Reading: 2 Kings 3-5
Summary: Elijah having been dramatically escorted to heaven in a chariot of fire, Elisha now remains to carry on his great prophetic work. Included is his prophecy to the alliance of three kings—Jehoram (Israel), Jehoshaphat (Judah), and the king of Edom—who were fighting the rebellious Moabites, his miraculous aid for a prophet’s widow, his friendship with the wealthy woman of Shunem and raising her son from the dead, purifying a deadly pot of stew, and his encounter with Syrian army commander Naaman.
As observed previously, the greatest concentration of miracles (through men’s hands) in the Old Testament is found in the life of Elisha.
Compared to What?
Comparisons are inevitable; unfair, but inevitable.
One reason is that someone or something else is the only standard by which we have to measure. Who was America’s best president? How good is your favorite ball team? Does that dish taste good? Likely we’ll resort to comparisons to make our evaluation.
When Jehoram took the throne of Israel after his father, the Bible makes a comparison. “He did evil in the sight of theLord, though not like his father and his mother [Ahab and Jezebel] (2 Kings 3:2). Can you imagine anyone being worse?
The verse goes on to explain that Jehoram actually eliminated a piece of idolatrous Baal worship his father had introduced (v. 2). Now that sounds like a step in the right direction. But, “he clung to the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart form it” (v. 3).
Doing a little good isn’t good enough. It may be better (here’s a comparison) than doing all bad, but taking only one step in the right direction when twenty need to be made, doesn’t do much.
Jehoram eliminated something bad, but he didn’t replace it with something good and right. He, in essence, ended up trading one sin for another.
The only genuine comparison we have is with Christ. We’re after “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). Being better than someone else doesn’t count for a thing.