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.

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