1 But Elisha said, “Hear the word of the LORD: thus says the LORD, Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.”
2 Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned said to the man of God, “If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” But he said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”
3 Now there were four men who were lepers at the entrance to the gate. And they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die?
4 If we say, ‘Let us enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die.”
5 So they arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians. But when they came to the edge of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no one there.
6 For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, “Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us.”
7 So they fled away in the twilight and abandoned their tents, their horses, and their donkeys, leaving the camp as it was, and fled for their lives.
8 And when these lepers came to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent and ate and drank, and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and went and hid them. Then they came back and entered another tent and carried off things from it and went and hid them.
The hope in the twilight is a theme consistent throughout Scripture. Here, the beneficiaries of such hope are not the king of Israel, nor the teachers or the sons of prophets. Rather, they are the four lepers, who have made the decision which most men have failed to do – to not sit here until we die.
It is an insightful proposition and very revealing of our common sin, the sin of idleness in waiting for death. Instead of succumbing to a slow death, the lepers go to the camp of the Syrians upon twilight – where instead of death, they find life (Exodus 12:6, 16:12; representative of the Passover).
9 Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.”
10 So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city and told them, “We came to the camp of the Syrians, and behold, there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied and the donkeys tied and the tents as they were.”
11 Then the gatekeepers called out, and it was told within the king’s household.
12 And the king rose in the night and said to his servants, “I will tell you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry. Therefore they have gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the open country, thinking, ‘When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive and get into the city.’”
13 And one of his servants said, “Let some men take five of the remaining horses, seeing that those who are left here will fare like the whole multitude of Israel who have already perished. Let us send and see.”
14 So they took two horsemen, and the king sent them after the army of the Syrians, saying, “Go and see.”
15 So they went after them as far as the Jordan, and behold, all the way was littered with garments and equipment that the Syrians had thrown away in their haste. And the messengers returned and told the king.
Is this not the picture of Christ’s resurrection? Such a plain gospel, yet so rarely received in child-like innocence. Instead of understanding that Christ has died and is resurrected for our sins, we are like the king who is doubtful of divine good news (v.12). Note however that instead of the king hopefully desiring the birth of the Saviour, such good news is given by the lepers to the servants; by the servants to the king; by the servants to the king again for purpose of persuasion (v.12-15; Luke 24:10). The wealth of the Syrians is thus given first to the lepers, then to the servants, then to the king; not to the king first (Romans 11).
16 Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Syrians. So a seah of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD.
17 Now the king had appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate. And the people trampled him in the gate, so that he died, as the man of God had said when the king came down to him.
18 For when the man of God had said to the king, “Two seahs of barley shall be sold for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour for a shekel, about this time tomorrow in the gate of Samaria,”
19 the captain had answered the man of God, “If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?” And he had said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”
20 And so it happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gate and he died.
So, the prophecy is fulfilled according to the Word in Elisha’s mouth – yet this is commenced first and foremost by the four lepers who asked themselves the important question of the purpose behind sitting and waiting for one’s death. In their humble obedience to the LORD, they have obtained plentiful inheritance (Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5). Indeed, the LORD has made windows in heaven, and the windows have not merely brought in plunder and food – but has brought in our LORD Jesus Christ who resurrected against the expectations of the kings of this world, but much to the adoration of the marginalized, to the lepers, to the women – to those who do not doubt the LORD’s might (James 1:6). Such is the exaltation of man in the glory of Christ’s rejected exaltation.
II Kings 8:
1 Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can, for the LORD has called for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years.”
2 So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.
3 And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went to appeal to the king for her house and her land.
4 Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.”
5 And while he was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.”
6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”
The exaltation at the end of chapter 7 continues here, the restoration of the humble, the exaltation of the meek, the rising of Mordecai after the death and resurrection of Christ (Esther 8) – the revelation of the true reality of the robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10-11). In the opening verses of 2 Kings 8 we immediately see a type of the life of a Christian after the resurrection of Christ, until we move to verse 6 – the revelation of the son of God (Romans 8:19).
7 Now Elisha came to Damascus. Ben-hadad the king of Syria was sick. And when it was told him, “The man of God has come here,”
8 the king said to Hazael, “Take a present with you and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the LORD through him, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this sickness?’”
9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, all kinds of goods of Damascus, forty camel loads. When he came and stood before him, he said, “Your son Ben-hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this sickness?’”
10 And Elisha said to him, “Go, say to him, ‘You shall certainly recover,’ but the LORD has shown me that he shall certainly die.”
11 And he fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was embarrassed. And the man of God wept.
12 And Hazael said, “Why does my lord weep?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel. You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women.”
13 And Hazael said, “What is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?” Elisha answered, “The LORD has shown me that you are to be king over Syria.”
14 Then he departed from Elisha and came to his master, who said to him, “What did Elisha say to you?” And he answered, “He told me that you would certainly recover.”
15 But the next day he took the bed cloth and dipped it in water and spread it over his face, till he died. And Hazael became king in his place.
The heart of Hazael is plain for God to see – His name, whom God sees, is exactly what Elisha has done with this future usurper of the throne of Syria. Note the divine perception which Elisha is blessed with (v.11-12) – as if Hazael’s false innocence could not be pierced by the Spirit-filled insight (Mark 2:8, 5:30). “You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women”. In the face of such prophecy, Hazael leaves unfazed and without remorse. This is the Satan who contends against the LORD, despite instant rebuke. The juxtaposition of v.14 and v.15 immediately informs us that Hazael is a man to pray protection from.
16 In the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, when Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, began to reign.
17 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.
18 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.
19 Yet the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David his servant, since he promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.
Elisha is but one man, a glimmer of promise – but the chapter never strays to allow us to focus on Elisha’s strength, but on the promise of the lamp to him and his sons. Elisha belongs not to Judah, nor to Israel – but to those who follow Jesus – he favours those who follow the lamp of God (Revelation 21:23).
20 In his days Edom revolted from the rule of Judah and set up a king of their own.
21 Then Joram passed over to Zair with all his chariots and rose by night, and he and his chariot commanders struck the Edomites who had surrounded him, but his army fled home.
22 So Edom revolted from the rule of Judah to this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time.
23 Now the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
24 So Joram slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.
What a contrast from the days of David (2 Samuel 8:14). In the failures of the king Joram, in his failure to walk with Christ (Proverbs 21:31), Edom revolted from the rule of Judah and set up a king of their own (v.20). Quite contrary to the true meaning of his name – whom Jehovah has exalted. However, it is rather the events which transpired through Joram, the king of Israel (rather than the king of Judah) which brought true exaltation to the marginalized in Israel by way of the anointed king Jehu in the following chapters:
25 In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, began to reign.
26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah; she was a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel.
27 He also walked in the way of the house of Ahab and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was son-in-law to the house of Ahab.
The blood of murderers runs thick in the line of Omri (1 Kings 16:25) – for the first time, both kings walked in the way of the house of Ahab and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. In the immediacy of the likelihood of the destruction of Israel as neither king walked with Jesus, the injury of king Joram would lead to the imminent downfall of those who walk in the way of the house of Ahab. The counsel of the wicked join together to be healed of their physical pain, but the counsel of the holy will join together to destroy and bring healing to those suffering from the same birthpains of creation (Romans 8:22).
28 He went with Joram the son of Ahab to make war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramoth-gilead, and the Syrians wounded Joram.
29 And King Joram returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds that the Syrians had given him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Syria. And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick.