Monday, March 29, 2010

2 Kings 6-10: The Final Prophesies of Elisha

Okay, so I didn't exactly finish chapter 6 last time. The Arameans beseige Samaria, and the people inside run out of food, to the point that inflation skyrockets and people start cannibalizing their children, and when the king hears about it he blames Elisha (don't ask me why) and wants to kill him.   But then, in chapter 7, Elisha prophesies that food will be plentiful the next day.  What happens is that some lepers go out to the Aramean camp thinking that since they're about to die anyway, they might as well throw themselves at the mercy of the enemy.  They discover that the Arameans have abandoned their camp - God apparently made them hear the sound of an approaching army - and left all their stuff.  At first the lepers take stuff and hide it, but then they feel bad and tell the people of Samaria.  So the people go and find food and riches and stuff, and then Elisha's prophecy comes true - awesome, and totally unexpected.  Good thing the lepers had consciences.

But apparently the famine continues, because Elisha goes to that Shunamite woman and tells her that her family should take a vacation to another country, so she lives with the Philistines, who I assume aren't much of a problem anymore, for seven years.  When she comes back, the land where she lives is now occupied by somebody else, so she appeals to the king and tells him about how Elisha gave her a son and then resurrected him and all that, so the king says she should get her land back. I take it from this story that the woman's husband has now died.

Remember at the end of 1 Kings, when God told Elijah to anoint 3 people? - Hazael as the new king of Aram, Jehu as the new king of Israel, and Elisha as the new prophet?  The only person he anointed was Elisha.  I don't know if that was okay with God or not that he didn't do it, but God never reprimanded him for it or anything.  But anyway, now Elisha goes and finishes the job.  But he's really upset over anointing Hazael because he foresees all the destruction he's going to bring to Israel.  So then Hazael goes and murders the current king of Aram, who was very sick at the time, and becomes king.  Reminds me of Macbeth.

Jehoshapat's son Jehoram now becomes king in Judah, and since two generations of good kings was apparently too good to be true, Jehoram is pretty much like all the kings of Israel, probably because he marries Ahab's daughter (and I'm sure she was the spitting image of dear mother Jezebel).  Maybe helping out Ahab and Ahaziah wasn't such a good idea, eh Jehoshapat?  Now, if you're confused, yes, you have heard the name Jehoram before - he's the brother of Ahaziah who is now the king of Israel.  Get this - when Jehoram of Judah dies, his son becomes king, and guess what his name is? Ahaziah.  And you thought all the Henrys of England and Louis (Louises?) of France were confusing.  Anyway, he's also bad, but even worse is his mother.  Her name is Athaliah.  That name makes me cringe, because one time a guy told the story of Athalia and Ahaziah and his son, and to make it more interesting he said Athaliah's name in a high-pitched, freaky, cackly voice.  So I always remember her name, and it sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Then Elisha anoints Jehu.  In another stroke of irony, Jehu's father was named Jehoshaphat.  He basically tells him that he's going to destroy Ahab's family.  So Jehu gets right to business: he tells his people what Elisha said, and they proclaim him king right then and there.  Only then do they go about killing the current king.  Jehu makes short work of Jehoram.  Then he has Jezebel thrown out the window, and he basically runs her over with horses.  Then he kills all the males in Ahab's family after tricking them into coming to him under the pretense of peace.

Jehu is a pretty tricksy character.  He pretends to be a devoted Baal-worshiper and gathers all the priests and worshipers of Baal together for a big sacrifice, but he kills them all.  It almost looks like he's going to follow God, right? Wrong.  He still worships other gods, he just has a thing against Baal apparently.  God commends him for destroying the altars of Baal and the house of Ahab, and promises that he'll have four generations of sons on the throne, which I don't totally get because Jehu was still bad.  He even brought out the golden calves that Jeroboam made and worships those.  Do you ever notice yourself making a really big deal about getting rid of one evil in your life, while ignoring others?  God, it seems, is amazingly patient with us, but unless we tear down all the altars in our lives and eradicate all the false gods from our hearts, we will not really accomplish anything good in the end.

So what did we learn in this passage?  I think this passage was mainly about fulfilling God's prophecies through Elisha.  It's sort of tying up loose ends, because I think this is the last we hear about Elisha.  I don't know how he died or anything, although I'm pretty sure he was killed (all the prophets were, except obviously Elijah).  I think we'll have to wait until Chronicles to find out. Anyway, so we find out that God is serious about what he promises, whether it's for good or for bad.  He provided food as he promised to Samaria, and he also executed judgment on Ahab's family as he promised.  And he was pretty gracious with Jehu, and Jehu is the only Israelite king who was promised a legacy (although Jeroboam was offered a lasting legacy in the beginning).  Sometimes God's promises are unconditional, like the food for Samaria in the midst of the famine.  But sometimes they're based on what we do, like how Jehu destroyed the altars to Baal and killed off Ahab's family.  He doesn't always act exactly in the same way, so don't try to predict him, but he does always keep his promises, so you can definitely count on him.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Another great blog! I can't wait to get to Kings. All the different people with same names are causing me some confusion as well! I wish they had last names back then