Wednesday, November 23, 2022

2022.11.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 6:24–7:20

Read 2 Kings 6:24–7:20

Questions from the Scripture text: Who gathered whom in 2 Kings 6:24? How many of them? Where did he go to do what? What did this cause in the city of Samaria (2 Kings 6:25)? What was sold for how much money? What else for how much? Where was the king of Israel in 2 Kings 6:26? Who cries to him for what? Whom does he say isn’t helping (2 Kings 6:27)? What question does he ask in such a case? What two places will give no help without the Lord? What follow-up question does he ask in 2 Kings 6:28? What situation does she describe in 2 Kings 6:29? How does the king respond to this in 2 Kings 6:30? What do the people see there under his clothes? What does this mean he had been doing? Now what does he swear to do (2 Kings 6:31)? Where was Elisha (2 Kings 6:32)? Who was with him? What does he ask the elders? When? What does he say to do when the messenger does arrive? Who arrives in 2 Kings 6:33? Where does the king say the calamity is from? What does he ask? What does Elisha tell him to do at the beginning of 2 Kings 7:1? What does Yahweh say? Whose trusty officer answer in 2 Kings 7:2? What does he ask? What does Elisha say to that officer? To whom does 2 Kings 7:3 introduce us now? Where were they? What do they ask each other? What would happen to them in the city (2 Kings 7:4)? What would happen to them in the gate? Where do they decide to go instead? When do they go (2 Kings 7:5)? What surprise do they find? What had happened (2 Kings 7:6)? What had the Syrian’s said to one another? Why was their situation even more dire? What had they done in 2 Kings 7:7? In what condition did they leave their camp? What do the lepers now do in a tent in 2 Kings 7:8? Then what do they do? And what do they do with another tent? Then what do they say in 2 Kings 7:9? What sort of day was it? What do they feel obligated to do? Whom do they decide to tell? To whom do they speak in 2 Kings 7:10? What do they report? Whom do the gatekeepers call out in 2 Kings 7:11? What does the king do and say in 2 Kings 7:12, despite the prophet’s word the previous day? How does one of his servants suggest that it is worth the risk (2 Kings 7:13)? What do they do in 2 Kings 7:14? How far do they go in 2 Kings 7:15? What do they find? Where then do they go? Whom do they tell? What do the people do in 2 Kings 7:16? For how much are fine flour and barley now sold? According to what? Whom had the king appointed to do what (2 Kings 7:17)? What happened to him? According to what? What do 2 Kings 7:18-20 recount as a summary of what controlled this entire event? 

What controls the rise and fall of nations and fates of sinful individuals? 2 Kings 6:24–7:20 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirty verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the rising and falling of nations, together with the fates of sinful individuals, is controlled by the Word of God.

Who is really in control? Presently, the author lives in a sad and foolish age, where people look to civil government to cure health and provide economically. But one of the great tensions in 2 Kings is that between the Word of God and the king of men for power in the land, and one of the important datapoints in resolving that tension is the king’s impotence in health and economics. In 2 Kings 5:7, the king says, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy”? Now in 2 Kings 6:27 he sarcastically says, “If Yahweh does not help you, where can I find help for you? From the threshing floor or from the winepress?”

Sadly, while the king seems to know that only the Lord and the power of His Word can resolve the situation, the king still doesn’t have enough respect for the Lord and the power of His Word. He blames the Word and now he threatens the Word (2 Kings 6:31).

He ought to have blamed himself and his people! We know from Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 that military and economic suffering in the land was an indicator of breaking of God’s law and a call to repentance. And indeed, what has the present distress revealed about them? That they’re the sort of people who resort to cannibalism in their repentance, rather than repentance (2 Kings 6:28-29). Why, indeed, would the woman think that someone who had proposed cannibalism of children wouldn’t be beneath lying? 

How should lesser authorities recognize this and respond? Rather than taking the lead in public repentance, the king has hidden his own sackcloth of repentance. Perhaps he wished to appear strong, or perhaps he thought the people themselves beyond repentance. But he who had recently called the prophet “my father” (2 Kings 6:21) now aligns himself with the attitude toward the prophet that recently resulted in forty-two shredded children (cf. 2 Kings 2:24).

The king has threatened Yahweh’s man (Elisha), so Yahweh takes his “officer on whose hand the king leaned” (2 Kings 7:2). The Lord’s great power is displayed both upon vessels of wrath and upon vessels of mercy. As in the flood, and at Sodom, both His righteous destroying and His gracious redeeming are glorious displays of His power (cf. Romans 9:22–24, 2 Peter 2:4–9). 

But it was “Yahweh’s help” (2 Kings 6:27) that was needed both for the famine of threshing floor and for the famine of righteousness. The latter famine was worse. We must have earthly kings who realize that they cannot give their people what the Lord has not appointed for earthly rulers to give. We must have earthly kings who realize that even what they can give still depends upon Yahweh’s help. We must have earthly kings who realize that their nation’s greatest need is righteousness before God, the favor of God, the blessing of God. 

What should we look for from our king(s)? But we must have more than just earthly kings. We must have that King Whose people fear God throughout all generations (cf. Psalm 72:5), that King Whose days outlast the moon, days in which the righteous flourish (cf. Psalm 72:7). 

King Jesus even hints at His being the King to Whom this passage points by His own mercy to and healing of lepers among the earthly signs of His Messiahship. It is an added layer of the power of God to redeem that He shows special favor upon “the least of these” in suffering Samaria. The use of the four lepers, and the special supply for them before the rest of Israel plunders, is itself a display of the King Who has mercy on the poor and needy (cf. Psalm 72:4, Psalm 72:12–14). 

God’s power and mercy are both greater than man can imagine. The now-trampled officer couldn’t imagine it (2 Kings 7:17). But indeed it came true, just as God’s Word has said. And this fulfillment of the Word is the final and main point, repeatedly and verbosely made in the long summary of the passage from 2 Kings 7:16-20. The Syrians were in much greater trouble than even they thought in 2 Kings 7:6. It was not “merely” the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians, but the King of kings who was against them. 

Nations rise and fall according to His will, and they do so not merely so that Hebrews can have grain, but so that all of God’s elect may be brought to the faith by which they have the Bread of Life in Jesus Christ. This is what determines the entire course of the history of the creation (cf. Romans 8:18–23; Revelation 6:10–11).

How is it evident that you know King Jesus as all your help for believing and righteousness? How is it evident that King Jesus is also all your hope for health and bread? What does your nation need?

Sample prayer: Lord, the price of bread and meat is in Your hand. The fates of government officials and ignored lepers is in Your hand. We depend entirely upon Your grace, and our greatest need is repentance and righteousness, which You alone can give. Forgive us for trusting in ourselves. Forgive us for trusting in government, or for fearing governments. Forgive us for resorting to managing situations rather than first crying out to You in repentance and faith. Make us to remember that You know how to deliver the godly out of trials and to reserve the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment. Grant that we would not walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness or despise authority. Thank You for making Your Son, our Lord and Savior, to be the King over all kings and the Lord over all lords. For His sake, hear us as we pray in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

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