Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Fixture in History

I am sitting and reading chapters in 2 Kings (specifically 8, 9 and 10) as God deals with Damascus and Israel. It is not a pretty picture and Elisha the prophet is woven through these books. At key moments this man of God is used by God as his representative.

In the beginning of chapter 8 we see the Shunammite woman whose son God had restored to life. God takes care of her and gives her a redemptive provision.

"And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went to appeal to the king for her house and her land. Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.” And while he was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. And Gehazi said, 'My lord, O king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.' " 2 Kings 8:3-6 ESV

It is a redemptive happy account. But then the narrative shifts to Hazael and Jehu. Both men had dealings with the prophet or men sent by the prophet. These men are bloody men, rulers of that time, and Elisha deals with them but his tone is so different.

Here is his exchange with Hazael...

"So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, all kinds of goods of Damascus, forty camels' loads. When he came and stood before him, he said, 'Your son Ben-hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, 'Shall I recover from this sickness?' ' And Elisha said to him, 'Go, say to him, 'You shall certainly recover,' but the Lord has shown me that he shall certainly die.' And he fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was embarrassed. And the man of God wept. And Hazael said, 'Why does my lord weep?' He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel...' " 2 Kings 8:9-12a ESV

Then he goes on to describe the horrible things that Hazael will do and Hazael spends his life going and doing them.

Jehu likewise spent his life using what God said through His prophet. Jehu is anointed king at the prophet's command but Jehu's heart is not God's heart. Jehu sees God's word as leverage for his own ambition.

We are not prophets. We are not like Elisha was. Believers in Christ have the same Spirit. The Spirit of God rested on the prophets but now He lives in us. We encounter many people as we walk along the road of life. Some like the Shunammite woman and some like Hazael and Jehu. We will laugh and be filled with joy when people embrace God and His grace and we will cry and stand and watch some use God for leverage not knowing that God is aware of what is in their heart and has a plan to work it out for good anyway.

Elisha is a fixture in history. This is our time to be a fixture. Not a judge but a beacon on the hill shining a light that shows God's character of grace and mercy. We can't change people. We can't even change ourselves.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved" Ephesians 2:4-5

Grace did it in our lives. God knew all our natural tendencies but he gave us a new life and a new hope so that we could have His thoughts. God's thoughts can break the cycle of the old life and make us co-laborers with Christ. What a great privilege that is!

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