Saturday, August 19, 2017

Expect the Unexpected

Expect the unexpected, they say.

As I got to the second half of 2 Kings 13, I read: “Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died” (13:14, NIV).

That surprised me. Elisha, dying of an illness? God’s faithful messager who had done countless miracles, going to glory in such a common way? No fiery chariot like Elijah? No sudden transportation like Enoch?

Those who preach a health and prosperity gospel must have a bit of an issue with verses like these.

Hidden sin? Doubtful, considering that even after the prophet died, the very touch of his body worked miracles (13:21).

Sickness takes the bad—and the good.

The second unexpected event was that last encounter between Elisha and the King of Israel. Elisha told Jehoash that he would have victory over Aram and instructed the king to strike the ground with some arrows that the prophet had handed him. The king did as he was told, but only struck the ground three times. Elisha was annoyed. The number of times the king struck the ground with the arrows was the number of times he would have victory over his enemies.

The episode reminded me of Abraham in Genesis 18. Abraham had pleaded for the Lord to spare Sodom if he could find some righteous men in that city, but he stopped asking before he got to the right number and the Lord destroyed the city.

Faith demands that we persevere.

The third item was not so much a surprise as almost an oddity. The history of the kings shows us two nations with more ups and downs than a roller coaster: God  constantly bringing down the rod of correction on a people prone to disobedience.

Yet, the writer makes this statement: “But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day he has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from his presence” (13:23, NIV).

We look at the events of Israel’s history and sometimes cringe at the means God often used to do a course correction in the journey of His people. But all these events proved the truth of the adage, “It could have been worse.” Because of God’s love, and His faithfulness to His promises, He did not give His people what they really deserved: destruction and removal from His sight,

What hope, what encouragement, what thankfulness, that truth plants in our hearts, It could be a lot worse for us, except for God’s compassion and mercy toward us.

 

Lynda is a missionary, speaker, educator, writer, editor, and cat lover. She was born and raised in Timmins, the heart of gold mining country in northeastern Ontario, Canada. Lynda has served with Fellowship International for more than thirty years, first in Colombia, a brief stint on home staff in Toronto, Ontario and, more recently in Venezuela. She is currently on staff at First Baptist Church in Timmins, Ontario where her primary focus is spiritual formation. The author of Divine Design for Daily Living, a 365 day devotional journey through the entire Bible (published in Spanish and English),  Lynda blogs Lynda’s Grain of Sand, maintains her own website Northern Breezes , and has been seconded by Fellowship International to serve on the Communications team of The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada.

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