Job 32-42: The Slaughtered Lamb

Chapter 32

The three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, ceased to answer Job (v.1) – because Job was righteous in his own eyes.  However, then comes Elihu (whose God is he (Jehovah)), the son of Barachel (whom God had blessed) the Buzite (from “Buz” – one of the chiefs of the tribe of Gad – 1 Chronicles 5:14, meaning “contempt“).  So Eliphaz burned with anger, the man who hails from the tribe who strikes at the heel of his raiders (Genesis 49:19).  He identifies himself as one of the young, one of those who would have listened to Job during Job’s days of glory (c.f. chapter 29), yet he recognises that the true teacher is the Breath of the Almighty (v.8; indicative of the Holy Spirit; c.f. Genesis 2:7, 7:22, Job 4:9; see also Job 33:4-5).  It is the Holy Spirit Who is the Wisdom that makes man understand, the very Wisdom whom Job spoke of in chapter 28.  He will not show partiality due to his youth, for the spirit within him shall speak words of truth unveiled and without flattery (v.21-22; c.f. Psalms 5:9; Romans 16:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:5).

It is interesting that Elihu as a character is only verbal between chapters 32 and 37.  He was not introduced at the outset, for is he mentioned by the LORD when the LORD rebukes Job’s three friends.  In the coming chapters, Elihu’s words will show that his focus is not on behavioural modifications leading to God’s stamp of approval; quite the contrary, it is in the LORD’s sovereignty and Ransom (chapter 33.v22-24) by the power of His Wisdom, the Holy Spirit, that Job can plead for this very Mediator.  In a sense, Elihu is akin to Elijah – both figures of Christ, but also foreshadows of John the Baptist, he who prepares the way for the LORD’s coming.  Just as Elihu ceases to speak in chapter 37, so the LORD speaks immediately in chapter 38 as if ushered by this prophetic and mysterious figure.

 

Chapter 33

The Spirit of God has made Elihu, and the breath of the Almighty gives Elihu life – this is how Elihu’s words of truth begin.  He does not set a weighty yoke on Job as Bildad, Eliphaz and Zophar did (v.7; c.f. Matthew 11:30).  Elihu speaks as though he is the author of the book of Proverbs – “For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it” (v.14; e.g. Proverbs 6:16; 30:18, 30:21, 30:29).  So also God’s truth is not interpreted merely from one angle of man’s perception, but also from the perspective of a dream, in a vision of the night, in deep sleep (v.14-15), to give man a revelation to turn such man aside from pride and evil deed (v.17), to preserve a man from the bottomless pit (v.18, 24) – this is most predominantly shown in the Ransom (v.24), the Angel of the LORD, the Mediator, one and only (v.22-23).  It is through the propitiation, intercession and mediation of Christ Jesus that Job’s flesh can become fresh with youth, returning to the days of his youthful vigor (v.25), allowing Job to pray to God through the intercessor (v.26; c.f. Book of Hebrews), salvation by the gift of righteousness.  The fulfillment of the Kinsman Redeemer in Job 19:25 is thus fulfilled in the words of Elihu in Job 33:28 – Christ has redeemed Job from going down into the pit, and his life shall look upon the light.  Behold, God does these things, twice, three times with a man – to resurrect his soul from the pit.  Such is the act of the glorious and divine resurrection!  So Elihu enlightens Job to the true wisdom whom Job had been alluding to in his self-defence.

Adam Clarke comments:

It is this that gives efficacy to all the preceding means; without which they would be useless, and the salvation of man impossible. I must think that the redemption of a lost world, by Jesus Christ, is not obscurely signified in Job 33:23, 24.  While the whole world lay in the wicked one, and were all hastening to the bottomless pit, God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life. Jesus Christ, the great sacrifice, and head of the Church, commissions his messengers-apostles and their successors-to show men the righteousness of God, and his displeasure at sin, and at the same time his infinite love, which commands them to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and that they who believe on him shall not perish, shall not go down to the pit of destruction, for he has found out an atonement; and that whoever comes to him, through Christ, shall have everlasting life, in virtue of that atonement or ransom price.”

 

Clarke also further provides the following paragraph for v.26-29:

 

Ver. 26. He (Jesus Christ, the head and ransom price) shall pray unto God, (shall make intercession for the transgressors, for he is the Mediator between God and man.) And he (God the Father) will be favourable, ( yirtsehu, will manifest his good will towards him.) And he shall see his face ( panaiv, his faces, God the Father, Son, and Spirit) with joy, ( bithruah, with exultation or triumph,) for he will render unto man his righteousness, ( yasheb leenosh tsidkatho, “He will restore to wretched man his righteousness;” i.e., he will create the soul anew, and restore to the fallen spirit that righteousness and true holiness which it has lost, and bring it again to its original state of perfection, through the grand atonement mentioned Job 33:24.) But when is it that wretched miserable man shall be brought to this state of salvation? This is answered in Ver. 27. When God, looking upon men, seeth any of them saying, I have sinned and perverted that which is right, and it hath profited me nothing-has afforded nothing equal to my wishes, and the tribulation which I sustained in seeking happiness in forbidden things. Redeem my soul from going down to destruction, and my life shall see the light, or shall be as the light. This is the prayer of the penitent, which God has promised to hear. This is one of the best, the deepest, the most spiritual, and most important chapters which the reader has yet met with in the Book of Job. It is every way important, and full of useful information. It is a grand exhibition of the WAY of salvation as revealed to patriarchs and prophets.”

 

So, just as Clarke defines the way of salvation, as specifically revealed to the patriarchs and prophets is no different from the way we see it – Job, Elihu and Paul and Peter all look to Jesus Christ the eternal mediator for the restoration of their souls, so that they too, like Jesus (c.f. Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27), would be resurrected on the Day of the Bridegroom.

 

Chapter 34

Elihu continues his words, in answer not only to Job but also to his other three friends (v.2).  Obviously his words are laced with sarcasm – “Hear my words, you wise men” (v.2).  In particular, Elihu charges Job very high upon his words.  As Matthew Henry comments:

Did you ever know such a man as Job, or ever hear a man talk at such an extravagant rate?” He represents him, (1.) As sitting in the seat of the scornful: “He drinketh up scorning like water,” that is, “he takes a great deal of liberty to reproach both God and his friends, takes a pleasure in so doing, and is very liberal in his reflections.” Or, “He is very greedy in receiving and hearkening to the scorns and contempts which others cast upon their brethren, is well pleased with them and extols them.” Or, as some explain it, “By these foolish expressions of his he makes himself the object of scorn, lays himself very open to reproach, and gives occasion to others to laugh at him; while his religion suffers by them, and the reputation of that is wounded through his side.” We have need to pray that God will never leave us to ourselves to say or do any thing which may make us a reproach to the foolish, Ps. xxxix. 8. (2.) As walking in the course of the ungodly, and standing in the way of sinners: He goes in company with the workers of iniquity ( 8), not that in his conversation he did associate with them, but in his opinion he did favour and countenance them, and strengthen their hands. If (as it follows, 9, for the proof of this) it profits a man nothing to delight himself in God, why should he not lay the reins on the neck of his lusts and herd with the workers of iniquity? He that says, I have cleansed my hands in vain, does not only offend against the generation of God’s children (Ps. lxxii. 13, 14), but gratifies his enemies, and says as they say.”

It would appear, then, that Job has somewhat lost sight of the joys of being with the LORD, although his description of God is far more accurate than that of Bildad, Eliphaz and Zophar.  Elihu’s words can be summed up as follows – “Will he then make repayment to suit you, because you reject it?” (v.33).  Elihu, rather than speaking words of what appears to be rebuke, is actually trying to reclaim the Christological perspective in Job’s suffering.  God will never allow wickedness, and he is neve wrong (v.10); indeed, of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not do wickedly (v.12).  However, throughout this, Elihu does not accuse Job as wicked.  He is merely reminding Job that, in the midst of Job’s suffering, if indeed Job is righteous, then what Job is experiencing is still just.  It is still the sovereign act of God; the God who will not pervert justice (v.12, 17); the God who is righteous and mighty and is impartial to men of all stature (v.18-32).  Although Job is declaring in the recent chapters his pain and anguish as one who obeys the LORD, and considers that “It profits a man nothing that he should take delight in God” (v.9), he is indeed better off than if he had sinned (chapter 35:3).

 

Chapter 35

So chapter 35 opens with Elihu comparing the predicament of a sinner and that of a righteous man – what advantage is there, if the guilty flourishes and the innocent perish?  Elihu answers, by indicating that those who cry out for help (v.9-11) may not receive an immediate answer (because of the pride of evil men) (v.12).  As v. 10 states, such cries are merely cries for deliverance – but they do not cry out to the Deliverer.  Yet, that is not the case with Job.  However, despite the LORD not yet speaking in the book of Job since Job’s afflictions, Elihu reminds Job that the LORD’s silence should not be taken as an opportunity for Job to doubt the timing of the LORD’s judgment, lest he opens his mouth to proceed in empty talk and multiply words without knowledge (V.15-16).  As Adam Clarke comments – “they cry for deliverance from the pride of wicked men; but they are not heard, because they cry not to God… He will not attend to such vain cries; they cry from their oppressions, but they cry not to God.”  This indeed is timely advice for a day when Christ’s Second Coming has been approximately 2000 years in the waiting, with people not girding themselves for His return, perhaps even doubting that He would even return at all.  He who was once a righteous man, like Job, would be tempted to grow weary of waiting for the Bridegroom.  However, as sure as the sun shall rise from the east to pursue his Bride, the Church, to the west – so also Christ’s return is imminent hope for Job and Christian alike.

 

Chapter 36

So Elihu continues to elaborate on the just timing of the LORD’s judgment – as in the days of Noah when the LORD closed the door to the ark at his divine appointment, so also Job should look forward to the appointed climax of Christ’s return.  He is described as:

 

  • He is mighty in strength of understanding (v.5);
  • He will exalt the afflicted by giving them their right (v.6; 15-16);
  • His eyes are on the righteous (v. 7 c.f. Psalm 34:15);
  • He sets us as kings upon the throne (v.7 c.f. Revelation 1:5-6, 3:21)
  • He will bless those who listen and serve him (v.8-11)
  • He will allow those who do not listen to perish (v.9-14)

 

From v.17 onwards, Elihu warns Job to not fall into the camp of those who scoff by being enticed by wrath (v.18), that Job should not long for the night nor turn to iniquity (v.17-21), and remember that the LORD is a powerful teacher (v.22-33).  As Elihu sums – “Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable” (v.26).  This humility before God far exceeds that of Bildad, Eliphaz and Zophar who have claimed no knowledge of the vastness of God’s personality and yet they still make definitive charges against Job as if they were God Himself.

 

Indeed – “let not the greatness of the ransom turn you aside” (v.18).  This verse is quite difficult to understand although Matthew Henry sees this as regarding a bribe turning Job away:

 

Even a great ransom cannot deliver thee when God enters into judgment with thee. His justice cannot be bribed, nor any of the ministers of his justice. Will he esteem thy riches, and take from them a commutation of the punishment?”

 

No gold is sufficient to satiate the price – except for the “gold” found in the salvation of Christ Jesus, the true Ransom of all ransoms shadowed by the deaths of the innocent sacrifices under the Levitical law.

 

Chapter 37

Starting with chapter 36:27, after Elihu admits the vastness of God’s unsearchable character, he describes God’s majestic act of creation in intimate detail:

 

  • The spreading of the clouds, the thundering of his pavilion (v.29)
  • Lightning is scattered about him, covering the roots of the sea (v.30)
  • Lightning strikes its mark, its crashing declares His presence (v.33)

 

These themes are carried through and brought to a climactic end in chapter 37, acting as a cloud-like shroud to usher in the LORD’s majesty in chapter 38:

 

  • That his words are like a thunder, thundering with his majestic voice (v.2, 4, 5)
  • His lightning to the corners of the earth, unrestrained when his voice is heard (v.3, 4)

 

The Genesis-type language in chapter 37, combined with the LORD’s booming voice and Word, are indicative of Elihu’s understanding of how creation came into being and his focus on God’s intention for man, vs. Job’s three “wise-men”’s views of man’s intention of God.  Elihu’s words in this chapter illustrates the powerful and authoritative aspect of the LORD’s words and commands – the imperative nature of His Word causing immediate transformation.  And yet – God has not actually “spoken” in the way that Job has stated God to be in silence!  Elihu is still able to identify the gospel in the creation, that God has not ceased to speak, and that it is only by his Word and anything can be sustained (c.f. Colossians 1:15).  So Elihu displays in this chapter to us, fallen man, that God’s revelation is just as powerful by his spoken word as can be traced in the sky, in the snow and in the very ice of His breath.

 

So Elihu goes on immediately in this chapter to describe the life that is breathed from God’s Word.  From v.6-13, he explains that the LORD’s sovereignty in all events of life and uses the winter imagery; that snow shall fall on earth in his mighty downpour (v.6), whilst the hand of every man is sealed and beasts remain in their dens (v.7-8); that by His breath, ice is given and broad waters frozen (v.10) – ultimately, “whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen”.  Even in the nature of this world, God’s love is wildly imprinted.  Such are the wondrous works of God which, if Job considered further, would reveal the reasons for his current demise (v.14-18).  Job is revealed for his over-presumption of the LORD’s perspective, with Elihu stringing question after question:

 

  • Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?
  • Do you know the balancings of the clouds…?
  • Can you spread out the skies, hard as a cast metal mirror?

 

Chapter 38

After 37 chapters of apparent silence (which Elihu would of course dispute, as he would affirm the LORD’s presence during Job’s friends’ “wise” counsel), the LORD booms into the scene by answering Job out of the whirlwind (very different to the LORD who spoke a whisper in 1 Kings 19 to Elijah), his first words being:

 

Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

 

It is important that the LORD’s first words are words of justice.  The LORD immediately identifies those with false counsel, just as the LORD, upon reacting to the enemy’s work in Genesis 3, immediately adjudicates the situation at hand.  Without such justice, there can be no mercy by the power of the Passover Lamb.  Yet, the LORD does not begin to provide answers.  Instead, as fitting to the precursor by Elihu, He continues with the questions in this chapter with regard to the majesty of his creation (a total of 26 questions including his very first statement!).  Several of these questions validate Elihu’s position in chapters 36 and 37.

 

However, whilst these words appear to be directed to the men who have darkened counsel by words, to the men who have misrepresented God in their attempts to be humble; God’s questions are most fitting if they are posited against the enemy, the Satan.  Just as if God is speaking to the prince of Tyre in Ezekiel 28, or the Day Star, son of Dawn, the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:  WHO is this enemy?  Did he lay the foundation of the earth?  Where was he when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  God’s accusation is that of the enemy’s lack of wisdom and knowledge.  “You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!” – fitting words of irony against the prince who so heavily relied on his wisdom and understanding (Ezekiel 28:4).  Even the enemy has not seen the gates of death and deep darkness, the very Sheol which is the prison the LORD has prepared for the father of lies and his children (John 8:44; 1 John 2:22).  While the LORD is clearly speaking to Job here (c.f. Job 42:7), similarly his words directed at the prince of Tyre and king of Babylon and not merely to those men, but to the evil spirit speaking behind those men.

 

Chapter 39

So the LORD continues his questions, which hones in onto the lives of the creatures He has made (15 questions), covering:

 

  • Mountain goats, from the old giving birth to the young becoming strong (v.4);
  • Wild donkey, who has the arid plain for his home, the salt land for his dwelling place, scorning the city (v.5-8);
  • Wild ox’s unwillingness to serve man, unwillingness to be bound (v.9-12);
  • Ostrich, who appear beautiful but can hardly be called pinions and plumage of love (v.13-17)
  • Horses, which are mighty, leaping like locusts, with terrifying snorts and great exultation in strength (v.19-25)
  • Hawks, which soar (v.26)
  • Eagle, which mounts up high and makes his nest, dwelling at his stronghold and where the slain are, spying out the prey and  (v.27-30)

 

The LORD therefore spent two chapters – 38 and 39 – describing His activity in the nature of creation, and in the life of creation.  The vastness of his glory which transcends man’s feeble understanding and role in His large universe.

 

Chapter 40

So Job responds in this chapter humbly – “Behold I am of small account; what shall I answer you?” (v.4)

 

The LORD’s response in v.7 is a refrain from chapter 38:3 – “Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me”.  As Adam Clarke interprets:

 

Verse 3. Gird up now thy loins: I will not confound thee with my terrors; dismiss all fearful apprehensions from thy mind; now act like a man, kegeber, like a hero: stand and vindicate thyself. For I will demand of thee-I will ask thee a series of questions more easy of solution than those which thou hast affected to discuss already; and then thou shalt have the opportunity of answering for thyself.”

 

Sometimes we forget the majesty of the Lord.  Sometimes we blaspheme, use his name in vain, treat him like a theological topic to be discussed, molded, politicized for our debased desires.  Yet have we an arm like God, thunder with a voice like his (v.9)?  Can we truly treat our workmanship as though we have adorned ourselves with majesty and dignity, clothe ourselves with glory and splendor, abase those who are proud and bring them low and tread down the wicked where they stand (v.10-12), let alone bind the enemy (v.13)?  No – although we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do His works (Ephesians 2:10).  We are none of these things outside of Jesus – that is the LORD’s response.  Without the Lord, our own right hand cannot save ourselves (v.14).  Even a grand creature such as the Behemoth cannot contend with the Lord himself, although he may be the fear of men (v.19-24)!

 

It is here that we realize the Lord, at this point, is but using the Behemoth as an analogy both for himself (see Job 41:10) and for us.  If we cannot even contend against the Behemoth, how can we contend against God?  And yet, even if we think ourselves equal to Behemoths, are they not also humbled by the Father above?  No matter how much we boast, we are but the clay of the potter.  We who mold are but molded daily by His grace.  As Matthew Henry commented:

 

The behemoth perhaps is here intended (as well as the leviathan afterwards) to represent those proud tyrants and oppressors whom God had just now challenged Job to abase and bring down. They think themselves as well fortified against the judgments of God as the elephant with his bones of brass and iron; but he that made the soul of man knows all the avenues to it, and can make the sword of justice, his wrath, to approach to it, and touch it in the most tender and sensible part. He that framed the engine, and put the parts of it together, knows how to take it in pieces. Woe to him therefore that strives with his Maker, for he that made him has therefore power to make him miserable, and will not make him happy unless he will be ruled by him.”

 

Chapter 41

The analogy at the end of chapter 40 continues here, from Behemoth to Leviathan.  Can we play with Leviathan, a type of the Lord?  Can we draw the Lord out with a fishhook, press down His tongue with a cord, put a rope in His nose, pierce His jaw with a hook (v.1-2)?  Will He make many pleas to us, speak to us with soft words, make a covenant with us and make Himself a servant forever?  (v.3-4)  Will we play with Him as with a bird, or will we put him on a leash for our girls?  Will traders bargain over Him, divide Him up among the merchants?  Can we fill His skin with harpoons or His head with fishing spears?  Lay our hands on Him? (v.5-8)  Can we strip off His outer garment, come near Him with a bridle, open the doors of His face?  (v.13-14)

 

Yet, all these things we have attempted to do and have done against our Lord Jesus Christ!  Is he not the lamb led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7)?  Was he not whipped and his flesh torn (Psalm 22:6)?  Did we not divide his garments (Psalm 22:18)?  Did we not spit and laugh at him (Mark 14:65)?  Such is the grace of God – that the Lord had the power, majesty and authority to be like the Leviathan, and yet condescended himself incarnate as though a lamb.  Here is Jesus, whose very sneeze could have flashed forth light, with eyes like eyelids of the dawn, flaming torches coming out of his mouth, smoke from his nostrils – this is the power imbued in the creature from the Creator.  Is our Christ the same one who can make the deep boil like a point, make the sea like a pot of ointment – indeed, is he your king over all the sons of pride (v.18-34)?

 

Chapter 42

So Job understands – the grace of God found in the Kinsman Redeemer who would humble himself (Job 19:25); the God who is like Behemoth or Leviathan; the Christ who, from Job’s sight, would be flogged just like an innocent lamb slain.  Job repents in dust and ashes, recognizing the grandeur of the Father’s glory and grace, and the Lord turns to Job’s “friends” in judgment – a judgment and righteous anger which Job is shielded from (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17).

 

The Lord is angry with Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar – they have simply spoken lies of Him.  He is not a Lord who is a glory-monger; or requires us to work in order to receive glory.  Quite the opposite.  Look now on the seven bulls and seven rams which Job is honoured to sacrifice as their mediator (v.8).  The Lord institutes Job as their mediator and intercessor, as their model of Jesus; it is on Job’s basis and merciful prayer that the Father chooses not to deal with the three according to their folly, for they have not spoken of Him what is right, as Job had (v.7-8).  In accepting Job’s prayer, and witnessing what appears to be a mindless slaughter of bulls and lambs (symbolically numbered at seven, the Lord’s rest), the friends should now see that Behemoth and Leviathan are what the Lord is entitled to.  Yet, it is the form of the lamb which the Lord took on, in order that even the likes of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar would be saved, so that they too can be like Job and be the mediators and intercessors of other “friends”.

 

Therefore, from Job 42:10, we see that Job is prosperous again and is restored beyond what he initially had.  He had twice more than before – in Job 1:3 it stated he had 7000 sheep, now he has 14,000; 3,000 camels, and now 6,000, and so forth.  Although Psalm 90:10 states that a normal man should only have a lifespan of 70 to 80 years, Job 42:16 states he lived 140 years and saw up to four generations.  He also had beautiful daughters, named Jemimah (“sunshine”, to answer the dark night of his suffering), Keziah (“beautiful smell”, like Kaziah, cinnamon, compared against the offensive breath to Job’s wife in Job 19), Keren-happuch (“little make-up box” as his youngest, beautiful taughter, compared against Job 16 where Job’s face was red with weeping, this beautiful daughter covering Job’s sorrow).

 

More radically, in v.15, Job grants them an inheritance among their brothers, which is not introduced until Moses’ time hundreds of years later (Numbers 27; Deuteronomy 25)!  Yet, it is also because only by allowing the inheritance to pass through the women can Jesus Christ be the rightful king!  Through Job’s obedient act, we are on step closer to the birth of the offspring who would stamp on the enemy’s head.

 

We look to Isaiah 61, which Jesus said spoke of himself – in v.7, the Word shows that because of Christ, we too (like Job) would be brought through our suffering to a new body, a new family – a double portion.  We are therefore looking forward to a future far outstretching the paradise of Eden, so that we might have a blessing in Christ which we would never have had with Adam.  There would be no enemy causing death and destruction, for our hope (which is not in our hope or found independent of God, c.f. Job 41:9) is in the Son.

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Job 32-42: The Slaughtered Lamb

Esther 5-8: Esther our Mediator

Chapter 5

It would appear that Esther’s fears are allayed – and her expectation of victory is sweetly met.  She touched the tip of the scepter of Ahasuerus, a scepter of power (v.2).  Paul Blackham states in Book by Book guide on Esther:

“John Preston (1587-1628) produced a book called “The Golden Sceptre” held forth to the Humble”.  The title is derived from this scene in Esther.  Preston powerfully describes our Heavenly Father as a Great King into whose presence we cannot safely go.  In fact, it is fatal for any sinner to be in the presence of the Living God.  However, Preston portrays the gospel as the golden sceptre that is held out to the sinner to give them safe welcome into the presence of the Living God.”

Her request is that Haman is brought to the feast she has prepared for the king (v.4); and after having such a feast she requested Haman join them again (v.8).  Paul Blackham states:

“The joy of [verse 5] is seeing it in stark contrast to what happened in chapter 1.  [Quoting Tull, page 26:]

 

(Xerxes) calls for Haman saying, ‘Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther desires‘ (5.5).  Literally the Hebrew says, ‘so we may do the word of Esther‘.  This is a deliciously ironic twist on a king who only three chapters before was terrified that women might not do the word of their husbands.  Vashti was banished for not coming when the king called, but now Esther has gotten away with coming when the king did not call.  The king who worried about women obeying their husbands is now obeying his wife, and ordering Haman to obey her as well.  And to add irony to irony, Haman not only obeys a woman, but delights in being hosted by a Jew – a Jew passing as a Persian so splendidly that she puts a lie to all he said about her people’s disruptiveness.

Such is Esther’s plan that Haman would appear to be exalted temporarily only for Haman, the type of Satan, to pride and boast in his self-praises and unwarranted accolades (Ezekiel 18) – the same Haman whose sole wish is still to destroy the ancient promised church of God (v.8-13) as one would if one was the son of the devil (John 8:44).  Yet, this is all in Esther’s plan as Haman is dancing in her palm.  The irony that the Satan should wish to use the same tool of death to destroy the Christ, and yet this tool of death has become the iconic symbol in Christianity of Christ’s victory (v.14).  Again, although the ESV states “gallow”, it is more likely a stake for impalement – the Hebrew word ates simply means tree.  From a biblical and prophetic perspective, the clearer comparison between Haman and Satan is shown when Haman is seen to have set up a 75 foot tree for Mordecai to be killed on.

Chapter 6

By the LORD’s providence, the king’s inability to sleep allowed him to read the chronicles of Mordecai the Jew who saved the king (v.1-2).  By Mordecai’s faithfulness to the king as stipulated under Romans 13, he receives the royal robes of righteousness and honour (v.7-11) – suggested by Haman himself since he thought such honour would be given to him (v.6-9).  What ironic mockery! Such theology of divine reversals is saturated throughout Scripture.  As Paul Blackham states:

“An important biblical theme, very much related to Haman’s highs and lows, is the theme of reversal, of divine justice turning power upside down.  This theme is so pervasive in the Bible, and so commonplace in Christian discourse, that its radical implications can sometimes be forgotten.  Explicit reversals characterize many Proverbs, such as 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Reversals also permeate narratives, such as the story of Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37-50), the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt (Exodus 1-15), and the poem of Isaiah’s suffering servant who will be exalted (Isaiah 52:13-53:12).  The narrative of reversal best known to Christians, of course, is the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection (quoting Tull, 30-31).”

Note how beautifully this was done before Haman’s sins were exposed – just as Satan was never in power, nor was he ever honoured, and he certainly had no leverage to offer Christ anything (Luke 4) for Christ was the only Honoured One of the Father.  This status of matters was already the case before Satan was nailed to the cross – just as Haman is shamed by handing over all honour (which only appeared to be his) over to Christ.  What prophetic words of Zeresh (v.13):

“If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him”.

Indeed – if Christ, before whom Satan has begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, Satan will not overcome him but will surely fall before Him!  Clearly even Zeresh has heard of the prophecy of the Offspring of Adam, and that the LORD protects the Jewish people.  What ridicule that Haman could think he could uproot the promise that the LORD has made to Israel!  Immediately after Zeresh’s statement of judgment, the impending demise of Haman comes to his doorsteps (v.14).

Chapter 7

There is an eery sense of parallel between the death of John the Baptist and the death of Haman here.  Where Herod also offered the same vow (c.f. Mark 6:22-23) as Ahasuerus, Herodias’s daughter was no Esther.  Esther, the type of Christ, sought to protect the Jews; and where Herod and Ahasuerus were cut from the same cloth, the role of the mediator plays a large role.  If Esther was like Vashti (who did not appear to have Israel’s interests at heart) – what would have happened?  Yet it was Mordecai’s plan to place Esther into the courts of Ahasuerus, the same Mordecai and Esther who obeyed the LORD despite their imminent deaths at the hands of Haman and Ahasuerus.  What is your wish, Queen Esther?  The Head of Mordecai, or the Head of Haman?  The latter.

The parallel is more astounding here – the last time the king was recorded to be drunken with wine was in chapters 1-2, when Vashti was banished from his sight; yet here, Esther uses the situation to remove Haman upon pleading the truth to Ahasuerus (v.1-6).  Yet this is the gospel story summarised – the king who was jealous for his wife; the king who is angry against the Satan as personified by Haman; the king who hung Satan by his own devices, nailing him to the same cross that he planned to destroy the Christ with.  As the Father cries “Will he even assault the Bride in my presence, in my own house?” in parallel to Ahasuerus’ words (v.8), His jealous love for us covers us in his righteousness and holiness whilst he never ceases to destroy the enemy whose only plan is to destroy us, rape us, annihilate our heritage, and kill our future (v.4; c.f. Psalm 73 for a summary of the LORD’s view of Haman’s types of actions).

Chapter 8

This is a chapter of victory.  Esther, the type of Christ, inherited the heritage of Haman (v.1; Henrietta Mears subtitles her chapter on this book: “Esther portrays Jesus Christ, Our Advocate”) – the enemy (Satan) of the Jews.  Esther, before the king as a type (albeit a flawed type) of the Father, recognises Mordecai here as the church and community under which Esther was nurtured.  Thus, the signet ring, as a seal and sign of the deposit of the Holy Spirit and of His election (c.f. Song of Solomon 8:6; Haggai 2:23; Ephesians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5; 2 Timothy 1:14, 2:19) was given from the Father to the Son (i.e. Esther), and from Esther to the church (i.e. Mordecai) to rule over the house of Haman, just as we rule over the enemy by His power.

In v.3-8 we see Esther mediating on behalf of the Jews – how can she bear to see the destruction of her kindred (v.6)?  Indeed, she cannot.  Yet, this is a picture of Christ pleading on our behalf – and with the Father’s seal (v.8), spiritual Israel shall not be harmed.  The elect body of Christ shall not be harmed.  The kindred of Esther shall not be harmed.  So we are similarly sealed by the Father by the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, and wrath is diverted onto the enemy.  And as we are given His power by the Spirit, His signet ring, whatever we command in His name (John 20:23) is released in this creation (v.10-12).  This is the great exchange – although it appears harsh that the Jews are allowed to gather and defend their lives, the retribution is exactly matching to the edict of Haman (Esther 3:13).  Note however that this is but the Jews’ response and only to armed forces – on the condition that the Israelites could defend, and attack only if they were attacked (symbolically on the same day that the Jews would have been destroyed – v.12; c.f. Esther 9:1).  Such is the beauty of our redemption, that we – like Mordecai – by the work of the true Esther Jesus Christ could wear the LORD’s righteous robes of salvation (Isaiah 61:11; c.f. v.15), the restoration of the Israelite traditions occurring not only in Jerusalem by Ezra and Nehemiah’s hands – but also in the kingdom of Persia.  This glory is felt not only by the Jews but also by the Gentiles, leading to mass conversion (v.17).

Esther 5-8: Esther our Mediator

Nehemiah 7-9: Clear Understanding

Nehemiah 7

Upon the building of the wall, Hanani (God is gracious) and Hananiah (God has given) are appointed to take charge over Jerusalem, “for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many” – an indication that such restoration of the wall is to be maintained in the hands of one who is a Christ-follower.  This is accompanied by the need for the gates of Jerusalem to be open when the sun is hot (c.f. Exodus 17:12; Malachi 4:2; Revelation 1:16), a reminder that the Son is the one who allows the gates to be open for people to enter New Jerusalem (John 14:6; Revelation 3:12).  However, as of now, the city though wide and large – the people within it were few and no houses had been rebuilt (v.4).  A shame that there are not enough labourers sent out into His harvest (Matthew 9:38).

From v.6-73, the genealogy largely matches that which was stated in Ezra 2 – bringing us into the context of Ezra and remembering that Nehemiah’s actions are meaningless without the restoration of the Mosaic law through Ezra.  V.73 is a exact repeat of Ezra 2:70, except the new addition that “when the seventh month had come, the people of Israel were in their towns” – reminder of Leviticus 23, where the month of Tishri includes the keeping of the the Day of Atonement and Feast of Booths.

Nehemiah 8

The gathering of people “as one man” has been few and far in between, matching the language in Ezra 3:1 here (and the last time this happened was in 2 Samuel 19:14).  Their congregation around the Water Gate supplements the symbology of this gate, that the water of life, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, should be the true food which these gates of Jerusalem are protecting.  This chapter therefore reinstates the importance of Ezra’s reforms as the undergirding element of Nehemiah’s rebuilding – in the presence of men and women and those who could understand (v.3).  This is different from the strict keeping of the great Jerusalem feasts by men alone (Deuteronomy 16:16-17) – instead, now the crowd is to all who could understand.  “And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law” (v.3).  Ezra opened the Book of the Law in the sight of all the people and blessed the LORD (v.5-6), with several others (including both Levites and non-Levites) helping the people to understand the Law (v.7).  The Law of God was read “clearly”, and they “gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading”.  This type of detail is so far removed from what is the norm in the Mosaic books through to Ezra, where the keeping of the law was often not explained to come hand in hand with “clear understanding” – the theme of this chapter.  In many ways, this clear understanding and the inclusion of all who could understand (i.e. including women) is a shadow of the freedom in Christ (Galatians 3:28) only upon the circumcision of the heart, represented through Ezra (the priest and scribe) and Nehemiah’s (the governor) joint reformation of the Ancient Church.  Their spiritual emancipation and release from understanding the Law was transformed from weeping to joy – an eschatological picture of our weeping turning into joy in New Creation (Revelation 21:4).

It is interesting that instead of describing the keeping of Yom Kippur, v.13-14 immediately begins with the keeping of the Feast of Booths, as a restoration of a practice not done since the days of Yeshua the son of Nun (v.17), keeping to what the law had stated in Leviticus 23:34-39 / Deuteronomy 16:13-15.  In fact, this follows naturally from the hearing of the law earlier in this chapter – for the themes have been one of release, one of understanding, one of rejoicing that the LORD has taken away our grievances, as symbolised most starkly in the festival of Feast of Booths.  As Leviticus 23:35 states, “On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.  For seven days you shall present food offerings to the Lord.”  Deuteronomy 16:14 states, “You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless and the widow who are within your towns.”

Nehemiah 9

It is only upon such grateful thanksgiving that they then assemble with fasting and in sackcloth, confessing their sins and iniquities of their fathers (v.1-2), finding confidence first in the Word, then in confession, then in worship (v.3).  It is from v.6 onwards that we see a history of redemption, from Genesis up till now, His promises fulfilled through Abraham’s faithfulness (v.6-8), through the great exodus of the Israelites from Egypt (v.9-15) – and despite the stiffneckedness of the Israelites, He still remained faithful and gracious (v.16-21), sustaining them in the wilderness and instructing them by giving them the Holy Spirit.  Such goodness which came to them was completely by His hand (v.22-25).

Yet, the Israelites continued to be disobedient and ignored His law (v.26-31) – and here, His mercies are repeated (3 times “in your great mercies” repeated in these few verses) throughout the age of the judges and the kings from the time of Moses to the time of Zedekiah, the last king of Israel before the Babylonian exile.  By His prophets, by His saviors, by His warnings, by His Spirit (v.30) – all rejected and blasphemed (c.f. Leviticus 24:16; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10).  Hence, their current state of slavery is one not caused by God – but (notably) it is the Levites who recognise that their kings, their princes, their priests and their fathers have not kept their law or paid attention to His commandments and His warnings.  Because of all this, the Levites (v.38) make a firm covenant in writing, with the names of Israel’s princes, Levites and priests.

Nehemiah 7-9: Clear Understanding

2 Chronicles 13-15: Covenant of Salt

Chapter 13

Here, the rivalry is again described overall as the tension between the house of David and the house of Jeroboam, with the intention of the narrator being very clearly one of “priesthood versus heresy”.  Verses 3-12 is a beautiful proclamation made by Abijah, stating clearly what has been implied in Jeroboam’s removal of the Levitical priests in 2 Chronicles 11 (c.f. v.9-12).  Solomon’s household, as well as Rehoboam’s, were portrayed as the elected household in v.5 – “…the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt“.  This phrase “covenant of salt” is used in two other instances – Leviticus 2:13 and Numbers 18:19.  In my commentary of the book of Numbers, the covenant is explained as such:

“Salt is commonly used in two analogies: the covenant between LORD and man; and negative connotations (C.f. Ezekiel 47:11 and Zeph 2:9).  Leviticus 2:13 makes the point that all the grain offerings shall have the covenant of salt.  When placing this covenant alongside Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt, it is simultaneously an imagery of God’s sanctification/separation.  In 2 Kings, the usage of the salt is for purification of the water; in Ezekiel, the imagery of the salt is that of dirt and uncleanness.  The prophecy of Ezekiel 47:8 makes a distinction between fresh and salt water – and no doubt, the salt water being the water of punishment from the deluge from the window above heaven (c.f. Genesis 7 and 2 Peter 3), but the fresh water being the water on earth.

 

To bring these two imageries together, the feeding on the holy flesh (cow/sheep/goat) and the unmistakable “covenant of salt”, the picture is a two-fold manifestation of Christ’s work on the cross.  Through his blood, we can now feed continuously of the flesh represented by the communion bread as sanctified priests, symbolized by the anointing and separation of the covenant of salt.  It is by this covenant of salt that David and his sons were given the kingship over Israel forever?  Undoubtedly this salt-covenant to David and his sons is a conscious foresight of the Son’s eternal kingdom, an act of purification, just as the salt waters burst through the heavens to purify the world of the wicked creatures.”

This covenant of salt is a synonym to the gospel work completed through David’s lineage and not to Jeroboam’s lineage.  Jeroboam’s failure to see the importance of the Temple, of the Levites, of Jesus’ heritage are all the essence of all heresies – the failure to connect the dots in the Old Testament which all point towards the cross and not to oneself’s creation of truth.  “Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed” (v.12).  Indeed, David, Solomon, Rehoboam and Abijah are not the head of Israel – the LORD God Himself is the Head, and Jeroboam is challenging not Judah, nor Abijah, but the LORD Himself.

This explains Jeroboam’s utter debacle and loss in v.13-20, whereas Abijah grew mighty under the wings of the LORD.

Chapter 14

Again, chapter 14 records another victory achieved solely by relying on the LORD, in fulfillment of Solomon’s prayer in chapter 6.  This time, it is not Jeroboam, but the Ethiopians (who have clearly forgotten the blessing of Solomon through their early Queen of Sheba in chapter 9) who challenged Israel with more men than Jeroboam (an army of a million men vs. Jeroboam’s 800,000 men).  Asa’s cry is similar to that of his father’s: “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak.  Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude.  O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.

Chapter 15

Upon the filling of the Holy Spirit, Azariah the son of Oded reminds king Asa of the “Golden Age” of Israel’s rule under David and Solomon, when the gospel was clearly communicated amongst the Israelites, all of whom were looking forward to the day of the Messiah’s first coming.  Azariah’s comment that “For a long time Israel was without the true God” (v.3) is an observation of Israel losing its way in the period since Rehoboam to Asa, due to the removal of the formal priesthood and compliance with the Mosaic statutes under the divided rule of Rehoboam and Jeroboam.  The only comfort of the Israelites was through their oral teaching and remembrance of the LORD’s steadfast love in their times of distress (v.4).  However, Azariah wishes for the Christian walk to be filled with peace (v.5), and not to only call upon the LORD in times of brokenness (v.6).  Asa’s subsequent actions and reforms (v.8-15) are indeed the actions of a righteous Christian king, drawing in more and more of those previous defected (those from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon v.9) with his testimony of the LORD.  It is with their collective sacrifice (v.11) and the covenant and oath (v.12-14) that the LORD gave them rest all around (v.15-19) between his tenth year (when he defeated the Ethiopians) and 35th year as king.  The LORD’s steadfast love to the house of David means that Asa’s compliance with the Spirit’s prompting is a key step towards ensuring the survival of Israel until the promise of the Messiah is fulfilled.  Although man has forgotten the law and priesthood, the LORD will never forget.  Although man may even forget the promise of the Messiah as their true hope, the LORD will never stop working to ensure the Messiah will come from the line of David and crush the Satan who leads His sheep astray time and time again.

2 Chronicles 13-15: Covenant of Salt

2 Kings 7-8: Revelation of the Sons of God

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.

2 Kings 7-8: Revelation of the Sons of God

2 Kings 3-4: Overflowing Love

II Kings 3:

1 In the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twelve years.

2 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, though not like his father and mother, for he put away the pillar of Baal that his father had made.

3 Nevertheless, he clung to the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from it.

4 Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and he had to deliver to the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams.

5 But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.

6 So King Jehoram marched out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel.

7 And he went and sent word to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to battle against Moab?” And he said, “I will go. I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”

8 Then he said, “By which way shall we march?” Jehoram answered, “By the way of the wilderness of Edom.”

9 So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. And when they had made a circuitous march of seven days, there was no water for the army or for the animals that followed them.

10 Then the king of Israel said, “Alas! The LORD has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.”

11 And Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the LORD here, through whom we may inquire of the LORD?” Then one of the king of Israel’s servants answered, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.”

12 And Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the LORD is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.

 

From the opening of 2 Kings 3 we are immediately brought again to the contrast between Jehoshaphat and Jehoram, the House of David against the House of Ahab.  Jehoram sought alliance with the king of Edom, yet it is the king of Israel that Elisha gives face to (v.14).  Jehoshaphat’s reliance is pure and innocent – “The word of the LORD is with him”.  Indeed, it is not with the human kings, nor in might, nor in strategy; it is in the prophet who can establish and destroy kings.  Jehoram’s word could only lead Israel to death, to the wilderness; but Elisha’s word could lead Israel to new life watered by the blood-stream of Jesus.

 

13 And Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.” But the king of Israel said to him, “No; it is the LORD who has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.”

14 And Elisha said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you.

15 But now bring me a musician.” And when the musician played, the hand of the LORD came upon him.

16 And he said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘I will make this dry streambed full of pools.’

17 For thus says the LORD, ‘You shall not see wind or rain, but that streambed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your livestock, and your animals.’

18 This is a light thing in the sight of the LORD. He will also give the Moabites into your hand,

19 and you shall attack every fortified city and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree and stop up all springs of water and ruin every good piece of land with stones.”

20 The next morning, about the time of offering the sacrifice, behold, water came from the direction of Edom, till the country was filled with water.

 

Just as David played the lyre to fend off the evil spirit in Saul (1 Samuel 16:23), so also Elisha asked a musician to come and dispel the devilish company by Spirit-led music.  Here, we see the living waters fill the dry streambed (v.16), the music of the LORD tied to the harmony of pure creation of living water arising neither from wind, nor rain, but from the ground – an image of the Edenic pools of waters (Genesis 2:6, 2:10).  Just as water came from the direction of Edom (meaning red), we are reminded that the blood stream is but once again a covering over Israel.  Just as Jacob had hidden himself in the covering which represented Esau’s firstborn stature (Genesis 25:25; 27), so also Israel (and the other houses) lay hidden in the blood-red streams of Christ the firstborn.  Although Ahab sought the support of king Edom, it is Jehoshaphat who sought the support of Christ, the God of Elijah and Elisha.

 

21 When all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them, all who were able to put on armor, from the youngest to the oldest, were called out and were drawn up at the border.

22 And when they rose early in the morning and the sun shone on the water, the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood.

23 And they said, “This is blood; the kings have surely fought together and struck one another down. Now then, Moab, to the spoil!”

24 But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose and struck the Moabites, till they fled before them. And they went forward, striking the Moabites as they went.

25 And they overthrew the cities, and on every good piece of land every man threw a stone until it was covered. They stopped every spring of water and felled all the good trees, till only its stones were left in Kir-hareseth, and the slingers surrounded and attacked it.

26 When the king of Moab saw that the battle was going against him, he took with him 700 swordsmen to break through, opposite the king of Edom, but they could not.

27 Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.

 

Yet their ambition to destroy Moab goes beyond what the LORD has given them (v.18-19), until only the stones were left in the City of the Sun – Kir-hareseth.  Note Adam Clarke’s observation of v.27, in spite of the apparent victory by the blood of Christ:

 

The rabbins account for this horrible sacrifice in the following way:-

When the king of Moab found himself so harassed, and the royal city on the   point of being taken, he called a council of his servants, and asked them how it was these Israelites could perform such prodigies, and that such miracles were wrought for them? His servants answered, that it was owing to their progenitor Abraham, who, having an only son, was commanded by Jehovah to offer him in sacrifice. Abraham instantly obeyed, and offered his only son for a burnt-offering; and the Israelites being his descendants, through his merits the holy blessed God wrought such miracles in their behalf. The king of Moab answered, I also have an only son, and I will go and offer him to my God. Then he offered him for a burnt-offering upon the wall.

Upon the wall] al hachamah. Rab. Sol. Jarchi says that the letter vau is wanting in this word, as it should be written chomah, to signify a wall; but chammah signifies the sun, and this was the god of the king of Moab: “And he offered his first-born son for a burnt-offering unto the sun.” This is not very solid.

There was great indignation] The Lord was displeased with them for driving things to such an extremity: or the surrounding nations held them in abomination on the account; and they were so terrified themselves at this most horrid sacrifice, that they immediately raised the siege and departed. In cases of great extremity it was customary in various heathen nations to offer human sacrifices, or to devote to the infernal gods the most precious or excellent thing or person they possessed. This was frequent among the Phoenicians, Romans, and Greeks; and it was the natural fruit of a religious system which had for the objects of its worship cruel and merciless divinities. How different the Christian system! “Wilt thou that we shall bring down fire from heaven and destroy them? Ye know not what manner of spirits ye are of; the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

 

Indeed, such is true.  Christ did not seek to have burnt offerings made to Him (Numbers 3:4), for He is the burnt offering.  Why did Jehoshaphat and Ahab, as kings of Israel, fail to preach the Word of the coming Son?  Rather, in allowing this to happen, the false gospel is preached for all to see – the sacrifice of the king of Moab’s firstborn reminding us of the death of all the firstborn in the Egyptian exodus (Exodus 11:5).

 

 

II Kings 4:

1 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.”

2 And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.”

3 Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few.

4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.”

5 So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her.

6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”

 

 

There is no doubt that the focus of 2 Kings 3 has always been on Jesus, witnessed by Elisha.  As such, the break from warfare is more natural when we immediately see that Elisha has moved from the battle plains of Edom to the wife of one of the sons of the prophets.  In chapter 4, we see Elisha’s Spirit-led work resembling that of Christ, as a continuation of chapter 3.  The double portion of Elijah’s Spirit is now on Elisha, a grand time of harvest – and the first of such miraculous signs is in the blood-red stream of Edom which pronounced judgment on Moab, but salvation for Israel.  Yet, the overflowing love of God continues (John 17:24-26) from the blood of Christ onto the overflowing vessels of oil (1 Kings 17; Matthew 25:29).

 

8 One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food.

9 And she said to her husband, “Behold now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way.

10 Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.”

11 One day he came there, and he turned into the chamber and rested there.

12 And he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” When he had called her, she stood before him.

13 And he said to him, “Say now to her, ‘See, you have taken all this trouble for us; what is to be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’” She answered, “I dwell among my own people.”

14 And he said, “What then is to be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is old.”

15 He said, “Call her.” And when he had called her, she stood in the doorway.

16 And he said, “At this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God; do not lie to your servant.”

17 But the woman conceived, and she bore a son about that time the following spring, as Elisha had said to her.

18 When the child had grown, he went out one day to his father among the reapers.

19 And he said to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.”

20 And when he had lifted him and brought him to his mother, the child sat on her lap till noon, and then he died.

21 And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God and shut the door behind him and went out.

22 Then she called to her husband and said, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.”

23 And he said, “Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.” She said, “All is well.”

24 Then she saddled the donkey, and she said to her servant, “Urge the animal on; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.”

25 So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite.

26 Run at once to meet her and say to her, ‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’” And she answered, “All is well.”

27 And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the LORD has hidden it from me and has not told me.”

28 Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?’”

29 He said to Gehazi, “Tie up your garment and take my staff in your hand and go. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not reply. And lay my staff on the face of the child.”

30 Then the mother of the child said, “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her.

31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. Therefore he returned to meet him and told him, “The child has not awakened.”

32 When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed.

33 So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the LORD.

34 Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm.

35 Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house, and went up and stretched himself upon him. The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

36 Then he summoned Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, “Pick up your son.”

37 She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground. Then she picked up her son and went out.

 

The distinction here is that the LORD is the same to the wealthy and poor alike.  So also his overflowing love pours out through his crucified and living Son onto the Shunammite women, who conceived miraculously (c.f. Genesis 18:13), who gives life out of death in abundance (v.16, v.35).  And this is the picture of our resurrection, that our Christ shall restore us face-to-face, and here – mouth to mouth, eye to eye, hand on hand.  What intimacy in bringing a child (who the mother conceived, though living with the fear that he will be taken away v.28) to life.  Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD (Psalm 127:3), for the Father’s heritage is His begotten Son.  In the miraculous birth, sudden death and resurrection of the Shunammite’s son, we see a glimpse of the LORD’s economy in saving this sinful world – that the virgin birth through Mary is but an overflow of His love for us, that the Son should be conceived as a God-man only to die the death of a sinner, but brought back to life into the intimate embrace of the Father’s bosom – eye-to-eye, mouth-to-mouth, hand-to-hand (1 Corinthians 13:12).

 

38 And Elisha came again to Gilgal when there was a famine in the land. And as the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, “Set on the large pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.”

39 One of them went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew, not knowing what they were.

40 And they poured out some for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the stew, they cried out, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it.

41 He said, “Then bring flour.” And he threw it into the pot and said, “Pour some out for the men, that they may eat.” And there was no harm in the pot.

 

Here, we see again the healing of the food just as Elisha healed the water to be drinkable; instead of going by way of the salt covenant, Elisha goes by way of the grain offering.  The death in the pot is removed by the flour so ingrained in grain offering (c.f. Numbers 7, 28, 29).  Yet, the wild vine is but a representative of these faithless sons of prophets (c.f. Jeremiah 2:21), who shall one day be replaced by other Spirit-filled men and women like Elisha and Elijah who behold their Christ (Romans 11) despite their upbringing as apparent wild vines.  Instead, these wild vines shall enjoin the true vine of God by the grain offering, fully restored.  “And there was no harm in the pot” (v.41).  We see the blood of Christ in the end of chapter 3, followed by the oil of love in the beginning of chapter 4, leading to the resurrection of the only son of the Shunammite woman.  What is left in this grand gesture of gospel media, from Christ’s crucifixion to the overflowing giving of the Spirit found in the resurrection of the son?  What is left is fellowship and feasting with the LORD (c.f. Mark 8:19, Revelation 19:9):

 

42 A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Elisha said, “Give to the men, that they may eat.”

43 But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” So he repeated, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the LORD, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’”

44 So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left, according to the word of the LORD.

2 Kings 3-4: Overflowing Love

2 Kings 1-2: Christ and His disciple

II Kings 1:

1 After the death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel.

 

2 Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber in Samaria, and lay sick; so he sent messengers, telling them, “Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness.”

3 But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?

4 Now therefore thus says the LORD, You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’” So Elijah went.

 

The opening of 2 Kings is a stauch reminder of the king’s duties in ensuring the peace with neighbouring countries.  Under the reign of David and Solomon, Israel was reaching a golden era of peace.  However, under Ahab’s rule, his house was cursed like that of Jeroboam and Baasha.  Upon his death, the incestuous sister country Moab (c.f. Genesis 19) decides to rebel against Israel (v.1) – undoubtedly reminding us that the king has been unfaithful to the LORD, and the very fact of Moab’s rebellion is a pretext for Ahaziah’s curse in this chapter.

 

Ahaziah is much like his father’s image – but where Ahab acknowledged the LORD and was humbled by Him (1 Kings 21:27-29), Ahaziah not only ignored the LORD but instead opts to inquire of “Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron”.  This is the same as Beelzebub in Matthew 10:25, the “lord of the flies” – flies having a negative connotation akin to the curse in Exodus 8.  Ahaziah, rather than inquiring of the God in Israel, decides to inquire the god of the Philistines (v.3).  This pronouncement of the curse by the Angel of the LORD, Jesus, is early on in v.4 – a curse on the head and king of Israel by the prophet and man of God.  Like Ahab and Jezebel, so Ahaziah is the typical Adam, the cursed head.  Instead of enabling Israel to fulfill its calling as a priesthood to all nations (Exodus 19:6), it is now undistinguished to its neighbours.  He is not the true king of Israel – but is rather the self-proclaimed king of Samaria, far away from Moriah, the place of Christ’s redemptive work (c.f. Genesis 22).

 

Instead, the deliberate comparison is that this king of Israel is contrasted to the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, who had insisted on inquiring of the LORD at the end of 1 Kings.  Here, instead, Ahaziah is insistent on inquiring of Baal-zebub: the irony that is Ahaziah living out the character of Moab.  Though in the ‘family’, born not out of holiness but out of sin.  Ahaziah is but a ‘legal’ Israelite, but bears not the Spirit of God in living as the true Israelite.  The lamp of Jerusalem, emphasizing on the lamp to David and his sons which remains with Judah.

 

5 The messengers returned to the king, and he said to them, “Why have you returned?”

6 And they said to him, “There came a man to meet us, and said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you, and say to him, Thus says the LORD, Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’”

7 He said to them, “What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?”

8 They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

 

Here, Elijah the Baptist (c.f. Matthew 3:4) again is clearing the road for the true king.  Ahaziah, like Ahab, inquired of other gods.  Elijah’s role as prophet is to bring in the true king Jesus Christ (1 Samuel 2:10, 12:12) just as the judges and Samuel preceded the need for a Saul or David.  Here, there is a direct conflict between the ‘messengers of Baal-zebub’ (including the king Ahaziah, and his messengers and captains and their men) and the messenger of the LORD Elijah.

 

9 Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty men with his fifty. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’”

10 But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.

11 Again the king sent to him another captain of fifty men with his fifty. And he answered and said to him, “O man of God, this is the king’s order, ‘Come down quickly!’”

12 But Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.

 

Note here the imagery – Elijah sits at the top of a hill, a biblical indication of heaven (Psalm 24:3, 44:3).  So we see Christ speaking through his messenger Elijah (as a type of Christ), to 2 sets of captains and their fifty men at the bottom of the hill.  This is a reminder of the time in the wilderness when the men were afraid to approach Mount Sinai and had to commission Moses to go.  There is nothing special about Moses – all the men, though ‘quarantined’ from breaking in to meet the Father, however were also invited into receiving the Father personally, rather than Moses himself (Exodus 20:18-21).

 

However, these captains and men did not seek to revere the LORD of Elijah.  In contrast, they asked Elijah to come down from the hill – mockingly using the title “man of God” whilst disbelieving the “God” of this man.  What they receive, instead of the warm embrace of the Father, is the wrath otherwise poured onto the Holy Son on their behalf.  This is but a foretelling of the events in Revelation – the ridicule of Christ leading to fiery destruction from the heavens (2 Peter 3:7-12).

 

Note the number fifty – the number of final deliverance (c.f. Jubilee – Leviticus 25) which concords with the imagery of Revelation and of Elijah on the top of the hill.  The first two sets (the two captains, and their respective fifty men – 102 men killed by the fire, two-thirds of the men sent by Ahaziah).  This is but a shadow of judgment in Christ’s ‘descension’, in the parousia – two thirds destroyed but one third spared, the ‘thirds’ being an important pattern of division in Scripture (Ezekiel 5:2-12; Revelation 8-9) – the man of God goes down the hill to be with the third captain.  This is because the man recognizes truly this ‘man of God’ is neither mere man nor an object of mockery.

 

 

13 Again the king sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up and came and fell on his knees before Elijah and entreated him, “O man of God, please let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight.

14 Behold, fire came down from heaven and consumed the two former captains of fifty men with their fifties, but now let my life be precious in your sight.”

15 Then the angel of the LORD said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So he arose and went down with him to the king

16 and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron—is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word?—therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’”

 

What is often omitted from 2 Kings 1 (v.15), let alone a portrayal of Elijah’s biography, is Elijah’s fear.  This creates a collective image of a prophet who has a tendency to fear man (1 Kings 19:3, 19:18).  Yet, Elijah’s weakness is supplanted by the LORD’s strength (2 Corinthians 12:9), a truly cruciform lifestyle (2 Corinthians 13:4) as he beheld the Angel of the LORD Who was with him at the top of the hill.

 

The captain and the third fifty were therefore spared – but the king died in fulfillment of Elijah’s word.  This scenario is again reflected in the New Testament (Matthew 8:5-13), the faithful centurion contrasted against the faithless master of the centurion (Matthew 23:11). In fact, the message had been clear since v.6-8.  The king could have gone out himself and pleaded with Elijah; instead, 102 men were murdered, and the only one spared in this chapter is the captain and his fifty humbled before Elijah, recognizing the LORD’s work in His prototypical judgment on the Day of Resurrection.  Though the king had the murderous intent (v.15 – do not be afraid of him), Elijah was the one who had the ‘last word’.

 

Although Ahaziah had no son, Jehoram his brother (and also son of Ahab and Jezebel) replaced him (v.17).  It is ironic that both kings’ name means “whom Jehovah has exalted”.  Neither the Jehoram of Judah (2 Chronicles 21-22) nor the Jehoram of Israel were fitting of this name.  This is therefore the way 2 Kings 1 opens – not by displaying the righteousness of men, but rather than the righteousness of the Angel of the LORD who brought judgment on all those against His anointed prophet.

 

17 So he died according to the word of the LORD that Elijah had spoken. Jehoram became king in his place in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, because Ahaziah had no son.

18 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

 

II Kings 2:

1 Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.

2 And Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.

3 And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take away your master from over you?” And he said, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”

 

By way of how 2 Kings 1 ended, the narrator of 2 Kings 2 brings us back to the beginning – taking Elijah and Elisha through landmarks explored before the Israelites even entered Canaan.  From Gilgal to Bethel, Elijah and Elisha are brought to remember the reproach of Israel removed (Joshua 5:9), insodoing bringing the Israelites back to the house of God (Genesis 28, 35).  Like Enoch, the seventh in generation from Adam, Elijah is to be caught up into the Lord’s presence (Genesis 5:24); however, the method by whirlwind is unprecedented in the recording of the Word.  What is important is that the sons of the prophets’ knowledge of Elijah’s removal (and so reminded Elisha) is a foretelling of the Son of God ascending the ladder to third heaven (Genesis 28:12); the Son of God no longer ‘with’ His disciples, so also Elijah no longer with Elisha – the type of Christ and the type of the Church.  The giving of the Spirit resting on Elijah to Elisha, so also the giving of the Spirit resting on Christ (Isaiah 11:2), given to all flesh (Joel 2:28).

 

4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho.

5 The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take away your master from over you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”

 

So while the sons of the prophets remind Elisha of the anointed prophet’s ascension, we are brought to recollect that Jericho should not even exist – should not even be rebuilt (Joshua 6:26).  Yet, here it stands, as a result of Israel’s rebellion.  Not once, but thrice (after going to Gilgal and Bethel) are we to remember that the LORD has been faithful, but we have not.

 

6 Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.

7 Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan.

8 Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground.

 

From Bethel to Jericho to Jordan (Joshua 3-5), it looks like the Lord is walking Elijah in reverse through the history of Israel.  Rather, this is a walk through the restoration of the ancient borderless gospel.  The way out of Canaan through the Jordan, starting from the House of God.  In doing so, Elijah the Baptist is preparing the way of Christ (Isaiah 54:2), expanding the House of God beyond the Jordan!  Elijah is thus a walking example of Hebrew 13:13, walking through judgment (instead of entering judgment by the first entrance into Israel as under Joshua 3-5, it is symbolic of a removal of judgment in leaving Israel).  So in Elijah’s ascension, we see Christ’s ascension in His incarnate body, taking Israel with Him to the right hand of the Father’s throne.

 

9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.”

10 And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.”

11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

 

This is a grand picture, a reality of inheriting double portion of the Spirit on Elijah is that Elisha may receive divine sight of the chariots of Israel and it’s horsemen (2 Kings 6:17; also reminiscent of the picture of judgment in Isaiah 66).

 

13 And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.

14 Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

 

When Elisha returns to Israel, he is the same Spirit-filled Elisha from before Elijah ascended into third heaven.  Rather, the distinction serves as a foretelling of the distinction before and after Christ’s ascension (c.f. Acts 2) – the distinction that Christ has been glorified (John 7:39) and the Spirit has now been imparted in a grander measure to all flesh.  Thus Elisha’s taking up of the cloak of Elijah is a picture of His garments of righteousness, his cloak of zeal, covering us (Isaiah 59:17, 61:10) – but also intimately a call back to 1 Kings 19:19-21 when Elijah chose Elisha as his disciple.  This cloak is not of any inherent supernatural quality – rather, it is a picture of the righteousness given to Elijah, the same righteousness and power of the Spirit passing through to Elisha his disciple.

 

V.14 is a direct prophecy of Christ’s same words on the cross – lema lema sabachthani – “Why has the LORD forsaken me?” – “Where is the LORD?”  The parting of the waters is a reminder of the parting of the waters in the exodus of Israel and in day two of creation, both pointing towards the stretching of the Son’s life on the cross.  His appeal is therefore not to Elijah as if he was some deity-saint through whom we reach Mary, through whom we reach Jesus, through whom we reach the Father; rather, Elisha appeals directly to the LORD who had clearly caused Elijah’s ascension:

 

“He applied to Elijah’s God: Where is the Lord God of Elijah? He does not ask, “Where is Elijah?” as poring upon the loss of him, as if he could not be easy now that he was gone,–or as doubting of his happy state, as if, like the sons of the prophets here, he knew not what had become of him,–or as curiously enquiring concerning him, and the particular of that state he was removed to (no, that is a hidden life, it does not yet appear what we shall be),–nor as expecting help from him; no, Elijah is happy, but is neither omniscient nor omnipotent; but he asks, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? Now that Elijah was taken to heaven God had abundantly proved himself the God of Elijah; if he had not prepared for him that city, and done better for him there than ever he did for him in this world, he would have been ashamed to be called his God, Heb. xi. 16; Matt. xxvii. 31, 32. Now that Elijah was taken to heaven Elisha enquired, [1.] After God. When our creature-comforts are removed, we have a God to go to, that lives for ever. [2.] After The God of Elijah, the God that Elijah served, and honoured, and pleaded for, and adhered to when all Israel had deserted him. This honour is done to those who cleave to God in times of general apostasy, that God will be, in a peculiar manner, their God. “The God that owned, and protected, and provided for Elijah, and many ways honoured him, especially now at last, where is he? Lord, am not I promised Elijah’s spirit? Make good that promise.” The words which next follow in the original, Aph-his–even he, which we join to the following clause, when he also had smitten the waters, some make an answer to this question, Where is Elijah’s God? Etiam ille adhuc superest–“He is in being still, and nigh at hand. We have lost Elijah, but we have not lost Elijah’s God. He has not forsaken the earth; it is even he that is still with me.” Note, First, It is the duty and interest of the saints on earth to enquire after God, and apply to him as the Lord God of the saints that have gone before to heaven, the God of our fathers. Secondly, It is very comfortable to those who enquire of him; it is even he that is in his holy temple (Ps. xi. 4) and nigh to all who call upon him, Ps. cxlv. 18. Thirdly, Those that walk in the spirit and steps of their godly faithful predecessors shall certainly experience the same grace that they experienced; Elijah’s God will be Elisha’s too. The Lord God of the holy prophets is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; and what will it avail us to have the mantles of those that are gone, their places, their books, if we have not their spirit, their God?” – Matthew Henry

 

15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.

16 And they said to him, “Behold now, there are with your servants fifty strong men. Please let them go and seek your master. It may be that the Spirit of the LORD has caught him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley.” And he said, “You shall not send.”

17 But when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, “Send.” They sent therefore fifty men. And for three days they sought him but did not find him.

18 And they came back to him while he was staying at Jericho, and he said to them, “Did I not say to you, ‘Do not go’?”

 

Elisha, knowing full well that the whirlwind is the same Spirit of the LORD (as is understood by the sons of the prophets in v.16), is ashamed that the sons of the prophets fail to see the significance of Elijah’s departure (v.16-17).  What is the purpose in locating the ascended typological Son of God when even the sons of the prophets utter that the Spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha (v.15; c.f. Acts 1:11)?  Of course they would not find Elijah in the mountains, however plausible the Spirit’s work may be in teleportation (Acts 8:39-40).  This is because Elisha knew the event to foretell Christ’s ascension, and so also that Christ will return by way of the Spirit from the heavens.  Elisha’s shame is therefore tied fundamentally into the prophets’ failure to perceive the prophecy of the entire event, a mirror showing that these fifty men sent by sons of prophets has no clearer vision of the ascended Christ than the groups of fifty men sent by the false king.

 

19 Now the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful.”

20 He said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him.

21 Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the LORD, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.”

22 So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke.

 

One of the first acts which Elisha performs is, too prophetic – the healing of the bad water to bring in fresh water, the living waters of salvation.  This salt is implicative of the salt covenant with God laid down in Leviticus 2:13 and Numbers 18:19, yet salt inherently is associated with judgment and death (Genesis 19:26; James 3:12) and purification (Exodus 30:35) though it be a seasoning leading to new life (Ezekiel 47:8-12).  What Elisha preaches is therefore the gospel of the new bowl of fresh water, the new wine in new wineskins, the fulfillment of the law in Christ’s completion of his work on the cross.  No longer shall Israel be under the judgment of legal salt covenant, under the judgment of salty rain-water, but look forward to the fulfillment of the legal salt covenant in the Son who received the judgment of rain leading us to a new creation age of fresh water lakes with life-bearing fruit (Revelation 22:2).

 

23 He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!”

24 And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.

25 From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.

 

Here is a repeat of a similar event (1 Samuel 25), like Nabal against David.  Without knowing who he is, these small boys curse Elisha as the bald one – a negative connotation (Ezekiel 27:31; Isaiah 3:24; Lamentations 7:29).  So Elisha curses these children in return, in the name of the LORD, pronouncing the judgment the forty-two boys deserve (c.f. Genesis 12:3; John 20:23; compared with 2 Kings 10:14) in the House of God (Bethel).  From Bethel, he goes to Mount Carmel – the place of the destruction of Baal’s prophets, the name of the mount symbolically meaning circumcised lamb, a fruitful place; then he returns to Samaria, the watch-mountain and worship place of Baal  (1 Kings 16:32), reminding us that the watcher (Daniel 4) is protecting and guiding the Church in a world of idolatry, awaiting the day that all may behold the Christ, the God of Elijah and Elisha.

2 Kings 1-2: Christ and His disciple