Wednesday, January 18, 2023

2023.01.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 13

Read 2 Kings 13

Questions from the Scripture text: In what year of whom (cf. 2 Kings 12:6), did who become king over what nation? Where? For how long? What did he do (2 Kings 13:2)? In Whose sight? By following what? And not doing what? What was aroused in 2 Kings 13:3? Against whom? Into whose hands did He deliver them? For how long of a sentence? What did Jehoahaz do (2 Kings 13:4)? And what did Yahweh do? Why? What did He give them (2 Kings 13:5)? With what result? But what did they still do (2 Kings 13:6a)? And what else (verse 6b)? What size army did the Lord leave them (2 Kings 13:7)? What else weren’t important enough to this account to be included (2 Kings 13:8)? With whom did Jehoahaz lay down (2 Kings 13:9)? Where did they bury him? Who reigned in his place? In what year of whom in Judah did who become king over Israel (2 Kings 13:10)? How long did he reign? What did he do (2 Kings 13:11) In Whose sight? By not doing what? But doing what? What else had he done that wasn’t worth comparing to this continuation of traditional, man-made religion (2 Kings 13:12)? With whom did he lay down (2 Kings 13:13)? What was his son’s name who succeeded him? What was done with his body? What happened to whom in verse 13? Who wept over him? What did he say (cf. 2 Kings 2:12)? What did Elisha tell him to take (2 Kings 13:15)? What did he tell the king to do with the bow (2 Kings 13:16)? Then what did Elisha do to the king’s hands? What did he say to open in 2 Kings 13:17? What did he tell him to do? What did Elisha say about the shooting of the arrow? Now what does he tell him to take in 2 Kings 13:18? What does he tell him to do with the arrows? How many times does the king do this? What does Elisha think of this (2 Kings 13:19)? What does he say that he should have done? What would the result have been? What will the king do? What happens, when Elisha finishes saying this (2 Kings 13:20a)? What happened in the future (verse 20b)? What were some Israelites doing in 2 Kings 13:21? But what did they see? Where did they throw the man instead? And what happened? What did Hazael do for how long (2 Kings 13:22)? But in what three ways did Yahweh respond (2 Kings 13:23)? Because of what? What would he not yet do? Who dies in 2 Kings 13:24? Who replaces him? Then who is able to do what in 2 Kings 13:25? How many times? 

What warning does the Joash reign offer us? 2 Kings 13 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that even those who start well by others’ faith must come to know and own the faith for himself, lest his service amount to nothing, and his end conclude in unfaithfulness and loss. 

The greatness of our sin. Jehoahaz (2 Kings 13:8) and Jehoash the northern (2 Kings 13:12) did many mighty acts that aren’t recorded here. The summary of their lives and reigns is that they did evil in the eyes of Yahweh (2 Kings 13:22 Kings 13:11). 

More specifically, their failure to end the traditional, man-made worship of Jeroboam son of Nebat was, as far as 2 Kings 13 is concerned, the story of their lives. Even worse, whereas Jehoahaz names his son after the good king from the north (2 Kings 13:10), this very Joash names his son after that wicked one who had instituted the northern kingdom’s holy days and liturgical ways (2 Kings 13:13, cf. 2 Kings 14:23). Even after Jehoahaz’s pleading in 2 Kings 13:4, and Yahweh’s relenting in 2 Kings 13:5, there is that dreadful “Nevertheless” in 2 Kings 13:6. Even the Asherah in Samaria isn’t as much of an offense as the Yahweh-worship calves, liturgy, and calendar in Bethel and Dan.

Though much goes positively for the northern kingdom in this chapter, if we miss the Lord’s own assessment that human actors as entirely wicked, then we will miss just how great is the grace that the Lord shows the northern kingdom here.

The greater-ness of God’s grace. It is against the backdrop of this wickedness that we see Yahweh listen to Jehoahaz in 2 Kings 13:4. And what reason does He Himself give for His relenting? “for He saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.” At the hands of Hazael and Ben-Hadad, Israel’s army had been reduced to the few particles left in the air after threshing (2 Kings 13:7). 

The Lord doesn’t note anything commendable in the pleading of 2 Kings 13:4, as He had done with Ahab(!)’s (cf. 1 Kings 21:29). There is simply the fact that Yahweh cared about the misery that He saw. We get a little bit more detail in 2 Kings 13:23, which ties for us the character of God to the covenant of God: “But Yahweh was gracious to them, had compassion on them, and regarded them, because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not yet destroy them or cast them from His presence.” 

The ”yet” there is pregnant. It will give birth to exile. But it also reminds us that there is another promise that was made in 2 Kings 10:30 to another wicked Jeroboam-follower (cf. 2 Kings10:31). Mercy would follow and employ as savior even the father of the literal Jeroboam 2.0 because of a gracious promise made to a flawed servant whose own reign was be judged evil (cf. 2 Kings10:292 Kings10:31).

Even the last great sign of Elisha’s life came from the Lord’s compassion upon a wicked king and wicked people, giving them a plural (2 Kings 13:18-192 Kings 13:25) deliverance (2 Kings 13:17, cf. 2 Kings 13:5). He was angry over the incompleteness of the obedience to even such a simple command (2 Kings 13:19), but there was great compassion from God even in this incomplete obedience of man.

The greater grace to come. That may have been the last great sign of Elisha’s life, but Elisha wasn’t done yet. Even when the living emblem of God’s Word to His people at the time had died, the work of the Word through him wasn’t done. There’s a strange-seeming anecdote tacked on in 2 Kings 13:20-21. Things deteriorate to the point that Moabites become more bold, and incursions become more common. Even burial procedure is hurriedly adjusted to clear out when marauders appear on the horizon. 

But God’s mouthpiece, though dead, still speaks (cf. Hebrews 11:4). God’s faithfulness to His Word was bringing the severity of exile, but that same faithfulness would bring resurrection Himself into the world. What the bones of one prophet would display in a small (!) way (end of 2 Kings 13:21) would be dwarfed by an astoundingly greater display of the same at the death of The Prophet (and Priest, and King, cf. Matthew 27:52–53). 

Long after Elisha died, and the wickedness of Jehu’s dynasty and Jeroboam’s religion had been punished, the message of 2 Kings was fulfilled. There was a son of David Who was the Word Himself, Who did only what was right in the eyes of Yahweh all the days of His life. And He went to the cross with the compassion of Yahweh, because through Him Yahweh was having compassion upon us. He raised up a Deliverer Whose deliverance was not just threefold or fivefold or more but as infinite as the worth of His eternally divine Person—just as Yahweh had graciously and compassionately planned from eternity and then promised in covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And all who trust in King Jesus will never be destroyed or cast from His gracious presence.

What merciful evidence is there of God’s patiently bearing with your own life, your own family, your own congregation, or the church more broadly? What does this not necessarily mean about His evaluation of the conduct of any of them? But what does this remind you to see about Him Himself? What (Who!) is your only hope for deliverance that is full and forever?

Sample prayer: Lord, forgive us for when, like Jehu’s entire royal line, we persist in the sins of those who have gone before us. Forgive us for how we fail to be moved to repentance even when You show extraordinary compassion as You did to the northern Joash. Forgive us when we give incomplete obedience even to the easiest of Your commands as with Joash and the arrows. But for the sake of the Lord Jesus, Your Son, our King, remove from us all of our guilt, count us righteous with His own righteousness, and then conform us to His righteous likeness, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

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