2 Kings 8: Lessons Regarding God’s Holy Character From How He Dealt with the Wicked Kings of Israel and Judah

Introduction: 2 Kings 8 might seem to cover a number of unrelated subjects. These include God’s protection of a faithful female servant, His revelation to a wicked king in Syria that he would seize power, His mercy and grace in dealing with two wicked kings of Judah named Jehoram and Ahaziah, and Ahaziah’s care for a wicked king from Northern Israel after he was wounded in battle. With each of these seemingly unrelated events, God was working behind the scenes to accomplish His greater purposes. Through the successes or failures of the people in this account, God reveals seven truths about His character. He is the God of: (1) protection, (2) restoration, (3) sovereignty, (4) faithfulness, (5) discipline, (6) judgment and (7) love.

First, before God judged His people with a seven-year famine, He sent Elisha to tell a faithful servant to flee for protection. Through this account, God reveals that He offers His protection for His faithful servants when He is forced to judge others. Second, after returning to her home, God put the fear of Him into the King of Northern Israel and caused him to restore the woman’s lands. Through this account, God reveals that He promises to restore His faithful servants. Third, God revealed to one evil servant from Syria that he would take power after the death of an evil ruler from Syria. From this account, God reveals that He is sovereign over every kingdom and ruler. Fourth, after evil Baal worship that had taken over Northern Israel and also infected the kings of Judah, God spared the kings of Judah from death in order to keep His promises to David. From this account, God reveals that He remains faithful to keep His promises even when we are unfaithful to Him. Fifth, instead of killing Jehoram for his Baal worship, God disciplined him with both military losses and poor health. From this account, God reveals that He disciplines His people out of love to correct them. Sixth, after Jehoram refused to repent, God judged him by causing him to die without the honor given to the kings from Judah who preceded him. When Jehoram’s son Ahaziah refused to repent, God also judged him with a short one-year reign. From this account, God reveals that He judges His people when they refuse to repent. Finally, although Ahaziah was a wicked king, he showed love and compassion for a ruler of Northern Israel after he was injured in battle. God loves His people. He is the source of all love. Even with sinners like Ahaziah, God can inspire them to show love and compassion to others.

1. Protection: God Offers His Protection When He Disciplines Others. 2 Kgs. 8:1-2.

  • Elisha protects a faithful servant from a seven-year famine. After using Elisha to resurrect the deceased son of a faithful servant, God used Elisha to spare this same woman from an impending seven-year famine that He planned to bring to discipline the Jews: “1 Now Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, ‘Arise and go with your household, and sojourn wherever you can sojourn; for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will even come on the land for seven years.’ So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God, and she went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.” (2 Kgs. 8:1-2). The person that God helped was a “prominent woman” from the city of Shunem in Galilee (2 Kgs. 4:8). God had blessed her with wealth. But, unlike many wealthy people, she was not selfish. Instead, she gave to support God’s prophet without seeking any type of reward. At first, she wanted to feed Elisha. She then wanted to give Elisha a place to rest and restore himself from his long journeys. Elisha asked her servant what she wanted. But she asked for nothing (2 Kgs. 4:13). Because she used God’s gifts for His Kingdom without seeking a reward, God rewarded her by making her fertile and giving her a child (2 Kgs. 4:8-17). But the boy later died unexpectedly. She then brought the boy to Elisha to resurrect him (2 Kgs. 4:18-31). Because of her faith, God allowed Elisha to resurrect the boy in a manner similar to the way that God had used Elijah to resurrect a deceased boy (2 Kgs. 4:32-37; 1 Kgs. 17:21). This account shows that God’s protection for this woman of faith was ongoing. God disciplined the Jews with a seven-year drought for their many sins. But God showed His desire to spare this faithful and obedient servant.

God uses Elisha to protect the faithful Shunammite woman during the seven-year famine1

  • God can use natural disasters to discipline His people. God once used a seven-year famine to impose a drought and famine across the Middle East (Gen. 41:29-32). But the drought here was localized. The woman escaped the famine by moving to modern day Gaza in southwestern Israel. The fact that the famine only affected Israel established that this was God’s curse upon the Jews for rejecting His Covenant (Dt. 28:38-40). God previously judged Israel for its idolatry and rebellion during the time of the judges (Ruth 1:1(a)). During David’s reign, God also punished the nation of Israel with a famine because Saul violated a vow that Joshua had made with the Gibeonites (2 Sam. 21:1). God also imposed drought on Northern Israel because of Ahab’s idolatry (1 Kgs. 17:1). The message for the Church is two-fold. First, it must be salt and light in the political world. If not, God may judge the entire nation for its sins. Second, when God is forced to discipline an entire nation, He may still seek to protect His faithful servants. Thus, even when you see God’s hand of judgment upon a nation, you should never lose faith.

2. Restoration: God Promises to Restore His Faithful Servants. 2 Kgs. 8:3-6.

  • Jeroram restores the Shunammite woman’s land. Because the Shunammite woman was faithful and obedient to obey Elisha’s directions, God ensured that the King of Northern Israel restored all that she lost after fleeing Israel: “At the end of seven years, the woman returned from the land of the Philistines; and she went out to appeal to the king for her house and for her field. Now the king was talking with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, ‘Please relate to me all the great things that Elisha has done.’ As he was relating to the king how he had restored to life the one who was dead, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and for her field. And Gehazi said, ‘My lord, O king, this is the woman and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life.’ When the king asked the woman, she related it to him. So the king appointed for her a certain officer, saying, ‘Restore all that was hers and all the produce of the field from the day that she left the land even until now.’” (2 Kgs. 8:3-6). The woman did not have time to sell her land. Instead, she immediately fled at Elisha’s direction. While she was gone, someone seized her land and refused to return it. She would have first brought her dispute to a local official. Having apparently lost her local trial, she appealed to the king as the final arbiter for disputes in the land (1 Kgs. 3:16-27). God’s law required that a person be freed from their debts or bondage after seven years (Ex. 21:2; 23:10-11; Lev. 25:1-7; Dt. 15:1-6). Thus, she had a legal right to reclaim her property. Through God’s timing, her former servant Gehazi happened to be in the king’s presence for some other reason. In this passage, Jehoram referred to Gehazi as “the servant of the man of God.” (2 Kgs. 8:4). Thus, this account took place before God had punished Gehazi with leprosy and discharged him as Elisha’s servant. God did this after Gehazi used lies and deceit to steal a gift that a Syrian general named Naaman tried to give to Elisha for healing his leprosy (2 Kgs. 5:20-27). As a leper, Gehazi also would not have been allowed to enter the city. Thus, the king would not have spoken directly to him after he contracted leprosy. This account also would have taken place before the siege of Samaria. Here, Jehoram was asking Gehazi to tell him about “all the great things that Elisha has done.” (2 Kgs. 8:4). Following the siege of Samaria, Jehoram blamed Elisha and tried to kill him (2 Kgs. 6:31-33). Thus, this account is told out of chronological order for thematic reasons. At this time, Jehoram was not yet in open rebellion against God. His father King Ahab once killed a man named Naboth to steal his lands (1 Kgs. 21:1-16). This caused Elijah to cast judgment upon Ahab and foretell his future death (1 Kgs. 21:17-26). Ahab heard these words and was able to delay his judgment by repenting (1 Kgs. 21:27-29). But Elijah was later forced to judge both Ahab and Jehoram’s older brother Ahaziah (2 Kgs. 1:17). All of this would have impacted Jehoram. In contrast to his father, Jehoram feared God during the beginning of his reign. Thus, at this point, he was afraid to cross someone that he had verified that God was protecting. God was able to use this fear to protect His faithful servant.

The Shunammite woman has her lands restored after the famine2

  • God restored the woman because of her faith-led obedience. The woman showed her faith-led obedience by following the prophet’s directions by moving to the land of the Philistines for seven years (2 Kgs. 8:2). Because she was obedient in following God’s directions, God restored her by giving her the respect of her king. Before Moses’ death, God promised that those who followed His Covenant with faith-led obedience would receive God-given respect before others: “So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you.” (Dt. 28:10). When God was protecting His people, there are many examples of where other nations or leaders both feared and respected them. For example, Pharaoh feared God’s wrath when he almost took Abraham’s wife Sarah as his wife (Gen. 12:17-20). As another example, as the Jews prepared to invade the Promised Land, Rahab told Joshua’s two spies that the Canaanites feared the Jews and their God because God defeated Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea and the armies of two different Amorite kings in Jordan (Josh. 2:10-11). After defeating the Amorites, the Jews traveled back to the plains of Moab where they stayed until God gave the word for Joshua to take them into the Promised Land (Nu. 22:1). There, the Moabites feared the Jews (Nu. 22:3-4). Their fear caused the Moabite King Balak to hire the sorcerer Balaam in an unsuccessful attempt to cast a spell on Israel (Nu. 22:7). The kings of Canaan again feared the Jews and their God when they invaded. The Canaanites “heard how the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.” (Josh. 5:1). “Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed; the leaders of Moab, trembling grips them; all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. Terror and dread fall upon them; by the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone; until Your people pass over, O LORD, until the people pass over whom You have purchased.” (Ex. 15:15-16). When you serve God with faith-led obedience, He may also cause others to fear and respect you.

  • When you depend upon Jesus, He will also protect you from your enemies. God is not limited in how He may protect you when you serve Him. He can also protect you when your enemies try to steal from you. For example, when the Jews faced overwhelming enemies in taking over the Promised Land, Joshua promised that the Jews’ enemies would flee if they would cling to God (Josh. 23:10). Moses made a similar promise: “The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” (Dt. 28:7; Lev. 26:7-8; Ex. 23:22; Nu 10:9, 35; Isa. 54:17; Gen. 22:17). For those who are obedient and take refuge in God in the face of the enemy, He promises to be a shield against the enemy’s fiery darts: “He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5(b); 2 Sam. 22:31). Are you clinging to Jesus when you need protection from your enemies?

  • Fear God by hating evil. Like Jehoram at this point in his reign, you should respects and fear God. This does not mean that you need to fear arbitrary punishment. Instead, you fear God by hating evil: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; . . .” (Prov. 8:13). “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;” (Phil. 2:2). If you are disobeying or ignoring God, the fear of God is missing in your life.

3. Sovereignty: God is Sovereign Over Every Kingdom and Ruler. 2 Kgs. 8:7-15.

  • Elisha predicts the Syrian servant Hazael’s acts of evil. Ben-hadad II of Syria heard of Elisha’s fame as a prophet. Thus, he sent his servant Hazael to him to find out if he would survive an illness. Elisha saw that he would survive the illness. But he saw that Hazael would murder Ben-hadad II to become king: “Then Elisha came to Damascus. Now Ben-hadad king of Aram was sick, and it was told him, saying, ‘The man of God has come here.’ The king said to Hazael, ‘Take a gift in your hand and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the Lord by him, saying, ‘Will I recover from this sickness?’’ So Hazael went to meet him and took a gift in his hand, even every kind of good thing of Damascus, forty camels’ loads; and he came and stood before him and said, ‘Your son Ben-hadad king of Aram has sent me to you, saying, ‘Will I recover from this sickness?’’ 10 Then Elisha said to him, ‘Go, say to him, ‘You will surely recover,’ but the Lord has shown me that he will certainly die.’ 11 He fixed his gaze steadily on him until he was ashamed, and the man of God wept. 12 Hazael said, ‘Why does my lord weep?’ Then he answered, ‘Because I know the evil that you will do to the sons of Israel: their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword, and their little ones you will dash in pieces, and their women with child you will rip up.’ 13 Then Hazael said, ‘But what is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?’ And Elisha answered, ‘The Lord has shown me that you will be king over Aram.’ 14 So he departed from Elisha and returned to his master, who said to him, ‘What did Elisha say to you?’ And he answered, ‘He told me that you would surely recover.’ 15 On the following day, he took the cover and dipped it in water and spread it on his face, so that he died. And Hazael became king in his place.” (2 Kgs. 8:7-15). It might seem odd that a pagan king would turn to a prophet of Yahweh for answers about his failing health. But he would have only done so after realizing that his own prophets were worthless. In contrast, Elisha’s miracles would have been well known throughout the area. Elisha came to Damascus at the moment when Yahweh knew that Ben-hadad II was ready to send his servant Hazael to meet with Elisha. Based upon records from outside the Bible, Ben-hadad II lived until 841 B.C. Assyrian records also confirm that Hazael was a real person who did not come from any royal heritage. According to one record, Assyrian king Shalmaneser III referred to him as a usurper to the throne by calling him “son of a nobody”. Ben-hadad II initially showed humility before Elisha by referring to himself as Elisha’s “son” (2 Kgs. 8:9). But this was false humility. He also had Hazael bring elaborate gifts to Elisha, possibly believing that he could buy a favorable prophecy. Naaman previously offered Elisha gifts to be healed. Elisha rejected the gift because God’s will cannot be purchased (2 Kgs. 5:15-16). Elisha responded with a dual prophecy. Ben-hadad II would recover from his illness. But he would then die for another unstated reason (2 Kgs. 8:10). Elisha knew that Hazael would murder Ben-hadad II. But he did not tell Hazael that. He did, however, cry and reveal to Hazael that he would burn Jewish towns, then kill men, women and children (2 Kgs. 8:11). Hazael responded with false humility by claiming that he was just a “dog” and Elisha’s servant with no means or aspirations to be king (2 Kgs. 8:13). But God knew that his heart was wicked. Even though Elisha did not tell Hazael that he would kill Ben-hadad II, Hazael most likely used the prophecy of Ben-hadad II’s death as an excuse to murder him.

Hazael appears before Elisha with gifts, and Elisha gives him a prophecy3

  • Elisha fulfilled a prophecy by going to Damascus. It might seem odd that Elisha would go to a foreign capital. But he did so to fulfill God’s command to Elijah at Mount Horeb “ 15 The Lord said to him, ‘Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram;” (1 Kgs. 19:15). God knew that both Hazael and Ben-hadad II were evil men. God allowed Satan to use Hazael to attack first Ben-hadad II and then the Jews of Northern Israel. God did not want to use a pagan king to discipline His people. But, they ignored His Word, His prophets’ warnings, miracles, droughts and other attempts to change their behavior.

  • Hazael later fulfilled Elisha’s prophecy through his attacks on the Jews. Hazael reigned from approximately 841 to 801 B.C. He reigned concurrently with three kings of Northern Israel. These included Jehoram, Jehu, and Jehoahaz. He also reigned concurrently with three kings in Judah. These included Ahaziah, Athaliah, and Joash. During this time, Hazael fulfilled Elisha’s prophecy through his constant attacks on the Jews (2 Kgs. 9:14-16; 10:32; 12:17-18; 13:3, 22). He would also fulfill Elisha’s prophecy by burning Jewish cities and killing men, women and children. (2 Kgs. 10:32; 13:3-7, 22). He would serve as God’s means of judgment upon the Jews for their idolatry and their rebellions against Him. They had repeatedly ignored opportunities to repent.

  • God is sovereign and can use His mercy and grace to defeat your enemies. God allowed Hazael to know that he would be king to remind him that God was in control over everything, including the pagan rulers of Aram in Syria. Although Satan controls many kings and nations’ leaders, his power is no match against God’s mighty power. Daniel explained: “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.” (Da. 2:21). “He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.” (Job 12:23). “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.” (Is. 40:15). “All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.” (Is. 40:17). “The LORD is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land.” (Ps. 10:16). “You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; . . .” (Is. 9:3(a)). “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Dan. 4:35). Even when evil surrounds you or when you are ruled by evil leaders, do you trust that God is ultimately in control?

  • God sometimes allows evil to happen without condoning it. The brutal murders that Hazael would commit brought great sadness to God. His sadness is represented through Elisha’s tears (2 Kgs. 8:11). One commentator adds, “there are many reasons for thinking that Elisha did exactly the right thing when he said this to Hazael. · Elisha did not tell Hazael how the king would die; he did not reveal that it would be through assassination. · Elisha did not tell Hazael how he would become the next king of Syria; he did not tell Hazael to assassinate the king. · Elisha went against his own compassionate and patriotic interests in telling Hazael this, making it more likely that he did it at God’s prompting. · Elisha perhaps hoped that this amazing prophecy would touch Hazael’s heart and turn him away from the evil he would later commit against Israel. As it turned out, God knew the actions of Hazael, but He did not make Hazael do it.” (David Guzik on 2 Kgs. 8).4 God also feels sadness over any evil that may affect you.

4. Faithfulness: Even When You Are Unfaithful, God Remains Faithful. 2 Kgs. 8:16-19.

  • God spares a wicked King of Judah from death for his idolatry. While God planted the seeds of the future judgment of Northern Israel for its idolatry, a new king of Judah followed after King Ahab and planted the seeds of Baal worship in Judah: “16 Now in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then the king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah became king. 17 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. 18 He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab became his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. 19 However, the Lord was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David His servant, since He had promised him to give a lamp to him through his sons always.” (2 Kgs. 8:16-19). Both Northern Israel and Judah had a king named Jehoram. The term “Joram” is a shortened version of the same name. Neither was biologically related. But both rebelled against God. Ahab’s son Jehoram (aka “Joram”) from Northern Israel ruled from 852 to 841 B.C. Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram from Judah ruled from 848 to 841 B.C. Thus, their reigns overlapped for seven years. The Jehoram of Judah married Athaliah the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel (2 Kgs. 11:1). Queen Athaliah introduced Baal and Astarte worship to Judah and did a number of other evil acts (2 Kgs. 11:1-16; 2 Chr. 21:6; 22:10 - 23:15) the same way that Jezebel introduced Baal and Astarte worship to Northern Israel and influenced Ahab to commit evil acts (1 Kgs. 16:31-33; 21:25). Although Jehoshaphat was considered at times to be a man of God in his walk, he showed little concern for his son’s spiritual walk. He would have been instrumental in arranging this marriage. He put the unity of the two nations of Israel above his son’s walk with Yahweh. As a result, his son would turn to evil and the entire nation of Judah would suffer. In addition to embracing idolatry and Baal worship, the Jehoram of Judah murdered his brother (2 Chr. 21:2-4). For his many sins, God allowed him to suffer and then die from a loathsome disease (2 Chr. 21:18-19). The nation of Judah would also suffer from both political and military instability (2 Chr. 21:8-17). Jehoram’s actions would make Judah just as deserving of God’s punishment as Northern Israel. But, to keep His Word to David, God spared Judah from the same initial destruction that would devastate Northern Israel.

Give thanks that God is always faithful, even when we sin against Him (2 Tim. 2:13)5

  • God was faithful to Judah even when Judah was unfaithful. God did not destroy Judah because He was faithful to keep His Covenant with David (2 Kgs. 8:19). God promised David a kingship through his descendants that would never end: ‘“12 When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 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, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’ (2 Sam. 7:12-16). Even though Jehoram deserved death for his actions, God did not want to profane His holy name by terminating His promises to David: “But I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made Myself known to them by bringing them out of the land of Egypt.” (Ezek. 20:9). “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.” (Is. 48:11). “Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, that He might make His power known.” (Ps. 106:8). You can also have faith that God will never profane His holy name by breaking any promise in the Bible to you.

  • Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant of an eternal kingship through David. On many occasions, God repeated His promise of an eternal kingship through David. Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of this promise: ‘“I will establish your seed forever and build up your throne to all generations.’ Selah.” (Ps. 89:4). “So I will establish his descendants forever and his throne as the days of heaven.” (Ps. 89:29). “He gives great deliverance to His king, and shows lovingkindness to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever.” (Ps. 18:50). “I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” (Ps. 89:27). “For thus says the LORD, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel;”’ (Jer. 33:17). “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” (Is. 9:6-7). “A throne will even be established in lovingkindness, and a judge will sit on it in faithfulness in the tent of David; moreover, he will seek justice and be prompt in righteousness.” (Is. 16:5). “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, ‘When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’”’ (Jer. 23:5-6). Jesus was born into the line of David (Matt. 1:1). He came to fulfill God’s covenant with David as the eternal King of Kings: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (Lk. 1:32-33). “And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.’” (Rev. 19:16). You may declare Jesus to be your Lord. But is He Lord over every aspect of your life?

  • God gave the Jews an eternal kingship so that they could be a light to the world. God also “promised him to give a lamp to him through his sons always.” (2 Kgs. 8:19). As a descendant of David, Jesus was the Light of the World who guided the faithful kings: “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’” (Jo. 8:12; 1:1-13). His light would remind the kings of His Covenant with them (Ps. 132:17; 2 Chr. 21:7). The Jews were in turn meant to share their light with the rest of the world: “He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Is. 49:6). Believers in Christ are also meant to share their light with others: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;” (Matt. 5:14). Are you a light to the lost and those in need?

5. Discipline: God Disciplines His People Out of Love to Correct Them. 2 Kgs. 8:20-23.

  • Edom’s revolt against Judah. Although God spared Judah from the destruction that it deserved, He still allowed Judah to suffer consequences for its idolatry. This included a military revolt in the territory of Edom that David had conquered for the Jews: “20 In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves. 21 Then Joram crossed over to Zair, and all his chariots with him. And he arose by night and struck the Edomites who had surrounded him and the captains of the chariots; but his army fled to their tents. 22 So Edom revolted against Judah to this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time. 23 The rest of the acts of Joram and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?” (2 Kgs. 8:20-23). Edom was the last nation that David conquered: “He put garrisons in Edom. In all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became servants to David. And the Lord helped David wherever he went.” (2 Sam. 8:14; 1 Chron. 18:13). David’s actions fulfilled a centuries-old promise that God made to the Jews. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau. As a child of the flesh, Esau had little regard for the blessings of God available to him as the firstborn son of Isaac. Thus, he gave them up for a bowl of lentil stew (Gen. 25:29-34). After Isaac blessed Jacob instead of Esau, Esau took three worldly wives and his five children and left the Promised Land. They settled in the hill country of Seir in the southern part of modern Jordan (Gen. 36:6-8). Abraham also sent his seven sons of the flesh out of the Promised Land. He first sent out Hagar and his son Ishmael (Gen. 21:12-21). He later sent out Keturah and their six sons (Gen. 25:1-6). Yet, unlike Hagar, Keturah and their children, Esau left voluntarily. Because Esau cared little for the things of God, he liked better what he saw in the world than in the Promised Land. Despite Esau’s rejection of God, God showed mercy and grace toward Esau by creating the nation of Edom from his descendants. God’s creation of the nation of Edom is important because it shows that He was faithful to keep His promise to Rebekah that two nations would come through her: “The LORD said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples will be separated from your body;’” (Gen. 25:23(a)). But God promised that the younger would rule over the other: “and one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger.’” (Gen. 25:23(b)). Through David, God fulfilled this promise by allowing the Jews to rule over the Edomites. But because the Jews did not remain faithful, God did not extend this promise indefinitely. Without His hand of protection over the Jews, the Edomites rebelled (2 Kgs. 8:20). Jehoram tried to put down the rebellion. Yet, without God’s protection, he failed. And the Jews never again ruled over Edom (2 Kgs. 8:21-22). Even worse, the pagan town of Libnah, approximately 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem, took advantage of the chaos to revolt at the same time (2 Kgs. 8:22). Libna’s rebellion most likely took place at the same time that the Philistines and the Arabs rebelled against Jehoram: “16 Then the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabs who bordered the Ethiopians; 17 and they came against Judah and invaded it, and carried away all the possessions found in the king’s house together with his sons and his wives, so that no son was left to him except Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.” (2 Chron. 21:16-17).

Judah broke with God, and God allowed Edom to break free from Judah6

  • God disciplined Jehoram through rebellions. Jehoram rebelled against God by taking a pagan wife and adopting idolatry and Baal worship. In return, God allowed him to experience rebellion. Jehoram thought his marriage alliance with Ahab’s family would make him stronger. But it made him weaker because he lived without God. Hundreds of years earlier, God warned David that his eternal kingship would not exempt his heirs 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, have you changed your ways for Him?

  • God also disciplined Jehoram with poor health. Before Elijah died, he wrote a letter to Jehoram condemning him for his many sins. He warned that God would afflict him with poor health. Because he did not repent, Jehoram died after a two-year battle with a disease of his bowls: “12 Then a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God of your father David, ‘Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father and the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have caused Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot as the house of Ahab played the harlot, and you have also killed your brothers, your own family, who were better than you, 14 behold, the Lord is going to strike your people, your sons, your wives and all your possessions with a great calamity; and you will suffer severe sickness, a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the sickness, day by day.’” . . .18 So after all this the Lord smote him in his bowels with an incurable sickness. 19 Now it came about in the course of time, at the end of two years, that his bowels came out because of his sickness and he died in great pain. And his people made no fire for him like the fire for his fathers.” (2 Chr. 21:12-14, 18-19). Despite God’s discipline through this incurable illness, Jehoram did not repent.

  • A double-minded believer should not expect God to answer prayers. Because Jehoram turned back and forth between Yahweh and Baal, God did not hear his cries for help in either the battlefield or for his own health. If you vacillate between depending upon Jesus and the world, Jesus considers your faith unstable. Believers who are double-minded should not expect Jesus to answer their prayers: “For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Jam. 1:7-8). God is equally unimpressed with people, like the prophets of Baal, who uttered meaningless words to have their prayers answered: “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” (Matt. 6:7). There are many reasons why God may not answer a prayer. Your request may not be right for you. Or, it may be contrary to God’s will. Or, it may not be the right time. But if your prayers are not selfish and remain unanswered, repent of any double-minded beliefs.

  • 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?

6. Judgment: God Judges His People When They Refuse to Repent. 2 Kgs. 8:24-27.

  • Ahaziah succeeds Jehoram as the next king of Judah and does evil. Northern Israel was plagued with political instability when it tried to live without God. Judah learned that it too would suffer from political instability as it tried to live without God: “24 So Joram slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David; and Ahaziah his son became king in his place. 25 In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign. 26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. 27 He walked in the way of the house of Ahab and did evil in the sight of the Lord, like the house of Ahab had done, because he was a son-in-law of the house of Ahab.” (2 Kgs. 8:24-27). God disciplined Jehoram with a painful and short eight-year reign. His son and successor was named Ahaziah. He shared the same name as Ahab’s first successor, who was also named Ahaziah (1 Kgs. 22:51 – 2 Kgs. 1:8). Although the two Ahaziahs were not biologically related, they shared the same spiritual father. They both turned their people against God by adopting pagan idolatry. Ahab’s daughter Athaliah was Ahaziah’s mother (2 Kgs. 8:26). Her paganism also corrupted Ahaziah (2 Chron. 22:3-5).

  • God judged Jehoram by allowing him to die without honors. Jehoram was buried in Jerusalem (2 Kgs. 8:24). But he died without the honor of being buried in David’s tomb along with all of his other ancestor kings of Judah: “19 . . . And his people made no fire for him like the fire for his fathers. 20 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years; and he departed with no one’s regret, and they buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.” (2 Chr. 21:19-20). God allowed Ahaziah to see how his father died after a short reign without honors to give a chance to repent and choose a different path. But he instead followed after his father’s evil ways. As a result, God judged Ahaziah as well.

  • God judged Ahaziah with a short one-year reign. God judged Ahaziah with a short one-year reign that took place in or around 841 B.C. (2 Kgs. 8:26). This was seven years shorter than his father’s reign and the third shortest reign of any king to ever rule Judah. Jehoahaz ruled the shortest time period of a mere 3 months in 609 B.C., and Jehoiachin, aka Jeconiah, reigned 3 months and 10 days in 598 B.C. The short reigns of these wicked rulers was a sign of God’s judgment against them. Although God is filled with mercy and grace, He will eventually judge sin. And He will judge His own people before He judges others: “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. 4:17). “There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,” (Ro. 2:9).

  • God will not forsake you when He disciplines you. God removed the kingship from Saul’s line because of his rebellion (1 Sam. 15:23). Yet, even though God disciplined David’s descendants, He promised never to forsake them and remove their right to the kingship: “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). “But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness.” (Ps. 89:33). Sin would, however, limit the extent of their blessing. First, He limited their kingdom 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; 2 Kgs. 17:18). Here, God limited their blessings further by removing Edom from their control and plaguing the Jews with political instability. But He promised that He would never leave or forsake His people. “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). However, like David’s descendants, sin may prevent you from experiencing the fullness of God’s blessings. If you have sinned, repent and never lose hope. But don’t engage in open rebellion and squander the fullness of His blessings.

  • Judge the desires of your flesh. Unlike Ahaziah, Jesus warns believers to make no provision for the flesh: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Ro. 13:14; Col. 3:10). Judging the desires of the flesh includes making sure that you cannot divide your loyalties between God and the things of the world: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matt. 6:24; Lk. 16:13). Are your loyalties with God divided in any area?

  • Tolerating evil will corrupt your worship of God. Because the Jews (like most believers) were weak in their faith, God called upon them to “destroy” all of the pagan idols and influences in the Promised Land that might corrupt their worship. “You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place.” (Dt. 12:1-3; 7:5). “But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim.” (Ex. 34:13). Like the Jews, Christians must also avoid accommodating these idols of the flesh in their lives. If you have accommodated worldly idols, repent and let the Holy Spirit renew your mind. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Ro. 12:2).

7. Love: God Loves His People and Inspires Them to Love Each Other. 2 Kgs. 8:28-29.

  • Ahaziah provides comfort to the wounded King of Northern Israel. After King Joram/ Jehoram of Northern Israel was wounded in a battle with King Hazael, Ahaziah showed him love and comfort by tending to his wounds: “28 Then he went with Joram the son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth-gilead, and the Arameans wounded Joram. 29 So King Joram returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Arameans had inflicted on him at Ramah when he fought against Hazael king of Aram. Then Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel because he was sick.” (2 Kgs. 28-29). Northern Israel previously lost a war that God did not sanction with Aram over Ramoth-gilead (1 Kings 22:35-36). When Hazael became the King of Aram in Syria, he waged a new war against Northern Israel. Hazael was known for his brutality. This brutal battle resulted in King Joram/ Jehoram of Northern Israel being injured. Ahaziah then took his uncle to be healed at the city of Jezreel, which was located southwest of the Sea of Galilee.

  • God is the source of all love. God is the source of all love: “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 Jo. 4:8). God so loved the world that He sent His only son to die that all might be saved (Jo. 3:16). If you have no love for others, you have no relationship with God.

  • Love one another just as Jesus loved you. God did not want Ahaziah to form an alliance with Joram/ Jehoram to defend the Jews of Northern Israel. But God inspired Ahaziah to show love and compassion to his wayward uncle Joram/ 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). Are you showing love and compassion to those in need around you?