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Origins and Outcomes

P1030172In our last post we talked together about how in the 9th century BC, the prophet Elisha counseled the king of Israel not to kill his prisoners of war. As a result, Joram (king of Israel) prepared a feast for the soldiers of Ben-Hadad (king of Aram/Syria) and sent them home. After that, we’re told, that Aramean forces stopped their cross border raids into Israel (2Kings 6:21-23).

One take away we observed is that “the best way to deal with enemies is to make them into friends.” It’s a good thought and practical outcome.

But there’s a problem. The peace was temporary. The next words we read in the unfolding story is, Some time later, however, King Ben-hadad of Aram mustered his entire army and besieged Samaria. As a result, there was a great famine in the city. The siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty pieces of silver, and a cup of dove’s dung sold for five pieces of silver” (2 Kings 6:24-25).

That isn’t the worst of it, the record of Israel goes on to say that things got so bad that starving mothers began cannibalizing their own children.

What happened? How could a moment of high ground move us so precipitously into events that are even difficult to talk about so many years later?

Seems to me that the answer to this question helps us to understand that the Bible is more than an ancient compilations of practical moral lessons.

In this case the supernatural displays and wisdom of Elijah and Elisha were meant to show what happens when a “messenger nation” stops relying on its God. The problem was not that the Aramean people were a nasty group of violent people. It was that the king and people of Israel were no longer acting as if their hope and life were found in the God who had rescued their ancestors from the slave yards of Egypt.

Israel had been called by God to do what Elisha was now called to do— show the neighbors at home and across the border what it means to live from the hand and security of the God who made us for himself.

Ancient Israel and the present Church of Christ have a similar role. The difference is that our crucified and resurrected Savior points to a God who is, as it turns out, far more loving, humble, and merciful than the people of Israel thought he was.

What we see in Jesus is the God of Genesis, and the God of Elisha. But he’s no longer asking us to live by the law of Moses to reveal the heart and ways of God to the world. He’s asking us instead to live in the Spirit of Christ (Gal 5) in the face of our enemy— regardless of whether, in the short run, it seems to work or not.

Seems to me that the implications are important for followers of Christ in any age. Hasn’t it always been a challenge to live by the spirit of Christ in the presence of legalistic religious leaders— and economies that are wired to someone’s material excess and political strength— rather than to the Christ-like Spirit of our God?


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74 Responses to “Origins and Outcomes”

  1. Mart DeHaan says:

    Because I’m posting later than usual today, am copying Jeff1’s comment on the previous post from earlier this morning.

    jeff1 says:
    March 16, 2016 at 5:05 am (Edit)
    Violence is the consequences of just the opposite putting our earthly country before our citizenship in Christ’s kingdom.

    Why has this beloved Country of mine seen so much violence because the people here cannot agree to share it. No matter which side you come from it comes down to territory.

    The animal instinct is great in man when it comes to what he believes he should own. Whose ancestors arrived first and worked the land?

    Oh yes, I can say I put Christ first but let anyone try to take my home from me and see who I put first!

    As I have heard it so often said from men of wisdom, I come into this world with nothing and I go out of it with nothing and in between I am taking care of what God give me to take care of.

    I talk like earth is just my temporary home but find me a man who acts like it is!

    Christ died on the Cross to save mankind from himself, I only have to look at the state of the world to see that His sacrifice was not in vain.

    I must agree with God, I am a sinner saved by grace, full stop, no buts, as my son says he is fed up listening to my excuses.

  • SFDBWV says:

    In this subject of showing mercy to our enemy and upsetting his plans of having eradicated us it is remembered that only after his evil plans were thwarted by God could mercy be given.

    Learning from history I recall the finest act of mercy I recall being offered and it was at the end of a horrible deadly war that changed the course of American history.

    At the surrender of the Confederate Army by General Robert E. Lee General Grant simply said for Lee’s army to lay down their arms and go back home.

    President Lincoln offered a reconstruction effort to simply forgive and forget and rebuild a nation.

    I also remember that at the end of World War II the very enemies we fought so hard to defeat were given not only amnesty, but an all-out effort to rebuild their nations by we the victors. Only the worst of the enemy was singled out and executed or imprisoned for their part in the war.

    The enemies of each other during WWII are now allies as a result of mercy and generosity.

    However the world is changing and growing darker every day. Aptly stated by others here is that God is in control of events. He can empower and He can subdue according to His will and desires to be fulfilled.

    Noah was in the ark, not guiding it.

    Not wishing that any be misguided I want to clarify that the cross was Jesus’ purpose, when He said for us to take up “our” cross and follow Him it is meant for us to take up “our” purpose and follow Him.

    His purpose was the cross, our cross is our purpose.

    36 degrees under clear skies this morning in the mountains of West Virginia…Thank you all for your prayers and compassion for my family and me. Praying God blesses you all today.