2 Kings 7, Daniel 11

Today’s readings are 2 Kings 7 and Daniel 11.

This devotional is about 2 Kings 7.

At the end of 2 Kings 6, Samaria[1] was in big trouble. They were facing two powerful threats. The first was a siege laid by the Aramaeans (6:24) which prevented anything–food, other products, people–from entering the city. The second threat was “a great famine in the city” (6:25). Either of these would have caused economic stress to the city of Samaria. Dealing with both problems at the same time was a disaster. The most meager amounts of food cost an outrageous sum of money (6:25). It was worse than buying food at an airport or in the stadium of a professional sports league. As a result, people were starving and desperate for the most basic essentials of survival. They even turned to cannibalizing their own children just to survive (6:26-29).

Instead of pleading with God for help and appealing to his servant Elisha, the king of Israel blamed the Lord and determined to kill Elisha (6:30-33). Here in 2 Kings 7, we resume the story.

Elisha prophesied overnight (literally) relief from the famine (v. 1). The prices quoted here in 2 Kings 7:1 are higher than usual, but the products Elisha mentioned weren’t available at ANY price when he said these words. Remember this was a man that God used to multiply oil (2 Kings 4:1-7) and bread (2 Kings 4:42-44) among many other miracles.

Yet, despite his track record, the king’s officer mocked Elisha. His statement in verse 2, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” was a scoffing response. Elisha’s answer was judgement for this man: You will see it with your own eyes… but you will not eat any it!” (v. 2c).

God kept his promises both to provide for the people (vv. 3-18) and to judge the king’s commander for his unbelief (vv. 19-20). In a situation that looked impossible, God provided in an extraordinary way.

God is able and willing to provide for us but we often blame him for our problems rather than coming to him for his assistance. It is sometimes God’s will for us to suffer but there are other times when we suffer just because we don’t believe God will provide and so we don’t bother asking him.

What is the greatest need in your life right now? Have you sought God’s help and favor in that area, asking him to provide? He is able to provide faster than you can even imagine.

[1] Remember that Israel was divided into Israel, the Northern Kingdom and Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Samaria was the capital city of the Northern Kingdom also known as “Israel.”

2 Kings 4, Daniel 8

Today’s OT18 readings are 2 Kings 4 and Daniel 8.

This devotional is about 2 Kings 4.

Ahab and Jezebel were both dead, relieving Israel of her two most evil influences. Their son Joram, who was now king, was not as bad as Ahab and Jezebel (2 Ki 3:2), but he was far from a godly man. He faced some political problems, too, as we read about yesterday when Moab rebelled against the tribute Ahab had imposed.

Meanwhile, though Israel as a whole remained idolatrous, the work God had been doing continued. Elijah was gone (though, not dead) but that was not at all the end of God’s activity in Israel. Instead, just as Elisha had asked, God blessed his ministry twice as much as He blessed Elijah’s works. Here in 2 Kings 4 we see God working miracles through Elisha:

  • God spoke through Elisha to miraculously provided for a poor widow on the edge of starvation (vv. 1-7).
  • He raised a dead boy to life again, restoring a family that feared God despite the idolatrous times they lived in (vv. 8-37).
  • He cured a group of prophets who were eating poisonous potluck (vv. 38-41).
  • He multipled loaves to feed a large number of people, foreshadowing a miracle that Christ would do many hundreds of years in the future (vv. 42-44).

All of this miraculous activity happened despite the godlessness of the people of Israel. In fact, this is often how God works. His power is often displayed most directly in the most ungodly of times and situations.

So what do we do with this? One thing we should do is not worry if our country and culture becomes more secular. The more godless the culture, the more God works in power. We also should consider the situations we are in. Do you work in a godless company? Live in an unsaved family? How might God use you to pray for people and, in answering your prayers, reveal to those around you that God is real?

So look for needs that need prayer and offer to pray for people. Let them know that God is real and that he still is active and working, not only meeting human needs but–more importantly–saving people from their ungodliness and unbelief.

The most effective person I’ve ever met in personal evangelism begins most encounters with people by offering to pray for them and their problems. Have you tried that in your situation?

2 Kings 6, 1 Timothy 3, Daniel 10, Psalm 119:1–24

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Kings 6, 1 Timothy 3, Daniel 10, Psalm 119:1–24. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Kings 6.

The contrast between Elisha and the king of Israel in this chapter is stark. In verses 1-7 we saw that Elisha’s ministry was thriving. Not only was God doing many miracles through Elisha, but he was training a group of prophets and there grew to be so many of them that they had to build a new building to house all the men who wanted to study God’s law to become prophets.

Meanwhile, the Arameans attacked Israel periodically but the king of Israel always seemed to be one step ahead of them (vv. 8-10). It got to be so bad that the king of Aram believed he had a traitor in his kingdom (v. 11) but who needs espionage when you have God’s revelation telling you what to expect and how to respond (v. 12). When the king of Aram had enough and went to capture Elisha, God did another miracle to protect him and deliver the Aramean army into Israel’s hands (vv. 13-20). Yet, instead of killing the men in the army, Elisha commanded the king of Israel to show grace and mercy to them (vv. 22-23); the result was that they stopped attacking Israel altogether for a season (v. 23b).

Despite all that God did through Elisha, the king of Israel and the people of Israel remained in their unbelief and lived wicked, idolatrous lives, so God allowed the Arameans to revive their attack on Israel (v. 24). They trapped the king and the people of his capital in the capital city of Samaria and things got so bad that people did brutal, unnatural things just to stay alive (vv. 25-30). Although the king gave lip service to needing God’s intervention (v. 27), he held Elisha responsible for the siege (vv. 31-32). The story continued into tomorrow’s chapter, but I am struck by how quickly we forget the Lord’s goodness to us. The king had benefitted from God’s revelation through Elisha again and again. However, when things got hard for him, he did not turn to the Lord in repentance and asking for help; instead, he intended to kill Elisha who was merely God’s spokesman. Be careful, therefore, about blaming the Lord or his word when tough times come into your life; remember instead all the good things he has done and continues to do for you. Then ask him in faith for help.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.