No one is certain of the author of 1 and 2 Kings. It is guessed that an unknown writer from Judah living during the exile period in Babylon intended to preserve the history of the Jewish people from the death of King David (c. 970 BC), until the fall of the northern kingdom (Israel), to the Assyrians (722 BC), and the southern kingdom (Judah) to the Babylonians (586 BC).
Against the dark background of spiritual declension and continued failures of human government, the prophets of the LORD remind us of God’s faithfulness to call His people to righteousness through repentance and faith.
The Book starts with the fall of Ahaziah, which involves a literal fall through the lattice in his upper chamber, which results in an illness from which he will not recover. The fact that he continued in the idolatrous sins of his father, Ahab, is evident as he sends messengers to inquire of Baal, the God of Ekron, what will happen in his future.
The writer uses the name Baal-zebub (the Lord of the flies), a name used by faithful believers to mock the name given to the false god of Baal- Baal-zebul (meaning Baal, the prince).
The word Baal- literally means ‘master’ or ‘lord’ and generally refers to the false gods worshiped by the pagans. “Baal-zebub’ means ‘lord of the flies’. It means ‘lord of death’ or ‘lord of filth’ because flies are attracted to dead corpses or garbage.
In the New Testament, Beel-zebub is referred to as ‘the prince of demons’ (Matthew 10:25; 12:24; Mark 3:22, Luke 11:15).
How sad that the King of Israel would choose to consort with demons rather than repent and go to the one True God.
When King Ahaziah hears Elijah’s message that he will certainly die, he is not satisfied. He sends two delegations of fifty to make an appeal to Elijah, the man of God, to come and meet him. Elijah is not impressed with the fact that the king recognizes him as a man of God. “If I am a man of God may fire come from heaven and consume your 50 men.” Then the fire falls and consumes the captain and his fifty men.”
The king sends a second delegation, and the same thing happens to them. The proud and stubborn king sends a third delegation, but the captain falls on his knees and begs for mercy. Under the Lord’s direction, Elijah agrees to spare the third captain’s life and his fifty men.
In 2 Kings Chapter 2, we have a foreshadowing of Acts 1- an ascending master (Elijah-Jesus), waiting disciple(s) (Elisha/disciples), God’s descending power (the Holy Spirit) clothing humanity from on high, and an ongoing ministry (Elisha/the church).
It is good to have the desire to be a good leader (1 Timothy 3:1), but one must first demonstrate that they are a good follower.
1 Corinthians 11:1 1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
Elisha follows Elijah to Bethel, Jericho, and to the Jordan. This is a downward journey towards the lowest place on the planet, the mouth of the Jordan River at the Dead Sea. There Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up, and struck the water with it. The water divided to the left and to the right, and the two crossed over on dry ground.
Crossing the Jordan on dry ground is a picture of the believer’s identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. On the other side, the resurrection side of the Jordan, Elisha enjoys fellowship with Elijah on new ground. Elijah invites Elisha to make a request of him.
Elisha asks for a double portion. This request was not a request to have twice as much as Elijah, even though we see Elisha did twice as many miracles. The expression ‘double-portion’ referred to the inheritance portion of the first-born son. The first-born son inherited a double portion of his father’s property when his father died, twice as much as the other sons.
Deuteronomy 21:17 17 He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. That son is the first sign of his father’s strength. The right of the firstborn belongs to him.
Elisha was asking to be Elijah’s heir. He was asking to have the prophetic office and the power of the Spirit to fulfill that office. But that decision was not Elijah’s to make. It was up to God. Elijah prophesied that if Elisha sees Elijah being lifted up (a picture foreshadowing Christ’s ascension and glorification), he would receive that privilege–otherwise not (2 Kings 2:10).
Elisha does see Elijah lifted up and receives the double portion, symbolized by the mantle of Elijah. Elisha strikes the waters of the Jordan with the mantle and the waters divided to the left and the right so he could cross over on dry ground (like Moses, at the Red Sea, Joshua, and his master, Elijah, at the Jordan).
Notice the similarities between the miracles in Elijah’s ministry and those in Elisha’s.
Miracles in the Career of Elijah:
1) Causing the rain to cease for 3 ½ years (1Ki 17:1)
2) Being fed by the ravens (1Ki 17:4)
3) Miracle of the barrel of meal and cruse of oil (1Ki 17:14)
4) Resurrection of the widow’s son (1Ki 17:22)
5) Calling of fire from heaven on the altar (1Ki 18:38)
6) Causing it to rain (1Ki 18:45)
7) Prophecy that Ahab’s sons would all be destroyed (1Ki 21:22)
8) Prophecy that Jezebel would be eaten by dogs (1Ki 21:23)
9) Prophecy that Ahaziah would die of his illness (2Ki 1:4)
10) Calling fire from heaven upon the first 50 soldiers (2Ki 2:10)
11) Calling fire from heaven upon the second 50 soldiers (2Ki 2:12)
12) Parting of the Jordan (2Ki 2:8)
13) Prophecy that Elisha should have a double portion of his spirit (2Ki 2:10)
14) Being caught up to heaven in a whirlwind (2Ki 2:11)
Miracles in the Career of Elisha:
1) Parting of the Jordan (2Ki 2:14)
2) Healing of the waters (2Ki 2:21)
3) Curse of the she bears (2Ki 2:24)
4) Filling of the valley with water (2Ki 3:17)
5) Deception of the Moabites with the valley of blood (2Ki 3:22)
6) Miracle of the vessels of oil (2Ki 4:4)
7) Prophecy that the Shunammite woman would have a son (2Ki 4:16)
8) Resurrection of the Shunammite’s son (2Ki 4:34)
9) Healing of the gourds (2Ki 4:41)
10) Miracle of the bread (2Ki 4:43)
11) Healing of Naaman (2Ki 5:14)
12) Perception of Gehazi’s transgression (2Ki 5:26)
13) Cursing Gehazi with leprosy (2Ki 5:27)
14) Floating of the axe head (2Ki 6:6)
15) Prophecy of the Syrian battle plans (2Ki 6:9)
16) Vision of the chariots (2Ki 6:17)
17) Smiting the Syrian army with blindness (2Ki 6:18)
18) Restoring the sight of the Syrian army (2Ki 6:20)
19) Prophecy of the end of the great famine (2Ki 7:1)
20) Prophecy that the scoffing nobleman would see, but not partake of, the abundance (2Ki 7:2)
21) Deception of the Syrians with the sound of chariots (2Ki 7:6)
22) Prophecy of the seven-year famine (2Ki 8:1)
23) Prophecy of Benhadad’s untimely death (2Ki 8:10)
24) Prophecy of Hazael’s cruelty to Israel (2Ki 8:12)
25) Prophecy that Jehu would smite the house of Ahab (2Ki 9:7)
26) Prophecy that Joash would smite the Syrians at Aphek (2Ki 13:17)
27) Prophecy that Joash would smite Syria thrice but not consume it (2Ki 13:19)
28) Resurrection of the man touched by his bones (2Ki 13:21)
The miracles in 2 Kings 2 foreshadow the power of the gospel. Jesus is the salt and the new vessel that heals the water supply.
TODAY’S READING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT- ACTS 13:42-14:7
Paul preached the gospel in Pisidian Antioch, and many were intrigued. They wanted to hear more. Notice that evangelism is a process. Paul came back to speak further. Some believed. Some didn’t and began to slander Paul (13:45). Paul and Barnabas would go to the synagogue first, for the gospel was to the Jew first (Romans 1:16), but the rejection of the message by the Jews led to an open door among the Gentiles (non-Jews).
Acts 13:48 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
Once again, authentic church growth is the result of the ministry of the Word of God.
Acts 13:49 49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.
Paul and Barnabas leave because of Persecution. They are not described as weary, discouraged, or battle-worn:
Acts 13:52 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
From here on in the Book of Acts, we see a harvest of souls among both Jews and Gentiles, yet many Jews actively resisted Paul’s message and attempted to stir up trouble. Paul and Barnabas experienced great boldness in their speaking, and the Lord confirmed the message with signs and wonders. We see these signs accompanying the early ministry of the apostles until about 58 AD.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE PSALMS
Knowing us thoroughly, He still assures us that His love and blessings are ours in Christ Jesus!
Psalm 139:1-4 1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
Psalm 139:23 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts.
READING FROM PROVERBS
Proverbs 17:19-21 19 He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction. 20 A man of perverse heart does not prosper; he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble. 21 To have a fool for a son brings grief; there is no joy for the father of a fool.
These are Proverbs that expose evil, unfriendly, perverse and deceitful motives of heart. They affect our attitudes and actions. Do we look for fights? Are we preoccupied with self-interest? Do we examine our hearts? We should pray as the Psalmist did, “Search me and know my heart O God. The results of these motivations, if unchecked, will lead to disaster.
The final Proverb reminds us that parents experience grief if their children become fools. Because of human nature, the world system, and the devil, children can become a disappointment and cause a loss of joy. In contrast, the Apostle John says that he has no greater joy than to hear that his children walk in the truth (3 John 1:4). Parenthood requires great grace.
OPERATION WORLD gives a day-by-day prayer guide for the many states of India through July 4th. (See pages 405-446)
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we want to be faithful followers. We want to fix our eyes on You in Your ascended glory. We want to follow you through every trial, knowing that You have gone before us, knowing our struggles, and have secured our needed provision of Your grace. We pray that as faithful followers, we will be faithful leaders, leading people to faith in Who You are and what You have done to author our salvation. We pray that we will be faithful to the ministry of Your Word, that we will be faithful to hear it, faithful to proclaim it, and faithful to do it. We pray for a ‘Word of God revival’ in our land, that we would see its ministry growing and multiplying, dispelling the darkness, delivering the captive, and building up the body of Christ worldwide. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.