Daily Archives: May 1, 2017

Through the Bible, May 1

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.

Devotional Thought:

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.

Through the Bible, May Week 1 (1-7) Reading Introduction

Week 1: Israel’s Decline and the Rise of the First Literary Prophets

May 1-7

      As was the case with Elijah, the Bible record actually focuses more on the prophet Elisha than it does on the kings who ruled during his life.  Having received a “double-portion” of Elijah’s spirit, a great number of miracles are preformed through his hands. He not only delivers God’s message to the king of Israel but to the king of her enemy, Syria, as well.  His was truly a remarkable life.

Though much attention is given to Elisha, the kings and the kingdoms are not absent from the record. From Judah, we’ll read of Jehoshaphat (who is still on the throne),  Jehoram, Ahaziah, Joash (also called Jehoash), and Amaziah. Included is the troubling account of Athaliah, the wicked queen who seized the throne following the death of her son, Ahaziah; a grim chapter in Judah’s story.

In Israel, the northern kingdom is ruled by Joram (also called Jehoram, the son of Ahab whose brother Ahaziah ruled before him), Jehu, Jehoahaz, Jehoash, and Jeroboam (II) as the dynasty of Jehu continues (it’s the longest in Israel’s history and includes five kings in all).  The reign of Jeroboam II in some ways would have to be considered the high point in Israel’s history, yet it is during his reign that God sends Amos with dire warnings for these people.

We’ll also read from the first of the literary (writing) prophets, Jonah.

Through the Bible, May Bible Reading Introduction

May Bible Reading Introduction

More Kings and Prophets

Israel Falls, Judah Survives

Books: 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, Joel

God’s prophets came into prominence in the relationship between God and His people—and in the biblical record—during the time of the kings.  This became particularly true when the kings failed to lead God’s people as they should and thus the reign of wicked king Ahab corresponded to the career of the great prophet Elijah, of whom we read last month.  The life of the prophet’s successor, Elisha, proved equally eventful.  As a matter of fact, the greatest concentration of miraculous activity among men in the Old Testament is the life and career of Elisha.

Following Elisha, we witness a change in the prophets or at least some of them.  These men begin to write the message of their prophecies. This leads to a distinction between the literary and non-literary prophets.

As one might expect, the remainder of the Northern Kingdom’s history is accentuated by these messengers of God, sent to call His people to repentance and announce His judgment against them.  That would culminate in their captivity by the Assyrians.  This also proves to be true of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, leading up to its end in Babylonian captivity as well.

Of course, it is the record of the successive kings that is the story line.  Our readings this month will cover the accounts of these kings as the histories of Israel and Judah play out.  We will also interject readings from the various prophets in connection with the kings and times in which they lived.  Most of the readings from the prophets will be samples and not their entire works (with a few exceptions).

Also, as indicated above, this month’s reading will carry us through to God’s judgment against both Israel and Judah, both ending up in captivity, with Jerusalem and the temple left in ruins and the land desolate.