Focal Passage: II Kings 1:1-5:27
This week’s lesson finds its context in the reign of Ahaziah, the short-lived king of Israel’s Northern Kingdom. Ahaziah ascended the throne of Israel in 853 B.C. and shortly thereafter he had a life-threatening accident as he “fell through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria” (v. 2). Ahaziah thought it would be a good idea to ask Baal-Zebub (“the lord of the flies”) if he would recover. I love the way God prompted his servant Elijah to confront the wicked king: “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub?” (v. 3). When you think of it, we are often prone to act much like Ahaziah. If we are really the children of God, then why do we so often feel compelled to seek the counsels of this world? Is God not enough for us? Is His Word insufficient? Before seeking any others, let us always seek the will of the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).
When Ahaziah heard that Elijah had something to say about his situation, he sent his captains and his men to go and fetch him. Let’s just say the first two delegations didn’t fare so well – both of them were consumed by fire from heaven. Thankfully the third delegation learned its lesson. The captain of the third group approached the man of God with humility and in doing so he spared his life and the lives of those underneath his care. While I wouldn’t dare compare myself or any pastor I know with Elijah, I think this passage clearly demonstrates that there is something to be said for holding the man of God in high esteem. He is God’s spokesperson on this earth, and so he should be treated with love and respect.
After proving again that he was God’s prophet, it was time for Elijah to enter into his eternal reward. And yet before Elijah rode the chariot of fire and the whirlwind into glory, there was one final matter that needed some attention. To whom was Elijah’s mantle going to pass? Since the beginning of time, God has always raised up a man (or at times a woman) to declare the precepts of His Word. When the time for Elijah’s departure came, Elisha was standing by – ready to take up the mantle of his mentor. When I think of Elisha’s faithful devotion to his God and his mentor, I often wonder who’s going to take up God’s mantle in our generation. Maybe we should be spending more time praying how Jesus taught us to: “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
The series of miracles that Elisha performed in II Kings 3-4 stand as proof that he was also God’s man. The miracles that Elisha performed had even been made known in Syria, so that a young commander named Naaman came seeking help from the man of God. Elisha was more than happy to heal Naaman of his leprosy, so that “he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel” (5:8). Upon healing Naaman, Elisha wouldn’t accept any form of compensation, but his servant Gehazi saw things a bit differently. Simply stated, one man was motivated by God’s glory and the other by greed. I wonder what motivates you to serve the Master. Are you driven by what God can do for you, or by what He can do through you? If it’s really “all about Him,” then perhaps we’ll start doing all we can to offer our bodies as “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1) regardless of what’s in it for us.
— Stinnett is pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Morristown.