Devotional Week 4 Monday
“God proves to be good to (those) who passionately wait,
to (those) who diligently seek.
It is a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God…
When life is heavy and hard to take,
Go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions.
Wait for hope to appear.”
Lamentations 3: 25-26, 28-29
The Message Bible
Hope in God
“Hope, child, to morrow and to morrow still,
And every morrow hope – trust while you live.
Hope! And each time the dawn doth heaven fill,
Be there to ask, as God is there to give.”
“As there comes a warm sunbeam into every window, so comes a love-beam of God’s care and pity for every separate need.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Now Elisha previously had become ill of illness of which he died. And Jehoash King of Israel came down to him and wept over him and said, ‘O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen of it!”
II Kings 13: 14
“Of Bows and Arrows” Part 1
“A Life Lived for God”
“The way from God to a human heart is through a human heart.”
Is there someone in my life who has made such a spiritual contribution that if they passed away, I’d feel the emptiness which their absence would bring?
How am I, by my life’s witness, making a difference in the lives of those around me?
“The real mark of a saint is that (they) make it easier for others to believe in God.”
“Our task is to live our personal communion with Christ with such intensity as to make it contagious.”
For several months in 2014, our devotional studies in Transformation Garden focused on the life of Elisha and in particular, his prophetic ministry to the rulers and the people of Israel.
As we learned, fostered by the wicked leadership of King Jeroboam, the nation of Israel set their sails on a course involving the worship of golden calves. We find this tragic record in I Kings 12: 28, “So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And (Jeroboam) said to the people, ‘It is too much for you to go all the way up to Jerusalem. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.’ And he set the one golden calf in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan” (I Kings 12: 28, 29).
This destructive act was the beginning of the unraveling of the worship of the God of heaven and earth. As we will witness in the coming weeks, all it took was an attempt by Israel’s king to make worship “convenient.” This fact is woven into the drastic changes which ended with the captivity of the people of Israel – a painful history indeed.
Today we take up our studies in II Kings 13 where we find that Elisha is sick unto death. I have always found this part of Elisha’s life rather sad. Biblical scholars who write about the life of two of the Bible’s most noted prophets, Elijah and Elisha, share the fact that other than Jesus, no other person from Genesis to Revelation performed more recorded miracles than Elisha.
Coming to the end of his over 60-year ministry, there was no chariot from heaven sent to carry him to his celestial home. His end-of-life experience was that of a seemingly prolonged illness, which kept him, bed-ridden. It makes me wonder if Elisha ever asked God, “Why don’t You take me home as You took Elijah?”
Instead, in II Kings 13: 14 we are told that this faithful servant of the Lord had “become ill of the illness of which he died.”
Evidently, hearing of Elisha’s imminent death, the King of Israel Jehoash dropped in for a last visit, and it wasn’t a happy affair. Frankly, I believe this story is detailed in Scripture not only as a warning to us but also as a tribute to the life of one who chose to faithfully follow God, no matter where the path took him.
The author of II Kings shares that when King Jehoash saw Elisha, he “wept over him and said, ‘O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen” (II Kings 13: 14, Amplified Bible).
If these words sound faintly familiar to you, they should, for when Elijah left this earth without experiencing death, it was Elisha, the lone witness to this spectacular event, who said: “’My father, my father! The chariot of Israel and its horsemen!’ and (Elisha) saw (Elijah) no more” (II Kings 2: 12, Amplified Bible).
I found it rather perplexing that the godless King Jehoash would even be familiar with the words that the God-fearing Elisha uttered as he watched heaven come to earth to retrieve Elijah a faithful veteran in the battle against evil. Possibly King Jehoash thought he would gain favor with Elisha by bringing to memory his relationship with Elijah. In his commentary on I and II Kings, Professor and author Donald J. Wiseman offers this helpful insight: “This visit provides a glimpse of the close relationship that should be between king and prophet. It is generally interpreted that the statement, ‘My father…’ is the word of the king anxious at the loss of one who was a true prophet. Elisha was more of a protection to Israel than its army.” There’s an old saying that “there are no atheists in foxholes.” And now, with the impending death and subsequent absence of Elisha, even the evil King Jehoash’s fears of a “world” without Elisha wasn’t a pleasant thought. As author Dale Ralph Davis points out in his terrific book on II Kings – The Power and the Fury, “Who knows whether Jehoash was sincere or condescending? In any case, his words suggest that with Elisha’s death, Israel will be left undefended, that the presence of the prophet and the ministry of his word had been a shield to the nation.”
For over 60 years, Elisha’s effectual ministry had transformed lives throughout the country of Israel. Even a flagrant idol-worshipping ruler like Jehoash recognized that the loss of Elisha’s leadership would undermine the entire country. Elisha had repeatedly been of greater assistance during the tumult caused by foreign armies than the king’s own chariots and horses.
The impact of Elisha’s life in a time when evil seemed to prevail really struck home with me. All too often it is easy to assume that one lone voice speaking up on behalf of our gracious heavenly Father can’t make a dent in the world. But here’s something we should not overlook in the testimony left by the life of Elisha.
While God needs the bold-spirited Elijah’s who will take on the Jezebel’s and Ahab’s, He also needs the persistently faithful Elisha’s who work quietly each day, sometimes in the shadows of noted leaders as Elisha did for 10 years during his “internship” with Elijah. During his ministry, the dedicated Elisha had worked efficiently to build up the “Schools of the Prophets.” And he proved to be an effective spiritual guide to both kings as well as the people in Israel. In Elisha, God found a perfect candidate to enhance and expand the work begun by the dynamic Elijah. As one author shares, “to many a troubled soul in need of help, the prophet (Elisha) acted the part of a wise, sympathetic father.” In this interaction with King Jehoash, Elisha didn’t refuse to speak with the godless ruler. Rather this provided Elisha with another opportunity to encourage the wayward leader to turn from his evil behavior in the past and to put his country on a path of obedience to God in the future.
Never should we underestimate the quiet witness of one who purposes to live their life under the banner of the Almighty. The fact is that it is so much better to live each day for God rather than just “perpetually” talking about Him. People may not understand what we say, but they will understand the way we live. Don’t forget that the smallest light can still prove useful in the darkest night. In the words of Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel every day; and if necessary, use words.” This is the legacy of the life of the prophet Elisha.
“Little self-denials, little honesties, little passing words of sympathy, little nameless acts of kindness –these are the silent threads of gold which, when woven together, gleam out so brightly in the pattern of life that God approves.”
“One loving soul sets another on fire.”
Augustine of Hippo
“You are ever active, yet always at rest.
You gather all things to Yourself, though You suffer no need.
You grieve for wrong, but suffer no pain…
Your works are varied but Your purpose is one of the same.
You welcome those who come to you though You never lost them.
You are never in need yet are glad to gain, never covetous yet You
exact a return for Your gift.
You release us from our debts, but you lose nothing thereby.
You are my God, my Life, my holy Delight,
But is this enough to say of You?
Can anyone say enough when they speak of You?
Woe betide those who are silent about You.”
Augustine of Hippo
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus