I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.
2 Kings 6-7:20
This passage tells of some of Elisha’s miracles. The first one is a story about how the group of prophets was building a new meeting place near to the Jordan river. One of the men dropped a borrowed ax into the river. Elisha causes the ax to float to the top of the water so that the man can recover it.
Next we are told how Elisha kept thwarting the plans of the king of Aram to raid Israel by warning the king of Israel where he was planning to strike. The king of Aram was convinced that he had a traitor in his midst, but his advisers told him that Elisha was telling the king of Israel of his plans. The king of Aram sends an army to capture Elisha. When they arrive, Elisha’s servant is scared, but Elisha tells him that there are more on their side than there are against them. Elisha prays that his servant can see. The servant sees that there is a mighty force of fiery horses and chariots around them. This is Elisha showing his servant a truth that the writer of 1 John put as “…the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. “ This is a truth which we must always remember and is further illustrated in this passage. After revealing to his servant the forces of God that surrounded them, Elisha prayed for the Aramean army to be struck blind. This appears to be a figurative blindness, not a literal blindness. Elisha then went out to them and told them that they had come to the wrong city. He led them from there into the midst of Samaria, where they were surrounded by the Israelite army. The king of Israel asked Elisha if he should kill them, but Elisha tells him “No, treat them as prisoners of war. Feed them and send them home.” After this event the Arameans stopped raiding Israel.
However, some time later, Ben-hadad,the king of the Arameans, mustered his entire army and laid siege to Samaria. I must say that this makes Ben-hadad appear to be a bit of a slow learner. This is the third time that he attacked Israel with the entire force that he could muster and it does not turn out any better than the first two times. Things are very bad in the city and the king of Israel determines to have Elisha killed. When his messenger cannot get in to kill Elisha, the king goes himself. The king confronts Elisha and tells him that with all the misery that they are suffering from the Lord, he sees no benefit in trusting in the Lord any longer. Elisha tells him that by that time the next day, food in the market will be ridiculously cheap. One of the king’s officers replies that that could not happen “even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!” Elisha tells him that he will see it with his own eyes, but will not be able to eat any of it.
That night the Aramean army hears what they believe to be a great army arriving nearby. They are convinced that the king of Israel has hired both the Hittite army and the Egyptian army to come relieve the siege. These were the two great powers of the time. They were the equivalent for that area at that time of the U.S. and the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. If they both came in on the side of your opponent, you were doomed. The Aramean army fled for their lives, leaving the camp standing with the animals tethered for the night. Four lepers had been sitting in the city gate. They were very hungry and concluded that they had nothing to lose by going out and surrendering to the Arameans. When they got to the Aramean camp, they discovered that the camp was abandoned. They started out by stuffing themselves with food and wine and taking money and luxury goods and hiding them. After a bit, their conscience attacks them and they decide to tell the authorities. They returned to the city and reported what they had found. The gatekeepers shouted this news to everyone. The king of Israel suspects a trap, so he sends scouts out to find where the Aramean army is. The scouts find evidence that the enemy had fled across the Jordan. When the people of Samaria got this news they rushed out to plunder the camp. The king assigned the officer who had not believed Elisha to control the traffic at the gate, but the people trample him to death thus fulfilling Elisha’s prophecy.
After awhile Paul wants to go back and visit the cities where they had preached on the first missionary journey. He speaks to Barnabas and Barnabas likes the idea. But Barnabas wants to bring John Mark along. Paul is opposed because John Mark left them part way in on the first trip. Paul and Barnabas argue over this and end up going their separate ways over it. This disagreement does not reflect well on Paul, but it did serve the will of God. We know that Barnabas was known as the “son of encouragement” and it seems likely that his support of John Mark grew out of this characteristic. As a result of this dispute, Barnabas set out with John Mark and Paul set out with Silas.
Paul and Silas’ first stop was at Derbe and Lystra. In Lystra, Paul took under his wing Timothy, the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother. Timothy’s mother was a believer. Paul arranged for Timothy to be circumcised out of deference to the Jews who lived in the area (the fact that Timothy had not been circumcised until this point becomes significant later). It is interesting that Paul felt the need to take a young man under his wing at this point. Someone who filled a similar role to the one that John Mark had on the first journey. If Paul and Barnabas had stayed together, Timothy would likely have never been taken under Paul’s wing and the Church may have lost a gifted leader. This passage demonstrates how God can even use disputes among believers to further His will.
Paul and Silas continued their missionary journey, but the passage tells us that on several occasions they were forced to change their plans. The passage does not tell us why they changed their plans, only that the Holy Spirit prevented them from going in a particular direction. As a result they ended up in the seaport of Troas.
In Troas, Paul has a vision of a man from Macedonia asking him to come over and help them. At this point, the author starts to use the first person plural to describe Paul’s journey. This suggests that up until now the author has been relying on the accounts of others, but starting here, he is describing events that he actually witnessed (later he returns to the third person). When they reach Macedonia they traveled through several towns until they reached Philippi. On the Sabbath they went outside the city to a place by the river where they expected to find some people meeting for prayer. The implication here is that Jews in a city without a synagogue would meet by a local river to pray. I wonder if this tradition is related to Psalm 137 where the psalmist refers to the Jews in exile sitting by the rivers of Babylon and weeping as they thought of Babylon?
They found some women gathered by the river and sat down to speak with them. One of the women was Lydia from Thyatira, who was a wealthy trader in purple cloth (a luxury item of the day). The passage tells us that she worshiped God. She accepted Paul’s teachings and was baptized along with other members of her household. She invited the missionary party come to stay at her house and would not take no for an answer.
The psalmist proclaims that he will plead to the Lord for mercy, that when he is in trouble only the Lord knows the path he should follow. The psalmist complains that no one will help him, that no one cares about him. Then he tells us that when he relies on God, God rescues him and the godly crowd around him. I think this is something to remember, that when we feel all alone, if we turn to God God will guide us to those who can and will help us. Sometimes God performs supernatural miracles to help us, sometimes He performs the natural miracles of showing us who can provide us aid.
This proverb tells us to keep our eyes focused on the wise course of action. Do not spend time considering all kinds of other ways to do things. It is important that once you have chosen a course of action with due consideration of the guidance of the Spirit, do not spend time thinking of other paths you could have taken.