Study Notes

2Kings 6:24-7:20


Earlier, the prophet Elisha and the king of Israel had spared the army of Arameans that had come to DO-thawn to capture Elisha. After capturing them and giving them food and drink, they were released back to Aram. These guys never returned to attack Israel again.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the entire Aramean army. Israel was still their sworn enemy, and the king did continue to attack it.

Current Events

Now, I want to take a couple of minutes to elaborate on how what we're hearing about in the nightly news is very relevant to what we are covering here.

Understand that when you hear in news reports about the conflicts in Israel, they center around four specific areas: Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.

The areas that are specific to our study tonight are the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

The West Bank is a section of Israel approximately 35 miles by 80 miles. This is no small chunk of land, considering that the entire nation of Israel is no bigger than a rectangle from Cheyenne to Fort Collins to Laramie to Gillette!

The West Bank is the western bank of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, encompasses Jerusalem on three sides, and dead in the center of it is Samaria. So when we're hearing in the news about Israel fighting to retain occupancy of the West Bank, you should realize that this is the same situation that is happening here in 2Kings.

I speak with authority when I say that the West Bank absolutely belongs to Israel. It was given to them by God as His sworn promise thousands of years ago.

They have occupied in this century since the Six Day War of 1967, but the world continues to be united against them, claiming that their settlements in the area are illegal, and that they need to give it to the Palestinians.

Now, the bad guys in our text are the Arameans. These are the modern-day Syrians, attacking from the Northeastern corner of modern-day Israel, what is today called the Golan Heights, another hotly contested portion of land. Again, God gave the Golan Heights to the half-tribe of Manasseh when they decided to stay east of the Jordan River.

Just as the Palestinians are demanding the West Bank, the Syrians (Arameans) are demanding the Golan Heights. This conflict is not going away - it will continue in various extremes until the antichrist arises to power and signs a peace treaty among these peoples.

6:24-25 Samaria Besieged

Samaria, the capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel, was besieged by the Arameans. A city under siege would be surrounded and blockaded, preventing the inhabitants from importing supplies. Eventually, the food within the city would run out, and the people would begin to starve. They would either surrender or die. This was an effective method for armies to attack walled cities with few casualties inflicted upon their own number.

As would be expected, the famine in Samaria became desperate. The food was gone, and anything that was almost edible, no matter how disgusting, was sold at exorbitant prices.

6:26-29 A Horrible Pact

One day during the siege, the king of Israel was confronted with a terrible situation. Two women had agreed to mutual cannibalistic infanticide. But after cannibalizing the one child, the second mother hid her child. You can see how desperate the situation was inside the walls of Samaria.

6:30-31 Elisha Blamed

We have talked before about the tearing of clothes - that it represented extreme sorrow, horror, sadness, or anger. But when the king of Israel tore his clothes, the people saw that he had sackcloth on underneath his clothes. What does this mean?

It was a method of demonstrating the same thing - a person's terrible anguish. But this was up close and personal. You see, sackcloth is made of the hair of camels or goats. It is beyond uncomfortable to wear. By putting it on, the person's physical misery would begin to match their emotional misery.

The king had already been mourning, with sackcloth under his clothes, but now he had heard enough - this was the last straw for him. He swore an oath to kill the prophet Elisha, probably because he believed that Elisha had the miraculous power to overcome this enemy if he had desired to. Certainly, he had been able to smite the Arameans with blindness in the past. Why didn't he do so now? Why had he allowed things to get so bad that women were eating their children? Surely Elisha would pay!

6:32-33 Why Should I Wait For The Lord Any Longer?

The king sent a man - a royal officer - to arrest Elisha. He spoke on behalf of the king, saying, "Behold, this evil is from the Lord. Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?"

The king had recognized that the situation they were facing was from God. But he had no intention of waiting on the Lord, repenting before the Lord, or trusting in the Lord.

This is a classic example of something that never fails to amaze me: People have enough faith to believe that God dictates circumstances, but not enough faith to believe that He is working things together for their good. They are willing to accept that their situation is in God's hands, but not willing to admit that He's got their best interests at heart.

How about you? Do you believe in the power of God, but not in the love of God? Do you believe that God is aware of your circumstances right now, but doesn't care about your hurt?

Let me assure you: God is in control, and He does care. No matter how terrible your situation right now, don't give up. Don't say, "This difficulty is from the Lord, why should I wait for Him? Why should I trust Him? Why should I believe He loves me?" The Bible tells us,

Rom. 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.

It is just like the apostle Paul told the Philippians from prison,

Phil. 1:12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel

Joseph had this eternal perspective as well, telling his brothers,

Gen. 50:20 "And as for you, you meant evil against me, {but} God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."

If you are in great difficulty today, the Lord knows about it. If it has come about because you are in rebellion and sin, then simply repent. If not, then trust that He is going to use this for your good. Either way, the solution is to run to Him, not away from Him. It is to wait on Him, not become impatient and give up on Him.

7:1-2 The Lord's Promise

Elisha's response was surprising. He said that the famine would be over in 24 hours. So much so that the inflationary prices would be dropped below the place they had been before. But the messenger had no faith. He said that even a miracle couldn't bring that result about in that short a time.

Because of his doubt, Elisha said that the messenger would see it, but not experience it.

Doubting the Word of God is a sure way to disqualify yourself from its promises. James wrote,

James 1:5-8 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Now, understand that there is a way to question God without doubt. To honestly inquire how He will do something is different than saying, "Yeah, right, God. How could this possibly happen?"

That difference is illustrated in the gospel of Luke, when Gabriel is announcing two miraculous births. The first was to a priest named Zacharius. As Zacharius was burning incense in the temple, Gabriel appeared to him, saying, "Your prayers have been heard. You and your wife will have a son named John. He will prepare the way of the Lord."

John the Baptist's birth was being announced. But we read,

Luke 1:18-20 And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I have been sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their proper time."

Zacharius doubted, saying, "This can't happen. Me and my wife are old." And, he was stricken for a time because of it.

A few months later, Gabriel appeared to a virgin named Mary. He told her that she would give birth to the Messiah. Mary responded,

Luke 1:34 And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"

But Mary wasn't judged, for she was not asking with doubt, but curiosity. She wasn't saying, "Yeah, right, Angel Man. I'd like to see that happen." She was saying, "Wow - I'm a virgin - how is God going to accomplish this?"

And so the king's messenger doubted the Word of God spoken through Elisha. As a result, he will be judged, seeing the blessing, but not partaking of it.

7:3-4 The Four Lepers

These four lepers of Samaria were not allowed in the city, because they were unclean and contagious. They would have had to sustain their needs by either begging from people who went in and out of the city, or would get their food from the garbage that would be periodically taken out of the city. Either way, the Arameans siege of Samaria had put a stop to their lifeline. They were going to die of starvation soon.

They decided that the only possibility of living was to beg food from the Arameans. The worst that could happen would be that they killed the lepers, and since they were going to die anyway, they really didn't have much to lose.

7:5-9 The Lepers' Discovery

What no one knew at the time was that God had intervened. As the sun was setting, the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sounds of a massive army attacking. They were so convinced of it that they ran away, leaving everything behind. The lepers walked into the camp and found everything there, but with nobody around.

They entered a tent, eating the food they found, and taking the valuables from it. They took the valuables also from a second tent, but then realized that they were not doing right. They decided that this good news should not be kept to themselves.

7:10-15 Verifying The Story

The lepers told the gatekeepers, and the gatekeepers told the officials, and the officials told the king. But the king thought it was a trap.

So they decided to send out a few to investigate. Again, their reasoning was that the worst that could happen to them is that they would die - but since everyone in the city was dying anyway, it really didn't much matter.

But it turned out to be just as the lepers had said - the camp was full of everything except people!

7:16-20 According To The Word Of The Lord

The Arameans had supplies for their huge army to last for months. So this sudden influx of supplies and food caused prices to drop dramatically, just as the Lord had spoken through Elisha. And the messenger who had doubted saw the blessing, but was trampled to death by a crowd of people at the city gate, thus he was not able to partake of it, just as the Lord had spoken through Elisha.

The Word of God is a sure thing to trust. Everything that God has spoken has either come to pass or surely will. You can take it to the bank, you can trust it more than your best friend. The Scripture says,

Prov. 30:5 Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.

God's Word has never been, nor ever shall be, broken. Read the blessings and claim them. Read the curses and avoid them. Read the prophecies and look up, for your redemption draws near.

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