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Archive for January 23rd, 2020

2 Kings 3: Withdrawal


Thursday, January 23, 2020

2 Kings 3: Withdrawal

imagesCAHQ96XWElijah has ascended to heaven.  Jehoram reigns over Israel.  King Mesha of Moab has decided to rebel now that Ahab is no longer king of Israel.  King Jehoram musters his troops and prepares for battle and he calls on King Jehoshaphat of Judah to join in the struggle against the Moabites.  Will you go with me to battle?

They go into Edom where that king joins them and so the three of them stand ready to fight, except . . . there is no water.  The king of Israel cries out: Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?  And Elisha, Elijah’s servant, is named and consulted.  Water arrives and the battle is engaged.  Things go badly for Mesha who immolates his son on the wall to appease his pagan god.  Commentary suggests that “the text may be implying that the anger of the Moab’s god caused the Israelites to withdraw”.  (Mays 564)  In the face of this human sacrifice, the Israelites pull back.  So might we all.

Our natural instinct may be to avoid evil; it may also be to strike out against it.  We may be inspired to form solidarity with the weak in order to empower them against the aggressor.   Or we may hide in order that we protect what little we have.  Today’s story leaves us with these words: And so they withdrew from him and returned to their own land. 

I heard a sermon recently advising Christians to be cautious when dealing with evil.  The idea that we risk too much danger when we operate in close combat with the devil is one we spent time with several weeks ago when we considered Luke 4 and the devil’s temptation of Jesus.  We noted that day that Satan departed from Jesus until an opportune time.  We concluded that: The devil never gives up . . . nor does God.

When we find ourselves shoulder deep in a situation that does not make sense, we know that somewhere someone is lying.

When we realize that betrayal is taking place on a deep and intimate level, we know that danger is quite near.

In all circumstances there is only one place to seek haven or ask for help: in God.  We may determine that we need to withdraw and return to our own land.  We may as likely determine that we need to gather troops, consult with the prophet and make a stand.  In either case, it is important that we remain in God no matter what.  For in God is our only hope of salvation.  No wickedness is too great for God to handle.  No malicious act is too horrible for God to transform.  No evil can overcome or outlast God’s love for his people.

So if we must withdraw . . . let us open our hearts . . . and withdraw into God.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 564. Print.

For a reflection on Matthew’s description of Christ’s temptation, go to The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations

Written on March 18, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://daleallynphoto.com/index.php/gallery/image_full/20/

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