18 July 2021


According to God’s gracious Word – ‘They shall eat and have some left’

Speaker: Ps Daniel Tan
Sermon Title: According to God’s gracious Word – ‘They shall eat and have some left’
Scripture Text: 2 Kings 3-4

Politics

 

 

 

 

Poverty

 

 

 

 

Posterity

 

 

 

 

Poison

 

 

 

 

Provision

 

 

Reflection Questions:

  • How would “This is a light thing in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kgs 3:18), be an encouragement for us today?
  • God graciously supplied in the area of Politics, Poverty, Posterity, Poison and Provision. What is one aspect of God’s character we can give thanks for today?
  • How might our understanding of ‘according to the word of the Lord’ from 2 Kings, further shape our attitude towards reading Scripture?
Scripture: 2 Kings 3-4 (ESV)

In the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twelve years. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, though not like his father and mother, for he put away the pillar of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless, he clung to the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from it.

Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and he had to deliver to the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. So King Jehoram marched out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel. And he went and sent word to Jehoshaphat king of Judah: “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to battle against Moab?” And he said, “I will go. I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” Then he said, “By which way shall we march?” Jehoram answered, “By the way of the wilderness of Edom.”

So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. And when they had made a circuitous march of seven days, there was no water for the army or for the animals that followed them. 10 Then the king of Israel said, “Alas! The Lord has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.” 11 And Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?” Then one of the king of Israel’s servants answered, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” 12 And Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the Lord is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.


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transcript

Introduction

Blessed Sunday to all. Are you prepared for ‘wet feet’?

If you were with us last Sunday at our 33rd anniversary service, we were encouraged through the sermon from Joshua 3, about getting our feet wet.

To follow God’s direction like the Israelites, to cross the River Jordan, to move with Hermon in our transition to Henderson.

Crossing not at a time when the River Jordan was at it’s lowest, but when it was at it’s highest.

Yet, we can confidently wet our feet because we have faith in the God who goes before us. So, we were encouraged from God’s Word to be obedience to God’s call to cross the swollen river.

And this with the promise that as we step out in faithful obedience, we will participate in God’s miracle amongst us.

It was a timely and appropriate message for our 33rd Anniversary. I was truly encouraged, and I pray that you were too.

Joshua spoke to a generation who had come out of Egyptian slavery, wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and was now going into Canaan to claim God’s promise.

2 Kings 3 & 4, speaks to the same group of people, but many generations after. They are no longer in this promised land. They are exiles in Babylon. 

The writer of 1 & 2 Kings is telling them, how their forefathers lived so disobediently such that it has resulted in being kicked out of the promised land. Exiled because of God’s discipline.

As Joshua encourages us to begin faithful obedience to God, Kings, exhorts us to remain faithful and obedient.

The conclusion of 1 Kings was the death of king Ahab of Israel. His eulogy was that he was an idolatrous king who led Israel to sin against God. His son Ahaziah was no better.

During Ahaziah’s 2 years of reign, the Lord did a transition of the prophetic ministry from Elijah to Elisha, which we covered in the first 2 chapters of 2 Kings.

Today’s sermon title is taken from the final 2 verses of chapter 4.

Everything we see in chapter 3 & 4, happened according to the word of the Lord. And I’ve added in ‘gracious’ because we will see God’s abundant favour to the people here.  

And the evidence of God’s Word communicated is highlighted throughout these 2 chapters:

  • 2 Kgs 3:12 And Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the Lord is with him.”
  • 2 Kgs 3:17 For thus says the Lord ….
  • 2 Kgs 4:16 And he said, “At this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son.” (no doubt Elisha said this after God told him so)
  • 2 Kgs 4:43 But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” So he repeated, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’ ” 44 So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.

Now this phase ‘they shall eat and have some left’ aptly identifies the gracious acts of the Lord here.

I find great encouragement from these 2 chapters, for it shows us the gracious God whom we believe and worship.

I pray that as we have been convicted to wet our feet, these chapters of 2 kings, will encourage us further.

Giving us additional reasons why we should be convicted to wet our feet.

We obey a God who is able to say, ‘they shall eat and have some left’.

The 4 sub-sections of the sermon outline are just descriptions of the 4 areas that God graciously blessed. I’ve just tried to put them into an alliteration, beginning with the letter ‘P’.

Politics

In chapter 3, we see tension between the king of Moab, Mesha and that of the king of Judah, Jehoram.

Jehoram is the son of Ahab and he took over from his brother Ahaziah, because 2 Kings 1:17 tells us that Ahaziah had no son.

So Mesha of Moab must have been a vassal state and he decided, I’ll not pay tribute to Israel any longer. No more giving 100,000 lambs, wool of 100,000 rams.

So Jehoram calls up Jehoshaphat of Judah and says, let’s go put some sense into Mesha. Let’s tell him who is the boss.

What sort of man was Jehoram? V2 says he was not as evil as his father Ahab and mother Jezebel for he destroyed the pillar of Baal.

Nevertheless, and this is an important ‘Nevertheless’ in v3, Jehoram clung to idolatry, for he followed Jeroboam and caused Israel to sin.

Children do this when they want to manage our expectation towards their exam results right? Look, 49 out of 100 is not too bad right, considering how many of my classmates are getting 30 marks.

Do we take this mentality in our faith journey as well? Lord I’m not like that back slider, I attend service every week, I do give my offering, I say grace before every meal.

But God is still at the fringe of our lives. He is not the consuming whole of everything we have, think and do. Jesus doesn’t want part of us, He wants a full-on relationship with us.

Let’s not make Jehoram our benchmark for excuses.

And 2 Kings, contrasts Jehoram’s non-dependence on God with that of Jehoshaphat.

Jehoram, does not seek God’s direction but decides to disastrous results, that they should travel via the wilderness of Edom to confront Mesha.

Yet he does the typical Adam blame game when it goes wrong. Jehoram does not seek God’s direction but when the army runs out of water, in v10, he blames God.

2 Kgs 3:10 Then the king of Israel said, “Alas! The Lord has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.”

When God confronted Adam after he and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, Adam said – the woman whom YOU gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit to eat.

Don’t we identify with Jehoram? God is not fully Lord of everything in our lives and when we get into trouble due to our own mistakes, the first person we blame is God.

Jehoshaphat however shows us the right model. He asks, is there no prophet of the Lord here through whom we may inquire of the Lord?

And we see this wonderful consistency in the life of Jehoshaphat. For it has already been recorded for us in 1 Kgs 22. When king Ahab needed to subdue Ramoth-gilead, Ahab enlisted the help of Jehoshaphat.

And Jehoshaphat then also suggested, let’s inquire first of the Lord.

God’s verdict of Jehoshaphat is recorded for us:

1 Kgs 22:43 He walked in all the way of Asa his father. He did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. Yet the high places were not taken away, and the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places.

Sadly, even in this midst of this positive testimony of Jehoshaphat, we notice the important word ‘yet’.

And so we want to thank God that He does not deal with us as our sins deserve. For like Jehoshaphat we are not fully faithful to God.

Yet, even to such unfaithful kings, God’s gracious word comes to them though Elisha. Such underserved favour God shows, to the people of Israel.

2 Kgs 3:17 For thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not see wind or rain, but that streambed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your livestock, and your animals.’ 18 This is a light thing in the sight of the Lord. He will also give the Moabites into your hand, 19 and you shall attack every fortified city and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree and stop up all springs of water and ruin every good piece of land with stones.”

We see here the power of God’s Word over the political situation that Israel finds herself in. God will not only give water to the troops but will also give them victory over the Moabites.

And the most amazing thing is God’s declaration – this is a light thing in the sight of the Lord.

3 wonderful things we learn here about God.

Firstly, God is truly gracious. He rescues Jehoram and Jehoshaphat, even when they were disobedient. When even the problem was of their own creation.

We see that God’s gracious intervention extends to even the political affairs of the world. Nothing is outside God’s control.  

Finally, not only can God intervene, it’s a light thing for him. What power, what sovereignty is found in Yahweh.

Our God says, ‘they shall eat and have some left’. Not only did they get water, they got victory over Moab.

Last week I hope you saw the picture in the video presentation of our MOU termination with our sister church.

The journey to that point was fraught with obstacles. Both sides consisted of redeemed sinners. Words and gestures given at times were laced with feelings of disgust, pride, indignation, and even betrayal. 

The potential of it turning very ugly was real. Could it go to legal arbitration – possible?

But let’s thank God for His gracious hand upon the whole journey. How God guided all involved to see our opposing views according to God’s perspective.

How thankful we are today that God sovereignly enabled the situation, so that today in 2021, we can look back with thanksgiving for the MOU termination event.   

It was a challenge I did not think we could overcome well. But I’m reminded, it is a light thing for the God we worship.

Before we move to the next point, may I address some tension found in 3:27.

2 Kgs 3:27 Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against (upon) Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.

Mesha was desperate and so he did 2 things. The first escape failed when he tried to barge through with 700 soldiers. Finally, he did what the pagans do. He offered his son as a sacrifice to the gods hoping that they will help him.

The question now is this phase ‘and there came great wrath against Israel’. Is this divine wrath? Was Baal or Yahweh angry with Israel?

Since God is in control, then it cannot be that Baal could display any wrath against Israel. There is also no indication that God was behind this wrath. So likely this is human wrath, not divine wrath.

Now, is it the wrath of the Moabites or is it the wrath of the Israelites.

2 different opinions here based on how we translate the word ‘against’

The way we see it now, it would mean that because of the great sacrifice that Mesha did, it stirred up the wrath of the Moabites so that they put up fierce resistance.

However the same word can be translated ‘upon’. And if it is translated as such, then the sacrifice of Mesha’s son so disgusted the Israelites that they did not press further in the battle and so withdrew.

Whichever human wrath you assign it to, what it shows is the contrast between our gracious God who fights for us and that of a pagan idol that requires such terrible sacrifices.

Poverty

Earlier when king Jehoram approached Elisha, he received the reply – if not for Jehoshaphat, I would neither look at you nor see you. Elisha could not be bothered with Jehoram but only accepted his request because of Jehoshaphat.

Why, because Jehoshaphat was king of Judah and God had promised that He will always preserve someone from the line of David on the throne.

But in contrast, here we see Elisha’s very immediate response of assistance to the plead of the widow.

Against the attractive trend of the prosperity gospel in certain segments of the church.

This testimony by the wife of one of the sons of the prophets, informs us – that being a believer and even serving God does not exempt us from the hardships of life.

The Lord has taken away her husband and now due to her debt, even her two children may have to be sold.

This is a widow in desperate need of help.

Does this still happen today? Yes, it does. Being a believer dose not mean we will be materially wealthy, that our loved ones do not die untimely.

And because it still happens, the New Testament tells us what practical Christian living looks like:

Jas 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

God’s word is so relevant even today.

So according to the gracious word of God through Elisha, the widow collects jars from her neighbours, not just a few, but as many as she could receive.

It must have taken much obedient faith to collect that many jars from your neighbours. Might it be like asking for umbrellas, anticipating rain but on a sunny day.

But this is what faith looks like. Obedience follows God’s Word and then we experience God’s miracle.

And this behind close doors (which is usually how God works). God’s gracious provision happens. The oil keeps on flowing so long as there are jars in the house.

There is a hymn that has a stanza which I think captures what this widow feels as she pours the oil out:

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

The sermon title is ‘According to God’s gracious word – they shall eat and have some left.’

And it happens here with the widow. She is able to sell the oil to pay off the debt and even have leftovers so that she and her sons may live.

Church, its relevance for us is in our Benevolent Fund. A portion of our tithes and offerings goes to support fellow Hermonites who have lost their jobs.

As a community of faith, there should be no lack. God has placed each of us together as one family. And since we understand financial stewardship, then this is one way we live out James 1:27.

Today, if you are struggling to give to God what He has impressed upon you, may I invite you to speak with our older and past leaders.

Let them share with you, their testimony of giving to the Lord. I’m confident that they will testify, we cannot out give God.

Posterity

Yahweh took care of Israel in the area of Politics and Poverty and now we see Posterity.

May we see that Yahweh is the God of all,  not just of some in society.

Yahweh cared not just for kings, but also the foot soldier and their animals. He cares not only for poor widow but also for a childless wealthy woman.

Now Elisha becomes God’s instrument of blessing to this childless woman. God gives her posterity.

As we read Elisha’s pronouncement – ‘at this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son’, we rejoice in the knowledge that children are a heritage from the Lord.

For I’m sure we all agree, Elisha could not have said this, if it was not from the Lord.

God’s Word is sure and is life giving.

Now this wealthy woman is not the only one who has received such a wonderful blessing from the Lord. Let me remind us of 3:

  • Genesis 18:10 – God’s gift of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah
  • 1 Sam 1:19-20 – God’s gift of Samuel to Elkanah and Hannah
  • Luke 1:13 – God’s gift of John to Zechariah and Elizabeth

There are a few others and one thing that is unique to this child here in 2 Kings, is that for all the others, the child is significant in the history of God’s people.

However here this son of this unnamed wealthy woman, does not have any significance. This is just a gracious gift from Yahweh.

That to me is significant. God is willing out of the goodness of His heart to give this blessing to this couple from Shunem just because God can. Thanks be to God for that.

Not only is the child given, but we see also that he is brought back to life again by Elisha.

Lest we put Elisha on a pedestal, the author tells us 2 things:

2 Kgs 4:27 And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.”

2 Kgs 4:27 tells us that Elisha did not know why the woman came to see him and clung to his feet.

Elisha is just a prophet of God. Elisha is God’s mouth-piece. He speaks as God reveals.

2 Kgs 4:32 When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. 33 So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord.

2 Kgs 4:32 tells us that Elisha like Elijah did not have any life-giving powers. They could not bring back someone from the dead.

Only God has such power and so Elisha could only pray to God for the child.

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with this Korean drama ‘Hospital Playlist’. It’s in Season 2 currently. There is one plot line about 2 women and their respective child who is waiting on the organ donation list.

The producers, did a good job of bringing out the emotional rollercoaster these 2 women experienced as they waited for an organ donation to be available for their respective child.

There is tension in the one who sees her fellow parent get the organ donation ahead of her child.

The conflicting feelings of joy for the other party against the disappointment that her child still needs to wait.

All the while knowing that having this organ donation is so critical for the child to live.

The anxiety and anguish of this Shunammite women, cannot be any less than these two Korean mothers. And I’m sure all parents can identify with that.

May I ask, if we could relate this to the spiritual health of our children. Can we be as anxious about our children knowing our life-giving Saviour, Jesus Christ?

For those of us who are spiritual uncles and aunties, can this be the same for you?

Think of the intense efforts of the Shunammite women, think of the persevering wait of parents, as they camp in hospitals.  

May it be so for us, spiritually as well.  

Again, we see that God graciously gave this woman, more than she needed – she received a gift of the son twice over.

Poison

Have you tried to help but it turned out your efforts made it worse?

If you are like me, then, it must have happened many times. Our good intentions at times, have the unintended negative impact on the situation.

I think this is the situation here with the poison in the stew.

They were in the context of a famine, and one helpful person goes out to try to find a supplementary food source – a wild vine and wild gourds.

However, what he found was not just inedible, it was poisonous. So Elisha under the power of God, heals the stew with a bow of flour, just as he did the waters of Jericho.

Church, this is the fourth miracle we are observing and just to clarify in case there is any doubts, we are reading 1 & 2 Kings as a narrative genre. Meaning, we take all this as facts not as nice stories.

Though we may not see such in-your-face type of miracles today, it does not mean God cannot work this way. These narrative passages prove to us that He has done so. 

God in His wisdom has decided that such things would not be normative now, but that doesn’t mean we go to the other extreme of thinking that these could not have happened in history.

I see here a wonderful picture of God’s grace redeeming our mistakes. Something beautiful, something good, all my confusions He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but He made something beautiful of my life.

And if we look at the redemption of Apostle Peter and Paul, we can see that God can redeem even the deliberate mistakes of our lives. This happens when we repent and return under His gracious covering.

So the sons of the prophets not only were protected from the poison, they had sufficient to eat during the time of famine.

Provision

We now come to the final miracle.

V42 appears to still be in the same time period as the event before.

And so it must truly be a ‘sacrifice’ for the man from Baal-shalishah to bring twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain to Elisha.

I pray that by now we are saturated with awe and gratitude for the gracious God that we worship.

Yahweh has bestowed underserved favour on idolatrous kings, on poor and wealthy women, and on sons of the prophets.

Now God’s grace touches 100 men in the time of famine.

This unnamed man brings to mind the song lyrics that I’ve shared previously:

Just ordinary people, God uses ordinary people

God chooses people just like you and me, who are willing to do as He commands

Because little becomes much, as we place it in the Master’s hands

This man was an ordinary man who gave what He could. Remember again, it was during a famine. He might have had every excuse not to bring his sacrifice. But he did.

And so, he was able to experience the miracle from the Lord – for thus says the Lord, they shall eat and have some left.

Conclusion

To the Jews during the time of Jesus, Jews who knew the Old Testament and this history, what did they behold?

They saw these same miracles done by Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel’s testify that Jesus had power over disasters, over diseases, over demons and final over death.

Jesus is thus Yahweh of the Old Testament become flesh.

Today, we view these miracles in the Old Testament and those repeated in the life of Jesus in the New Testament as narrative history.

They are recorded to show us the sovereign God that we worship and His Son Jesus Christ.

2 Kings 3 & 4 is there to encourage our hearts that everything happens according to God’s gracious word.

And in this particular context of God’s Word, we are reminded of a God who says, they shall eat and have some left.

In Jesus Christ, we have one who not only took the penalty of our sins on the cross but also graciously gives us eternal life.

Jesus is the Living Bread, eat of Him and we will have sufficient and have much left.

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