June - Reading 14

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Jun 14, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

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  2. Clint Kritzer

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    Good evening -

    Certainly the most significant passage in our reading of 2Kings tonight is the account of Elijah being taken to Heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah is the second Biblical character of whom we have read who has left the earth while still alive. The first was Enoch, way back in Genesis 5. Our readings of Elijah showed him to be a very Moses-like character and now we will find Elisha to be the parallel to Joshua. Just as Moses used his staff, Elijah used his cloak. Now we find it in the possession of Elisha.

    In Luke we read a passage of the many healings that Jesus preformed including Peter's mother-in-law. Luke adds to the account in Matthew that the woman was suffering of a high fever. So far Christ ministry has been a solo effort. Tomorrow we will read Luke's rendition of the calling of the first disciples. It is interesting that Luke puts the healing of Peter's mother-in-law before the calling of Peter. Perhaps Peter was familiar with Christ before he left his nets.

    We began a new Epistle tonight, Paul's Letter to the Phillipians. This Book has been called the Epistle of Joy as the word appears 16 times in only four chapters. The letter was written from prison, probably Rome during his detention (Acts 28:14-31) but it is possible that the incarceration may have been in Ephesus or Caesarea. The Letter is a thank you note to the church in Phillipi but Paul uses the opportunity to warn the church, among other things, of the Judaizers and the antinomians (libertines) among them. (A libertine is one who does not have moral restraint.)
    Phillipi was a Roman colony in Macedonia. Again, this was another affluent city along a major trade route. We read first of Phillipi in Acts 16:11-15.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lecture - 9/7/03

    Philippians 1:1-11
    (& Introduction)


    This quarter we will be studying three of what scholars term the “Prison Epistles”: Colossians, Philemon, and, beginning today, Philippians. The fourth of these Prison Epistles, Ephesians, was covered last year. These Letters are so named because they were written while Paul was incarcerated. The traditional assumption is that the aforementioned imprisonment was his first in Rome spoken of in Acts 28. Certain scholarship has challenged some of these traditional claims and as we approach each Book, we will examine some of the evidence to support these notions. It should be noted that 2 Timothy was also written during a period of later incarceration under Nero but has been categorized along with 1 Timothy and Titus as a “Pastoral Letter.”

    Though the quarterly prescribed the first 18 verses for today’s lesson, I am going to stop at verse 11 in order that we can devote some time to an overview of the Letter as a whole. Next week we will stop at verse 26 and discuss the recorded events in Rome as a whole. On the third week we will fall back on the schedule as prescribed by the quarterly reading from 1:27-2:11.

    John A. Bengel is often quoted for summarizing the Epistle in 1752 “I rejoice, rejoice ye” because of the term “joy” or some variant being used some 16 times throughout the Letter. It should, however, be noted that a secondary theme of church unity parallels the first. Aside from the distinction of the bishops and deacons in the greeting, the congregation is always addressed as a single unit with terms such as the plural “you” and “you all” recurring throughout the Epistle. There are a few other characteristics of which the reader should be aware:

     There are no Old Testament quotes in this Letter.
     It is a missionary report thanking the recipients for support both monetarily and in the sending of Epaphroditus, whom Paul was sending back with this Letter (or part of it).
     Though we may assume that the Jewish population was low in Philippi Paul warns of the evil-workers in chapter 3 that preach circumcision, perhaps merely as a prophylactic measure.
     There is some question as to the literary unity of the Epistle that we will address when we come to it in verses 3:1-2.
     There is no rebuke of the congregation Paul addresses - only warnings.

    Authorship

    There has never been any serious challenge to the authenticity of this being a Pauline Letter. Unlike Galatians where the Apostle names himself several times, in this Letter he is named only once as the first word. 13 New Testament Books begin with Paul’s name. We also see numerous names appear that we know were associated with Paul. There is also little question as to the authenticity of Pauline thought.


    Recipients

    Philippi was a major Roman city in Macedonia. Originally named Krenides, It was later renamed for Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great.It had enjoyed a rather prosperous history as a military stronghold for Philip to protect nearby gold mines. After the mines were exhausted it remained an important stop on the great Egnatian Way which was a primary thoroughfare for east-west travel. In 146 BC it became part of the Roman province of Macedonia. Most importantly, it was the site in 42 BC where Antony and Octavian defeated Brutus and Cassius setting the scene for the rise of the Roman Empire. Antony and later Octavius settled military veterans in Philipi giving it the status of a colony which meant it had exceptional civic privileges. It was then renamed Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensis.

    It was this proud Roman colony that Paul entered during his second missionary journey as we see in Acts 16:12-40. This nationalism may have necessitated the address of Heavenly citizenship in 3:20-21. The church was born into a situation of crisis and knew persecution as we see attested in 1Thessalonians 2:2 and Acts 16. Despite this, the church was obviously fiercely loyal to Paul and his mission and the Apostle held them in high esteem.

    Place and Date of Writing

    While there is no debate that the Letter was written from prison, the location of this prison has been debated since the 18th century. We see in the Scriptures that Paul was incarcerated numerous times in Caesera as is attested in Acts 23- 26. We also know that he was imprisoned in Rome at least once as shown in Acts 28. There is also speculation that Paul was imprisoned in Ephesus but there is little evidence to demonstrate this possibility of origin except for mere hints in Romans 16:4, 7; 1Corinthians 15:32; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10; 11:23. This theory is supported by the time frame necessary for communication between Paul and the Philippians. The trip to Rome would have required a month whereas a trip to Ephesus a mere week. We see from the text that the Philippians had to be aware of Paul’s plight to send aid after his arrest, Epaphroditus and the gift are sent, the Philippians are made aware of Epaphroditus’ illness, and the Philippian’s concern is reported. This would make this a rather lengthy prison stay with little legal action reported. If we accept this theory, the dating of the Letter would be around 54-55 AD.

    The fact that this prison stay was prolonged helps to discount the Caesarean theory as well. We see in 2:24 that Paul expected a prompt release from his current circumstance whereas we see in Acts 23 that there was little reason for such optimism at Caesera and once the appeal is made to Caesar this option was completely dismissed. If one accepts this theory, however, the dating of the Letter would be 56-57 AD.

    The most plausible theory is the traditional view of the Letter’s origin being in Rome and the nature of the commentary for the next six weeks will reflect the acceptance of this view. This reflects the most natural understanding of “the Palace Guard” in 1:13 and “Caesar’s household” in 4:22. Also the freedom that Paul had to arrange an itinerary for his associates and such frequent communications fit better into the house arrest scenario that we know of in Rome. This traditional view puts the date of the Letter at about 61-62 AD.

    Philippians 1:1-11

    Greeting


    (Read ESV text 1-2) Though Timothy is mentioned in the greeting, the text of the Letter demonstrates that he is not co-author. We see immediately in verses 3&4 that first person singular pronouns are used. This pattern continues throughout the Letter. Timothy’s name may occur because he was present at the founding of the Philippian church. There is also a possibility that Timothy was acting as Paul’s amanuensis and/or deliverer for this Letter. The term “servants” is more literally interpreted “slaves,” not a designation of office, but rather a confirmation of their absolute submission to the Will and Purpose of their mission for Christ.

    The term “saints” does not mean perfect moral character nor the ability to implement miracles as the term has been corrupted in the modern day. Rather, it designates one’s standing with God and Spiritual union with Christ. Because of the merit imputed to us by Christ, we are all saints.

    Philippians is unique in that Paul designates the overseers and deacons in his greeting. The KJV uses the terms “bishops”. This is not a contradiction or variance as the terms are synonymous. These words are used interchangeably along with “”shepherds” (pastor), “elder,” “guardians,” and perhaps even “presbyters.” Again, despite our modern conception of the term bishop, there is no indication that this office was responsible for more than a single congregation. We will examine the nature of this office in more depth when we study the Pastoral Epistles and Acts. The term “deacon” literally means “attendant,” “server,” or “table waiter.” Though the seven are not called deacons in Acts 6:1-7, it is commonly accepted that this Passage documents the formation of this office. These two positions of “bishop” and “deacon” are the only local offices of the primitive church.

    Thanksgiving

    (Read ESV text 3-8) The main body of the Letter begins with Paul expressing his gratitude to God for his audience. This pattern is followed in all of the Pauline Epistles except Galatians. In doing this Paul establishes the fact that he was a very devoted man. It is a genuine outpouring of a very spiritual teacher. Every memory that Paul had of the Philippian Christians brought him cause to express this gratitude.

    Paul’s deepest satisfaction lay in his recognition of the partnership in the cause of the Gospel displayed by the Philippians. This church had displayed this partnership “from the first days” and the Scriptures evidence this in the hospitality shown by Lydia (Acts 16:15), the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:33-34), gifts sent to him in Thessalonica (Philippians 4:16), and in Corinth (2Corinthians 11:9). This generosity displayed the obvious spiritual growth of the church. The “he” who began the “good work” in them is obviously God the Father and Paul was confident that this growth would continue until the “Day of Christ” which is the day of final judgment at which time salvation would be brought to completion and the work of the saints would be examined and rewards given. This partnership is quite remarkable for such a strongly nationalistic Roman colony as anyone identified with Paul ran the risk of sharing in any adverse consequences of his trial.

    In the KJV text inverse 7 we see that Paul had these believers in his “heart” because of their partnership and in verse 8 we see that he longed for them in his “bowels.” This term of bowels being used for affection stems from Wycliffe’s rendering of the Latin Vulgate term viscera. It should be unbderstood by the modern reader that in the time of Paul it was believed that emotions were controlled by internal organs. There was a higher viscera of the heart, lungs and liver and a lower viscera of the bowels. The term bowels may be viewed as an incorrect evaluation of the original Greek. This affection, for the modern reader, comes from the heart.

    It is also noteworthy in verse 7 that Paul speaks of the defense and confirmation of the Gospel. These are both legal terms. Defense is rather obvious but confirmation referred to vindication or guaranteeing security. Paul was likely thinking that the approaching trial would give him opportunity to show the validity of the Gospel and by the Philippians showing support, he included them in the credit of such.

    Prayer

    (Read ESV text 9-11) Recognizing the importance of the intercession of the Divine being necessary for continued Spiritual growth, Paul petitions God to see that the Philippian’s love abound more and more. Not enough can be said about love as the most essential element of the Fruit of the Spirit. It should be noted that knowledge without love is vainglory as Paul explains to the far more immature church at Corinth in 1Corinthians 13:2. We also see this demarcation in 1Corinthians 8:1.

    However, in order that the Philippians love continue to grow, Paul recognizes that the Philippians must continue to discern and grow in knowledge of God’s Will for their lives. While some acts are clearly “good” or “bad”, others require more examination. It is this intellectual pursuit that brings Christians from a state of infancy into spiritual maturity. It is through this discernment and knowledge that we apply the teachings of the Scriptures to our lives. Unlike the Galatians who had been “cut in on”, the Philippians had progressed steadily and well.

    When love is strengthened through knowledge and discernment, the ultimate result will be “the fruit of righteousness.” This is not the conduct that is displayed from rigid adherence to a law, but rather the manifestation of the Indwelling Spirit implanted in the believer through the work of Jesus Christ. Paul’s desire was that on the Day of Christ, they will be judged as having produced the right kind of fruit.
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lecture - 6/6/04

    2Kings 1-2

    As 1&2Kings is a single literary work, we must back up a bit from the opening of our narrative in order to draw the current Passage into focus. We are dealing with a number of characters whom the historian has described in 1Kings and are now nearing their final curtain or are about to enter a new phase in the evolution of the story.

    Ahab, whose death is spoken of in verse 1, was an evil king whose wife, Jezebel, had brought worship of the pagan god "Baal" to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. In the face of the threat of total apostasy by the Jewish nation, God's Covenant people, the Lord sent Elijah to stem the tide. Through the gift of prophecy and the accompanying gift of implementing miracles, Elijah was successful in defeating Jezebel, her court of prophets and the manipulated king, Ahab. The historian employed a formal device of phrasing a summation of each king's role upon his introduction to the story. 1Kings 16:30 contains the analysis of Ahab.

    Elijah became the embodiment of the Prophets to the Jews in the same way that Moses became the embodiment of the Law, thus his appearance at the Transfiguration.

    2Kings 1:1 - Rebellion of the Moabites

    The Moabites are rarely spoken of in a positive light by the Old Testament authors, with the exception of Ruth who is, of course, highly commended and an ancestor to David and Jesus. Moab was, initially, one of the sons of incest resulting from Lot's daughters imbibing and seducing their father. The Israelites throughout the Books of History battled their southeastern neighbors until the time of David when they were finally defeated and conquered. Even so, they retained their false gods and were a source of problems for the Israeli nation.

    Upon hearing of the death of Ahab, these people rebelled, a commentary that will be more fully expounded upon in chapter 3, beginning in verse 4. The insertion of the observation here undoubtedly is to show that the rebellion was a part of God's Judgment against the unfaithfulness of Ahaziah.

    God's Judgment on the Unfaithfulness of Ahaziah

    2Kings 1:2-8 - Ahaziah's Unfaithfulness


    1Kings 22:51-53 gives us the backdrop for this Passage. Aside from the political failure with the Moabites, God also punished the evil king physically by allowing him to fall through a latticework surrounding the roof of his house, a common architectural feature in those times. The resulting injury left the king quite sickly and he sent messengers to Ekron to inquire of Baalzebub about his fate. We see that the paganism of Jezebel, a major and powerful campaigner for Baal, lived on in her son.

    In response to the atrocity of a king of the Lord God's chosen people inquiring of a pagan god, Elijah is called into action. That Elijah is a "Tishbite" identifies him from among other Elijah's that may have lived at the time. We do not, however, no what city or country this may have been as that knowledge has been lost to antiquity. Nonetheless, Elijah the Tishbite intercepts Ahaziah's messengers and scolds them for seeking counsel outside of Israel. The men, obviously stunned by this man unknown to them and dressed in animal fur and a leather belt, return to the king and reveal the prophecy: Ahaziah would die as a result of his injuries because he did not consult the True God's prophets on the matter.

    2Kings 1:9-16 - Ahaziah's Response to Elijah

    The historian does not state the disposition of the king upon hearing this news. He recognized Elijah from the description given by the messengers. For whatever reason, whether it was anger, fear, malice, or curiosity, he sends a military commander and his unit of fifty men to bring Elijah to him. The commander orders Elijah, "Man of God, the king says come down!" In response, Elijah plays upon the words of the commander, "man of God," and calls down fire upon the troops, consuming and killing them. Fire was a device often associated with Elijah and in this case it is described as "fire from Heaven."

    Whether Ahaziah learned of this event or not is known from the text but the failure of the commander to bring Elijah prompts him to send a second company of fifty men with their leader to fetch Elijah to him. This commander, displaying even more arrogance, adding to the command "come down QUICKLY." Once again, fire comes down and consumes the troops, this time it is described as "the fire of God." The addition of the word "quickly" and the modification of the fire now being directly of God shows an escalation in the events unfolding. This heightens the tension of the story. One may be reminded of the Apostles asking Christ in Luke 9:54 if they should perform this same miracle against the Samaritans who would not receive Christ.

    Once again, Ahaziah sends a commander and fifty troops to retrieve Elijah. This time, however, the commander is not an arrogant man, but a wiser man who has learned to fear the judgment of God. The third captain's command begins the same, "Man of God," but the tone immediately changes to an entreaty rather than a command. In response to the soldier's plea, God directs Elijah to accompany him back to the king. The lesson here is obvious: a show of force or even a king's command is useless against God and His servant. It is only by entreaty in a spirit of humility that will obtain results and persuade the Will of a Sovereign God. One can not dictate to the Lord or His servants.

    Upon arriving to the king, Elijah once again gives the prophecy and the reason for its bad tidings. It is implied that Elijah's life was in no danger at this point leaving the reader to speculate on Ahaziah's view of the prophet, his message, and the One God he served.

    2Kings 1:17-18 Final Appraisal of Ahaziah

    This summary Passage confirms the death of Ahaziah, attributing it not to his injuries, but to "the word of the Lord as spoken by Elijah." No further religious or ethical commentary is necessary.

    2Kings 2:1-8 The Testing of Elisha

    This Passage gives us a firm geographical focus and for good reason. The cities of Bethel, Jericho, and Gilgal were homes to schools of prophets, called "the sons of prophets" by the Scriptures. There were two cities known by the name of Gilgal in the Old Testament. One sat at the northern border of Jericho but the one described here was certainly the one located eight miles northeast of Bethel.

    As Elijah and Elisha set out from Gilgal to Bethel, Elijah prompted Elisha to stay behind. Elisha refused, knowing through prophetic revelation that this was the day Elijah's ministry would end and the Lord would take him. Three times the scene is repeated as the men travel from city to city and finally to the Jordan. Elisha's insistence on remaining with Elijah demonstrates his fidelity to the prophet and ultimately to God. This marks Elisha as a worthy successor to the great prophet and demonstrates his ability to remain faithful to the ministry.

    In verses 3&5 we see that the knowledge of Elijah's imminent departure was shared by the schools of prophets. When a spokesman for each school asks about this event, Elisha tells them to hold their peace, or literally, "be quiet." From a human perspective, we can speculate that Elisha makes this imperative because he did not want his attention diverted from Elijah for even a moment. We can imagine a certain sorrow that the younger prophet felt as we have almost all experienced waiting for the Lord to take someone away from us when they are called. Every final moment with a man that Elisha called "father" was being hoarded.

    Elisha's fidelity having been tested on three occasions on a journey of approximately 30 miles, the two men come to the banks of the Jordan River. With fifty witnesses off in the distance, Elijah rolled up his mantle, a cloak, the insignia of his office, and struck the water of the river. As had been done for Moses at the Red Sea and for Joshua at or near this very site, the waters receded to the left and right revealing a dry riverbed on which the two men crossed.

    1Kings 2:9-12a - The Promise of Succession and the Translation of Elijah

    Upon arriving at the other side, Elijah asks Elisha what he could do for him as a last fulfillment of a request. Elisha wisely responds that he wants a "double portion" of "Elijah's spirit." The phrasing here is important in several respects. The double portion of inheritance is directly related to the Mosaic Law concerning eldest son in Deuteronomy 21:17. Elijah was the spiritual father of many prophets, all who may have been worthy of succeeding the prophet, but Elijah had been selected as early as 1Kings 19:19 when Elijah had placed his mantle upon him in a symbolic gesture. The request for the "double portion" was not ambition by a man who wished to outstrip his predecessor, but rather a request to be qualified to be a servant of God.

    We must also understand the concept of the "spirit" in Old Testament thought to fully grasp the significance of Elisha's request. The use of the term in this context relates to the mental and moral qualities of a man. Elijah was completing a ministry full of extraordinary occurrences such as miracles, facing down extremely powerful political figures and, most of all, a bulwarking of his stamina and resolve by the Almighty Himself. Elisha wished to be more than he was now. He wanted to inherit these qualities of Elijah.

    Prophetic succession relied on the ability to discern the presence of God. Therefore, Elijah responds to the request by telling Elisha that if he is able to see him as God takes him home, it will be a sign that the double portion has been granted to him.

    Suddenly, a chariot of fire sweeps between the two men, separating them and Elijah is taken to Heaven, not by the chariot, but by a whirlwind. Though Elisha was aware that Elijah would be taken from him that day, he obviously did not know the means by which it would happen as he calls out, "My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" This phrase is most often interpreted to mean that Elijah was the chariot and horsemen, the true defense for Israel more surely than their military might. We see the same terminology applied to Elisha in verse 13:14 by Jehoash as the prophet nears the end of his life. However, a secondary interpretation of this phrase to my thinking is that in Elijah's final moments on earth, Elisha confirmed that he saw the translation of his spiritual father and would indeed be the successor chosen and confirmed by God.

    The term "translation" is found only once, used in the same verse twice, in the Scriptures (Hebrews 11:5) but it adequately describes what happened to Elijah. A "translation" in this context refers to the removal of a person from earth to Heaven without the vehicle of death. Only twice has this occurred in history. Once to Enoch in Genesis 5:24, and now to Elijah. However, those who are obedient and remain alive at the time of the Parousia will all be translated as well (1Thessalonians 4:17).

    Elisha Confirmed as Successor

    2Kings 2:12b-14 God's Power mediated through Elisha


    In the Old Testament, the act of rending one's clothes was typically symbolic of grief. In this instance, however, we may assign a secondary significance to the act. In 1Kings 11:30 Ahijah the prophet tore his garment into twelve pieces signifying the division of the Davidic Kingdom. Saul in 1Samuel 15:27 accidentally tears Samuel's garment, an act that Samuel interpreted as a passing of the kingdom from Saul to his successor. Therefore, it is safe to surmise that the act of Elisha tearing his own garment may have been a sign that the office of Elijah had now passed to him.

    Elijah's mantle fell to the ground at Elisha's feet and the prophet picked it up and went back to the east bank of the Jordan. The fifty sons of prophets still watched as Elijah struck the water with it and called out, "Where is the God of Elijah?" The first Divine confirmation of succession came as the waters of the Jordan receded to the left and right once again revealing a dry riverbed. The answer to Elisha's question was that God was there with him, imbibing him with His power. Even more significance is found in Elisha's recrossing the river here. As Elijah was comparable to Moses, Elisha was recreating the action of Joshua, Moses' successor about six centuries before. As he walked back into the Promised Land back across his left shoulder was Mount Nebo where Moses had seen the land but could not enter.

    2Kings 2:15-18 The Search for Elijah

    The sons of the prophets witnessed the parting of the Jordan and recognized it immediately as a sign that Elisha now bore the authority that had been Elijah's. They met him on the west bank of the Jordan and pledged their loyalty. They also urged him to command a search for the now missing Elijah. It may be that they were unable to see the chariot of fire that had parted the two men but did see the whirlwind and Elijah's ascension. Though he at first denies the request, Elisha consents to the search, which, of course, was fruitless. After three days they abandoned the search and Elisha responds with what we could paraphrase into modern English as, "See, I told you so."

    2Kings 2:19-25 Two Deeds of Wonder That Further Confirm Elisha's Succession

    Upon returning to Jericho, the men of that city let Elisha know that the water there was bad and the ground would not yield crops. Jericho is certainly most well known for being the first city conquered by the Israelites when they crossed the Jordan. At that time, Joshua cursed the land, or at least the man who tried to rebuild the city, as we see in Joshua 6:17&26. The barren land and tainted water is believed to have been an effect of that curse. Elisha purified the water with salt, reminiscent of Moses cleansing the water at Marah in Exodus 15:22-25 with a log.

    Jewish and Christian interpreters have long thought the use of salt and a new dish by Elisha as being a rite of separation. As Jericho had been under ban since its destruction during the Conquest, Elisha's actions brought it out from under, or separated it from, the curse and made it accessible to occupation. This ability to lift a century old curse further validated Elisha as a man of God and successor of Elijah to the people of Jericho, especially the sons of the prophets.

    The chapter ends with the account of the 42 boys in Bethel being killed by two she bears after taunting Elisha about his bald head. While many commentators tend to avoid this section of the Passage because they have difficulty resolving the morality of the slaughter of young, so called "innocents," one may gain understanding if they view the circumstances surrounding the event.

    First of all, Bethel, while being home to one of the schools of prophets was also home to one of two golden calves set up by Jeroboam as accounted in 1Kings 12:28-29. Jeroboam's motivation for constructing these idols was so that the Jews of the Northern Kingdom would have a place to worship without traveling to Jerusalem in the Southern Kingdom. However, as idols and relics do, they inspired worship of themselves instead of to God. Bethel became a focus for paganism in Israel.

    While the prophets in Bethel welcomed Elisha, the people scorned him and that scorn was reflected and became vocal in their children. Having nothing else about which to tease him, the picked his lack of hair as the object of scorn but they went further by not mocking just a man, but a servant of God. We can imagine that this behavior had been exhibited often upon the school of prophets there in Bethel. In response, Elisha first turned and looked at them. He then cursed them and the she bears came from the woods and killed them.

    One can view this retribution as not only a judgment on the children involved, but also on the parents and the city of Bethel itself. It is easy to conjecture that whatever taunts may have befallen the prophets in the days that followed were not done publicly or loudly! Further, the action of the bears was a Divine act that further confirmed Elisha's succession, this time to the sons of the prophets in Bethel.

    From Bethel Elisha travels to Mount Carmel where Elijah had defeated the prophets of Baal resulting in another slaughter of pagans and the chapter ends with the prophet going to Samaria the capitol city of Israel.

    Sunday School lecture - 6/13/04 (part 1)

    2Kings 3-4

    2Kings 2:1 - 13:21 are commonly called the "Elisha Cycle" by Biblical scholars. In chapter 2 Elisha's succession to Elijah is firmly established through several miracles witnessed by a variety of people. Elisha had asked for a "double portion" of Elijah's spirit and by some people's counting, the miracles recorded by the Scriptures performed by Elisha are exactly double that of his predecessor. Whatever the mathematics, the performance of more miracles are attributed to Elisha than any other Old Testament character.

    Beginning in chapter 3, we see Elisha's ministry begin to unfold. A man of God standing for truth in a land riddled with apostasy, Elisha is revealed as a political figure, a spiritual leader, and a benevolent minister towards the faithful of Israel.

    2Kings 3:1-3 The Theological Appraisal of Jehoram

    Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, whom we first encountered in 1Kings 22:51 only reigned for two years. As noted in chapter 1 he died as Elijah had prophesied and left no heir to his throne. As a result, Jehoram, or the Hebrew variation Joram in some versions, his brother, succeeded him to the throne. We see in the first three verses of chapter 3 that this king, too, was evil. Though he removed the stone likeness of Baal that Ahab had placed in the temple constructed for Jezebel in Samaria (1Kings 16:32), he still "clung to the sins" of Jeroboam. It was Jeroboam in 1Kings 12:28 who instituted two places for worship in the Northern Kingdom, one in Dan the other in Bethel, so that the people would not return to Jerusalem for worship. At these shrines he erected two golden calves to symbolize God. This was a grievous sin in that he denied the Temple built by Solomon as the true site of worship and it established idols in direct contradiction to the Second Commandment.

    As a result, Jeroboam becomes the standard of evil and all kings of the Northern Kingdom that follow in our study are compared to him. Not one king of Israel from this point on is commended by the historian.

    2Kings 3:4-27 The Moabite Rebellion

    2Kings began with an introduction to the Moabite rebellion. Now that the new ministry of Elisha has been established, the historian returns to this political landscape and recounts for us these events of cf. 846BC.

    Though an independent state with its own king and government, Moab paid tribute to its more powerful northern neighbor, Israel, in the form of lambs and ram's wool. This tribute had been established according to modern scholarship by Omri, the father of Ahab in recent times and David centuries before when the Moabites were made tributaries in 2Samuel 8. Taking advantage of the death of Ahab, Mesha, the Moabite king, ceased paying this tribute.

    We know of these events from an extra-Biblical source known as the Moabite Stone as well and we learn there that Moab had strongly reinforced its northern border against Israel. Consequently, as the Bible reports, Jehoram's best tactic was to attack the rebellious nation of Moab from the south. He therefore left Samaria, Israel's capitol, with an army and sent a message to Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, and to the unnamed king of Edom, whose kingdom lay to the south of Moab, enlisting their alliance. Both kings agreed to the Israeli army crossing their land and joined forces to march against the Moabites. The circular pattern of their route around the Dead Sea is described in the KJV as " they fetched a compass of seven days' journey." In that time, however, the armies exhausted their water supply and on the arid plains of Edom they faced doom, not from the opposing forces of Moab, but from thirst.

    Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, receives a mixed review from the historian in 1Kings 22:43. He was considered "upright" but he allowed pagan shrines to remain in his country during his reign. Nonetheless, being a man who respected, if not feared, God, he asks if there is a prophet of Yahweh among Jehoram's entourage. We learn at this point from one of Jehoram's officers that Elijah had come down with the Israeli army and is somewhere in the camp.

    Obviously, reports of Elisha had reached Judah, as Jehoshaphat knows him to have the Lord with him, so the three kings seek him out to ask his counsel. Elisha initially meets the three kings with scorn, asking Jehoram why he did not consult with the prophets of Baal as that was obviously the god to who his loyalties were directed. The prophets are recorded as employing sarcasm towards idolaters in other cases as well such as in Jeremiah 2:27-28. Jehoram's response implies that it is a prophet of Yahweh that is necessary in this instance. The entire dialogue in this Passage could be considered as a direct attack on the dynasty of Ahab and their belief and worship of Baal.

    After acquiescing to consult God due to the presence of Jehoshaphat, for whom Elisha held some respect, the prophet calls for a minstrel, or, as some versions phrase it, a harpist. It has been theorized that the employment of a musician by the prophet suggests that prophetic oracle may have been given during an ecstatic, trance-like state. This state could be brought on by the use of musical instruments. This theory does not rest solely on this verse as we find prophets employing musical instrumentation in 1Samuel 10:5 as well.

    The oracle that Elisha speaks is that the Lord would indeed provide water for the three armies and their livestock but it would not come from a rain in their area. God in His Sovereignty would provide a means of sustaining the three kings and at the same time provide a tactic against the Moabites. Many have suspected that God made it rain in the hill country above the plains of Edom and the runoff of that downpour washed into the plains where the armies now faced each other. There is a play on words here that is lost in the translation to English. The name "Edom" is very similar to the Hebrew word, "dom," for red. Indeed, the hills that sat east and west of the plain were of red sandstone that would have produced a red particulate in the floodwaters. There is an even further play on the words here in that the Hebrew word for blood is "dam." As the Moabites looked across the plains and saw these pools of red water, they thought they wee seeing blood and speculated, wrongly, that the kings of Israel, Judah and Edom had had a falling out and slaughtered each other. This mistaken assessment prompted them to cross the plains in order to pillage the armies. This proved to be a costly mistake when the armies of the three kings caught the would be marauders by surprise away from their front lines. As the Moabites fled, the allied coalition pursued them slaying the troops and capturing the towns and cities along the way.

    The king of Moab in an effort to turn the tide of the battle rallies seven hundred swordsmen and makes a frontal attack on the invading forces. His effort was in vain and the coalition lines held. He then in desperation, sacrificed his eldest son, probably to the Moabite god, Chemosh (1Kings 11:7), and the tide of the battle suddenly turned. It would be incorrect to assume that this false god was actually able to turn the tide of battle, however, the child sacrifice by Mesha seems to have had the desired effect. Perhaps the Israelites were so sickened by the spectacle that they abandoned the battlefield or it is also possible that the Moabite forces became so frenzied a s a result of Mesha's act that they rallied their troops and repelled the invaders. In either case, God saw fit to allow Jehoram to retaliate against the Moabite rebellion but at the same time not give the apostate king total victory over Moab. Wee see here God's faithfulness to Israel and His displeasure with the Ahab dynasty.
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lecture 9/26/04 continued

    Luke 4:38-41 Healings Outside the Synagogue

    We have in this Passage the first mention of Simon, who was Peter. From this and Mark 1:30 we know that he was a married man. Jesus was summoned to heal her and once again demonstrates His power by rebuking the fever. So complete was her healing that she immediately arose to serve them.

    Since the Jewish day was from sunset to sunset, the Sabbath would end at that time. Carrying the sick or possessed to Christ on that day would have been a violation of the Sabbath law but the people were so anxious that they began arriving as the sun was setting. The power that Christ possessed was now being demonstrated on a much larger scale.

    The laying on of hands may have demonstrated that power flowed from Christ in these healings though it has already been demonstrated that He could heal with but a word.

    Luke 4:42-44 The Departure from Capernaum

    The closing of the chapter is significant in that Christ's ministry was to reach all of the world. Though the people He ministered to in Capernaum wanted Him to stay, the Divine directive was that His ministry must expand, hence, He was "sent". Verse 43 is the first reference in Luke to "the Kingdom of God" and it will recur some 30 times in this Gospel. It has several different implications in the Bible including: the eternal Kingship of God; the presence of the Kingdom in the Person of Jesus; the approaching Spiritual form of the Kingdom displayed in the church; and the future Kingdom
     
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