INTERESTING FACTS : GUNNING BEDFORD, MILITARY OFFICER; MEMBER OF THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS; SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION; FEDERAL JUDGE - "TO THE TRIUNE GOD - THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY GHOST - BE ASCRIBED ALL HONOR AND DOMINION, FOREVERMORE - AMEN."
DAILY READING : 2 KINGS 12 - 14
TEXT : 2Ki 13:15 And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows. 2Ki 13:16 And he said to the king of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king's hands. 2Ki 13:17 And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the LORD'S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them. 2Ki 13:18 And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed. 2Ki 13:19 And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice. 2Ki 13:20 And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. 2Ki 13:21 And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.
THEME : THE POWER OF GOD
Like the waves of a tempestuous sea, the kings of Israel and Judah come and go rolling, swelling, and surging in ambition, pride, and lust for power. On Israel's part, nearly every one of their kings is ungodly. On Judah's part, there are a few godly kings, yet most follow evil and depart from the Lord. In time, the Assyrians will take Israel captive. Later, the Babylonians will capture Judah. Such is the fate of all who depart from God. In the course of time, they lose everything. [Psa_9:17 "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God."]
Joash is only seven years old when he begins to reign in Judah [remember the twelve tribes were separated after Solomon's death - ten tribes to the north comprised Israel, and the two in the south - Judah and Benjamin, made up Judah]. He is spared from death by Jehosheba and trained by Jehoiada. He makes up one of the few godly kings Judah will have rule over them. Yet, even he is murdered by treacherous men in a conspiracy.
It is sad to observe that in the time of Joash, the Temple is already in disrepair. It is only about two hundred years since Solomon finished the Temple, and it is already deteriorated. This is about the same amount of time from the War of 1812 here in America until now. It is not a long time. In particular, it is a short time for such an important and imposing structure as the Temple of Jehovah to fall into such a sad state of disrepair. Yet, such is the condition of the house of God in general. When men depart from God, the Lord is not given His due praise and glory, and soon He is forgotten altogether. It is only when the people of God are in desperate straits they come back and call on His Name.
Moreover, when the Syrians come to invade Jerusalem Joash gives away the "hallowed" things [all of which are cast in gold] to buy off the attack from the Syrian army from attacking Jerusalem. Apostasy and decline in [a] relationship with God comes at a high price.
"Took all the hallowed things - He dearly bought a peace which was of short duration, for the next year Hazael returned, and Jehoash, having no more treasures, was obliged to hazard a battle, which he lost, with the principal part of his nobility, so that Judah was totally ruined, and Jehoash shortly after slain in his bed by his own servants." 2Ch_24:23. [Adam Clarke]
Rarely does any person or group depart in a moment. Like the hands on a clock, departing from the Lord comes one tick at a time until the hours pass and [we] are far from where we started and even further from where we ought to be. This is what we are seeing in Israel and Judah. Slowly, they move away from the Covenant made with them through Moses until the day arrives they have no more nation or inheritance. Once we reach the New Testament, or shortly thereafter, the Romans will destroy the Temple for the last time that to this day - two thousand years later, it has never been rebuilt. The day is coming it will be rebuilt and our Savior shall enter by the Eastern Gate and set up His Kingdom. Yet, the point remains - it is a fearful thing to depart from the living God.
Heb 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. Heb 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
TRUTH FOR TODAY : HE MUST INCREASE, WE MUST DECREASE!
To the praise and glory of God, in each generation, not matter how wicked, God has His remnant who give witness to His power and greatness. Elisha is certainly one of those men. Therefore, we look at him to glean inspiration for ourselves in the times we live in.
First, we notice he dies of a sickness. This is not how we would write a book. Further, it is not how some men - who stand in pulpits perverting the truth preaching "faith," teach on this subject of healing and trusting God. In the view of some, sickness is always a result of wrong thinking and wrong speaking. In other words, some would say Elisha was wanting somehow in faith. If this were true, Elisha has a notable counterpart in the apostle Paul who suffered similarly. Thus, Paul wrote -
2Co 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 2Co 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 2Co 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2Co 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Elisha is an imposing man of faith. Is it probable that he fails in having faith for his own sickness that took his life? It is not probable. It is not impossible since he is a man, but it is not probable. To put it bluntly, death is a part of life and something at some time or other will take the life force from our bodies. However, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Therefore, death has no victory over us no matter what takes our physical life away. Therefore, Elisha unlike his mentor Elijah is not escorted to Heaven without seeing death. Rather, he dies the death common to all flesh. Yet, he remains an impressive, magnificent, and commanding figure of faith whom we should emulate.
Next, we see his willingness to help his country, even on his deathbed by giving Israel's king [also named Joash] a prophetic word. Instructed to first release an arrow out the window, then to strike the ground with them, Elisha is not pleased with Joash's little faith. He therefore reproves him for such small faith in the Lord. Again, we see Elisha does not lack in his own trust in the Lord as the Apostle Paul did not want for faith as well.
"God, in pity to Israel's extreme oppression by Hazael and the Syrians, remembered "His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," and by Elisha on his deathbed promised deliverance through Joash. The king had lamented the prophet's near decease as the loss of "the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof," using the same language as Elisha had used of Elijah. By Elisha's direction Joash put his hand on a bow, Elisha put his hands on the king's hands (for God must bless our handiwork, else we labour in vain: compare Gen_49:24). Then Joash shot eastward and Elisha promised that Joash "should smite the Syrians in Aphek until he consumed them." Then by Elisha's direction Joash smote on the ground with arrows.
Smiting only thrice he was reproved by the prophet: "thou shouldest have smitten five or six times, then hadst thou smitten Syria until thou hadst consumed them, whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice." So Joash took again out of the hands of Hazael's successor, Benhadad, Israel's cities and beat him thrice." [Fausett's Bible Dictionary]
Last, we observe an incredible event. After his burial, a dead soldier touches the corpse of Elisha and is raised from the dead! This serves to teach us two lessons. One, Elisha is a man who has a remarkable anointing on his life. Since all power comes from God, we see God honor His servant even after his decease. This is the power of a dead man.
From this we see a second lesson. One of the greatest miracles Elisha performs [in a manner of speaking] is after his death! Thus, we see the necessity of Christ increasing in our lives as we decrease. God will only work through us to the degree we are like Elisha in the sepulchre. That is, we must reckon ourselves dead indeed [to sin] and alive to Christ and His power! We see in this is Paul's words above -
2Co_12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Then, the Apostle Paul writes again un de the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit -
Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Rom 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
Therefore, we procure the power of God through our crucifixion with Him.
Gal_5:24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Gal 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Someone once said - "The only thing you can give to a crucified Christ, is a crucified life." As Christ increases we decrease. Our [sinful] flesh and His Spirit cannot co-exist. One lives, the other dies. We must choose to let Christ live through us so God receives the glory and honor He deserves. As John the Baptist said of Jesus - "He must increase, but I must decrease."