Elijah & Elisha

Elijah & Elisha Sermon SeriesBeginning Sunday, April 28, we will begin a new sermon series called Elijah & Elisha based on 1 Kings 16 – 2 Kings 13. The following is an introduction to that series.

During Israel’s early days of living in the promised land she was governed and led by judges. There was no king over all the people of Israel but God. Then they cried out for an earthly king and God gave them Saul from the tribe of Benjamin. You may remember that Saul was not a good king. He disobeyed the Lord in many ways and the Lord raised up David from the tribe of Judah to be king over Israel in his place.

David was God’s chosen king, the one whose descendant would be the Messiah (1 Samuel 7:12-14). Eventually David’s son, Solomon, became king and he oversaw a time of relative peace, expansion, and prosperity for the nation of Israel; but he was not the Messiah. Solomon chased after other gods and God promised judgment for Solomon’s disobedience. That judgment came almost immediately after Solomon’s death and Rehoboam’s (his son) rise to the throne, in the form of a rebellion led by Jeroboam. Soon all of Israel, save the tribe of Judah, called Jeroboam, not Rehoboam, king. So, the nation lay divided as the kingdoms of Judah in the south and Israel in the north, torn in two by the trickle down sinfulness of her king (1 Kings 11:9-13) and the sovereign will of God (1 Kings 11:29-37).

It is in the context of this divided kingdom that the prophet Elijah became a key player. He entered the scene during the reign of Ahab, king of Israel, who “did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all [the kings] who were before him,” (1 Kings 16:30). As a prophet, Elijah (and after him, Elisha) was the bearer of the word of God. His job was to deliver that word to the people of Israel; more specifically to the king! During his reign over the united kingdom, David had a close relationship with Nathan the prophet whereby he accepted the guidance and accountability the Lord gave to him by His word through Nathan. In the northern kingdom, the relationship between kings and prophets would not be so amiable. Instead it would take on an adversarial nature. Most of the passages in this section of 1-2 Kings focus on the adversarial relationship between these two prophets of God and Ahab (or his sons).

When we go through a book like 1-2 Kings some of you may be bored by all of the “history” – names and places from long ago are not your thing. Others of you will crave more historical detail. You will want to know what was happening on the broader stage of the world in the days of Elijah and Elisha. Some of you will be put off by the earthiness of these narratives. There are portrayals of violence and references to sexuality throughout many of these passages. My two boys, among others, will love it all the more for this.

In all these things, let me remind you that what we are reading is a theological narrative of the events. We are reading a true story about an apostate kingdom being called to repentance by God through His faithful prophets. In these narratives we see our sovereign God acting at times righteously in mercy and at other times righteously in judgment. It is crucial that we remind ourselves that we are not reading, in 1-2 Kings, about a different God from the One we serve today. Israel’s God is our God and so there is much for us to learn from these texts. We will learn about His patience, grace, mercy, and love for His people (both within and outside of Israel’s boundaries!). We will learn about His power, glory, and fury as well. We will also learn about the wisdom of those who fear Him and the folly of those who fear Him not. In all of this I pray that the Lord gives us eyes to see and ears to hear His Word, to accept it by faith, and to live by grace all the more.

 


The Sermons