1962.) 2 Kings 13

The hand bones of St. John the Baptist, on display at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. In the text today we read that Elisha’s dead bones brought a man back to life, a story often cited as one of the earliest sources to show the efficacy of relics.  I have seen John the Baptist’s head in two (yes, two!)  places:  Topkapi and San Silvestro in Capite in Rome!

2 Kings 13   (NIV)

Jehoahaz King of Israel

In the twenty-third year of Joash son of Ahaziah king of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD by following the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them. 3 So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son.

4 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. 5 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.

Shades of the book of Judges! Remember the “sin cycle” Israel fell into? The Walk Thru the Old Testament seminar explains it this way:  Sin (always idolatry) — servitude  (by neighboring tribes who worshiped false gods) — supplication (when all else fails, pray!) — salvation (at the hands of a military leader, known as a judge) — silence (peace for a time). Here is the same pattern, with a nameless deliverer, bless him!

6 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.

7 Nothing had been left of the army of Jehoahaz except fifty horsemen, ten chariots and ten thousand foot soldiers, for the king of Aram had destroyed the rest and made them like the dust at threshing time.

8 As for the other events of the reign of Jehoahaz, all he did and his achievements, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 9 Jehoahaz rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. And Jehoash his son succeeded him as king.

Jehoash King of Israel

10 In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash son of Jehoahaz became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned sixteen years. 11 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he continued in them.

12 As for the other events of the reign of Jehoash, all he did and his achievements, including his war against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 13 Jehoash rested with his ancestors, and Jeroboam succeeded him on the throne. Jehoash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.

14 Now Elisha had been 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!”

“Dear friends, let us seek so to live that even ungodly men may miss us when we are gone.”
–C. H. Spurgeon

15 Elisha said, “Get a bow and some arrows,” and he did so. 16 “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.

2k13-arrow

17 “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.”

18 Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. 19 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.”

When I was in my mid-teens, I played on an organized baseball team. Generally I played first base, but occasionally I was directed to a position in the outfield. Although I was far from being a superstar, I had a lot of fun, and I always gave the game my very best effort.

After all these years, one particular game is still vivid in my mind. I was in the unfamiliar position of centerfielder when a long fly ball was hit over my head. I turned backward and ran as fast as I could, pushing with every muscle in my body to position myself so I could snag that ball. At the last moment I reached out as far as I could, and — wonder of wonders — I caught it! Of all the surprised people on the field that day, I undoubtedly was the most surprised of all!

Amazing things can happen when we give our best. In our text today, however, King Jehoash did not give that kind of effort. Jehoash was visiting the Prophet Elisha, who was on his death bed, and Elisha instructed the king to do a couple of unusual things. First, they together shot an arrow out of the open window. Elisha explained that this was prophetic of how God would deliver the Israelites from their oppressor, the Syrians. Next, Jehoash was instructed to take a handful of arrows and hit them against the ground, symbolic of Israel thrusting down Syria. Instead of following through vigorously, however, Jehoash responded in a half-hearted manner. By responding in this way, he forfeited the opportunity to win lasting victory over Syria. Israel would win some individual victories, but long-term peace would be denied them.

Today, we can learn a lesson from Jehoash’s half-heartedness. Whatever God asks us to do, let us be sure to do it with all of our might. Let’s not stop with a cursory effort, but invest ourselves wholeheartedly! We will receive the blessing for seizing that golden opportunity and speaking up at the right time, or for remaining on our knees in prayer a little longer — until the answer comes!

Our best may not seem like much, but it is of great value in God’s eyes! Let’s determine today to give it to God — in whatever we do. In the long run, we will be glad that we did.

–unknown

20 Elisha died and was buried.

_________________________

Music:

Recently I attended the funeral of a friend of mine. Linda was only 61 and died of cancer. But as the pastor said at her service, “It took her life, but never her spirit and faith.” She did not lose her belief in the efficacy of prayer and the goodness of God. She knew Christ had prepared a place for her and she found comfort in that. Like Elisha, Linda leaves behind a legacy of faith in God and obedience to her Lord. She is a model for me, and I look forward to seeing her lovely smile again in Heaven.

HERE  is Steve Green and “Find Us Faithful.”

_________________________

Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. 21 Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

“The Tomb of Elisha” by David C. Hancock, 2005

22 Hazael king of Aram oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Jehoahaz. 23 But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day he has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from his presence.

24 Hazael king of Aram died, and Ben-Hadad his son succeeded him as king. 25 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.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
St. John’s hand.    http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lehrjntsQI1qahuhjo1_500.jpg
sin cycle diagram.    http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/studies/images/cycle.gif
Elisha, the king, the arrow.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/faca5-5.jpg
boy playing baseball.   http://cache.boston.com/bonzai-fba/Globe_Photo/2009/06/06/baseball329__1244263489_8364.jpg
Hancock.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/hancock-elisha.jpg
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