May 11, 2015

 II Kings 8-9
Years before, Elisha had told the woman whose son he had brought to life, “Leave here and go, you and your family, and live someplace else. God has ordered a famine in the land; it will last for seven years.” The woman did what the Holy Man told her and left. She and her family lived as aliens in the country of Philistia for seven years. Then, when the seven years were up, the woman and her family came back. She went directly to the king and asked for her home and farm.

The king was talking with Gehazi, servant to the Holy Man, saying, “Tell me some stories of the great things Elisha did.” It so happened that as he was telling the king the story of the dead person brought back to life, the woman whose son was brought to life showed up asking for her home and farm.  Gehazi said, “My master the king, this is the woman! And this is her son whom Elisha brought back to life!”  The king wanted to know all about it, and so she told him the story. The king assigned an officer to take care of her, saying, “Make sure she gets everything back that’s hers, plus all profits from the farm from the time she left until now.”

Elisha traveled to Damascus. Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, was sick at the time. He was told, “The Holy Man is in town.”  The king ordered Hazael, “Take a gift with you and go meet the Holy Man. Ask God through him, ‘Am I going to recover from this sickness?’”  Hazael went and met with Elisha.... The fact is, though—God showed me—that he’s doomed to die.” Elisha then stared hard at Hazael, reading his heart. Hazael felt exposed and dropped his eyes. Then the Holy Man wept.  Hazael said, “Why does my master weep?” “Because,” said Elisha, “I know what you’re going to do to the children of Israel:... “God showed me,” said Elisha, “that you’ll be king of Aram.”....the very next day, someone took a heavy quilt, soaked it in water, covered the king’s face, and suffocated him.  Now Hazael was king.

In the fifth year of the reign of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah became king. He was thirty-two years old when he began his rule, and was king for eight years in Jerusalem. He copied the way of life of the kings of Israel, marrying into the Ahab family and continuing the Ahab line of sin—from God’s point of view, an evil man living an evil life. But despite that, because of his servant David, God was not ready to destroy Judah. He had, after all, promised to keep a lamp burning through David’s descendants....

In the twelfth year of the reign of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah began his reign. Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king; he ruled only a year in Jerusalem... 

One day Elisha the prophet ordered a member of the guild of prophets, “Get yourself ready, take a flask of oil, and go to Ramoth Gilead. Look for Jehu.... When you find him, get him away from his companions and take him to a back room. Take your flask of oil and pour it over his head and say, ‘God’s word: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and get out of there as fast as you can. Don’t wait around.”

The young prophet went to Ramoth Gilead. On arrival he found the army officers all sitting around. He said, “I have a matter of business with you, officer.” Jehu said, “Which one of us?” “With you, officer.”...

Jehu went back out to his master’s officers. They asked, “Is everything all right? What did that crazy fool want with you?”... He said, “He told me this and this and this—in effect, ‘God’s word: I anoint you king of Israel!’”  That ignited the conspiracy of Jehu...against Joram....

Jehu said, “If you really want me as king, don’t let anyone sneak out of the city and blab the news in Jezreel.” Then Jehu mounted a chariot and rode to Jezreel, where Joram was in bed, resting. King Ahaziah of Judah had come down to visit Joram....

When Joram saw Jehu he called out, “Good day, Jehu!” Jehu answered, “What’s good about it? How can there be anything good about it as long as the promiscuous whoring and sorceries of your mother Jezebel pollute the country?”....Jehu pulled on his bow and released an arrow; it hit Joram between the shoulder blades and went right through his heart. He slumped to his knees in his chariot....

Ahaziah king of Judah saw what was going on and made his escape on the road toward Beth Haggan. Jehu chased him, yelling out, “Get him, too!” Jehu’s troops shot and wounded him in his chariot...He was able to make it as far as Megiddo; there he died...

When Jezebel heard that Jehu had arrived in Jezreel, she made herself up—put on eyeshadow and arranged her hair—and posed seductively at the window. When Jehu came through the city gate, she called down, “So, how are things, ‘Zimri,’ you dashing king-killer?” Jehu looked up at the window and called, “Is there anybody up there on my side?” Two or three palace eunuchs looked out.  He ordered, “Throw her down!” They threw her out the window. Her blood spattered the wall and the horses, and Jehu trampled her under his horse’s hooves....

II Corinthians 12
You’ve forced me to talk this way and I do it against my better judgement.  But now that we’re at it, I may as well bring up the matter of visions and revelations that God gave me....Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations...At first, I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it.  Three times I did that, and then he told me:

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.  My strength comes into its own in you weakness. 

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen.  I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift.  It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.  Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size---abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks.  I just let Christ take over!  And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. 

Well now I’ve done it!  I’ve made a complete fool of myself by going on like this.  But it is not all my fault; you put me up to it.  You should have been doing this for me, sticking up for me and commending me instead of making me do it for myself....All the signs of a true apostle were in evidence while I was with you through both good times and bad:  signs of potent, signs of wonder, signs of power....The only thing you got less of was responsibility for my upkeep.  Well, I’m sorry.  Forgive me for depriving you... I have no interest in what you have -- only in you.  Children wouldn’t have to look out for their parents; parents look out for the children....so how does it happen that the more I love you, the less I’m loved!  

And why is it that I keep coming across these whiffs of gossip about how my self-support was a front behind which I worked an elaborate scan?  Where is the evidence?....I hope you don’t think that all along we’ve been making our defense before you, the jury.  You’re not the jury, God is the jury---God revealed in Christ--and we make our case before him....

I do admit that I have fears that when I come you’ll disappoint me and I’ll disappoint you and in frustration with each other everything will fall to pieces--quarrels, jealousy. flaring tempers, swelled heads, and general bedlam.  I don’t look forward to a second humiliation by God among you, compounded by hot tears over that crowd that keeps sinning over and over in the same old ways, who refuse to turn away from the pigsty of evil, sexual disorder, and indecency in which they wallow.