2 KINGS 1:1 – 3:27 and JOHN 8:31–59
2 Kings 1
The entire chapter consists of the account of Ahaziah, son of Ahab. His reign was for only two years due to an injury sustained in his upper chamber at the palace. He sought out one of the prominent gods of Ekron named Baal-zebub which is interpreted the “lord of the flies”. It was supposedly sought after for its ability to heal. Remember, when the Ark of the Covenant was taken from Israel under the priesthood of Eli? It was taken to Ashdod and then other cities like Gath and Ekron (1 Sam 5:10). The Lord rendered great judgement upon these localities however we see that they still worshipped false deities. It was at this time when an angel of the Lord came to Elijah to inform Ahaziah’s messengers as to why they would seek healing from another god other than the living God of Israel? Is there not any record amongst the kings from when Moses gave strong warning about seeking out other gods? This is a King over Israel seeking to find healing from a primary god of the Philistines. It should be of no surprise when considering who his parents were? It should be of no surprise when seeing how the first King of the Northern kingdom (Jeroboam) set up altars to lead Israel in the worshipping of God on their terms. We see the Lord bringing in Elijah once again to be a means of His judgement upon apostasy that is seen in the monarchy. The word of the Lord that Elijah is to give to the king is that he will die upon his bed.
The king understood that the man was Elijah after hearing the report from the messengers that he sent out. He then sent messengers to bring him by force, if necessary. The company of men sent to alert Elijah was not to honor him but coerce him to come. They then make a jeering remark “Thou man of God, the king said come down”. Elijah responded that if he were a man of God then fire would come down and consume then. It is similar to what happened at Mt. Carmel when Elijah called fire down (1 Kings 18). How quickly people seem to forget judgement. This scene repeats itself once again. It also speaks as to the manner of person Ahaziah must have been in sending his own out in such a matter. You would think there would be a bit of humility but none was seen. The third group that came down took initiative to plead with Elijah to not call fire down like the previous groups. Elijah was then told to go with them and not to fear the king. Elijah gave the exact message as directed by the angel earlier (vs 2). God is not mocked; this is how Ahaziah must have viewed the true God of Israel. The measure of defiance seen in Ahaziah is similar to what is seen in many of today’s leaders towards God. The danger is we have been exposed to greater light and are therefore more accountable. The laws of God are being removed and redefined. Those who take issue with this new agenda are challenged and attacked. The opposition to Christianity will only intensify as we continue to go forward. Ahaziah died and since he had no son his brother Jehoram took the throne.
2 Kings 2
Elijah is now coming to the end of his ministry and is preparing to be taken up by the Lord. Elisha is now joined to Elijah and it could well be that they met here. Elijah spoke to Elisha to tarry where he was but he would not do so. It could be that he was testing Elisha to gauge the measure of commitment in him. We see a similar example when the Lord spoke to many of His disciples as to whether they would turn back (John 6:67). There are times when we have to persist such as times when we are in prayer. This was a quality in Ruth as she made the decision to stay with (clave to) her mother in law. Elisha recognized a transitional moment and he was not about to let this opportunity pass by. There are windows or seasons where God moves sovereignly and we need to be discerning and in tune so as not to be passed by.
Luk 19:44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
A few verses earlier the Lord is weeping over Jerusalem because He recognized Israel’s lost opportunity. The other prophets were also aware that Elijah was to be taken away however they stood at a distance, far removed from the event. Elisha had a quality of staying close to Elijah during his ministry so it was natural to abide closely up to the end. Several years ago I received a prophetic Word from a prophetess who shared about how I was staying close to the shepherd (my pastor) and that this was good. The Word encouraged me to continue staying near and serving him. I did so and have been greatly blessed as a result. My pastor then gave me a Christmas Card in December of 1984 with this scripture verse:
2Ki 3:11 “… Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.”
My Pastor was not calling himself an Elijah but rather expressed the relationship and manner of ministry that we had. The Lord puts a very high premium on loyalty. Elijah again seeks to dissuade Elisha as he now heads towards Jericho. He first journeyed through Bethel. The same scene repeats as Elisha is not deterred; this is in addition to the other prophets knowing what was about to happen. Elijah again makes a move towards the Jordan and tells Elisha to stay there; he would not let him go (vs 6-7). Elisha and Elijah are now at the Jordan together while the other prophets watch from afar off. Elijah takes his mantle and smites the Jordan and immediately it opened up as in the days of Joshua. Elisha clearly discerned in being able to be in the right place at the right time.
The time for the transition of leadership is about to take place. Interestingly, it was the Jordan where Joshua was distinguished from the leadership of Moses. It is again at the Jordan where the prophetic mantle is about to be passed on. Elijah asks Elisha what he should do for him before he is taken away. What a question to be asked! How would we respond? Remember when Solomon was asked by the Lord as to what he would ask for? What was it that Moses desired more than anything else? One of the traits seen in these great leaders are the questions they were asked and how they responded. Solomon asked for wisdom so as to know how to govern a multitude of people (1Kings 3:5). God was so pleased that he gave him far more than he asked for. Moses wanted to know God’s glory, to know what He is like and to be with Him (Exo 33:13). God honoured that request and was most pleased that this was in his heart. What is in our heart? How would we answer such a question if we were presented a similar opportunity? Elisha asked of Elijah for a double portion of the spirit that was upon him. He just witnessed the parting of the Jordan and no doubt witnessed many of his exploits. Elijah remarks that he was asking a hard thing and that he would soon know if it would be honoured. It seems that Elisha asked for more that Elijah could assuredly provide. God was honoured that such a request would be made and we will see that Elisha indeed received the double portion.
Elijah was then taken up in a whirlwind upon a chariot of fire into heaven. There is no burial plot for Elijah due to his needing to be used again in future. He, along with Moses was with the Lord at the Mount of Transfiguration (Math 17). They both (Moses and Elijah) will be on the scene in the last days as the two witnesses seen in Revelation 11.
Elisha received the mantle, parted the waters of Jordan and returned to Jericho. The prophets who viewed from a distance knew that the spirit of Elijah now dwelt upon Elisha and they bowed down and served him. The men persisted in sending out a team of men to see if Elijah had not been taken to some mountain. Some, like Thomas at the time of Jesus did not believe (vs 16-18). Elisha’s first miracle was to heal the waters. This was followed by the incident of the children who were mocking him by saying “Go up, thou bald head; go up thou bald head” (vs 23). Some interpret the term children as actually being young men in their 20-30’s based on the actual word being used. The curse that Elisha brought forth seems to have released something allowing the two bears to tear these children apart. Was it because Elisha was angry or was this judgement from God where these children were mocking His ordained prophet? Elisha was just beginning his ministry after having received the double portion anointing from God. We saw how God judged the mocking demeanour of Ahaziah and his men. God judged Uzzah, He judged Ananias and Saphira after the commencing of significant moves of God. This could well be another such example.
2 Kings 3
Jehoram, the son of Ahab, brother of Ahaziah now begins to reign. His length of reigning will be for a period of 12 years. He was marked as being evil but not to the extent of his father and mother (Ahab and Jezebel). He at least put away the image of Baal but never departed from the sins of Jeroboam.
The king of Moab served under tribute during Ahab’s reign and provided lambs and rams as well as wool to Israel. The quick death of Ahaziah followed up by the installation of another king may have been cause enough for him to rebel against Jehoram. The result was that Jehoram numbered his army in addition to seeking potential help from Jehoshaphat. As he did with Ahab his father, Jehoshaphat told Jehoram that “I am as thou art, my people as thy people, and my horses as thy horses” (vs 7, 1 Kings 22:4). Jehoshaphat, Jehoram and the King of Edom take a route that leads them to a place of famine where there is no water. Jehoram begins to panic thinking that the Lord arranged this to deliver them all into the hands of Moab. Jehoshaphat asks for a prophet of the Lord to seek out and Jehoram knows of Elisha and goes out after him.
Elisha rebukes Jehoram by saying why don’t you seek out the prophets of your gods? Elisha speaks his disdain for Jehoram and anything to do with Israel but only gives consideration due to the presence of Jehoshaphat. He then asks for a musician and as he plays the Word of the Lord comes to him. They were to make the valley full of ditches before any semblance of rain could be seen. This will provide water for them to drink as well as for their cattle. The Word of the Lord further stated that Moab would be delivered into their hands and that they were to smite the cities and stop up the wells. It was a judgement that God was bringing upon Moab. Though Jehoshaphat was making improper alliances, the Lord did use this opportunity to bring a judgement upon Moab. The water upon the land served another purpose. It gave the appearance of blood making the leaders of Moab think that the kings and people had slain each other. It presented a false sense of security making them easy prey when they came upon Israel to the battle (vs 23-24).
The king of Moab made one final assault with 700 of his finest, trying to break through the ranks of the Edomites. He thought they might be a weak link and somehow would be able to pass through but it was to no avail. The depravity then breaks down further when he offers his eldest son upon an altar as a sacrifice. Was he trying to imitate Abraham? Was he seeking to appease the gods? Was he demonstrating to Israel, Judah and Edom how desperate and sick of mind that he had become? In the end they all departed from him and returned to their own land. What a sickening sight this must have been. This particular war started because Moab would not continue paying tribute to Israel. God only chose to intervene due to Jehoshaphat being alongside the king of Israel. Jehoshaphat was a good king but one who had a severe weakness in the area of alliances as we will later see. It is a weakness that must be avoided, especially as we draw nearer to the last days.
The ability to discern is one of the greatest gifts that God bestows upon a person. A primary key is to know and embrace the Word of God. This is what enabled the Lord to be effective and discerning as the Son of man (Isa 7:15). It is vital for us today!
The scribes and Pharisees seek another opportunity to try and trap Jesus with His doctrine by bringing before Him a woman taken in the act of adultery. They quoted an Old Testament Law that Moses brought forth regarding the stoning of such a person. They wanted to see how He would handle this one. Jesus has confounded them on the matter of the Sabbath so they seek to come after him another way. What a bunch of hypocrites! They could care less about the law and Jesus knew this.
This is so typical of what is seen today. It can be so frustrating to see people in positions of power exacting rules and judgements upon others that they themselves do not keep. You see this with people who operate in many of the media outlets of our day. They zero in on others and somehow see themselves as immune from criticism. So how does Jesus handle this case? He says nothing at the start; he bends down as if not hearing them and writes something on the ground. It appears that Jesus is caught because these men keep pressing him on the matter. What did he write on the ground? Why did He not immediately respond? He then stands up and makes the following statement: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”. He returns to writing on the ground (vs 7-8).
What happened here? How did this situation suddenly shift around? Was there something in the Words he wrote on the ground? It appears that they understood that Jesus knew their heart and exposed them in some way. We can call to mind how he knew the matter about the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). When He spoke those words it cut to their heart; they were exposed and were not in a position to respond. This episode obviously had an effect on the woman as seen in the question that the Lord asked her. “Where are thine accusers, hath no man condemned thee?” She responded by saying “No man, Lord”. Amazingly the Lord said that He too did not condemn her and told her to go her way. Somehow in this event the woman who was taken in the act of adultery was not condemned by the Lord. It appears that the men who accused her walked away more guilty than her who was caught in the act. Perhaps we will be able to better understand this unique exchange of sin and forgiveness as we continue in chapter 8.
In verses 12-18 the Lord speaks of Himself as being the light of the world; those who follow Him will not walk in darkness but in light. He speaks of His relationship with His Father and that it is He who judges through Him; the Lord judges no man (vs 15). Man’s way is to judge after the flesh which is what the scribes and Pharisees did earlier. They had no right to judge her due to the condition of their own heart. Not one of them could cast the first stone. They pressed Jesus on His relationship with the Father and He did not back down. He was in the temple when this discussion was taking place and they could not lay hold of Him because His time had not yet come. In the midst of this discourse there were several who believed on Him. This presented a challenge to the scribes and Pharisees because He was indicting them based on what He was sharing regarding his Father. At the same time there were many people who rejoiced in His Words (vs 30).
The Lord then turns His attention to those who believed in Him and exhorted them to continue in His Word. This would ensure that they would be true disciples. This is a critical point; the ability and desire to continue in the Word. This can be linked to what Jesus shared at the conclusion to John 6. Many of His disciples were offended with His words on being the broken bread. (John 6:60, 66) Many turned back or decided to walk no further with the Lord. To continue walking in His Word requires a price; it will require the penetration of the Word to the heart. (Heb 4:12) This reflects the very desire that David had when he prayed in having “Truth in the inner parts.” (Psa 51:6) Do we love the Truth? Are we willing to embrace the Truth and allow it to show us who we really are? If we are among those who choose to continue in His Word; who allow Truth to get to the heart we then can be those who are set free by the Truth. It is liberating! (John 8:32)
Jesus enters into a heated discourse with the scribes and Pharisees on the subject of Truth, Abraham and the Father. The Lord introduces this thought by stating that if one continues in His Word that person will know Truth and be liberated by it. It is important to recall that John is writing his gospel 50 plus years after Jesus walked the earth. His perspective and his approach are more enhanced than the other Gospel writers. John introduced Jesus as the Word in the opening of his gospel. When one continues in the Word they are choosing to walk with Him. We see this with Peter and the disciples when they CHOSE to continue with the Lord when others turned back (John 6:67-68).
It is in continuing to walk with the Lord that brings us into true liberty. John writes in his epistle that if we walk in the LIGHT as He in the LIGHT the blood of Jesus then cleanses us from all our sin (1 John 1:7). John, in his gospel shares on Jesus as being the LIGHT of the world (John 8:12, 9:5). John also describes Jesus as the way the TRUTH and the life (John 14:6). Jesus is the TRUTH and as we come to know Him and continue to walk with HIM we too shall be set free. He whom the Son hath set free is free indeed! (John 8:36)
These words proved offensive to the Pharisees so they spoke and said that they were of Abraham’s seed and were not in bondage to any man. Jesus acknowledges that they were of Abraham’s seed. He asked them why they wanted to kill Him. He answers the question for them by saying that His Words have no place in them. He is the Word and they were rejecting Him and His message. In rejecting Him and His message they were rejecting His Father who sent Him. The Lord is now directing attention to His Father; making it clear that it was He who sent Jesus. Jesus tells them that Abraham (your father) looked for this day and rejoiced when he saw it. They sought to put their trust in being sons of Abraham. If they were truly sons of Abraham they too would be rejoicing regarding the message of the Lord but they were otherwise.
Jesus then pressed on and told them who their real father was; it was the father of lies (John 8:44). Their father was a murderer from the beginning because he would not abide in TRUTH and because the WORD had no place in him. The description that Jesus is giving regarding the father of lies is the same description that is characterizing their behaviour. Jesus then speaks about His Father in more glowing terms. The work He is doing and being witnessed by all is that which the father has entrusted Him to do.
One can imagine how incensed the opposition was now becoming. Jesus was now claiming to be the Son of God; He has claimed to have seen Abraham, and to tell them that he rejoiced in having this moment come. The Lord had a similar discussion when he talked about David (Math 22:42-45). “If David can call Him Lord, how is He then His son?” Jesus then makes the following statement:
Joh 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
The Lord was saying that before Abraham came into being, He, the Lord existed. This proved to be too much for his enemies as they sought to stone Him. Since it still was not His time, the Lord was able to pass through them in safety. This chapter deals much on the subject of Truth. What do we do with the Truth? Do we hide from it, seek to re-define it or sugar coat it in some way? This is what the father of lies is all about and he is good at doing it. We have taken note in how he was able to redefine truth as it pertained to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:16-17, Gen 3:6). This is the father of lies that is seen from the beginning as Jesus expressed in verse 44. The Apostle Paul speaks to his ability to turn the truth of God into a lie (Rom 1:25. Jesus as the Truth and Living Word was able to demonstrate to the Pharisees that the father they emulated was not Abraham but rather the devil himself. They could not handle the TRUTH because it was not in them. For us it is imperative that we continue to walk and abide in the WORD (John 8:31). In so doing we will know the TRUTH, love the TRUTH and be liberated and set free by the TRUTH.