Today’s Scripture Focus: 2 Kings 8:1-15
So far, the focus of 2 Kings has mostly been on the ministry of Elisha. Elisha took over the role of chief prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel from his mentor, Elijah. Previously, in I King 19, God had told Elijah to anoint three men who would complete the work of ridding the land of all of wicked King Ahab’s family and the priests of the foreign god Ba’al. These three men were Elisha, who would serve as prophet, Jehu, who would become Israel’s new king, and Hazael in Damascus who would become the new leader of Aram. As far as we know, Elijah only got as far as anointing Elisha before being taken up to the heavens.
In the first section of today’s scripture, Elisha fulfills an obligation to a woman who provided care for him in the early days of his ministry. The “Shunammite” woman had a room built on her home for Elisha when he came through her territory. Elisha asked what he could do for her. She needed nothing since she was wealthy, but she was childless. Elisha intervened on her behalf, and she had a son. When the son was older, he became ill and died. Elisha again intervened, and her son came back to life. After a severe famine in which the woman fled the country, Elisha was able to repay her hospitality by seeing that her land was restored to her.
In the second section of the scripture passage, Elisha fulfills the task given to his master Elijah regarding Hazael. Elisha traveled to Syria, where the king of Aram was ill. Relations between Israel and Aram were strained at that time, but the king recognized Elisha’s power, perhaps recalling how Namaan was healed of leprosy. The king sent an extravagant gift to Elisha with his servant Hazael, inquiring whether he would recover from his illness. Elisha saw that it wouldn’t be the illness that killed the king, but his servant Hazael. Furthermore, Elisha wept as he saw into the future: Hazael would make war against Israel and cause unspeakable suffering.
This week’s readings were about the conclusion of Elijah and Elisha’s ministries. God had started the work of clearing Israel of Ba’al worship under Elijah, and would continue it under Elisha. Elisha, in turn, confirmed the calls of the kings who would come after him and finish the job. Under the men who came after Elisha, the entire dynasty of wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, along with all the false priests and prophets of Ba’al would be completely wiped out. Elijah and Elisha didn’t get to see their work finished, but without their faithfulness to God’s call it would have never begun. Be faithful to God’s call today, and trust God with the results!
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
Are there people in your life for whom God has especially called you to care? How can you help others to care for the people or causes you care about after you are gone?
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?