Posted by: arieliondotcom | May 23, 2013

Loose Threads (2 Kings 8)

Loose Ends
(2 Kings 8)

This chapter is about the LORD tying up loose ends. And, sadly, they are tied to judgment of His people for their disobedience to Him.

We begin with a reminder. When Elisha raised a woman’s son from the dead seven years ago, he had also warned her to leave the area because GOD is bringing a 7-year famine to punish Israel for their disobedience. While she and her son were gone her aged husband died and her property was taken by others. When she returns after the famine is over she goes to the king to put in a complaint.

The woman of the raised son enters the court to speak to the King of Samaria just as Gehazi, Elisha’s old assistant, is telling the king about Elisha raising her son from the dead!

Gehazi had been stricken with leprosy because of his greed. And we read in the previous chapter how he had convinced three other lepers to tell the King of Samaria about food and riches they found. Now the King of Samaria is asking Gehazi, who had just participated in a miracle and had miraculously become a leper by Elisha’s curse, what other miracles he had seen Elisha do. The woman and her son raised from the dead walk in at the exact moment he mentions them.

The King of Samaria asks her for details. When the mother of the resurrected son explains all that happened, including her property and land being stolen while she was gone, the king orders that everything she had be restored to her. Loose ends tied.

Next, we see Elisha going to Damascus. This is unusual since Damascus is in the territory of the Syrians who hate him and his fellow Israelites. But he may have been told by GOD to go there because Ben-Hadad, the King of Syria, is dying. When it is reported to Ben-Hadad that Elisha is nearby the king orders that a great bribe be offered to ask Elisha whether the king will live or die. The dying King Ben-Hadad sends Hazael along with the bribe to get the answer from Elisha.

When Hazael asks Elisha, Elisha says “Say ‘you’ll be fine’ but actually I know he’ll be dead!” Then he stares at Hazael, trying to keep his composure but suddenly sobbing! When Hazael asks why Elisha is weeping, Elisha responds he can see that Hazael will be king after Ben-Hadad and the atrocities he will do.

Rather than asking to be kept from doing such horrible things Hazael feigns humility. Then goes back and suffocates Ben-Hadad just to make sure there are no loose ends. As prophesied, he became King of Syria (or Aram) in place of Ben-Hadad.

What do we say about Elisha lying? We’ve seen this sort of thing before. David lied when living with the enemy, pretending to be crazy and saying he was killing Israelis, while he was really killing enemies of the Israelites. Rahab the harlot lied to the soldiers looking for the Israelite spies. There are times in Scripture where GOD seems to allow good from lying though the individuals would still need to confess and repent of it later.

In this case Jewish scholars say Elisha isn’t really lying. He is using a technique JESUS called “being wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Elisha phrases his “you” to mean Hazael will be fine, not Ben-Hadad. So technically he’s not lying. And Hazael reveals his monstrous personality by murdering Ben-Hadad just in case.

The end of the chapter is confusing because the loose ends are like dangerous weeds.

Remember that there had been the good king of Judah, Jehoshaphat and the evil king, Ahab. They were friends in spite of their differences. And the descendants of Jehoshaphat are even named after the evil descendants of Ahab. Eventually the evil vine of the disobedient tribes of Israel become entangled in the obedient tribe of Judah and Judah becomes evil as well.

However, GOD is not willing to let loose of His promise to David many years before. He has sworn David will always have a king on the throne and that Messiah will come through him. So as much as GOD punishes both Israel and Judah, He will never completely let go.

Loose ends. GOD will tie up His promises and all things will be complete. Either they will be like ribbons tied in a bow to give us a blessing as a gift in eternal life in Christ, the culmination of His promise to David, or they will be like a noose pulling us into hell. It depends on our response when we feel His tug from the cross of Christ on one end to the other end in our hearts.

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