Study Notes

2Kings 3:1-27


The first verse of 2Kings told us that

2Kgs. 1:1 ...Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab.

We talked about how the armies of old would often attack immediately after the death of a nation's leader, supposing that they would have an advantage because of the turmoil of the nation and the inexperience of the new king.

Now, as chapter three begins, we see that this rebellion had not yet been put down - the Moabites were continuing to cause trouble for Israel.

3:1-6 The Rebellion Of Moab

You recall that when Ahab was killed in the battle against the Arameans over Raw-MOTH Ghil-AWD, his son Akh-az-YAW became king in his place. But that reign only lasted two years, since he died after falling through the lattice of his bedroom window. Since he had no sons, his brother Yeh-ho-RAWM became king in his place. And one of the difficulties that he inherited from his brother's reign was the rebellion of Moab.

We do learn some more here about the reason for the rebellion. The Moabites had been paying tribute to the Israelites since they had been dominated by them years before. But they were tired of being subservient to the Jews, and chose the right moment to rebel.

It is noteworthy that in 1868, a stone was discovered in the land of what we know of today as Jordan. It measured almost 4 feet high by 2 feet wide, and was created by the king of Moab about 800 years before Christ. Thirty-five lines of writing describe his victory over Israel during this conflict that we have read of in 2Kings. The king of Moab gave credit to Kem-OSHE, which was the name the Moabites used for BAH-al, the leading god among their false gods.

He said, "(Kem-OSHE)... has made me look down on all my enemies. Om-REE was the king of Israel, and he oppressed Moab for many days, for Kem-OSHE was angry with his land. And his son reigned in his place; and he also said, 'I will oppress Moab!' In my days he said so. But I looked down on him and on his house, and Israel has been defeated; it has been defeated forever!

"And Om-REE took possession of the whole land of May-deb-AW, and he lived there in his days and half the days of his son: forty years. But Kem-OSHE restored it in my days.

"And I built BAH-al Meh-ONE, and I built a water reservoir in it. And I built Qiryaten. And the men of Gad lived in the land of Atarot from ancient times; and the king of Israel built Atarot for himself, and I fought against the city and captured it. And I killed all the people of the city as a sacrifice for Kem-OSHE and for Moab.

"...And Kemosh said to me, "Go, take Nebo from Israel." And I went in the night and fought against it from the daybreak until midday, and I took it and I killed the whole population: seven thousand male subjects and aliens, and female subjects, aliens, and servant girls. For I had put it to the ban for Ash-TAWR Kem-OSHE. And from there I took the vessels of Yahweh, and I presented them before the face of Kem-OSHE.

"And the king of Israel had built Yahaz, and he stayed there throughout his campaign against me; and Kem-OSHE drove him away before my face. And I took two hundred men of Moab, all its division, and I led it up to Yahaz. And I have taken it..." (Translation by K. C. Hanson, adapted from Albright) Today, you can see this very interesting piece of history in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France (Inv.# AO 5066).

It is fascinating to me to read how confident the king of Moab was in his god, and then to see how he would soon be defeated. He placed his trust in a false god who could neither hear him nor help him. But as for placing our trust in the true and living God, we know that...


3:7 Jehoshaphat Allies With Jehoram

King Yeh-ho-RAWM knew he could not defeat the Moabites alone. He sent a message to Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT, king of Judah, asking for his help. You recall that his father Ahab had done the same thing when having difficulty with the king of Arawm.

Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT's answer is the same as it was to Ahab:

2Kgs. 3:7 ..."I will go up; I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses."

You'd think he would have learned from the last go-around that he was a believer who was unequally yoked together with an idolater. But this was a new king, and maybe things would be different.

3:8-10 In A Bad Situation

One week into the journey towards the battleground, the armies had found no water. The three kings had made their battle plans without consulting the Lord, and gotten themselves into a bad situation. Then Yeh-ho-RAWM had the nerve to blame God for the trouble!

But God had not been involved from the beginning. Yeh-ho-RAWM had relied on physical strength, human assistance, and man's counsel. He had mustered all Israel, called Judah to help, and asked Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT's advice.

But isn't this just like us? If we're honest with ourselves, don't we often do the same things? When we encounter difficulty, many times we don't pray. We panic, we react, we try to come up with a solution, we figure our own way out. Then, when it's not enough, we still don't pray. Instead, we look for others to come and help. Call a friend, hire a lawyer, get some numbers on our side. Now we're not alone! And still we don't pray. Then, when there is still no solution to our difficult situation, we look for advice. Talking to everyone except the Lord. What's your counsel? What do you think I should do? How does this look to you? And then, when we get into more trouble, we have the audacity to say, "God, what are you doing? Why are you failing me? Why have you let this happen?"

Instead, what we should be doing is following Philippians 4:6-7...

Phil. 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Taking matters to prayer instead of into our own hands is a good way to keep the bad situations from getting worse.

3:11-12 Inquire Of The Lord

In spite of choosing strange bedfellows, Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT was a godly man. He had "set his heart to seek God" (2Chron. 19:3). His counsel was to find a prophet of God, to know the heart of God. Elisha's name was brought up, so the three kings went to see him.

3:13-14 Elisha's Rebuke

Truly the spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha, for Elisha was as bold and forthright as Elijah had been. Elisha tells Yeh-ho-RAWM to go consult the BAH-als, the false gods that he and his family worshiped. If it were not for Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT's presence, Elisha wouldn't have seen him at all.

This gives us some insight into how God feels about the "occasional Christian." You know who I mean - the people who only pray when they're about to die. The folks that only open a Bible when they need an answer from God yesterday. The people who live in the world 364 days a year, and then go to God when they really need something from Him.

God rebuked many of the Israelites for doing this in the days of the prophet Malachi, saying,

Mal. 2:13 " cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts {it with} favor from your hand."

We cannot be God's fair weather friend. You either choose to have a relationship with Him or you don't. But don't try to play games with Him - He's too smart for that. Elisha said, "If it weren't for Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT being in this mess with you, I wouldn't even talk to you."

3:15 When The Minstrel Played

Elisha knew the power of worship. He knew that as he had a minstrel play the tunes, that his heart would enter into an attitude of worship, and that God would be able to speak clearly into his heart. I find for myself that everything comes into focus as we worship. I am in the presence of God, and suddenly all the distractions of life, the difficulties of this world, melt away.

Almost 80 years ago, Helen Lemmel wrote, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus; Look full in His wonderful face; And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

When the minstrel played, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha, and instructed him in what to say.

3:16-19 Elisha's Instructions

Elisha's prophecy was two-fold. First, they were to dig trenches in the valley. God would miraculously fill them with water for them and their cattle. Second, He would give the armies victory over the Moabites.

God is so good. He loves us, and turns impossible situations into opportunities for miracles. But notice that He does not always tell us to sit still and wait for the miracle. Often, we are given the responsibility of working while waiting for the miracle. They had to dig trenches for the water to fill. If they dug no trenches, they would get no water. If they dug few trenches, they would get little water.

I think of the miracles of Jesus. Of how there were times that the person needing the miracle had to act first. You recall the account of the man who lay by the pool of Bethesda, hoping to be healed of his sickness. Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well, then said to him...

John 5:8-9 ..."Arise, take up your pallet, and walk." And immediately the man became well, and took up his pallet and {began} to walk...

If the man had not stood up, he would not have been made well.

Of course, there are other times that the Lord directs us to do absolutely nothing. Remember Moses' command to the people at the shore of the Red Sea:

Exod. 14:13-14 ..."Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today... The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent."

So how can you know whether to get up and dig the ditch or stand by and keep quiet? God's precedent has been set - He does it both ways. And so the key is to hear from Him which He desires to do in your situation. And then be dogmatically obedient to do as He instructs.

3:20 Water Came In The Morning

The morning sacrifice was offered at sunrise, and it would appear that a flash flood far in the distance ran off through the country of Edom. If they had not dug the pits, the water would have passed them by. But every pit that they dug was filled with water.

As we have discussed many times before, water in the Bible is symbolic of the Word of God. And here I see a picture of our responsibility and ability to retain the water of the Word. For many, the Word of God is like a flash flood. They come to church, get 45 minutes of teaching, and leave. But they find themselves thirsty again, waiting for next week's flash flood. But those believers that prepare their hearts, and put in the effort to dig the ditches, the water is retained. That's why the bulletin tells you where we will be in our study next week, so you can read ahead. That's why the bulletin has a place to take notes. That's why I encourage you repeatedly to have a devotional time, a study time, a prayer time. I know that if you dig the pits, the water of the Word will be retained in your heart. Not just satisfying your temporary thirst, but giving you the ability to go and draw from the pool yourself, anytime you need that drink.

3:21-24 Defeating The Moabites

As the Moabites moved into position to fight against Israel, Judah, and Edom, they were stunned by what they saw. To them, it appeared that the land was covered in pools of blood. They assumed that the diplomatic relations that the three countries had formed in order to fight the Moabites had gone sour, and that they had turned on each other.

But in reality, it was a trick of the eyes. It was the rising sun reflecting on the pools that made them appear blood red. Last Sunday, we had a tremendous snowfall in this part of the country. By Monday, the sun had come out and melted away most of it. As I was driving, I caught a glimpse of the Rocky Mountains in the distance. As the sun reflected off of them, they didn't look like snow-covered mountains. They had the appearance of something covered in Saran Wrap trying to burst out. It is hard to describe, but they looked like nothing I had ever seen before. They were like translucent plastic - it was very strange. Had I never seen them before, I certainly would not have known what to make of them.

And so the Moabites, convinced that the three opposing armies were all dead, came casually to the camp, expecting to loot the soldiers' valuables. But they encountered something very different. They were slaughtered by the Israelite army, who was very much alive.

Now, thinking back to the pits that were dug and filled with water, this tells us another spiritual truth. And that is that the investment you make in retaining the water of the Word in your heart will lead to victory in battles that you would think are completely unrelated. The Israelites did not dig the pits thinking that they would confound the Moabites. They simply needed water. And oftentimes, we are not in Bible Study thinking, "Okay, now I'm coming to study to find out how I am going to solve this difficulty in my marriage, or my finances, or my work situation." We're hear to simply hear the Word. But then God does something amazing, and speaks directly to our difficulty, right to the issue at hand, giving us the answer, providing the vehicle for victory.

It is so true to remember,

Hebr. 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The Word of God is alive and addresses our specific circumstances, giving us the victory in Christ.

3:25 Filling, Stopping, And Felling

When they had defeated their enemies, notice what the Israelites did: they filled the good land with stones so nothing would grow. They filled in the springs of water. They cut down the trees. Why were they doing this? So that their enemy would not prosper in this area anymore. They wanted to make sure that the Moabites would not have an environment that would encourage their growth again.

This is something that we also must consider for our own lives. Once we have had victory over sin, are we making it difficult for it to prosper and grow in our lives?

There are guys who tell me, "Yeah, I've really tried to stop watching so much TV. It's a waste of my life, a waste of my time." And yet they don't get rid of the TV, they don't cancel the cable. Is it any wonder that their victory is short-lived?

People that have some victory over dependence on alcohol do not last if they continue to hang out with friends in the places that serve alcohol. It's just too easy for the flesh to get in there and say, "Yes, I'll go ahead and have a drink." There needs to be a complete driving out, leaving no opportunity for that sin to be raised up in our lives again. Jesus taught,

Matt. 18:8-9 "And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into the fiery hell.

Jesus knew the difficulty of driving sin's opportunity out of our lives, but emphasized how important it is that we do it.

The Israelites completely wiped out the Moabites' opportunity to prosper. But there was a difference in one place: Keer Khar-EH-seth. There, they did not completely destroy the city. Although they had victory be striking it with their catapults, they did not utterly destroy it. And as we continue in the Bible, we see that Keer Khar-EH-seth once again becomes a major Moabite stronghold (Isa 15:1; Isa 16:7-11; Jer 48:36).

This is so true of us - it is difficult to drive out sin's opportunity in our lives. It is hard work, and we are hesitant to remove these things completely. But be sure that anything not destroyed will eventually rear its ugly head again.

3:26-27 Sacrificing His Son

This is the sad condition of those who worship false gods. The king of Moab believed that Kem-OSHE was angry, thus they had lost the battle. Hoping to find favor with Kem-OSHE again, he offered his son as a sacrifice.

This was common for the worshippers of false gods. Those who worshiped Molech, the god of pleasure, would conceive children in their sexual intercourse with the temple prostitutes. Then they would give birth to the children, and offer them as human sacrifices to Molech, causing them to pass through the fire of the idol.

Today, people still worship the god of pleasure. But we like to be more civilized about it. We no longer kill the children after they are born - we do it before. It seems so much more sterile and sanitized that way. Just today our United States Government's Food and Drug Administration approved the abortion pill RU-486. Within four weeks, women in the US will be able to chemically kill their unborn children by simply taking this pill, forcing their bodies to miscarry their child.

Already, over one million women per year abort their babies. How many more will join that number now that it is so easy?

God pronounced judgment on those who do this, saying,

Deut. 18:10 "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire...

As we come to chapter 17 of 2Kings, we will see that this practice by the people of God provokes God, causing Him to turn away from them. All I can say is that we are truly in the last days.

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