Deception

The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was—water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water.

Now all the Moabites had heard that the kings had come to fight against them; so every man, young and old, who could bear arms was called up and stationed on the border. When they got up early in the morning, the sun was shining on the water. To the Moabites across the way, the water looked red—like blood. “That’s blood!” they said. “Those kings must have fought and slaughtered each other. Now to the plunder, Moab!” 2 Kings 3:20-23

Elisha prophesied that Moab would fall into the hands of the three kings but he wasn’t specific about how it would come about. The Lord had deceived the Moabites into thinking that blood was running in the rivers from the blood that was shed. You have to admit, it was certainly a creative deception. The story ends with the Moabites being slaughtered. The armies of the three kings had no idea how it would all come about, except that it had to do with a river that God had created after the troops dug a large ditch.

There are many enemies of God in the world today. There are many who want to destroy Christians. We see it especially in countries that Christians are not in the majority. They are beaten down and attacked, and very few in the “world community” either cares or dares to speak out against these injustices. Pray that God will confuse the minds of the enemies of Believers. Pray that He will continue to be adored and praised in lands that persecute His believers. Pray for those Believers who are persecuted and ask God what you (and I) can do to help on this end.

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The Musicians

Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you or even notice you. But now bring me a harpist.”
While the harpist was playing, the hand of the LORD came upon Elisha.
2 Kings 3:14-15

Right in the midst of talking to three kings, Elisha calls for a harpist. Do you find that odd? That certainly takes a lot of guts to do that even with only one king nearby. So the harpist comes and plays. It must have put Elisha in the mood to hear from the Lord, whatever that means. In any event, Elisha prophesies for the kings and the prophecy comes to pass for them.

Music seems to soothe the soul. If you recall, Saul called for David to play his harp to soothe Saul’s troubled soul. Music just has that effect on people. Consider ways that you can bless your music pastor this week. Perhaps you belong to a small church and the music pastor is the pastor. Bless him somehow. Write him or her a card or note. Take him to lunch. Give him a gift certificate at your local Christian bookstore. Most of all, pray that God will move in him and his family’s life, and that the music he chooses will bless the very heart of God.

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War and Moral Clarity

Now Mesha king of Moab raised sheep, and he had to supply the king of Israel with a hundred thousand lambs and with the wool of a hundred thousand rams. But after Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 2 Kings 3:4-5

Mesha king of Moab was a shepherd, sort of. In his mind his pact with King Ahab was no longer valid so he no longer supplied Israel with 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,00 rams. Now he was willing to go to war over it, or at the very least, to test the newly installed king. Think about that for a second. A king was willing to go to war all because he didn’t want to supply 100,000 lambs to another king. The king of Israel still wanted the power; I suspect he didn’t need the mutton or wool to make his country prosper. So the king of Israel mustered up the king of Judah and the king of Edom to wage war against the king of Moab.

Little has changed over the years. Leaders argue over land rights and money and oil and any number of things, rightly or wrongly. Controlling the oil supply (or not letting it fall into the wrong hands) has been a big reason to go to war in the past two decades; access to fresh water will even be a bigger reason in the near future. It is a shame that thoughtful men and women cannot sit down to discuss and hammer out these issues face to face. Greed and hatred for others gets in the way. When a nation’s leaders do not play well in the sandbox with other leaders, war may seem like the only option left.

Obviously, war is complicated. It’s not always clear cut as others would like you to believe. When one people is slaughtering another group without a chance or means to defend themselves, other nations should step in and halt the violence (yes, by violent means). The case I’m thinking of now is Sudan. The North is continuing its assault on the folks in the South, and the South cannot defend themselves because the North already took away their weapons. Other nations should step up and squelch the genocide.

Pray that nations with moral clarity over this matter will do just that.

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Baldy

From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!” they said. “Go on up, you baldhead!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled 42 of the youths. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria. 2 Kings 2:23-25

Having very little hair myself, I couldn’t pass up discussing this Scripture. I personally don’t believe this was God’s intention in giving Elisha the double portion of blessing (Scripture doesn’t say either way). I believe it was a misuse of his power. I suppose you could make a case that his life was in jeopardy with at least 42 kids making fun of him. Forty-two youths were mauled by the bears, but how many, if any, escaped and ran to tell the neighboring town about Elisha’s arrival? We don’t know. However, it is clear that the youths were disrespectful to the prophet. And that’s the point I’d like to make.

Were the kids trained right by their parents, but when they were together in a group of 40+ they turned mean and disrespectful? We don’t know. We do know that no other incident like this is recorded while Elisha was a prophet. Coincidence? Perhaps. Lesson learned? Clearly.

This is a good time to pray for our youth. They are growing up in a very different society than we grew up in and our parents grew up in (and every other generation). There are challenges the youth face that we never had to face. One glance at the fashion styles and music and commercials that kids are surrounded by will give you a taste of what they are up against. Pray that those you know personally will be able to have a godly influence on the culture around them. Pray that there will still be a remnant who are God-fearing. And pray that God will give them great boldness to proclaim the gospel to their peers.

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I Told You So

The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. “Look,” they said, “we your servants have fifty able men. Let them go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the LORD has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley.”
“No,” Elisha replied, “do not send them.”
But they persisted until he was too ashamed to refuse. So he said, “Send them.” And they sent fifty men, who searched for three days but did not find him. When they returned to Elisha, who was staying in Jericho, he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?”
2 Kings 2:15-18

There’s a saying in the vernacular: “I told you so.” Fifty prophets came to Elisha to tell him they could go look for Elijah. Like a persistent salesman, these prophets kept pressing Elisha. One ‘no’ should have been enough. Elisha knew exactly what had happened to Elijah. What we see here in a minor way is what we have in a major way in our society: hero worship.

The prophets obviously respected Elijah, probably because of what happened to the 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah. People, even well-meaning and solid Believers, love to follow ‘names.’

A few weeks I heard the story of a pastor who sat with an ailing family for days in the hospital, waiting patiently for the family member to come out of a coma. In walks a well-known preacher with his entourage of workers. He stayed less than 30 minutes total going from room to room and praying over the sick. For the next few days it was all one of the family members spoke about. Then the pastor said to a friend, ‘it was as if I was invisible.’

Today’s a good day to pray for your pastor and to drop him an encouraging note in the mail. Chances are good that he isn’t a well-known ‘name’ and would welcome the encouragement. As Mark Twain used to say, “I can go three months on a good compliment.” Your words mean things.

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