OT: 2 Kings 8:1-9:13
Man, the Shunnammite woman has it good. As a result of her plea to Elisha, she has now paid off her late husband's death, had a son, had the son raised from the dead, avoided a famine, and gotten all of her land and property back, including the income it produced while she was gone (8:6)! I bet she is thankful for that relationship!
And does Gehazi still have leprosy?
Like I said earlier, Elisha is a pretty powerful prophet. Yet, even he can't alter the plans of God. Case in point: when Ben-Hadad's servant, Hazael comes to Elisha, Elisha has a moment of horror when he realizes that Hazael will become king and treat Israel cruelly. He reacts by staring at Hazael for a prolonged time (in shock, apparently), and then weeping at the carnage he has just witnessed in his mind's eye. And it is pretty graphic. I shudder to think of what is in store for Israel. Maybe this is what God was talking about when He foretold punishing Ahab's sons for his sins. It is so sad that bad leadership has such horrific consequences for the citizens. Yet, that is not only true in Bible times; it is also very true today.
Also today, Jehoram succeeded his father, Jehoshaphat, as king of Judah. Unfortunately, Jehoram had married a daughter of Ahab and so was led astray. Also, Jehoram's son, Ahaziah, succeeded Joram as king of Israel. Whoa--I'm starting to get confused, now that the lines are intermingling. So let me get this straight: Jehoram is king of Judah, and his son is king of Israel. That bodes well for the relationship between to two countries...except that Ahaziah only ruled a year. He was supplanted by his uncle (?), Jehu, who was currently the commander of the army of...either Israel or Judah. The story of his ascension to the kingship was quite bizarre. First, Elisha told a servant to go, anoint him king, and then run away. The servant did this, and then Jehu returned to his men, who were curious to what the "madman" prophet had to say. They all spoke dismissively of the prophet until Jehu told them the prophet's bizarre message, at which point they immediately blew the trumpet and shouted, "Jehu is king!" (9:13). Wow--their opinions sure turned around quickly!
NT: Acts 16: 16-40
Much like Elisha's casual miracle-working, Paul chooses to heal a girl of a spirit b/c the spirit is annoying him. Unfortunately, the girls' owners are not happy, and had Paul and company arrested, beaten, and imprisoned. Paul and his friends take these trials in stride, and even sing hymns while they are chained in prison. Can you imagine how uncomfortable they are, how much pain they are in? And yet they are still singing. That is just amazing to me. Then, in the middle of the night, an earthquake quite literally breaks them out of jail. Paul's jailer fares better than Peter's did earlier, b/c incredibly, all the prisoners stay put. After their singing and their willingness to remain in prison, the jailer is convinced of the truth of their cause, and he and his family are baptized.
The next day, Paul pulls the trump card of his citizenship. It is interesting to think that Paul could have played that card before he was beaten, and yet he is much less interested in his personal rights as a citizen than he is in the kingdom of God. That's pretty amazing .
Psalm 143: 1-12
Some favorite verses today:
"I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land" (6).
"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul" (8).
Today's proverb is pretty self-evident: "It is not good to punish an innocent man, or to flog officials for their integrity." Ya think? It makes you wonder about the corruption of kingdoms who need to learn things like this.