Wednesday, November 30, 2022

2022.11.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 8:1–6

Read 2 Kings 8:1–6

Questions from the Scripture text: Who spoke to whom in 2 Kings 8:1? What did he tell her to do? For what had Yahweh called? For how long? What does the woman do in 2 Kings 8:2? According to what? With whom? When does 2 Kings 8:3 take place? What does the woman do? To whom does she go to do what? As she was coming to him, to whom does the king just happen to be talking, and just happen to be asking about what (2 Kings 8:4)? What was Gehazi talking about in 2 Kings 8:5? Who appears? Doing what? And who interrupts? Saying what? Who asks her about it (2 Kings 8:6)? What does he award her, even on top of what she asked?

What hope can believing citizens or members have, when God is judging their nations or their churches? 2 Kings 8:1–6 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God’s sovereign, all-encompassing providence orders and overrules all things for the good of those whom He is redeeming.

Specific, surprising mercy in the midst of general judgment2 Kings 8:1-3. Many times (cf. Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 7:15, Deuteronomy 28:60), the Lord had warned Israel that behaving like Egypt would bring upon them the afflictions that He had brought upon Egypt. Now, the Lord was about to bring a seven year famine, but it was not preceded by seven years of plenty. Yahweh had shown How great (and, surprising, as His mercy often is) is His power and mercy by turning back the Syrian siege, but there still had not been repentance. 

Sometimes the Lord frightfully judges churches or nations. But for the believer in Christ, he receives mercy in the midst of the judgment. His mercy to the Shunammite woman (cf. chapter 4) is a wonderful example. Before sending the famine, Yahweh sends the prophet to warn her and send her. 

We see what He does for her, and we remember that the Lord remembers the least of His servants and the least of their kindnesses (cf. 2 Kings 4:10; Matthew 10:41–42). We remember David’s shelter among the Philistines, and we conclude that the Lord sometimes uses the most unlikely instruments to provide for and protect His people.

If you are in Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation for you (cf. Romans 8:1). And while there may now be afflictions (cf. Romans 8:18a), they are hastening an eternal weight of glory (cf. verse 8:18b), as God works all things together for your good (cf. Romans 8:28), making you glorious (cf. Romans 8:30), and freely giving you all things (cf. Romans 8:32). This is true even of afflictions that come via judgments upon wicked nations and unfaithful churches (cf. Revelation 3:16–21). 

But there is a warning, here, too. We’re surprised to see Gehazi in the king's presence in 2 Kings 8:4 (cf. 2 Kings 5:27) and must conclude that chapter 5 was presented out of chronological order (suggesting that the works of Elisha were gathered into one place in a similar manner to what the king is asking for in 2 Kings 8:4 of our passage). The warning is that even those who know the greatness of God and hear His Word faithfully preached may yet bring dreadful consequences upon themselves and their descendants. 

God often gives personal mercy in the midst of general judgment, but often believers bring upon themselves personal judgment in the midst of others who are receiving mercy (cf. Hebrews 6:4–6).

Comprehensive, specific, sovereign providence in service of personal mercy2 Kings 8:4-6. One of the marvelous things about being the object of this God’s mercy is how complete and detailed His sovereign rule over all things is. 

It’s been seven years, but the moment that she is about to come to the king (2 Kings 8:3) just happens to be a moment in which the king is asking about all the great things that Elisha has done (2 Kings 8:4). And then the moment that she enters the very room (2 Kings 8:5b) is the moment that Gehazi has just gotten to the story of her kindness to Elisha, the gift of the child, and the raising of the child from the dead (verses 5a, 5c). 

This puts her in the position of being able to give the king what he especially wanted at that point: firsthand accounts of the great works that Elisha has done (2 Kings 8:6a)! 

If she had just come in and asked, and the king had given not only what she asked for, but a great deal more (2 Kings 8:6b, n.b. if the field was productive during famine, how great the proceeds would have been!), then surely she ought to have concluded that this has come in the providence of God. But we are often slow on the uptake, and the Lord often does things in a way that “shows off” what is always true: His mercy toward those whom He is redeeming is the goal of every smallest part of His providence, in every place, at every moment.

O, believing reader, how the mercy of God follows you, wherever you go! How it determines everything that will happen, everywhere, all the time for the purpose of doing you good! Only by His grace do you ever do that which is good, and yet He in His abundant generosity is pleased to repay that good that you do in Christ. What a God! What personal mercy! What powerful and all-encompassing providence!

What troubles do you see might be coming upon the church and the nations? What has He done, in His work in your heart and life, to encourage you that if the trouble does come, He will still be focused upon showing you mercy? If you don’t have such hope, because you are not sure that you are in Christ Jesus, then what ought you to do? But if you are in Christ Jesus, then what are all of these mercies bringing you to at last? How many of the events in your life are aiming at that?

Sample prayer: Lord, You rule and overrule all things in perfect justice. We confess that if You were to judge our church for unfaithfulness or our land for unfaithfulness, we would have to shut our mouths and know that You are just and righteous in doing so. But, we cling to Christ, knowing that if we have Him, then all must work together for our good. O that we clung to Him more! 

But, we confess before You that we are often ungrateful because we do not see how merciful You have been; and, we are often fearful because we do not see from You Word how merciful You are and how merciful You will be. We forget that Your power and Your love are perfectly steady and infinite—controlling every detail of Your providence in perfect wisdom. 

What hope can there be for those who know such truths about You, but live so often in such forgetfulness of You? You Yourself are our hope! The righteousness of Jesus counted for us is our hope! The sacrifice of Jesus atoning for us is our hope! The love in which You planned to give Him is our hope! The love in which You gave Him is our hope! The love in which You are freely giving us all things, together with Him, is our hope! 

So it is through hope in Jesus that we ask You to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, which we ask 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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