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Posts Tagged ‘Elisha’


2 Kings 6:8-24Ambusharamean-horsemen

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Favorite from September 5, 2009.

The King of Aram cannot win against the God of Israel who speaks to the faithful through their prophet Elisha.  As I read this story I too, wish that I had such a direct route to wisdom . . . and then I realize that I do.  Today’s story of ambush is tempered with God’s pity for the Arameans, something we do not see often in the Old Testament.  It is also a reminder that God abides with those who seek him in humility and trust, that when the faithful follow in fidelity, they too will benefit from a voice that advises them as if it has heard conversations in secret places that are meant to outwit God.  Today we remember that God is everywhere, hearing everything, seeing everyone, knowing every thought.  At first this can be unsettling – we realize that there is no part of us that we can hold separate from God.  Later it is comforting – we realize that we do not want to be without this supreme intelligence and infinite mercy.  We come to see that God’s presence – and our attentive ear tuned to God’s voice – is the only force which saves us from the ambushes plotted in secret places.  We begin to comprehend the depth of God’s love for us.

When an ambush is sprung upon us, we might want to turn to Psalm 143 to intone its verses:  My spirit faints within me; my heart within me is desolate. 

When we feel as though all our own forces have been spent in enduring the onslaught, we say:  I spread out my hands to you; my soul grasps to you like a thirsty land. 

When we feel ourselves about to faint from the fear or anxiety which strangles us, we pray: O Lord, make haste to answer me; my spirit fails me; do not hide your face from me or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit. 

We remember the times in the past when we have survived ambush by calling on God for help:  I remember the time past; I muse upon your deeds; I consider the works of your hands. 

We ask for God’s assistance: Revive me, O Lord, for your Name’s sake; for your righteousness’ sake, bring me out of trouble.

When we take ourselves away from the panic and pain, we come to see that we too benefit from miracles brought to us through the words and actions of our own holy women and men.  When we rely on the voice of God rather than the voices of society, we too become transformed by miracles that arrive as gifts from our loving God.  And when we show mercy for those who have listened to their own advice rather than words from God, we too will see that no more raiders will come into our land.

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Hosea 10False Heart, True Heart

Wednesday, December 23, 2015heart leaf on stone

A favorite from December 22, 2010.

False oaths, fake alliances, evil intrigues, any means to achieve an end: this is what Hosea sees in his community.  The kingdom of David has been divided in two.  Elijah, Elisha, and Amos have warned the people; Isaiah and Micah will add their prophetic words of warning.  Hosea finds himself seeing clearly the devastation that awaits this false-hearted people . . . but he is ignored.

Yet Hosea persists, telling us that we are people meant to worship God, we are meant to take the yoke upon fair neck, to thresh, to be harnessed by the plow of the true God with a true heart.  We are created to be workers in the vineyard, to sow justice and reap piety, we are meant to break new fields so that the rain of God’s justice might bring forth fruit.

Hosea warns that those who have sowed discord and wickedness will reap perversity and eat of the fruit of falsehood.  Turmoil will break out among those who have trusted their warriors and chariots rather than trusting God.  The fortresses carefully built against the needs of the world will be tumbled and ravaged; the false hearts who take advantage of the poor will be lost in the utter destruction.  Hosea does not surrender to the pressures around him, he endures.

Like Hosea, we might want God’s justice to be clearly visible in the present; we may want all of Hosea’s predictions about false hearts to materialize in an instant.  Those who seek a settling of scores may wish God’s integrity to rain down on those who sit on comfortable couches to contrive wicked plots.  They will want to see a world of integrity replace the world of falsehood they experience.  Yet this is the message of Advent: the one of true heart and true words, the one of promises kept and miracles revealed has come to live among us.  Advent tells us that the possibility of living a genuine life is here – now – this day.   We need only open our eyes to see.

CrossHeartLogo11-300x289If we are dissatisfied with the speed of God’s coming, or if we doubt that God is even here among us, we must look first to ourselves to begin kingdom-building.  We must examine our own hearts to see if we remain in truth no matter the social consequence.  We must cease the gossip, cease the controlling, cease the lusting after outcomes, fame, possessions, power and people.  We must amend our ability – and our willingness – to ignore reality.  We must change our hearts so that we do not succumb to the social pressure to acquire goods or supremacy.  We must nurture our desire to share, our yearning to heal, and our aspiration for peace.  We must ask God to transform the falsehood in our own hearts so that we might receive the goodness from his.  We must be open to the reality of Advent.

In this way – with endurance, with fidelity, and with honesty – the prophecy of Hosea will arrive fully.  And in this way the false hearts of the world will become the true heart of Christ.

 

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1 & 2 Kings: Some Left Over – Part III

Elijah Fed by Ravens

Elijah Fed by Ravens

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

When we study the stories of Elijah and Elisha we find that with their miracles of sustenance for the marginalized there is always something left over. Their acts of mercy foreshadow Jesus’ acts of mercy in the New Testament.

Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath: In 1 Kings 17 Elijah predicts a great drought. He moves east to rest, as God recommends, and rests near a stream where ravens bring him bread and meat. After a time the water dries up and so Elijah follows God’s voice as it counsels him to move to another place to stay with a particular widow. What follows when the prophet resides with her is a story that gives us counsel about what we might do when we find ourselves searching for solutions to problems that for us are enormous, but that for God are quite ordinary. When we use the scripture link to explore different versions of this story, for find that solutions to our own dilemmas appear – and we also find that when God provides, there is always something left over to share with others.

Aert de Gelder: Elisha and the Widow of the Prophet

Aert de Gelder: Elisha and the Widow of the Prophet

Elisha, the Widow’s Oil, and the Multiplication of Loaves: In 2 Kings 4 Elisha helps the widow of a God-fearing man whose creditors want to take his two children as slaves in payment for an unpaid debt. Miracles follow when Elisha follows God’s advice. Later in this chapter we see the renewal of life through resurrection, and transformation of a poisoned stew. More miracles follow in subsequent chapters and again, comparing varying versions of these stories using the scripture link brings us a fresh perspective of stories we may have heard many times. Ultimately, the message remains . . . when God provides, there is always something left over.

Tomorrow . . . Matthew’s story of the loaves and fish.

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Friday, March 8, 2013 – Hosea 10 – False Heart, True Heart

heart-nature-mark-kazav[1]False oaths, fake alliances, evil intrigues, any means to achieve an end: this is what Hosea sees in his community.  The kingdom of David has been divided in two.  Elijah, Elisha, and Amos have warned the people; Isaiah and Micah will add their prophetic words of warning.  Hosea finds himself seeing clearly the devastation that awaits this false-hearted people.   He is ignored.

Yet . . . Hosea persists, telling us that we are people meant to worship God, meant to take the yoke upon fair neck, to thresh, to be harnessed by the plow of the true God with a true heart.  We are created to be workers in the vineyard, to sow justice and reap piety, we are meant to break new fields so that the rain of God’s justice might bring forth new fruit.

Hosea warns that those who have sown discord and wickedness will reap perversity and eat of the fruit of falsehood.  Turmoil will break out among those who have trusted their warriors and chariots rather than trusting God.  The fortresses carefully built against the needs of the world will be tumbled and ravaged; the false hearts who take advantage of the poor will be lost in the utter destruction.  Hosea predicts all of this and does not succumb to the darkness of the world.  He does not surrender to the pressures around him, he endures.

Like Hosea, we might want God’s justice to be clearly visible in the present; we may want all of Hosea’s predictions about false hearts to materialize in an instant.  Those who seek a settling of scores may wish God’s integrity to rain down on those who sit on comfortable couches to contrive wicked plots.  They will want to see a world of integrity replace the world of falsehood they experience.  Yet this is the message of Christ: God has sent one of true heart and true words, one of promises kept and miracles revealed.  God has sent Jesus to live among us.  Lent tells us that the possibility of living a genuine life is here – now – this day.   We need only turn to God and to open our eyes to see.

If we are dissatisfied with the speed of God’s coming or if we doubt that God is even here among us, we must look first to ourselves to begin kingdom-building.  We must examine our own hearts to see if we remain in truth no matter the social consequence.  We must cease the gossip, cease the controlling, and cease the lusting after outcomes, fame, possessions, power and people.  We must amend our ability – and our willingness – to ignore reality.  We must change our hearts so that we do not succumb to the social pressure to acquire goods, dominance or a sense of superiority.  We must nurture our desire to share, our yearning to heal, and our aspiration for peace.  We must ask God to transform the falsehood in our own hearts so that we might receive goodness from God.  We must be open to the reality of the Lenten message that all are welcome.  Welcome into Christ’s own, open heart.

With endurance, with fidelity, and with honesty the prophecy of Hosea will fully arrive.  And thus the false hearts of the world will become the true heart of Christ.

Let us ask for the coming of this kingdom.

First written on Wednesday, December 22, 2010.  Revised and posted today as a Favorite.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013 – 2 Kings 2 – Weathering the Whirlwind

imagesCAD24SSZThe whirlwind is something we fear – when we feel its ominous approach all we can think of is change with instability and unpredictability.  What if we were to shift our perspective slightly so that rather than be governed by fear of the future, we might be governed by trust and obedience?   What if we respond with awe at God’s power rather than fear of the unknown?  This is what we witness in the story we read today in which the mantle of prophecy passes from Elijah to Elisha in the presence of an amazing whirlwind.

Elisha wisely asks for a double portion of spirit rather than wealth or fame, and when we read to the end of the chapter we see the dimensions of the power invested in Elisha.  What he blesses is blessed many fold; what he curses is cursed harshly.  And all of this comes from his perseverance in trusting his creator. 

Footnotes give us more information about Gilgal, the Jordan River, and the prophets guild; but the more important message here might be this: That when the earth shifts beneath our feet in a tectonic tremor of change, when a quick drop in barometric pressure harbingers one of life’s devastating storms, and when our hair stands on end with fear of what we suspect is coming and do not fully understand . . . we will do well to respond simply rather than rashly.  We must trust the Creator who has made us and loves us, follow the example of Jesus as the Christ who saves us and protects us, and we must hold in awe the overwhelming power of the Spirit who heals us and transforms us.  Then we too, will speak like the holy prophets to kings.

Written on August 11, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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