We are officially at the halfway mark of our journey. It has already been a ride I will never forget. I am so struck by reading for myself what God has for me and not just reading a passage for a “canned” study with preset answers. This book comes alive and is uniquely personal to those who seek Him on its pages. Even as I say this, I think how much I have missed, and the confusion I have felt. I knew these would be the tough weeks of sorting through the battles and strange events of the nebulous “mid-section” that I have intentionally never studied too deeply. I was reading The Life and Times of Elisha the Prophet and found a few reasons why things are getting a bit confusing. “But now, in these verses, we turn to the kings of Judah, Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram’s son, Ahaziah. Another problem is that two different kings have the same name. Both are called either “Joram,” or “Jehoram.” Some translations try to use one of these names consistently for one king to minimize the confusion, but it is truly hard to follow, especially since they ruled at the same time, one over Israel and the other over Judah. There are also two Ahaziah’s. Fortunately, these two kings ruled at different times. If this is not enough cause for confusion, we must also deal with co-regencies. We cannot always assume that one king reigns until his death, and then is replaced by his son. In the case of Jehoshaphat, he appointed his son, Jehoram, to share his throne when he went off to battle against Ben Hadad. There was an overlap in the reign of Jehoshaphat and of his son Jehoram, and this period of overlap is called co-regency.”1 Even with all this confusion, I didn’t anticipate receiving a blessing almost each time I clicked on (thank you, Bible Gateway and Jean at ETJ) the passages for the day. While I didn’t follow a lot of the confusing battles, who was a king, who was a prophet, who was good, bad, north or south, I did find a treasure each time I read—something individual and intimate that was a new word written on my heart. The following may be trite for some, but here are the stories that linger, the new lessons for me as we reach the summit of our ascent into His Word. As they say, “it’s all downhill from here.” I will continue to welcome any awareness that God places on my heart that calls me, “Dig deeper on this one, Annette.” My theology may or may not be sound, but I believe God is making Himself known to me. I actually pray it doesn’t fall into any preconceived category—dogmatic or liberal, allegorical or literal, just God saying, “There is so much more to Me. Come and see.” He summons each of us in Isaiah 1:18, “Come, let us reason together.”
Never Enough Jars to Contain God
2 Kings 4:1-7- A widow comes to Elisha and tells him she is destitute. Elisha asks, “What do you have?”
“Only a little oil,” she answers. He tells her to go get jars, don’t ask for just a few, and close the door of her home and start filling the jars. As she does so, each jar is filled with oil, and she asks her son for another jar. He replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. Elisha tells her to go and pay her debts with the sale of the oil. God wants us to bring to Him what we have. The widow had a little bit of oil and that is what He used. Then, we must not underestimate what God can do. I believe that oil would have continued to flow with as many jars as they brought in. God does not withhold from those who trust in Him. He is as big as we believe Him to be!
Don’t Miss Your Miracle
2 Kings 5:8-14 Naaman didn’t like it that Elisha didn’t put on a show and heal him of leprosy but told him to do something for himself. “Go down to the Jordan River and wash yourself seven times.” He became angry when, in verse 11, he says, ““I thought that he (Elisha) would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.” His miracle didn’t look like he thought it would, and he almost missed it. Fortunately, his servants saw that his healing was within his reach only with his cooperation. Naaman went down and “dipped” himself seven times. Timid and unbelieving, not washing, but dipping, he barely complied and was healed.
And “his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.” I’d like a little of that water myself to have skin restored to my youth. As I write that, I know I had an even better gift with a few drops of water from that same river. My daughter went to Israel two years ago and brought back a small vial from the Jordan. She told me the river was muddy and murky looking, but the water she brought back in the small jar was crystal clear. It was so strange to me that it was so clean and pure. That water where John the Baptist had baptized, where sins of many were left in that murky water. It just seemed natural that the water would be murky and dark. But Christ also stood in that water and showed His obedience to the task before Him to bear the sins of many, submitting Himself to be baptized. As He did, He made pure even the water itself. Just a little over a year ago, I was baptized, and I requested the pastor pour my Jordan River vial into the baptismal font. And I was reminded in that water that I am made clean, restored unto Him. The water itself wasn’t the miracle. The act of obedience wasn’t either. But God remembering my sin and cleansing me, pure as those crystal drops of the Jordan, by His Son’s magnificent work on the cross, that is my gift, my miracle of His great love. And I wouldn’t have missed that “knowing,” where He revealed Himself to me, for anything.
A Plumb Line of Righteousness
Amos 7: 7-8 “This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the LORD asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” “A plumb line,” I replied. Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.”
“I have set a plumb line.” If you ever have hung wallpaper, you know how important a plumb line is to make sure you are straight, even more so for a wall to be 90 degrees with the base. A plumb line is a builder’s tool that is a light string with a weight at one end. It clearly defines what is upright. God, too, has a standard for what is upright and holy. He says in 1 Peter, “Be holy for I am holy.” A life choked with sin and anxiety, junk food of the world instead of the nourishment of His Word, cannot exist as upright and holy in His Eyes. He is a just God and cannot tolerate less. “There are those who might be angry at the realization that God is a righteous God who does execute judgment upon sinful men. Does the thought of Israel’s suffering trouble you? It should. It troubled Elisha as well. But let us not be angry at God for His judgment, as though judgment were unbecoming to God. A holy and righteous God who does not deal with sin and with sinners would not be holy and righteous. But let me point out also that those who hate divine judgment do not love its counterpart—grace. Stop and think about this for a moment.”2 Just as Isaiah could not stand in the presence of a holy God without being overcome by the thought of his sinfulness, (Woe is me. I am ruined. For I am a man of unclean lips-Is. 6:5), we also cannot stand in the presences of His holiness without being confronted with our own sinfulness and lack of ability to do anything about it. We cannot bridge the great chasm between a holy God and sinful man. But for Grace alone, and thus, we adore our just God who also liberally dispenses His costly Grace.
Oh, how I want to go on and on, and talk about stubborn Jonah and how he didn’t want to go to Ninevah because he knew God would be merciful to save them from their destruction and he hated them enough to want that. Or, recount the redeeming love of Hosea toward the prostitute, Gomer, and all that represented. This week was more than I can convey in one post, but suffice it to say. God is just as terrifyingly just as He is filled with compassion and mercy. We wouldn’t want Him to be any less, nor could He ever be.
Join Bev and our group as we walk through the pages of Truth that bring new spiritual food each day to our hearts. Blessings on your journey this week in and through His Word, and may it make you markedly different in how you carry out each day.
And a special prayer for our understanding as we make it through these more complicated weeks of readings. As is our own story of redemption—the best is yet to come.
I found a great website this week with a series on it called “Profiting from the Prophets.” It makes very good companion reading as we work our way through these next few weeks. There is a downloadable MSWord document at the site. http://www.bible.org/series.php?series_id=75