And they did not ask an accounting from the men into whose hand they delivered the money to pay out to the workmen, for they dealt honestly.
2 Kings 12:15 (ESV)
June 24 2 Kings 5:1-8:15
June 25 2 Kings 8:16-29; 2 Chronicles 21:1-22:9
June 26 2 Kings 9-11; 2 Chronicles 22:10-23:21
June 27 2 Kings 12-13; 2 Chronicles 24
June 28 2 Kings 14-15; 2 Chronicles 25-27
June 29 Jonah 1-4
We start the week with the healing of Naaman. He has a skin disease and asks Elisha to heal him. Naaman was expecting some kind of spell or potion, I think, because when Elisha tells him to wash in the Jordan River 7 times (a ritual cleansing), he wasn’t happy. He did it, of course, and was healed.
Naaman offered Elisha a financial reward for the healing and Elisha turned him down. If Elisha had accepted the money, Naaman might have thought that Elisha was the one who healed him and not God. One of Elisha’s attendants was interested in the reward and snuck away, telling Naaman that Elisha changed his mind. When Elisha found out, he was very unhappy and cursed Gehazi with Naaman’s skin disease. It’s a good reminder that secret sins will be seen by God. Unfortunately, no sin goes unpunished.
Beh-hadad laid siege to Samaria. There was great famine, and the Bible records the cost of a donkey’s head at 80 shekels (a whole horse cost 150 in 1 Kings 10) and a half liter (fourth part of a kab) of dove’s dung was 5 shekels of silver – an average worker’s wage for six months. The king of Israel blames Elisha for their troubles and Elisha promises that the siege will be over, and commerce back to normal, the very next day.
God fulfilled Elisha’s prophecy in a dramatic way. There were four lepers (who aren’t allowed to enter the city because of their illness) who decided that since they will die either way, they might as well try their fortunes in the Syrian encampment. No one was there! Everyone was scared away by the sound of horses and chariots (God has the best special effects department J). The lepers took all sorts of stuff and hid it, then they felt guilty because they hadn’t told anyone in Samaria. Naturally, the people were afraid that the empty camp was a trap, but they sent scouts who told them that everything was really left there. Samaria plundered the Syrian camp. Without lifting a finger, the Samarians won because of God’s mercy. Elisha’s prophecy was fulfilled. And the king … Elisha told him that he would never eat any of the goodness. That came true as well. The people trampled him and he died. He mocked Elisha, which meant he mocked God. God will not be mocked.
We watched in sorrow as the kings of Judah became progressively worse. The kings of Israel weren’t always any better. God only allowed Israel to go on because He had made the covenant with David. Some kings did what was right, but none got rid of Baal AND the golden calves. We look back and we wonder how they could respond to God like they did. He did so much for them, and yet … and yet … we’re exactly the same way. What Baals do you have in your life? Are you worshiping a golden calf? Or would God say that you did right in His eyes? I know that I would not get an “A” from God.
Jonah! I recently heard a sermon about Jonah by Warren Wiersbe called “A Worm’s Eye View of Missions” based on Jonah 4. You’ve heard the story before. Jonah is called to Nineveh. He wants no part of that and turns the other way, to Tarsish. While traveling by boat, the ship is rocked by a big storm. The pagans on the boat ask Jonah to pray to his God. Jonah tells them that if he is thrown overboard, no life will be lost on the boat. Jonah is swallowed by a whale (it appears that Jonah thought he died because he called it “sheol” or hell) and lives in the belly of the whale for 3 days (a type of Christ). He is spewed out and then decides to follow God’s call. The people of Nineveh repent and God relents. Jonah is still angry about having to go preach to the Ninevites and he sits outside the city, presumably hoping God will do something to the inhabitants. God sends Jonah shade and that makes him happy. God withers the shad and of course Jonah is unhappy. He doesn’t seem to care at all about the 120,000 unsaved people in Nineveh. He just doesn’t like his situation
And now onto the Worm’s Eye View (Rev. Wiersbe). God is more interested in the worker than the work. Consider Jonah as a missionary candidate. Rev. Wiersbe calls three witnesses to consider his suitability.
1. Do you feel a call of God? Oh yeah. Twice! He told me to go to Nineveh.
2. Is your theology evangelical/orthodox? Oh yes, I believe in the God of Israel. He is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and full of kindness. Salvation is of the Lord (2:9).
3. Do you pray? Oh yes, I have prayed in strange places!
4. Does God answer your prayers? Does He ever! Let me tell you about the miracle that I went through. This story may sound fishy to you, but here’s what happened…
5. Have you experienced a deeper life? Nobody’s gone deeper than I’ve gone. I’ve been down to the bottoms of the mountains. I know what it’s like to die and be raised from the dead. You don’t have to talk to me about walking in newness of life!
6. Does your preaching bring results? Oh sure. Haven’t you heard? A whole city repented. There were 120,000 people!
7. Can you quote Scripture? Do you believe in Bible memory work? Oh yes, I can quote Psalms by the yard.
“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me (Ps. 3:4; 120:1; Lamentations 3:55); out of the belly of Sheol I cried (Psalm 118:5), and you heard my voice. (Lamentations 3:56) 3 For you cast me into the deep (Psalm 88:6-7), into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. (Psalm 42:7) 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight (Psalm 31:22); yet I shall again look upon your holy temple (1 Kings 8:35,38).’ 5 The waters closed in over me to take my life (Lamentations 3:54, Psalm 69:1)); the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head 6 at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. 7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. (2 Chronicles 30:27) 8 Those who pay regard to vain idols (Psalm 31:6; 2 Kings 17:15; Jeremiah 2:5) forsake their hope of steadfast love. (Jeremiah 2:13) 9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you (Psalm 50:14;Hosea 13:2; Hebrews 13:15); what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord! (Psalm 3:8)” Jonah 2:2-9 (ESV)
8. Have you got courage? I was willing for those people to throw me in the water to save them.
And yet… he was a failure. He sat outside the city pouting and angry at the people he should be reaching. It was evident that Jonah did not have a love for the people that he was called to minister to.
1. The sailors (chapter 1). “That man is a troublemaker. Everything was going well on the ship until he boarded. We were in danger and he was sleeping! You’re going to send him to be a missionary? “
2. The fish (chapter 2). “He is stubborn. He was called by the God who made me to go preach and he refused to do it. Everything in creation does what God wants except for people. Jonah could have confessed his sin on the ship, on the way to the water, or on the way into me but he didn’t. it took three days and three nights before he was broken. I can’t stomach him!”
3. The people of Nineveh (chapter 3). “He came walking through our city and we found out he had gone through a miracle. He preached a message of repentance. He came as an ambassador and he led us to repentance, but we don’t understand. He should be in our city praying with people and teaching people, but you know where he is? Outside sitting in a booth, pouting. He’s a problem to us. We love him because he brought us God’s message, but he’s a problem.”
4. The worm (chapter 4). The great creator called me and told me to watch the man. He is an immature person. Just look! He’s living by his feelings, not by obedience to God. He’s angry at God because he didn’t get what he wanted. He’s bitter. He’s bigoted and prejudiced because he didn’t want to see us – the enemy of Israel – to receive salvation. He has no burden for the lost. He’s hoping the city will be destroyed. He was shown mercy by God but he shows no mercy himself. He is unlike the God that he preaches. He is not gracious, merciful or slow to anger. How can he witness about God when he doesn’t live like God wants him to? He prays selfishly. He prayed to save his own skin, and now he’s whining that he would rather die than face his friends and tell them that he helped saved Nineveh. The thing that makes you happy shows your character. He wasn’t happy because Nineveh was saved. He was happy for his shade.”
Jonah’s Creator and Lord (Rev. Wiersbe says “far be it that I should ever interrogate God, but let’s use our imaginations):
1. Did you call Jonah? Yes I did. Called him twice.
2. Did Jonah obey you? He obeyed me outwardly but not inwardly. His heart wasn’t in it (Ephesians 6:6). He did it because he had to.
3. Are the witnesses’ statements true? Yes the are.
4. What do you suggest we do? I suggest we give him another chance. There’s another lesson. Let’s give him another chance.
Aren’t you glad God is a God of second chances?
God dealt with Jonah first with big storms and pressures. Now he’s dealing with Jonah quietly, with gourds and winds that are so smothering that it’s difficult to take. He was patient and gracious. Jonah had already learned three great lessons about God. In Chapter 1 he learned you can’t run away from God. In Chapter 2, he learned that God will forgive if you ask. In Chapter 3 he learned that if you obey God, he will powerfully do something. In Jonah 4:10, we see the fourth lesson – he had to learn how to love lost souls. How did God teach him? The first time, God stuck him down (water, cold)– the second time God had him in the light. It was a reminder to Jonah how it felt to be a lost sinner. When you’re lost, it’s like being in the bottom of the ocean, in darkness, in heat and torment and constant torture. Was God giving Jonah a taste of hell?
We can learn a lot from Jonah. We learn to follow God wholeheartedly and we learn to have a heart for the lost. If the heart is right, the mind, will and body will all be right. God wants our hearts. If we love God, we will love his people
What else have you learned from Jonah? Has any verse touched your heart this week? Please share!
I would love to hear from you with questions, comments, prayer requests and praises. Email me or leave a comment. This blog is designed to be interactive. There is no point that is too small, no question that is too silly, and no prayer request that’s too big for God.
I will see you next week.