I Kings 19:1–18

The Silence of God

Laura Miguélez Quay

Linebrook Church

June 19, 2016

(Father’s Day)

 

This Father’s Day morning—and once again, a Happy Father’s Day to all who are fathers!—we have yet another snapshot into the life of Elijah, God’s prophet, and his ongoing confrontations with the wicked king of Israel, Ahab, and his ruthless Canaanite queen, Jezebel. The passage opens with Ahab telling Jezebel how Elijah had had all of the prophets of Baal killed. This occurred at the end of the contest between Baal and the LORD that we considered a few weeks ago, in which Baal didn’t show. At the end of the contest, Elijah commanded that all of the false prophets be seized and killed.[1] Not surprisingly, Jezebel is infuriated by Elijah’s actions and sends word that she has invoked a curse upon him[2] saying, verse 2, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” Essentially, Jezebel has vowed to have Elijah killed even as he had the prophets of Baal killed. And Elijah is so afraid that he ends up running for life (3).

At one level, if we stop and think about both Jezebel and Elijah’s behavior, neither makes complete sense. In the previous chapter the LORD, the one and only true God, decisively defeated Baal. Given that, why should Jezebel invoke these defeated gods—Baal and Asherah—in her vow to do away with Elijah? If the gods she followed didn’t show before, why would they show now? Haven’t they, beyond a shadow of a doubt, been shown to be impotent? So, too, why does Elijah fear Jezebel? Hasn’t the LORD shown himself to be strong and powerful time and again? Hadn’t Elijah, just a short time prior, taunted the prophets of Baal, asking where their god might be? Hadn’t Elijah stood alone in confronting these false prophets and this evil royal couple? Despite all of this we nonetheless see Elijah now being afraid and running for his life (3):

Elijah, that lone voice crying our to the LORD in the wilderness of false gods and idols and the evil practices that accompanied their worship, is afraid.

Elijah, who had been sent by the LORD to the heart of Jezebel’s country in Sidon and there been cared for by a widow and a miraculous provision of food and water during a three and a half period of drought, now runs for his life.

When he arrived at Beersheba[3] at the southern end of Judah, he left his servant there (3) and continued on a day’s journey by himself into the wilderness. And when he came to a broom bush—a desert shrub that can grow as high as nine feet[4]—he sat down under it and prayed that he might die, saying, “I have had enough, Lord…. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors” (4). And, having said that, “he lay down under the bush and fell asleep” (5).

How can this be happening? How is it possible that such a devout follower of the one, true God is displaying such signs of depression?

How is it possible that someone who has been intimately connected with his Creator and Redeemer can now want to die?

How is it possible that one who has spoken so boldly and courageously and confidently on God’s behalf—challenging false contenders and their followers—can now desire to turn it all in?

I think the answer is a simple—and obvious—one: Because Elijah is human and life in a fallen world can be incredibly hard. Last week we noted how sometimes we misunderstand Christianity, thinking that there are “good” Christians and “bad” Christians and therefore we conclude that we’re not “good enough” to be Christians when in fact no one is “good enough” to be a Christian. Well, similarly, another misunderstanding we too often have is that of assuming that because we are Christians—because we, as was the case with Elijah—are followers of the one true God, then we won’t have to experience the hardships that those who don’t know Christ undergo. We can wrongly assume that to be a Christian means that we will have lives of ease and comfort while still living on earth. But this simply isn’t the case.

As we look at the life of one of God’s chosen prophets, we see that Elijah knew God’s provision. He had experienced the LORD’s miraculous provision of food and water and shelter and deliverance from his enemies on more than one occasion. But Elijah himself isn’t God. Nor did he live with an overly idealistic understanding of what it meant to be a follower of God. Simply because the LORD had delivered him in the past did not mean his deliverance was guaranteed for the future. The threat to Elijah’s life by Jezebel was real. She and Ahab were the most powerful people of their day. If they wanted to have Elijah put to death, then make no mistake, he would be put to death, barring some miracle from the LORD. And a miracle was by no means guaranteed.

So Elijah told the LORD that he had had enough of being a prophet in such dangerous times and so he asked that the LORD take his life noting that he was no better than his ancestors. Rather than die at the hands of Jezebel, he asked to die at the hands of the LORD. And the comment about his life being no better than his ancestors is a recognition that others who had stood up to evil powers in their day similarly hadn’t been successful in defeating it once and for all. If they had been successful, then evil would have ceased. But evil was alive and well. In his weariness over his life, Elijah lay down and fell asleep. But the LORD wasn’t done with his servant yet. He sent an angel who “touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat’” (5b). When Elijah looked around he saw yet another miraculous provision from the LORD, “some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water.” As the LORD had done in the time of drought, he now again provided food and drink for Elijah. And, after eating and drinking, he lay down again.

Yet a second time the angel of the LORD returned to Elijah and again “touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you’” (7). So Elijah did so again and “Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night” (8–9). Now Mount Horeb, the mountain of God, is where God first appeared to Moses in the burning bush.[5] And many scholars believe that Mount Horeb is the same as Mount Sinai, possibly two peaks of the same mountain.[6] If so, then a further connection with Moses is that this is where he spent “forty days and forty nights” with the LORD when he was given the Ten Commandments.[7] Now we don’t know why Elijah chose to go to Mount Horeb but, unlike other times he’s gone to a particular location, this time he didn’t go at the LORD’s bidding, but on his own. He was trying to get as far away from Jezebel as possible.

Yet the LORD condescends to Elijah in the midst of his fear and depression. Having provided food and drink for Elijah twice, “the word of the Lord” then came to him asking, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (9b). Now it isn’t the case that the LORD didn’t already know why Elijah was there for God knows everything about all of his creation. But this question brings to mind how God came to Adam in the Garden of Eden after he had taken of the forbidden fruit and asked “Where are you?”[8] As was true with Adam, the LORD is here calling Elijah to accountability. I think what is also going on is that because God is a Person—because he desires to be in relationship with those whom he’s created in his image—he is reaching out to Elijah, asking that Elijah respond and turn to him in his time of fear and discouragement.

Elijah replies to the LORD in verse 10, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” So Elijah responded truthfully. He had been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. And his discouragement is more than understandable for despite Elijah’s fidelity to the LORD, the Israelites have rejected God’s covenant, and torn down his altars, and put his prophets to death so that only Elijah is left—and now Jezebel has set her sights on him. Elijah’s consternation and desire to die aren’t surprising.

And by way of response, the LORD—in an act that is reminiscent of his relationship with Moses—told Elijah, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by” (11). When the LORD passed before Moses, he, too, was discouraged and charged with an enormous task. In his case it was that of leading the people of Israel, whom he had brought out of Egypt, to the land promised by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.[9] When Moses expressed his concerns to the LORD, the LORD reassured him that his Presence would go with him and give him rest.[10] And then Moses asked that the LORD show him his glory—and the LORD did.[11]

So Elijah is in good standing. He is one of the servants God chose to live a seemingly impossible life of proclaiming the LORD’s goodness to people who continually turned their backs on him and who resisted—and resented—and now sought to destroy his servant. So despite the extraordinary and miraculous provisions Elijah had experienced from the LORD, he was weary of living. And the LORD, even though Elijah hadn’t asked to see him, nonetheless yet again ministered to him by coming to him—by telling him he would pass by him, even as he did for Moses.

Now the prelude to this passing by is breathtaking. God who created the world and whom the world cannot contain demonstrates his power over that creation in extraordinary and powerful ways. First, by means of “a great and powerful wind [he] tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord” (11b) but the LORD was not in the wind. Next he caused an earthquake but, again, the LORD was not in the earthquake (11c). Finally “there came a fire” but yet again, the LORD was not in the fire (12a). Now these descriptions are presented in such a matter-of-fact manner that it’s easy to take them for granted. Anyone who has lived in New England for a stretch of time has probably seen or experienced the force of a Nor’easter—or at least seen images on the television. The power that wind has to bend and even uproot trees and homes is awe-inspiring. Yet compared to the wind the LORD brings about, a Nor’easter is but a gentle breeze for this wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks. That’s an awfully powerful and fearsome wind.

So, too, consider the strength of an earthquake. Years ago when I first lived in Massachusetts, as I was getting ready to go for a jog one morning, I felt the building where I was living gently shake. I was confused as to why but, since I lived a few blocks from the Beverly train station, I assumed a train must be going by even though I’d never felt any shaking in the year or so I’d lived there. Later in the day I learned that there had been a minor earthquake that morning whose epicenter was in New York. So I had I felt reverberations from a quake that was hundreds of miles away. It made me appreciate how terrifying it must be to experience an earthquake full-on. Though no descriptions are provided as to the earthquake Elijah experienced, it too must have been horrifying. And last, but certainly not least, the LORD brought about a fire. If you’ve seen any of the images of current—or past—wildfires in the southwest, in California and New Mexico—it’s evident just how destructive fire can be.

In these terrific forces of nature—wind, earthquake, and fire—the LORD displays for Elijah his sovereignty over all that exists. These three phenomena were also present when God manifested himself to Moses on Mount Sinai.[12] But the God who made us is not equivalent to nature; he is over nature, not to be equated with nature. So we are told in verses 11–12 that God was not in any of these natural displays that Elijah was able to witness from the safety of his cave—God was not in the wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire.

Though the creation may point to the existence and reality of its Creator, the Creator himself is a Person who desires to communicate—to be in relationship with—those whom he’s created. So we next see the LORD speaking with Elijah using language Elijah can understand—a “gentle whisper” (12) which is sometimes translated as “a still small voice.” And we see Elijah responding to that gentle voice as “he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave” (13b). And then that voice gently asked him—again sought to connect with and hear from him—by asking the very same question as before: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (13c) And Elijah provided the same answer he provided before: “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (14). Despite all that Elijah had just seen take place—a mighty wind, earthquake, and fire—he was still discouraged and despondent.

But the LORD doesn’t give up on his servant for he, Yahweh, the personal God who made an everlasting covenant with Abraham—tells Elijah three things he is to do:

1) He is to return to the Desert of Damascus and anoint Hazael[13]—a foreigner from Damascus—as king over Aram in Syria;

2) He is to anoint Jehu[14] as King over Israel;

3) and he is to pass the prophet-baton on to Elisha (15–16). By means of these two kings and prophet, the evil in Israel will yet again be restrained though, as ever, God will reserve a remnant, specifically, “seven thousand [probably a symbolic, not literal number] in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” So though Elijah may be the only prophet left who has publicly stood up to evil, the LORD let Elijah know that he was not alone—that there were others who similarly were on the LORD’s side. God’s quest to maintain a people holy unto himself would continue.

Now if we think about what the LORD has just communicated to Elijah, what is perhaps shocking or at least surprising for us to learn is what the gentle whisper of the LORD—his still small voice—actually ended up saying. In the wake of Elijah’s despondency over the relentless evil that existed in his day, the LORD whispers, which is to say he demanded, the slaughter of all of his enemies.[15] This slaughter would come by means of Hazael, a foreign king from Syria; any who escaped from Hazael would be put to death by Jehu, king of Israel; and, finally, any who escaped from Jehu, would be put to death by Elisha, Elijah’s successor as Israel’s prophet. We may think that the LORD’s still, small wife is there to sooth and lull Elijah as a mother wooing an infant, but in this instance God’s whisper responds to Elijah’s sense of hopelessness at the evil in his day by promising him that he would continue to address evil by means of rulers and religious leaders and that he would preserve a remnant who would continue to be faithful to him.

One of the things I’m doing is this summer is grading an online class for Gordon-Conwell originally taught by Dr. Hollinger, the seminary’s president, on Christian Ethics. And it’s caused me to again become aware of how at odds Scripture’s values are with society’s values. Whether we’re talking about abortion—or marriage and other biblical sexual mores—or euthanasia—the standards that Scripture sets before us can be vastly different from those of our society.

But it’s also made me think about how Christians, in our quest to uphold God’s values, have often done so in ways that ultimately have dishonored other equally essential values presented in those very same Scriptures:

Whether by Crusades that were intended to spread the Gospel but ultimately ended up tyrannically harming those who rejected that Gospel;

Or by those who upheld the evil of slavery by misinterpreting and misusing Scripture;

Or others who have destroyed life by bombing abortion clinics where life was being destroyed;

Sadly and tragically many evils have been done in God’s name by misusing God’s Scriptures.

But, too, as a country, the events of September 11, 2001, changed us and reminded us of terrorist forces of evil by some who want to destroy our country in part for the very values of tolerance and freedom we as a nation cherish and uphold. And the events that took place in Orlando, Florida, this past week—even though it’s beginning to look as though the killer was deranged rather than a terrorist—are yet another reminder of the force and power of the principalities and powers of evil that continue to be evident in our day.

Yet this story from Elijah—this devoted servant of God who nonetheless experienced discouragement in what he perceived to be a losing battle against evil—can offer us encouragement for in the LORD’s response by his gentle whisper, in his quiet but sure judgment against evil, we are reminded that the battle isn’t ours, but the LORD’s and so we can rest confident that he will win in the end. If this was true in Elijah’s day how much more can we who are living after Christ’s coming to earth, and dying, and rising, know even better that he has ascended to heaven and is ruling over all the world for in his life and resurrection the devil, sin, and evil were conquered once and for all. One day, God will restore his shalom—his peace—the way that things ought to be—the way that he intended them to be.

But in the meantime, we need to remember that he has called us not only to live according to his Word but also according to his ways.

As Jesus showed compassion to sinners, pointing them to himself, the one true God, so should we;

As Jesus sought to minister to those who were hurting, so should we;

As Jesus loved even those others deemed unloveable, so should we.

Brothers and sisters, you and I are not God but, by means of his loving and comforting Holy Spirit, we are called to minister in God’s name, in complete dependence and reliance upon him, to all those around us—to all those whom he brings into our lives.

And if life seems too much for us—if we battle with discouragement and depression—we can take heart in knowing that God understands and cares and wants to assure us that one day, all evil will be conquered once and for all when Christ returns. That even though our efforts may seem to be in vain, we are nonetheless called not to be weary in well-doing for we can’t know or see the whole picture—but God does.

And if this morning you’re feeling as though God is silent and uncaring, remember that this feeling is but a lie for by his very nature God cannot stop loving us; he cannot stop caring for us; he cannot stop having compassion upon us. And as was true with Elijah, we can rest assured that God is present even in near silence. Divine silence doesn’t mean divine inactivity. And, this side of heaven, we are called to trust in our gracious Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; we are called to walk not by sight but by faith.

So we can take heart—and persevere—and rest in the truth that God is ever God and, as Paul states in Philippians 1:6, that he who began a good in those who are his will carry it on to completion until the day when our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus returns.

Let us pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] I Kings 19:40: Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

[2] Other examples of curse formulas include: I Samuel 3:17; 14:44; 20:13; 25:22; 2 Samuel 3:9, 35; 19:13; Ruth 1:17; 2 Kings 6:31.

[3] Beersheba is in southern Judah, 130 miles south of Jezreel. Reformation: As he did before, Elijah flees outside the borders of the northern kingdom. I Kings 17:2–4, 8–10a: Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there….”Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath.

[4] NIV notes: A broom tree is a desert shrub, sometimes large enough to offer shade. Reformation: It can grow as high as nine feet and provides some shade.

[5] Exodus 3:1: . “1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.” Some have argued that Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai are two different names for different tops on the same mountain. If this is the case, then Horeb is also where Moses was given the Ten Commandments by the LORD.

[6] Probably located somewhere in Saudi Arabia, though its exact location is unknown.

[7] Exodus 34:27–28:27 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.” Other instances of forty include: [the flood] It rained for 40 days and 40 nights when God wanted to cleanse the world and start over. (Gen 7:12 KJV) And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. [post-flood] Noah waited another 40 days after it rained before he opened a window in the Ark. (Gen 8:6 KJV) And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: Embalming required 40 days (although this was an Egyptian custom, the Egyptians recognized the period of 40 for the preparation of going into a new life, what they called the afterlife) (Gen 50:3 KJV) And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days. Moses was on the mountain with God for 40 days (TWICE) (Exo 24:18 KJV) And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights. (Exo 34:28-29 KJV) And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. (Deu 10:10 NIV) Now I had stayed on the mountain forty days and nights, as I did the first time, and the LORD listened to me at this time also. It was not his will to destroy you. Moses’ face shone after the 40 days on the mountain. (Exo 34:29 KJV) And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. It took the spies 40 days to search out the promised land and bring back fruit (Num 13:25 KJV) And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness, one year for each day they explored the Promised Land. (Exo 16:35 KJV) And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan. (Num 14:33-34 NIV) Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. {34} For forty years–one year for each of the forty days you explored the land-you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you. Goliath came for forty days before being killed by David (1 Sam 17:16 NLT) For forty days, twice a day, morning and evening, the Philistine giant strutted in front of the Israelite army. Elijah strengthened by one angelic meal went forty days to Mount Horeb where the Lord passed by and he heard the voice of God (1 Ki 19:8 KJV) And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. Jonah warned the City of Nineveh they had 40 days until God would overthrow the city. The people repented in those 40 days and God spared the city. (Jonah 3:4 and 10 KJV) And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness (Mat 3:17 KJV) And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Mat 4:1-2 KJV) Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. {2} And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. Jesus was seen in the earth 40 days after His crucifixion (Acts 1:3 NIV) After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. <http://www.40day.com/40_in_the_bible.html>

[8] Genesis 3:8–9:Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

[9] Exodus 33:1: Then the Lord said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’

[10] Exodus 33:12–14: 12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

[11] Exodus 33:18–23: 18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” 19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” 21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

[12] Reformation: Exodus 19:18–19: 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.; 20:18: When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance; 24:17: To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.; Deuteronomy 4:11–13: 11 You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. 12 Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. 13 He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets.; 5:22–25: 22 These are the commandments the Lord proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.23 When you heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was ablaze with fire, all the leaders of your tribes and your elders came to me. 24 And you said, “The Lord our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a person can live even if God speaks with them.

[13] God uses Hazael to bring his judgment against the house of Ahab (2 Kings 8:7–15:Elisha went to Damascus, and Ben-Hadad king of Aram was ill. When the king was told, “The man of God has come all the way up here,” he said to Hazael, “Take a gift with you and go to meet the man of God. Consult the Lord through him; ask him, ‘Will I recover from this illness?’” Hazael went to meet Elisha, taking with him as a gift forty camel-loads of all the finest wares of Damascus. He went in and stood before him, and said, “Your son Ben-Hadad king of Aram has sent me to ask, ‘Will I recover from this illness?’” 10 Elisha answered, “Go and say to him, ‘You will certainly recover.’ Nevertheless, the Lord has revealed to me that he will in fact die.” 11 He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael was embarrassed. Then the man of God began to weep. 12 “Why is my lord weeping?” asked Hazael. “Because I know the harm you will do to the Israelites,” he answered. “You will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women.” 13 Hazael said, “How could your servant, a mere dog, accomplish such a feat?” “The Lord has shown me that you will become king of Aram,” answered Elisha. 14 Then Hazael left Elisha and returned to his master. When Ben-Hadad asked, “What did Elisha say to you?” Hazael replied, “He told me that you would certainly recover.” 15 But the next day he took a thick cloth, soaked it in water and spread it over the king’s face, so that he died. Then Hazael succeeded him as king. 28–29: 28 Ahaziah went with Joram son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. The Arameans wounded Joram; 29 so King Joram returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds the Arameans had inflicted on him at Ramoth[c] in his battle with Hazael king of Aram.

Then Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to Jezreel to see Joram son of Ahab, because he had been wounded.; 10:32: In those days the Lord began to reduce the size of Israel. Hazael overpowered the Israelites throughout their territory; 12:17–18: 17 About this time Hazael king of Aram went up and attacked Gath and captured it. Then he turned to attack Jerusalem. 18 But Joash king of Judah took all the sacred objects dedicated by his predecessors—Jehoshaphat, Jehoram and Ahaziah, the kings of Judah—and the gifts he himself had dedicated and all the gold found in the treasuries of the temple of the Lord and of the royal palace, and he sent them to Hazael king of Aram, who then withdrew from Jerusalem.; 13:3, 22: So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son…. 22 Hazael king of Aram oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Jehoahaz.

[14] Jehu was a military commander under Ahab and Joram, Ahab’s son. At the behest of Elijah, he launched a complete purge of the house of Ahab (see 2 Kings 9:1–10:17). (2 Kings 9:1–10: 1The prophet Elisha summoned a man from the company of the prophets and said to him, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take this flask of olive oil with you and go to Ramoth Gilead. When you get there, look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi. Go to him, get him away from his companions and take him into an inner room. Then take the flask and pour the oil on his head and declare, ‘This is what the Lord says: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and run; don’t delay!” So the young prophet went to Ramoth Gilead. When he arrived, he found the army officers sitting together. “I have a message for you, commander,” he said. “For which of us?” asked Jehu. “For you, commander,” he replied. Jehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet poured the oil on Jehu’s head and declared, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the Lord’s people Israel. You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the Lord’s servants shed by Jezebel. The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.’” Then he opened the door and ran.).

[15] Fascinating and important point made in the Oxford Study Bible (RSV).

Leave a Reply