Seeing God in His Word

February 14, 2020 Preacher: Billy Paul Owere Series: Guest Speakers

Topic: Christian Living Scripture: 2 Kings 2:1–25

Sermon Title: Seeing God in His Word
2 Kings 2:1-25

Context: The children of Israel to whom this books of 1 and 2 Kings were written are in exile, no temple, no king, slaves to foreign nations, pagan nations. Once God’s holy
people, once a mighty people but now reduced to secondary citizens, their God, their
identity now ridiculed and mocked. What happened to all the promise of God to them?
Where is the God of the covenant?

Today, in a world plagued with sin, evil so perverse, it is hard to affirm the presence of
God, actively working sometimes. We are thus tempted to give up, become indifferent to God’s word, to ignore its claims, to see no point in honouring God, I mean why bother? If He really cared He would not let this happen to me. We mock those who still do follow Christ faithfully. You have heard people say I have been there done that.
Brothers and sisters if we want to see God, know who is and enjoy the blessing of
having true fellowship with Him, we must devote ourselves to His word. Not our
experiences or those that we see in the world around us. We need to learn to see God
for who He truly is and who He has revealed Himself to be in His Word. From our text
this morning we are going to see two ways in which God’s word reveals who He is.

  •  1. God’s Word Reveals His faithfulness (2 Kings 2:1-14)

In verse 1, God is about to take Elijah away. Elijah knows it, Elisha knows it and even
these groups of guys called “the sons of the prophets” – You could call them
apprentices, Prophets in training, they know Elijah is about to be taken away. We don’t
know exactly how they know. May be because they are Prophets, maybe Elijah told
them directly. As we read the story two different responses to this overarching truth that God is about to take Elijah away are presented to us. On one hand Elisha, who seems keen and intent on being with Elijah till the very end and we see that in (Verse 2, Verse 4, Verse 6) 3 times He is persuade to give up, to stay behind and He says:

As Long as the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you. He was devoted
to God and to God’s servant Elijah. On the other hand, we have the sons of the prophets who seem to be indifferent, complacent, okay with the status quo. They have
resigned themselves to accept this fact.

Any time God was going to take Elijah away. The flight is about to take off, Elijah has
already checked in. You don’t have to keep waiting in the parking lot, you can go back
home. 2 times they try to persuade Elisha to give up “Don’t you know that the Lord will
take away your master?” in Vs 3 and Vs 5 and then in Vs 7 the scriptures tell us that
they followed along on Elijah’s journey from Jericho to Jordan but then for some reason they stay back (they stood back). The author wants us to know this, that Elisha
persisted while the others resigned themselves to the inevitable, Why?

I think the reason is more apparent when we consider the role of Elijah in the history of Israel. In the Books of 1 and 2 Kings Elijah is presented to us as the archetype of the
Prophetic ministry, His word was equivalent to God’s word. In Israel, the presence of a
prophet was synonymous with the presence of God among them.
Hebrews 1:1 tells us that... “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to
our fathers by the prophets,”

When the prophet spoke, God had spoken! Elijah’s departure should arouse concern. It should be to all of Israel more so to the ‘sons of the prophets’ a shock, something to
worry about. It’s like God’s presence, His word is leaving them. It’s no wonder in Vs 12
Elisha cries out: “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” Elijah
was like a whole defence system and force of Israel and he is about to be no more.
What is next for Israel? No one to speak as God’s Man, to speak God’s word to them?
Is God abandoning them by taking away the Prophet?

Rather than be so impressed by Elisha’s response we should be shocked at the
response of the “sons of the prophets.” People that should be devoted to God’s word, sold out to it. They all should have been like Elisha. Eager to spend as much time with
Elijah even to the last moment. Yet they were indifferent! They were resigned! Elisha’s
response is not what should shock us. His response of faithfulness to Elijah His master
up to the end is expected. In times of despair and loss, in times of great testing and trial. Do we hold on to God’s word, depend and rely on it or do we follow it for some time and then quit. Do we allow other things, people to pressure us into slaking in our faithfulness to God?

Elisha is not unaware of the circumstances. 2 times in our text Vs 3 and Vs 5 when the
sons of the prophet are reminding him of the fact that Elijah is about to be taken away
from Him, His response is “Yes I know it, keep quiet!” Elijah leaving is already troubling
enough but on top of that these other men are kind of adding to the pressure. And like
him we too experience similar pressures in our walk and devotion to God. Other voices
in our head like worry, anxiety, anger. When we consider what is happening to us and
what is happening around us. If we don’t guard our hearts, we can get overwhelmed. As a result, we make excuses for ourselves and blame God.

Friends you and I need to examine ourselves our hearts. Are we quick to listen to the
advice from our cultures, our friends, our peers, our systems and way of life instead of
following Gods way, God’s word? If your answer is yes. Then you need to ask for
forgiveness from God and seek His help to enable us to faithfully follow Him. Because
truth be told it is not an easy thing to do! And in fact, this is one area where we can
follow the example of Elisha. In Vs 9 (READ).

Elisha recognizes that there is a gap that soon will need to be filled. Someone needed
to step up. If Elijah leaves, who would speak for God? And so as one in line to succeed
Elijah. He knows that he would need greater help! He needs more grace.
This was no ordinary man whom God was about to take away. Elijah is one of those
unique characters in scripture, it’s no wonder He appears at the transfigurations of Jesus representing the office of prophets as one that pointed to and affirmed Jesus
Christ as the messiah. These were going to be very big shoes to fill.

And so, when Elisha asks for a double portion, he was not asking to do double the
number of miracles that Elijah did? It wasn’t about breaking a record, being greater than Elijah. That if Elijah raised 2 people from the dead then Elisha would raise 4 people. NO!!! Elisha needed more grace in order to be able to stand for God in the same way that Elijah had. This is what Elisha asks for, prays for. The answer He gets is interesting an even better clue to help us understand the double portion language of the text.

In Vs 10, Elijah tells Him that He has asked a hard thing. Why does Elijah say it is a
hard thing? Well, it is because the ministry that He will have to do is probably going to
be tougher, the challenges and opposition he is going to encounter will be greater. Evil
was increasing and much like today. You can’t help but notice that being a True
Christian in our world today is a lot harder in many ways.

Growing in faithfulness to God in our generation means being held to greater account
and responsibility to God’s word. Some of the challenges that the church is facing today are of an even greater proportion than those of generations past. Think about the
legalization of abortions, euthanasia (mercy killings), gay marriage, prosperity gospel,
the rate of murder, rape, terrorism. To stand for God in this generation in some
instances is a lot harder. The sad truth is it’s not going to become any easier. To be light in this world, live for the glory of God being the one who stands firm for the sake of the
name of the Lord at your work place or school or in your family is no easy thing. Our
strength is not enough, our wisdom will not be enough, we need more of God’s help.

This is why Elisha asks for a double portion-recognizing that He needs extra help. And
this is a great prayer that we should make not only for ourselves but for other brothers
and sisters in Christ. None of us has it all figured out. We all need God’s help to be able to remain faithful to His Word.

When we remain devoted to God and His word, relying on his help and not our strength we get to experience the reward of such devotion to God if it be true. Particularly from
this text the most rewarding thing is what happens in Vs 14 right after Elisha asks
“Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” We see Elisha get first had experience of God
working through Him. He does the same miracle that Elijah had done in Vs 8. Which
actually points back to the children of Israel entering the promised land as a fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. And here we see God fulfil the promise He made to Elisha as well through Elijah in Vs 10.

When we obey the scriptures, stay devoted to God and His word. We get to see and
know our God fully for who He is. One who is faithful and steadfast even when the
things in the world around us are crazy, challenging, tough God through His word
consistently proves Himself to be faithful. This is the first way from this text that we get to see God in His word. God’s word reveals His faithfulness. In the second portion of the text we see the second way in which the Word of God reveals who he is and that is:

  • 2. God’s Word Reveals His power (2 Kings 2:15-25)

Here just like in the first part of the text the author uses three examples, three different groups responses to God’s word to show us how powerful God’s word is. The first response is that of the ‘sons of the prophets’ again! In Vs 15-18. Through their response we see that God’s word revealed always proves to be true.

It is dependable, you and I can stake our faith, our hope on it. These guys see Elisha
and they immediately recognized that Elijah’s spirit is on Elisha. They even bowed down to Him. An indication that they believed that just as God was with Elijah, He was with
Elisha. And so, reading this we expect that these ‘sons of the prophets’ knowing this
about Elisha would also know that whatever Elisha spoke or said would be equivalent to God himself speaking. Just like it was the case for Elijah. But Oh, no. See Vs 16-17.
They doubted the words of Elisha. In fact, they went so far as to pressure him to let
them do things their way. And it’s not just one guy, it’s 50 men, all 50 prophets. Not
false prophets. They are true prophets in training they are not ignorant of the word of
God and how it works. They have been witnesses to the great miracles and works of
God through the prophets before and yet their response is so off, so filled with doubt.
So, privileged to know God like that be with a man whose words are the same as God’s words. God working effectively in and through His life. Whose very presence connotes
the very presence of the almighty God. And yet still doubt Him.

But as we shake our heads in shock and unbelief. We must acknowledge our own guilt
of the same sin. Has not God made such a wonderful display of His acts, His power, His excellence in the scriptures. So much so that we don’t need to go to a prophet to get the word of God because we have the complete and full Word of God in the holy scriptures. And yet we so easily doubt it, ignore its claims and deny its power and authority over us.

How many times have you heard people say: “Yes I know the bible says that but for me this is what I believe...” We trust our experiences more than we trust God’s word.
We insist on God doing things our way and we hate it, find it unfair, awkward that God
says no to us. And even, when through His word, through the counsel of other godly
brothers and sisters it is clear that we should not do a certain thing we insist on doing it any way. Giving ourselves over to sin knowing well that God’s word says “no.” We are
no different from the sons of the prophets.

We need to repent and go back to God’s word, follow His way, His instructions.
Because it is only His way that will prove to be true in the end. Our ways apart from the hand of God guiding them, unless God’s word is what is ordering our steps eventually
they will lead to folly, emptiness, nothingness. They won’t satisfy, they won’t sustain
before long we will come to dead ends.

In Vs 18, these sons of the prophets get an “I told you so” moment from Elisha. For us it may not be as casual. Sometimes the consequences of our folly, of our lack of faith and self-centred focus in life, recognizing God but not acknowledging Him, ignoring the
claims that His word has on our lives can prove to be very destructive and drive many to bitterness, apostasy and ultimately to missing out on the promise of eternal life.

When we don’t like God’s answer or His silence on a particular issue. When we don’t like what the preacher is saying because it doesn’t fit or agree with our point of view. When we twist God’s word, picking and choosing what we believe about God’s word and ignore other parts of it. Brothers and sisters this is very dangerous. The word of God is a sure foundation and its absolute. There is no surer, better anchor, source of lasting strength and courage in the midst of despair and suffering than God’s word.

The second response is that of the men of the city of Jericho. Through their response
we see the power of God’s word revealed as being able to save. These Men also
recognise that Elisha is a man of God. But unlike the sons of the prophets these obey
Elisha’s words. What is shocking about this group is they seem to be unaware of how
bad their situation is. [READ Vs 19].

I don’t know if that’s just me who finds that a bit awkward and off. A city where the water is bad, the land is unfruitful, death and miscarriages were occurring perhaps on a regular basis and yet the men in this city described the situation in their city as
pleasant? The truth is that the situation was not pleasant at all, in fact it was the
opposite and far worse than what they thought. It means that they had become
accustomed to the unpleasant situation that it no longer phases them.

In this great city, we see a picture of ourselves. We are often unaware of our greatest
need which is forgiveness of sin, reconciliation to God. For them this unpleasant
situation was actually normal in the same way today we see sin as a normal thing. We
forget that God is Holy and we are sinful and before Him we stand already condemned to die in our sin. More than money, more than a car, a new job, wife, a husband. We need Gods mercy and grace to bring life to our dead souls. But Praise God that
according to His word, He sent His son Jesus Christ to take our place. Dying on the
cross as a propitiation for our sin. And now through faith in Him and the work that He did for us at Calvary we too have been healed and set free from the curse of sin and death.

Maybe you are here today and you are not a Christian, you have not put your faith in
Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of you sin and the hope of eternal life. I want to ask you to listen to God’s word to you this morning. Come to Jesus who himself is the
embodiment of the word of God! Trust God! He will bring your soul which is dead in
trespasses to life.

And for my Christian brothers and sisters, let’s not allow to become complacent, used to the status quo that we forget what our greatest hope and pursuit in the faith is all about. Friends yes we will have to endure suffering, the struggles we face, the hard and difficult moments, the losses we experience are not the end of our story. One day our
lord Jesus Christ is coming back to save us completely, fully and bring us to a place
where there is no more pain, no more loss, no more suffering and that will be truly a
pleasant situation. The hope of that great day of our total and complete salvation is what should motivate us to keep walking in obedience to God’s word.

The first way that God’s word reveals his power from this text we saw is by Always
proving to be True, Secondly God’s word reveals His power is through His Ability to
Save us. The third and last way that we see from this text that God’s word reveals His
power is through His Righteous Judgements towards us.

In Vs 23-25 we get a very graphic and savage kind of situation. Two bears appearing
from nowhere and killing these boys, not 1 not 2 but all 42 boys? It’s so random and
shocking! Why would God do such a horrible thing? Did Elisha really have to go to the
extent of cursing them? Why not do a counselling session. Why did God send bears to
tear them into pieces? It’s gruesome, doesn’t fit some of our ideas of a loving God.

To understand this better let’s look back at this text and observe a few things there to
help us make sense of what was going on. The scripture says the boys jeering, say to
Elisha ‘go up you baldhead’. The words ‘go up’ in the books of Kings were associated
with going to the high places. These were places of worship that had been set up to
make sacrifices and more often than not to worship idols. Here we see a picture how far Israel had fallen back into sin so much so that these 42 small boys maybe teenagers or children were hanging around idol worship centres no doubt participating in it too.

They mock Elisha calling him a ‘bald head’ which was a comparison with Elijah who was known for having too much hair. They were literally telling Elisha that he was an
imposter, nothing compared to Elijah. Rather than speak for Yahweh he should just go
and worship at the high places, worship gods that do not speak. And so, when Elisha
curses them, it was not just to show off his power as a prophet. He does it because this was a manifestation of Israel’s unfaithfulness to the covenant with Yahweh so much that even small young boys were worshiping Idols and mocking the true servant of God.

Leviticus 26:21-22: "Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will
continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins. And I will let loose the wild beasts against you, which shall bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock and make you few in number, so that your roads shall be deserted."

These were Holy covenantal bears, on a Holy assignment to bring about God’s most
holy and just judgement on these small boys for their disobedience to God’s word by
participating in idol worship and mocking of Yahweh and His servant. It was not just against Elisha that these boys had sinned. It was against Yahweh, against the creator God, the giver of life that they had sinned and the punishment that they received was just and right.

In the scriptures, God has made Himself known to us, His character as one who is all
powerful, in need of nothing. Most just and Most holy. One who hates sin. One who
demands exclusive worship and devotion. A God who does not overlook even the
slightest sin can be trusted to not overlook even the slightest of our afflictions. That is a consistent God! Not only is He powerful to execute justice, He is also powerful enough to vindicate us from all forms of injustice that we have had or may have to endure for the sake of our faith and devotion to Him.

Israel to whom this book was addressed are in exile because of their sin. Because they have sinned against a Holy and just God. They in fact deserved worse than exile. Like
the boys in this story they deserved to be blotted out, torn to pieces. And just like them we too deserve to be blotted out and torn to pieces because of our sin. We make a
mockery of God’s word when we act in direct opposition to His word, live and continue
in un-repentant sin. When we don’t obey clear commands in scripture. When we look to
God as a by the way, something that is fading slowly into extinction, out dated and
almost irrelevant, it is no wonder that godlessness prevails. Evil prevails in our world
today not because God is unjust rather it is because men are sinful and do sinful things and on account of those things we deserve to be torn to pieces.

But Praise God!!! Instead of sending bears, God sent His son Jesus Christ not tear us to pieces but to mend us, to save us from our sins and in fact it was Jesus Christ whose body was torn into pieces on the cross at Calvary in our place. Reconciling us back to God our heavenly father and now people from every tribe, nation and tongue if they put their faith in Him will be saved. We can know Him and ultimately we have the hope that on day we will not only see him in His word but rather we will see Him face to face.

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