Saturday, October 27, 2018

Condemned by conformity! -- 2 Kings 14:8-14; 15:10, 13-14, 16

Condemned by conformity! -- 2 Kings 14:8-14; 15:10, 13-14, 16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 28, 2018

I used to go fishing for crawdads. As we caught them we would put them in a bucket of water. As the bucket got full of crawdads they would try to crawl out but the ones trying to get out were pulled back in by others trying to get out. As parents we warn are children about the influence of peer pressure. Peer pressure can be just like those crawdads that pulled others back into the bucket. I have learned however that peer pressure does not end in childhood, it continues into our adult life. There are those in our Christian lives who try to pull us back into conformity rather than live the lives God desires.

2 Kings 14–15 contains a brief history of the reigns of 3 kings over Judah and 6 kings over Israel. Their reigns were characteristic of life in Judah and in Israel. The reigns of the kings of Judah did okay but they compromised God’s requirements. They allowed people to offer sacrifices and offerings in the high places instead of in the temple in Jerusalem. Their disobedience resulted in Judah moving further away from God. And the six kings of Israel all did evil by worshiping golden calves and Baal. Both kingdoms went to war against one another and the final result of their unfaithfulness led to their conquest by Assyria. They were condemned by their conformity! Let’s discover why…

READ: 2 Kings 14:8-14; 15:10, 13-14, 16

Believers who disobey God, who do not worship him, and who do not repent will suffer the consequences of their sinful behaviors. This is true for common folks as well as leaders of nations. Here we learn that…

I. Spiritual conformity brings about destructive pride! (2 Kings 14:8-14)

Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, with the challenge: “Come, meet me face to face.” But Jehoash king of Israel replied to Amaziah king of Judah: “A thistle in Lebanon sent a message to a cedar in Lebanon, ‘Give your daughter to my son in marriage.’ Then a wild beast in Lebanon came along and trampled the thistle underfoot. You have indeed defeated Edom and now you are arrogant. Glory in your victory, but stay at home! Why ask for trouble and cause your own downfall and that of Judah also?” Amaziah, however, would not listen, so Jehoash king of Israel attacked. He and Amaziah king of Judah faced each other at Beth Shemesh in Judah. Judah was routed by Israel, and every man fled to his home. Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Ahaziah, at Beth Shemesh. Then Jehoash went to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate--a section about six hundred feet long. He took all the gold and silver and all the articles found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace. He also took hostages and returned to Samaria.

  1. Let’s break down what’s going on for the Israelites during this time. Amaziah the king of Judah to the south did some things right in God’s sight but not like his forefather David. He did evil by not removing the high places where people worshipped idols. David permitted no worship except that of God and no sacrifices except those offered in the temple in Jerusalem. Embolden by his military success against Edom, Amaziah challenged Jehoash to the north by telling him “Come, meet me face to face.” Jehoash was no dummy and responds by telling Amaziah, “A thistle in Lebanon sent a message to a cedar in Lebanon, ‘Give your daughter to my son in marriage.’ Then a wild beast in Lebanon came along and trampled the thistle underfoot. You have indeed defeated Edom and now you are arrogant.” Jehoash of Israel answered Amaziah’s challenge with a fable! Judah was just a small, weak weed and Israel as a strong Lebanon cedar. Jehoash’s army would be like the wild animal. Amaziah would be trampled to death in battle. Amaziah had become arrogant in his victories. Was he truly going to threaten northern Israel? Jehoash advised Amaziah: “Glory in your victory, but stay at home! Why ask for trouble and cause your own downfall and that of Judah also?” Amaziah refused to listen and “so Jehoash king of Israel attacked… at Beth Shemesh in Judah”. Jehoash did not stop there, he “went to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate--a section about six hundred feet long. He took all the gold and silver and all the articles found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace. He also took hostages and returned to Samaria.” What occurred was because in his pride “Amaziah… would not listen, for God so worked that he might hand them over to Jehoash, because they sought the gods of Edom. (2 Chronicles 25:20 NIV)” Spiritual conformity brings about destructive pride!

  EXAMPLE: Many mainline churches today that had been spiritually great in the past are mere shadows of what they once enjoyed. They sent missionaries around the world with the Gospel. They fed the poor and helped the weak but now more often than not they are more involved in socialism than the spreading the Gospel. Arrogantly they depend upon spreading liberation theology than sharing the good news of Jesus Christ thinking that mankind can change the sinful condition of the world. Mankind can’t only the good news can. Spiritual conformity brings about destructive pride!

Pride often leads to disastrous consequences. Pride led Amaziah to declare war on Israel, one in which he suffered a humiliating and disastrous defeat. Not only did Amaziah suffer personally but also he brought disaster on his people, the city, the temple, and his palace. Pride should not be found among God’s people. As we continue we learn that…

II. Spiritual conformity brings about sinful ambition! (2 Kings 15:10, 13-14)

Shallum son of Jabesh conspired against Zechariah. He attacked him in front of the people, assassinated him and succeeded him as king… Shallum son of Jabesh became king in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah king of Judah, and he reigned in Samaria one month. Then Menahem son of Gadi went from Tirzah up to Samaria. He attacked Shallum son of Jabesh in Samaria, assassinated him and succeeded him as king.

  1. “Shallum son of Jabesh” of Israel, whose name means “retribution”, was originally a captain in the army of King Zechariah and now he “conspired against Zechariah”. He wanted to be king himself. And so we learn that “He attacked him in front of the people, assassinated him and succeeded him as king.” See, politics haven’t changed much in thousands of years! This is the culmination of ungodly spiritual conformity that goes back to Jehu! He was a king who had “destroyed Baal worship in Israel” (2 Kings 10:28). However, he was warned that because of his spiritual conformity of not turning “away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit—the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan” his descendants would only be in power for 4 generations. Jehoahaz, Joash, Jehoram, and Zechariah were his successors until it was abruptly ended by Shallum! However what goes around comes around and even though “Shallum son of Jabesh became king in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah king of Judah” we quickly learn that “he reigned in Samaria one month”! And we think that our elections are so bad. They are nothing compared to those ungodly men who decided against following God and decided on their own to usurp power for themselves. Shallum was opposed and slain by Menahem, who, according to the historian Josephus, was the commander of the forces, which, on the report of the king’s murder, were besieging Tirzah, a town twelve miles east of Samaria, and formerly a seat of the kings of Israel. Stopping the siege, he marched directly against the usurper, “attacked Shallum son of Jabesh in Samaria, assassinated him and succeeded him as king.” Spiritual conformity brings about sinful ambition!

  EXAMPLE: How often have we seen as large ministries or churches fall because of their leadership? The scandals that plague the Joel Olsten’s of the world are rife. Basic Youth Conflicts was one such organization. Here locally we had a fast growing mega church that was lead by one man fall into ungodliness. The Senior Pastor and his relatives made off with hundreds of thousands of dollars. He was later caught involved in ungodly perverted behavior and is serving time in prison for his crimes. We have seen the same kind of corruption in the history of the Catholic Church and other denominations when they become full of themselves rather than following the Lord. It is easy for those caught in the corruption of sin to acquiesce and excuse their ungodly behavior. Spiritual conformity brings about sinful ambition!

Many atrocities occur in today’s world. God’s people should renounce these brutalities that often characterize the ungodly. Christians should do what they can to help defend people who are helpless before such atrocities. These people include the unborn as well as children, youth, women, and elderly people who are abused. We discover that…

III. Spiritual conformity can bring a brutal response! (2 Kings 15:16)

At that time Menahem, starting out from Tirzah, attacked Tiphsah and everyone in the city and its vicinity, because they refused to open their gates and he sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women.

  1. Before WWII churches were becoming complacent in Germany and the rest of the world. Some even took the posture that National Socialism was a good thing for Germany and perhaps the rest of the world! When the first reports of Jewish genocide reached the shores of America many did not believe it was occurring. Some reported it was a false narrative. Sadly it was not. Spiritual leaders simply refused to stand against the evil they saw rising around them. This is exactly what occurred in both the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The nation of Israel should never have been split into two separate nations. It should have remained true to God. What occurred afterwards is a horrendous example of what happens when God’s people do not remain true to him. Being a military man and only knowing aggression and the horror of war Menahem used his knowledge to subjugate Israel: “At that time Menahem, starting out from Tirzah, attacked Tiphsah and everyone in the city and its vicinity, because they refused to open their gates. He sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women.” What a horrendous act! He was a horrible leader and led his people into debauchery and ungodly worship: “In the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah, Menahem son of Gadi became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria ten years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD. During his entire reign he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. (2 Kings 15:17-18 NIV)” It is a sad commentary to the outcome of the once great nation Israel! Spiritual conformity can bring a brutal response!

  EXAMPLE: Believers who disobey God, do not worship him, and do not repent suffer the consequences of their sinful behaviors. We live in a time when there is societal pressure to shame believers into accepting perversion as normal and godly. TV shows like Young Sheldon offer viewers a distorted view of Christianity. The Pastor of the family’s church is often ridiculed and displayed as a dolt. The church secretary is seen as a chain-smoking crass elderly woman; and the mother is displayed as a hypocritical weakling who doesn’t have a clue about Christianity. What mainstream media desires is that Christians conform to their worldview or suffer the ridicule of their peers. Paul reminds us that “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8 NIV)” Spiritual conformity can bring a brutal response!

Conclusion:

Spiritual conformity brings about destructive pride! Spiritual conformity brings about sinful ambition! Spiritual conformity can bring a brutal response!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Go the distance! -- 2 Kings 13:4-6, 14-19, 24-25
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 21, 2018

During an elementary school track meet a young boy ran three of the laps in a race very fast and was out among the leaders. But on the last lap, instead of staying on the track and rounding the end to get to the finish line, he left the track, cut across the football field to the track on the other side, and then finished. Someone asked him why he cut across, he simply said, “I got tired.” Though he ran well, he did not finish well and was disqualified. He failed to go the distance.

There is a definite need in America today for God’s people to serve the Lord with all one’s heart. Some of Northern Israel’s kings rendered admirable service to the Lord for a while, but in time their obedience was well rather incomplete. They sinned and did what they wanted rather than following the Lord. Their examples illustrate the importance of serving God with wholehearted consistency and persistence. Today we will take a look at why it is so important for believers to go the distance…

READ: 2 Kings 13:4-6, 14-19, 24-25

Why do some Christians start well in their relationship with God but then do not serve with wholehearted consistency and persistence? Why don’t they go the distance? We can blame it on a lot of things but whatever the reason God calls his people to go the distance! We discover that…

I. To go the distance we need to look at our spiritual shortcomings! (Vv. 4-6)

Then Jehoahaz sought the LORD's favor, and the LORD listened to him, for he saw how severely the king of Aram was oppressing Israel. The LORD provided a deliverer for Israel, and they escaped from the power of Aram. So the Israelites lived in their own homes as they had before. But they did not turn away from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit; they continued in them. Also, the Asherah pole remained standing in Samaria.

  1. When Jehoahaz became king of Israel, he continued his predecessors’ practices. He approved of and took part in the worship of the golden calves set up by Jeroboam at Dan and Bethel. Because the people followed their leader’s example and as punishment for their sins, God kept Israel under the oppressive power of the Aramean kings Hazael and Ben-hadad. This condition continued during Jehoahaz’s 17-year reign. “Then Jehoahaz sought the LORD's favor, and the LORD listened to him, for he saw how severely the king of Aram was oppressing Israel.” While we are not always faithful, God always is. The word “sought” carries the idea of turning to God in weakness or helplessness. God heard Jehoahaz because God saw the oppression Hazael, king of Aram, inflicted on Israel. The Hebrew word translated “heard” means not only that God listened to the prayer of Jehoahaz but also that He answered his prayer: “The LORD provided a deliverer for Israel, and they escaped from the power of Aram. So the Israelites lived in their own homes as they had before.” Just like in the Book of Judges God once again sent someone to deliver his people. He acted to deliver the Israelites and restore them to a time of peace. They were able to live in their own tents or homes as before. Sometimes, people never learn from their mistakes. This can be true of a nation as well. “But they did not turn away from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit; they continued in them. Also, the Asherah pole remained standing in Samaria.” God’s deliverance did not motivate the Northern Kingdom Israel to turn back completely from idolatry and worship him only. Israel continued to practice the sins that Jeroboam, Israel’s first king, initiated when he set up calf worship in Israel. The nation also kept the Asherah pole standing as a symbol and place for the worship of the female goddess Asherah. An Asherah pole was a wooden pole erected to the Canaanite goddess of fertility. May poles that some dance around nowadays are the remnants of this paganism. To go the distance we need to look at our spiritual shortcomings!

  EXAMPLE: I enjoy being in the company of people who have a sense of humor. Lighthearted conversation sprinkled with laughter is always enjoyable. I also like serious discussions about important spiritual, moral, and political issues, especially when the participants express different points of view with intensity and feeling. I must confess however that I don’t enjoy conversations when I am being rebuked. It’s hard to face my failings. As I look back on my life, however, I must confess that some of the reprimands have brought me moral and spiritual benefit. I remember my uncle who was “disappointed” in me because I took a shortcut in weeding my grandmother’s garden. I remember a coworker telling me he wasn’t satisfied with the job I did. Both made me a better person. Rebukes hurt, but they are helpful. To go the distance we need to look at our spiritual shortcomings!

Jehoahaz was wise to go to God in prayer for help. The worship of Baal and Asherah had not brought his nation deliverance from Aram. When God delivered the Hebrew people, they should have turned to him in gratitude and served him with all their hearts. However, they fell short spiritually. They accepted God’s favor but continued in their evil ways. We discover that…

II. Persistence pays off in going the distance for God! (Vv. 14-17)

Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him. “My father! My father!” he cried. “The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” Elisha said, “Get a bow and some arrows,” and he did so. “Take the bow in your hands,” he said to the king of Israel. When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king's hands. “Open the east window,” he said, and he opened it. “Shoot!” Elisha said, and he shot. “The LORD's arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!” Elisha declared. “You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.”

  1. What was a king to do? His army had been reduced to 50 horsemen, 10 chariots, and only 10,000 foot soldiers. His nation was suffering from the incursions of the Arameans and was spiritually corrupt. Now, the Nation’s top prophet “Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died.” The names of the kings here might be confusing. “Joash” and “Jehoash” are two ways of spelling the same name. This confusion is complicated because Israel and Judah both had kings with this name and their reigns overlapped. In verse 10 the king of Judah is called Joash and the king of Israel is called Jehoash. For clarity’s sake, this is how the names will be used. So we find that the “Jehoash king of Israel went down to see (Elisha) and wept over him. ‘My father! My father!’ he cried.” He saw Elisha as his nation’s spiritual father. The word also implies a master, a protector, an advisor, or a governor. God had made Elisha a spiritual leader to Israel! Through the years, Israel had defeated its enemies by depending on Elisha, not by depending on the nation’s military strength. So now the king cries, “The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” Though Elisha was very ill, he answered Jehoash’s request for help. Elisha tells him “Get a bow and some arrows,” and he did so. “When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king's hands.” The prophet’s action symbolized that God would have his “hand” on the king in battle against Aram. Jehoash would have to face the Arameans, but God would guide him in the battle. The prophet’s next instructions were to open the east window. The Arameans were located in the area east of Israel, which included the area across the Jordan. Pointing the arrow out of the window toward the east, Elisha commanded Jehoash to Shoot! When the king shot the arrow, Elisha declared, “The LORD's arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!” Elisha promised Jehoash would receive victory over the Arameans at Aphek a city east of the Jordan and near the Sea of Galilee. What circumstances tempt believers to think ministry for the Lord is no longer possible? In what area will you continue to serve the Lord regardless the circumstances? Even while very ill Elisha continued to serve the Lord. Persistence pays off in going the distance for God!

  EXAMPLE: A. J. Cronin a doctor who was forced by illness to take a leave of absence from his medical practice decided to write. He became discouraged when half done and threw his manuscript into the garbage. Later when Cronin was walking the Scottish Highlands he met a man digging in a bog, to drain it for use as a pasture. As Cronin talked with him, the man related, “My father dug at this bog and never made a pasture. But my father knew and I know that it’s only by digging you can make a pasture. So I keep on digging.” Feeling rebuked Cronin went home, picked his manuscript out of the garbage can, and finished it. That novel, Hatter’s Castle, sold three million copies! There are times we may feel trapped by circumstances that demand persistence. Are we willing to keep digging away at whatever “bog” God has assigned to us? Persistence pays off in going the distance for God!

Elisha rendered persistent service to the Lord, even when he was suffering from a terminal illness. Elisha’s actions remind us that the Lord wants believers to continue serving him as long as they are able, regardless of what they are experiencing. We learn that…

III. We can go the distance with wholehearted obedience! (Vv. 18-19, 24-25)

Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”… Hazael king of Aram died, and Ben-Hadad his son succeeded him as king. Then Jehoash son of Jehoahaz recaptured from Ben-Hadad son of Hazael the towns he had taken in battle from his father Jehoahaz. Three times Jehoash defeated him, and so he recovered the Israelite towns.

  1. Elisha instructed the king to “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Now here is the key to understanding what the king should have done, how he failed Elisha’s direction, and therefore failed to follow through with his trust in God! “Strike the ground” with the arrows Elisha told him but the king struck the ground three times and stopped. How many arrows did Jehoash have in his hand? We do not know but if he had followed through he would have been completely successful! Jehoash could have held all the arrows in his hand and struck the ground three times, or he could have shot three of the arrows into the ground. I believe he had a lot more arrows and he had failed to strike the ground the number of times the arrows represented. God desired to give him a complete victory but now he would only enjoy a partial one. How often does this occur in our lives when God asks us to trust him and we only partially follow through? Elisha became angry when Jehoash stopped after striking the ground only three times. The prophet said he should have struck five or six times. If he had, then he would have defeated Aram totally, until he put an end to them. But because he struck the ground only three times, he would strike down Aram only three times. The king’s actions reveal half-heartedness in accepting Elisha’s word from God. The king’s actions suggest a lack of faith and determination to be all he could be in the hands of Almighty God. We learn that after the king of Aram’s death Jehoash seized the opportunity to recapture from Hazael’s successor, Ben-hadad, the towns Hazael had taken from Jehoash’s father Jehoahaz. In the battles for those towns, Jehoash was able to defeat the Arameans under Ben-hadad but only three times, thus fulfilling Elisha’s prophecy. What task or challenge are you facing right now for the Lord in which you are tempted either to ignore or to face half-heartedly? What steps can you take to go the distance with God in this challenge? Jehoash was not limited in his success by the strength of the Arameans but by his own lack of wholehearted obedience. God had promised complete victory, but the king had not been committed to obeying and serving God obediently. God would have gone the distance and defeated the Arameans if only Jehoash had gone the distance with him. We can go the distance with wholehearted obedience!

  EXAMPLE: After getting home from church a little boy’s mother asked what they had taught him in Sunday School. He sighed and responded, “Obedience… AGAIN!” We can go the distance with wholehearted obedience! Oswald Chambers wrote: “The Lord does not give me rules, but he makes his standard very clear. If my relationship to him is that of love, I will do what he says… If I hesitate, it is because I love someone I have placed in competition with Him, namely, myself.” Cindy Casper writes: “When we are obedient, we show God that we love him and have more faith in him than we do in ourselves. Arthur W. Pink said that love is ‘a principle of action, and it expresses itself . . . by deeds which please the object loved.’ To obey God means to relinquish what we want and to choose to do what he asks.” We can go the distance with wholehearted obedience!

Conclusions:

To go the distance we need to look at our spiritual shortcomings! Persistence pays off in going the distance for God! We can go the distance with wholehearted obedience!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Line up with God’s purposes! -- 2 Kings 11:1-3, 12, 15-20

Line up with God’s purposes! -- 2 Kings 11:1-3, 12, 15-20
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 14, 2018

Sam was the president of the bank in his town. He and his wife enjoyed the excitement and popularity of their community positions. In the eyes of many he was a successful husband, father, and community leader. However, almost every time Sam passed a church on his way to and from work, he felt a twinge of guilt. He knew he and his family were not living up to the standards his father and mother had taught him. Though he and his wife were nominal church members, they were not actively working in the church to accomplish the Lord’s will in their community. Each year, that fact weighed more heavily on his conscience. Believers are called to yield to and act in line with God’s purposes in the world and in their lives.

The verses we will look at this morning we will discover two women, one of whom pursued an agenda directly opposed to the purposes of God. The second woman determined to act in line with God’s purposes and planned her actions accordingly. How do you define success? What is the relationship between success and taking actions to fulfill God’s purposes? Why is pursuing one’s own agenda without regard to God’s purposes wrong? Let’s find out this morning…

READ: 2 Kings 11:1-3, 12, 15-20

I. We will face challenges to God’s purposes! (Vv. 1-3, 12)

When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the LORD for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.

  1. This is a sordid tale of murder, scheming, and downright ungodly behavior! The background for this account is God’s promise to David that his descendants would rule over his people forever. When Jehoshaphat of Judah was king, he made an alliance with Ahab of Israel by having his son Jehoram marry Ahab’s daughter Athaliah. Jehoram then became the next king of Judah. A son born to Jehoram and Athaliah, Ahaziah, became Judah’s next king and Athaliah the queen mother. At Ahaziah’s death, she usurped Judah’s throne for herself and became queen. Following the death of Ahaziah, his idolatrous mother then began to murder any of his descendants she could find: “When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family.” Her action would have ended the rule of David’s descendants over God’s people, which God had promised would be forever. Do you think Satan was active in this? More than likely, however, an unlikely person steps forward in bravery, courage, and strength. Jehosheba, Ahaziah’s little sister, took the dead king’s small child Joash and his nurse and hid them from Athaliah. Now least you misunderstand what is going on here let me remind you that Athaliah was a daughter of Ahab and Jezebel and now as Judah’s only reigning queen and the strongest Baal advocate among Judah’s rulers, she would bring about a surge in paganism, ungodly worship, and behavior just like Jezebel. She was just as horrendous and murderous as her mother Jezebel. Israel now faced dark times unless someone stepped forward to do what God desired. And she did: “But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the LORD for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.” In these verses we discover that as God’s people we will face challenges to God’s purposes!

  EXAMPLE: When Jehosheba realized Athaliah was killing the king’s children, she protected one child, Joash. Perhaps she did this out of compassion for the child. Or perhaps she was aware she needed to save at least one descendant of David. Both Jehosheba and Jehoiada exhibited great courage when they chose to embrace God’s purposes and save the life of Joash. They could not let Athaliah defeat God’s purpose to have a king from David’s house on the throne. At great risk they hid Joash, removed Athaliah, and installed Joash as Judah’s king. We too may face great risks in taking God’s purposes and agenda as our own. We will face challenges to God’s purposes!

What risks have you seen Christians take in pursuing God’s purposes and agenda? What encourages you to take such risks? What discourages you from taking such risks? Whatever happens in our lives…

II. We are to fulfill God’s purposes! (Vv. 12, 15-20)

Jehoiada brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him; he presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him, and the people clapped their hands and shouted, “Long live the king!”… Jehoiada the priest ordered the commanders of units of a hundred, who were in charge of the troops: “Bring her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest had said, “She must not be put to death in the temple of the LORD.” So they seized her as she reached the place where the horses enter the palace grounds, and there she was put to death. Jehoiada then made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people that they would be the LORD’s people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people. All the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars…The king then took his place on the royal throne, and all the people of the land rejoiced. And the city was quiet, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword at the palace.

  1. The priest Jehoiada then began making plans to rid Judah of Athaliah and make Joash Judah’s king. He conspired against Athaliah with the temple guards, the army, and the Carites who were mercenary soldiers. Under tight security, Jehoiada brought out Joash from his hiding place and presented him to the people. He put the crown on the young king’s head, gave him a copy of the testimony, and proclaimed him king. “They anointed him, and the people clapped their hands and shouted, ‘Long live the king!’” The noise of the people’s shouts and the trumpets’ blasts reached the palace and the ears of Athaliah. Going to the temple, she found Joash standing in the king’s customary place wearing the crown of the throne of Judah. Joash was surrounded by guards and by people rejoicing and blowing trumpets. She tore her robes and cried out, “Treason! Treason!” But she was taken prisoner. Then “Jehoiada the priest ordered the commanders of units of a hundred, who were in charge of the troops: ‘Bring her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her.’ For the priest had said, ‘She must not be put to death in the temple of the LORD.’” Because the temple was a holy place and human blood was not to be spilled there. “So they seized her as she reached the place where the horses enter the palace grounds, and there she was put to death.” Though gruesome to read, these events stress the awesome responsibility to embrace God’s purposes rather than to oppose them. People do not defeat God’s purposes; they defeat themselves trying to go against God’s purposes. Following Athaliah’s death, Jehoiada made a threefold covenant: “Jehoiada then made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people that they would be the LORD’s people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people. All the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down.” To implement their covenant, the people tore down the temple to Baal that Athaliah had erected. They also “smashed the altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.” Joash began a 40-year reign at age seven because of the courage and desire in the heart of Jehosheba and her husband Jehoiada to do what they could to fulfill God’s purposes. Through their actions, a descendant of David was returned to Judah’s throne. We are to fulfill God’s purposes!

  EXAMPLE: To avoid recriminations by the devotees of Baal, Jehoiada posted guards at Solomon’s temple. At the end of the coronation ceremonies the people led by Jehoiada and his guards conducted the new king to his palace where he sat down on his throne. The people of Judah as a whole rejoiced greatly that once again a descendant of David ruled and that the worship of Yahweh was again made official. They could not let Athaliah defeat God’s purpose to have a king from David’s house on the throne. At great risk they hid Joash, removed Athaliah, and installed Joash as Judah’s king. We too may face great risks in taking God’s purposes and agenda as our own. We are to fulfill God’s purposes!

Conclusion:

We will face challenges to God’s purposes! We are to fulfill God’s purposes!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Respond to God’s direction! -- 2 Kings 8:1-2; 9:1-6, 10b-13

Respond to God’s direction! -- 2 Kings 8:1-2; 9:1-6, 10b-13
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 7, 2018

On March 23, 1775, the second Virginia convention met in Saint John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. This convention moved that the colony be armed. In defense Patrick Henry spoke these passionate words: “Gentlemen may cry, ‘Peace! Peace!’ But there is no peace! The war is actually begun! ... Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” Patrick Henry expressed publicly the thoughts of many that God was concerned about what happened to the colonies. Because of the courageous decisions and actions of Henry and others, we enjoy freedom in our nation.

These verses are about how a Shunammite woman responded to a command from Elisha, how an unnamed prophet obeyed Elisha and carried out a dangerous mission, and how some military leaders made a courageous decision in the face of danger. These examples are designed to move believers to follow God’s direction. In fact we will discover that God offers us guidance and expects us to follow it. Let’s see how we can respond to God’s direction…

READ: 2 Kings 8:1-2; 9:1-6, 10b-13

God’s directions either come to us directly from Scripture or they are in harmony with Scripture and its teachings. Here we discover that…

I. Responding to God’s directions can involve making any of several choices! (2 Kings 8:1-2)

Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the LORD has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.” The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years.

  1. God is concerned about widows and orphans and other needy people. The woman and her son were the same woman and son whom he raised from the dead after he suffered sunstroke. God had promised this lady a boy and he had come through and now Elisha was watching over her family. Elisha told the woman to take her household and find a place outside Israel where she could stay during the next seven years. The prophet announced that the Lord had called for a seven-year famine in the land. Evidently the woman was now widowed. When Elisha instructed the woman and her family to leave Israel, they did as the Lord directed. They left their home, their farm, and their friends. They left Israel and stayed in the land of the Philistines for seven years. The direction Elisha gave the woman was in keeping with God’s will and plans. Believers need to be sure the direction they receive is God’s and is either directly from or is in harmony with the Scriptures, which reveal God’s will. We do not all of a sudden receive directions from God that are inconsistent with his will and ways. Sometimes God’s advice may seem difficult, hard, or impossible but when God gives us directions we must be willing to make the hard choices and follow him. Later events in the Shunammite woman’s life proved that God takes care of those who respond obediently to  him. Has there been a time when God asked you to follow him, what did you do? Was it difficult to follow his desire for your life? Often when we follow the plan of God it can be difficult just like it was for this woman and her son to pick up and leave their home, farm, and family and go to a foreign place. But she was willing to do so. Responding to God’s directions can involve making any of several choices!

  EXAMPLE: While the woman was away, the state had taken control of her property. Without a husband to reclaim it when the family returned, she went to the king. In the providence of God, the king was talking to Gehazi, Elisha’s former servant, about how Elisha raised this woman’s young son from the dead. While the king and the prophet’s former servant were discussing that event, the woman and her son came before the king. When Gehazi identified her, the king ordered an official to give the woman back everything that belonged to her plus any income derived from her land while she was gone. God honored her obedient response to Elisha by working out the problem that her obedience cost her even though it was seven years later. God honors obedience, though that does not always happen immediately. Responding to God’s directions can involve making any of several choices!

A second choice about God’s direction concerns making a courageous response. Some responses involve possible dangerous consequences. In those situations we discover that…

II. Responding to God’s directions calls for us to be courageous in obeying him! (2 Kings 9:1-6)

The prophet Elisha summoned a man from the company of the prophets and said to him, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take this flask of oil with you and go to Ramoth Gilead. When you get there, look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi. Go to him, get him away from his companions and take him into an inner room. Then take the flask and pour the oil on his head and declare, ‘This is what the LORD says: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and run; don’t delay!” So the young man, the prophet, went to Ramoth Gilead. When he arrived, he found the army officers sitting together. “I have a message for you, commander,” he said. “For which of us?” asked Jehu. “For you, commander,” he replied. Jehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet poured the oil on Jehu’s head and declared, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the LORD’s people Israel.

  1. One of the “sons of the prophets” responded to Elisha’s instruction with admirable courage. He was to complete the charge God gave to Elijah by anointing Jehu as king of Israel. Jehu was to reestablish God’s rule over the Northern Kingdom. He was also to bring the judgment that God had told Elijah to prophesy on the house of Ahab and Jezebel for their sins against Naboth, the Lord’s prophets, and Israel’s people. His three commands to the unnamed prophet were to “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take this flask of oil with you and go to Ramoth Gilead.” He was to go, run, and anoint!  Elisha tells him, “Go to him, get him away from his companions and take him into an inner room. Then take the flask and pour the oil on his head and declare, ‘This is what the LORD says: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and run; don’t delay!” Can you imagine doing something like this nowadays? If the messenger wanted to live he needed to get Jehu alone. Ahab or Jezebel would surely have had him killed for delivering the anointing of God that threatened their power. The prophet was to leave that inner room immediately and flee. He was not to wait around for anything. His mission was urgent and potentially dangerous. The young prophet promptly obeyed Elisha, going to Ramoth Gilead as instructed. Whatever anxious thoughts this young man may have had about this mission and journeying to the scene of the war, he disregarded. Jehu was consulting with his officers. Possibly, they were discussing military strategy for the war. Jehu left his officers and went into the house where they could be alone. Once inside that inner room, the prophet poured the oil on Jehu’s head. Then he delivered the message from God. He promptly and courageously responded in obedience to God’s direction through Elisha. Responding to God’s directions calls for us to be courageous in obeying him!

  EXAMPLE: Obeying God’s direction to us often requires courage on our part. The prophet’s mission to anoint Jehu as king was dangerous because Israel already had a king, Joram. Elisha was involving this young prophet in an action to replace Joram as Israel’s leader. If God had not instructed Elisha to anoint Jehu, this action would have been highly questionable. Elisha had to have courage for the same reasons the young prophet needed courage. Jehu also had to make a courageous response to accept God’s anointing him to be king with Joram still alive. Sometimes God’s direction may involve personal danger. We should respond to God’s directions immediately, in a courageous manner, and with trust in the Lord. Responding to God’s directions calls for us to be courageous in obeying him!

A third kind of response to God’s direction is doing so publicly. Elisha and the prophet had both made public responses. Believers know about public responses because they generally begin their Christian lives making some kind of public response to Christ’s invitation to salvation. We learn that…

III. Responding to God’s call may mean doing so publicly! (2 Kings 9:10-13)

As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.’“ Then he opened the door and ran. When Jehu went out to his fellow officers, one of them asked him, “Is everything all right? Why did this madman come to you?” “You know the man and the sort of things he says,” Jehu replied. “That’s not true!” they said. “Tell us.” Jehu said, “Here is what he told me: ‘This is what the LORD says: I anoint you king over Israel.’“ They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”

  1. We also discover God also had a task for Jehu. The Lord’s message revealed that Jehu was to destroy Ahab’s house and avenge the deaths of the Lord’s prophets and his servants who Jezebel had killed. Jehu was to destroy every descendant of Ahab and bring about the death of Jezebel. After delivering such a frightful and important message, the young prophet opened the door and ran like the wind, just as Elisha instructed. When the prophet left, Jehu’s officers asked if everything was all right. They wondered why a crazy person, a madman, had come to him. Jehu was evasive at first and answered their questions by reminding them that they knew about prophets, how they behaved, and what kinds of things prophets said. They could have had various reasons for calling the prophet a crazy person. The Hebrew word means “mad” and was used in a derogatory sense. Prophets often wore unusual clothing and spoke weird things concerning God. And this “madman” prophet had made a mad dash into and then out of their camp. The officers refused to be put off. They said, “That’s not true!” Those three words translate one Hebrew word that means “lie.” The officers did not know what the prophet had said, so they demanded, “Tell us!” Answering them, Jehu first said that the prophet had declared his message was what the Lord says. His message was from the Lord through Elisha and then through the young prophet as Elisha’s messenger. “I anoint you king over Israel.” The officers responded quickly. They expressed the decision of their hearts by what they did. Each person threw his garment under Jehu on the steps where he was standing. Then, they blew the trumpet for all to hear and shouted “Jehu is king!” Their public actions contained meaningful symbolism. One’s garment or outer cloak was a symbol of power and personality. Through their actions, the officers were showing their personal agreement with Jehu’s becoming king and their willingness to take necessary action so he could begin his reign. Responding to God’s call may mean doing so publicly!

  EXAMPLE: When God gives a direction, he wants those to whom he speaks to be prepared to respond in an appropriate, visible manner. The officers’ response was visible. Everyone around them saw and heard what they did and said. Their response was appropriate. Placing their cloaks under Jehu and blowing the trumpet were appropriate ways to indicate publicly their response to Jehu as the new king. Responding to God’s call may mean doing so publicly!

Conclusion:

Responding to God’s directions can involve making any of several choices! Responding to God’s directions calls for us to be courageous in obeying him! Responding to God’s call may mean doing so publicly!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.