Certainty in the Midst of Uncertainty: 2 Kings #02
This is an exposition of 2 Kings 2:1-25. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, May 22, 2016.
We’ve all experienced that uncomfortable feeling of everyone knowing something and yet no one wanting to talk about it. It’s inevitable yet off limits. No one is willing to address the “elephant in the room.” That’s the scene at the beginning of 2 Kings 2 Kings 2. The writer even lets us in on it, “Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.” We discover, as the story unfolds, that Elijah and Elisha are making a farewell tour. They are leaving Gilgal and on their way to Bethel. From Bethel they proceed to Jericho and from Jericho they head down to the Jordan. Along the way they are met by various “sons of the prophets.” This is a reference to those who are associated with the prophet. Students who attached themselves to a more prominent teacher or leader. These groups keep asking Elisha if he is aware that the Lord is going to take Elijah away on that day. Each time Elisha says, “Yes, I know. Now stop talking about it.” This is Elijah’s last day and it seems everyone knows it but no one is talking about it! This is a strange chapter and it gives critical scholars fits. You have Elijah and Elisha take this trip from Gilgal. They go northwest to Bethel. Turn around and come back southeast to Jericho then east across the Jordan. Then Elisha goes from east of the Jordan back west to Jericho then north to Bethel. Along the way Elijah parts the waters of the Jordan and then is taken up in a fiery chariot. Elisha parts the Jordan then goes to Jericho, throws salt in the water and “heals” the water. He then goes to Bethel were some boys make fun of his bald head. He curses them and 2 bears maul 42 of the boys and Elisha goes to Mt. Carmel then back to Samaria.
It’s a little confusing. Why are we told these things? Why these things together? How do they fit? What ties them together/do thy tie together? Did any of this actually happen or is this just a collection of myths and legends? There are some “scholars” who say this is an example of “prophetic legend.” What is prophetic legend? Short answer: it is something they made up because they were embarrassed that these stories were in Scripture! I’m not embarrassed. In fact I’m convinced there is a reason for this passage in this way. The key is in understanding that the passage is not about Elijah or Elisha. It is about God. Our text this evening is the second chapter of 2 Kings.
Text: 2 Kings 2:1-15
This is a story about change. History, shaping, epoch shifting change. Elijah has been the dominant figure on the stage of history since he first appeared back in 1 Kings 17. He burst on the scene to announce God’s judgment of drought and famine. By his word the heavens where shut up and rain did not fall for 3 years. By his word the rains returned. He dared to stand up to Ahab and Jezebel crying out against their sin and demanding their repentance. He stood against the prophets of Baal at Mr. Carmel. Most recently he declared God’s judgment on Ahaziah. After years of being God’s man in Israel, God’s champion – he is being taken away. What will happen? Who will take up the cause? Who will stand as the people’s champion?
This strange chapter serves to remind us that…
Thesis: In times of great change, uncertainty and upheaval God remains the one constant and He consistently exercises His sovereignty in all things.
When everything changes we grasp for something to hold onto.
When the world we know becomes unknown we look for something to make sense of it all.
When our world is shaken we look for that which cannot be shaken.
This chapter points to the Eternal One.
It points not the king or the Lord’s servant but to the Lord himself!
That’s what you need to see in this chapter.
It’s what you need to understand about the times in which we live. We are entering the “unknown.” The world we are entering is vastly different from the one in which we were born and in which we have lived. What was evil is now declared good and what was good is now declared evil. Our world is not changing it has changed. But our God has not and He has not gone away.
There are four (4) things I want to point out in our text.
- Even in epoch changing times God raises up leaders endowed with his power. (2:1-15)
- In the face of great uncertainty and upheaval God’s wisdom abides with his people. (2:15-18)
- In times of crisis God’s mercy and grace is extended to the underserving. (2:19-22)
- Though merciful, gracious and kind our God remains terrifyingly righteous. (2:23-25)
For too long the God preached in cultural Christianity is always loving, and forgiving but seldom righteous. To speak of God’s wrath or judgment on sin is to raise the ire of the “tolerant” among us. We need to recover a sense of the terrifying reality of our God.
Elijah is gone but nothing has changed. God’s power, wisdom, grace and judgment remain. Elisha asked, “Where is the God of Elijah?” The answer is right here, where He’s always been.