to serve Jehoram. He should have instead looked for a way to repent and serve Yahweh.
Don’t be stiff-necked when God disciplines you. God called His people obstinate in the face of discipline: “The LORD said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people.”’ (Ex. 32:9; 33:3). Jeremiah later also lamented God’s people who refused to accept His discipline: “O LORD, do not Your eyes look for truth? You have smitten them, but they did not weaken; You have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.” (Jer. 5:3). Are you stiff-necked and obstinate in the face of discipline?
Unrepentant sin will cause you to rationalize and blame others for your actions. Like Jehoram, sin can harden your heart when you embrace it (Rom. 7:11; Heb. 3:13). As another example, neither Adam nor Eve repented of their sins. Instead, they blamed others for their own actions. Adam first blamed Eve for eating the prohibited fruit. He then blamed God for giving Eve to him. Eve then blamed the serpent for her actions (Gen. 3:11-13). Have you allowed the devil to rationalize any of your sins?
Repent of your sins. In preparation for Jesus, John the Baptist called all sinners to repent. ‘“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”’ (Matt. 3:2). Jesus also began His ministry with a call to repentance: “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”’ (Matt. 4:17). “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!”’ (Lk. 18:13). “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. . .” (Ps. 51:1-4). If you say that you are without sin the truth is not in you (1 Jo. 1:8). Yet, if you confess your sins, Jesus will forgive you: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). God also celebrates the return of any lost sinner: “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Lk. 15:7). Have you repented of your sins? If you have not repented, you are forcing God to discipline you.
Those who reject God’s mercy and grace will be judged. God judged Ahaziah after he tried to kill Elijah (2 Kgs. 1:17-18). God would soon also judge Jehoram. Like Jehoram, some will sadly mistake God’s slowness to anger as an excuse not to repent: “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.” (Ecc. 8:11). “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:7). Don’t make the same mistake. Show your thanks for His mercy and grace by living as a new creation.
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