Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.
Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”
It must have been nice as a king to proclaim a fast or appoint men to sing and worship before the army. Trying to establish a worship team / organization is proving to be extremely difficult. Coordinating scarce resources, planning around life events and work schedules, people leaving for no apparent reason, others questioning your motives… It certainly would make things easier to have lordship over others to direct their footsteps as needed.
This process is teaching me to rely heavily on prayer. Even though I am not a king who can direct others, I can pray in the name of the King who touches the hearts of others and makes things happen when all seems lost. It’s when I realize that I am powerless to make anything happen that things always seem to work out in unimaginable ways. Note to self, even when the deck seems stacked against me and I am outnumbered, God is bigger than it all. Let Him fight the battles that need to be fought.
Lord, let my eyes be open to Your kingdom. Direct my footsteps so that Your ways become my ways. I don’t want to waste time, but I want to work in Your timing. Let Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus name.
The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it.
Elisha said, “Get some flour.” He put it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot.
I was intrigued by the story of the poison in the pot. Was it really poisonous, or did it just taste bad? It is believed that the gourd was coloquintida which can apparently be fatal in large quantities. It appears that was the case since he filled his shirt with them. I imagine the lack of other stuff to put in the stew drove him to grab as many as he could. Elisha doesn’t panic like the others who sounded like they were ready to throw it out. Instead, he relies on a word from God (making a presumption here) and asks for some flour. The flour most likely offset the bitter taste, but removal of the poison would have been miraculous.
It seemed trivial that I was led to this section of the scripture, but as I was researching, it made me think of all the times that I have given up when the going got tough. Throughout the bible, we see evidence of God doing amazing things by providing words of knowledge and miracles. Why is it so hard to think that my problems, big and small, are too much for Him? Elisha did not give up when praying for the dead child. He could have went in, prayed, and left saying, “God works in mysterious ways. Sorry, but I tried.”, but he pressed on in prayer. Note to self, when you know that God has put his stamp of approval on something, don’t give in. Press on and press through.
Lord, I know that I let doubt and uncertainty creep into my head too easy. Help me to put my faith in You instead of man.
From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.
Reading through Elisha’s curse of the “boys” it’s easy to assume that they were innocent young boys having a little fun. Reading through the commentaries on this paints a much different picture. They were likely older boys and were not so much lightly picking on Elisha as they were directly challenging him as a prophet / religious leader if not God’s authority directly. Other commentaries suggest that the 42 who were mauled were only the portion of a larger group who deserved punishment. Given the emergence of idolatry at the time, it’s not too unreasonable to think that they would seek to test and challenge Elijah’s predecessor.
I think if I was walking down the street and was accosted by a group of at least 42 hostile teenage boys, I think I would be praying for police to show up and arrest them. Or bears…
Lord, we know your judgments are just. Thank you for Your mercy given through Christ our savior.
King Asa also deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down, broke it up and burned it in the Kidron Valley.
As I read more and more about Asherah poles, I turned to Google to see what one looked like since they are so detestable to God and should be avoided. I stumbled into a world of conspiracy theories claiming that Christians have been duped into worshiping pagan gods. The Asherah pole is a phallic symbol used to worship a pagan goddess of fertility. There are those who claim that the Christmas tree, the steeple, etc. are all examples of modern day Asherah poles and that by their use, we are engaging unknowingly in pagan worship. There are accusations that the Washington Monument is a pagan obelisk (used to worship the sun god, Ra).
It’s easy to get caught up in all this and possibly be afraid to go to church. Getting fixated on things like this serve more to shatter our faith than build it. God knows our heart. When a group of Christians gather around a flagpole to pray for our country, it is not a pagan practice. When we pray, no matter where it is or the circumstances, when we pray in the name of Jesus, His name supersedes all else. Philippians 2:9-11 says
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
I think I can rest assured that when we put up a Christmas tree in our home, we do so to remember and celebrate of the birth of Christ Jesus, the Lord and the savior of my soul. I certainly do not feel any conviction from the Holy Spirit that there is anything wrong with doing so. When I put the tree and begin preparing for Christmas (only 192 days left btw) my soul gets and extra dose of happiness and joy. The bottom line is that Jesus reigns over ALL creation.
Jesus, You are the Lord of all creation. You know our hearts and our motives. Whatever sacrifices we offer, we do so in your glorious name.
The old prophet answered, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the Lord: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (But he was lying to him.)So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.
There are just certain things that don’t seem fair. The man of God is doing the right thing and is punished (death by lion) only because he trusted the old prophet who lied to him. The old prophet who is supporting Jeroboam’s evil ways appears to get off the hook and blames all the bad stuff on the man of God and sidesteps responsibility.
This makes me think of my kids when they start the yeah-buts. I ask, “Did you do <insert illicit activity here>?” They’ve learned not to lie to because my powers of interrogation are exceptional but will often reply with “Yeah-but so and so did such and such.” It doesn’t matter what the other kids get to do or tell us to do, to be obedient, we have to listen to what our parents (or heavenly Parent) are telling us and tune everything else out. I hate to say that I should not trust others, but when it comes hearing the voice of the Lord, I certainly want to seek confirmation.
Lord, even though I am running the race, I need to hear Your voice telling me when to turn to the left, when to turn to the right, stay, or go. Open my ears to hear Your directions.
Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”
The kingdom is divided. Jeroboam is afraid that people will turn from him and kill him if they have to go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and then revert to the house of David (most likely they would have), so he builds his own places of worship that just happen to be based on worshiping idols… again. I wonder if the infusion of Solomon’s wives had anything to do with idol worship being re-introduced. When the Lord called off Rehoboam, I don’t think it was so the others would worship idols, they just did. It’s amazing how far we go downhill when we turn away from God. I also wonder how many people left with Jeroboam because of the promise of a lighter yoke, the easy way out.
Being obedient to God often is not always easy. Sometimes it’s serving in one way when I would rather be serving in another. The key point is that “I” doesn’t matter and obedience is key. I need to remember that. If the Isrealites went with Jeroboam because they thought it would be easy, we’ll see how that works out for them. It seems that the enemy has been hard at work telling everyone how hard their life has been under Solomon and how much better life would be if… like a presidential campaign… When things seem to go downhill or become complicated, it’s not good to quit. Trust in God.
Lord give me the courage to stay to course, the endurance to keep running and not slow down.