Wednesday, December 07, 2022

2022.12.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 8:7–15

Read 2 Kings 8:7–15

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Elisha go in 2 Kings 8:7? What was the condition of Ben-Hadad? What was told the king? To whom does the king speak (2 Kings 8:8)? What does he tell him to take to whom? What does he want Elisha to do? What is he calling Elisha? Where does Hazael go in 2 Kings 8:9? What does he bring? What does he call the king, in the king’s behalf (cf. 2 Kings 6:21)? What does he ask, in his behalf? What does Elisha say about the disease (2 Kings 8:10)? But what has Yahweh shown him will happen anyway (verse 10)? What does he then do to Hazael (2 Kings 8:11)? How does Hazael respond? And how does Elisha respond to that? What does Hazael ask (2 Kings 8:12)? What else had Yahweh shown Elisha that Hazael would do to whom? What four evil things, specifically, will he do to Israel? What does Hazael think that Elisha is calling him (2 Kings 8:13a)? What is Elisha actually calling him (verse 13b)? Where does Hazael go in 2 Kings 8:14? What does the king ask? What does Hazael answer? But what does he do, when (2 Kings 8:15)? 

How does God carry out His historical judgments of His people? 2 Kings 8:7–15 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God carries out His judgment according to His Word, with weeping, and often by the hand of the wicked.

God carries out His historical judgments of His people according to His Word2 Kings 8:7-10. It seems strange for Elisha to be on his way to Damascus in 2 Kings 8:7, but the Bible is full of prophets doing strange things. What is happening comes into focus when we find that Hazael is going to have a role. 

It’s been about 12 chapters, so I hope that you haven’t forgotten 1 Kings 19:15–18, where the Lord had given Elijah a final assignment of anointing Hazael king of Syria, Jehu king of Israel, and Elisha as prophet. These would serve to kill all of the house of Ahab as God judges Israel for its Baal worship. So, when we meet Hazael in 2 Kings 8:8, it’s not Ben-Hadad’s death that takes center stage, but the first tolling of the death knell for the house of Omri/Ahab, and the eventual downfall of the northern kingdom.

Now, the Lord’s word to Elijah has been matched by what he has shown Elisha. Ben-Hadad seeks a word about his disease (2 Kings 8:8), for which he is willing to pay generously (2 Kings 8:9). But Elisha’s word about that has less to do with the disease (2 Kings 8:10a, cf. 2 Kings 8:14) and more to do with Hazael (2 Kings 8:10b, cf. 2 Kings 8:15). The disease won’t kill the king; his right-hand man will.

God carries out His historical judgments of His people with weeping2 Kings 8:11-12. Elisha stares Hazael down in the first part of 2 Kings 8:11 until Hazael is quite embarrassed. And then the prophet embarrasses him even more. Elisha begins to weep. Naturally, this military/political higher-up is quite uncomfortable with this emotional display and asks about it (2 Kings 8:12a). 

But by his doing so, the Spirit provokes us to wonder as well about the prophet’s weeping. Doesn’t Israel deserve all the horrible things that Hazael is going to do? Why would the representative of Yahweh weep over God’s just judgment? Because God does not delight in judging even those whom He is directly calling wicked. We see this with the eventual judgment of the southern kingdom (cf. Ezekiel 18:23, Ezekiel 18:32; Hosea 11:8). And when God becomes a Man, we see Him weeping over Jerusalem’s forthcoming destruction for rejecting Him (cf. Luke 19:41–44). 

Behold the compassion of God, even in the midst of a proper hatred of the wicked and their wickedness! When we love our enemies, as sons of our heavenly Father, we learn to weep over their just perishing. And if ever we or our church come under just judgments, may the weeping heart of Jesus in it move us to worship and repent.

God often carries out His historical judgments of His people by the hand of the wicked2 Kings 8:12-15. The word “evil” in 2 Kings 8:12 can mean “harm” in addition to moral evil, but the actions described are shocking for their immorality. Hazael himself considers them “gross” actions suitable to a dog more than a man (2 Kings 8:13). And the treachery of using access to the sickbed to turn it into a death bed (2 Kings 8:15) should also disgust the reader. Even the slow, suffocating method of murder highlights the evil of Hazael. But even in the examples previously cited, it was Babylon and Rome whom the Lord had used. And both of them came under historical judgment for it.

The Lord still brings historical judgments against His people (cf. Revelation 2–3). When it comes with extremely wicked men doing extremely wicked things, let us not forget that it still comes as the just judgment of God.

What are some judgments that have come upon the churches? What is Jesus’s heart toward those churches, and how should they respond? Who are some wicked who have done very wickedly against the church. What will God do to them for it?

Sample prayer: Lord, You are righteous when You judge, and when Your judgment begins at the household of God. Yet, we forget that You have no pleasure in the death of the wicked and that Jesus Himself wept over Jerusalem. Forgive us for not weeping like You do. Forgive us for failing to see how much our pain means to You, even when it is right and necessary. Make us think rightly about You we ask, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry Before You Come” or TPH103E “O, Come My Soul, Bless Thou the Lord”

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