The Woman from Shunem
1 Elisha told the woman whose son he had brought back to life, “The Lord has warned that there will be no food here for seven years. Take your family and go live somewhere else for a while.” 2The woman did exactly what Elisha had said and went to live in Philistine territory.
She and her family lived there seven years. 3Then she returned to Israel and immediately begged the king to give back her house and property.
4Meanwhile, the king was asking Gehazi the servant of Elisha about the amazing things Elisha had been doing. 5While Gehazi was telling him that Elisha had brought a dead boy back to life, the woman and her son arrived.
“Here's the boy, Your Majesty,” Gehazi said. “And this is his mother.”
6The king asked the woman to tell her story, and she told him everything that had happened. He then said to one of his officials, “I want you to make sure that this woman gets back everything that belonged to her, including the money her crops have made since the day she left Israel.”
Hazael Kills Benhadad
7Some time later Elisha went to the capital city of Damascus to visit King Benhadad of Syria, who was sick. And when Benhadad was told he was there, 8he said to Hazael, “Go meet with Elisha the man of God and get him to ask the Lord if I will get well. And take along a gift for him.”
9Hazael left with forty camel loads of the best things made in Damascus as a gift for Elisha. He found the prophet and said, “Your servant, King Benhadad, wants to know if he will get well.”
10“Tell him he will,” Elisha said to Hazael. “But the Lord has already told me that Benhadad will definitely die.” 11Elisha stared at him until Hazael was embarrassed, then Elisha began crying.
12“Sir, why are you crying?” Hazael asked.
Elisha answered, “Because I know the terrible things you will do to the people of Israel. You will burn down their walled cities and slaughter their young men. You will even crush the heads of their babies and rip open their pregnant women.”
13 “How could I ever do anything like that?” Hazael replied. “I'm only a servant and don't have that kind of power.”
“Hazael, the Lord has told me that you will be the next king of Syria.”
14Hazael went back to Benhadad and told him, “Elisha said that you will get well.” 15But the very next day, Hazael got a thick blanket; he soaked it in water and held it over Benhadad's face until he died. Hazael then became king.
King Jehoram of Judah
(2 Chronicles 21.2-20)
16Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat became king of Judah in Joram's fifth year as king of Israel, while Jehoshaphat was still king of Judah. 17Jehoram was 32 years old when he became king, and he ruled 8 years from Jerusalem.
18Jehoram disobeyed the Lord by doing wrong. He married Ahab's daughter and was as sinful as Ahab's family and the kings of Israel. 19 But the Lord refused to destroy Judah, because he had promised his servant David that someone from his family would always rule in Judah.
20 While Jehoram was king, the people of Edom rebelled and chose their own king. 21So Jehoram and his cavalry marched to Zair, where the Edomite army surrounded him and his commanders. During the night he attacked the Edomites, but he was defeated, and his troops escaped to their homes. 22Judah was never able to regain control of Edom. Even the town of Libnah rebelled at that time.
23Everything else Jehoram did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah. 24Jehoram died and was buried beside his ancestors in Jerusalem. His son Ahaziah then became king.
King Ahaziah of Judah
(2 Chronicles 22.1-6)
25Ahaziah son of Jehoram became king of Judah in the twelfth year of Joram's rule in Israel. 26Ahaziah was 22 years old when he became king, and he ruled from Jerusalem for only one year. His mother was Athaliah, a granddaughter of King Omri of Israel. 27Since Ahaziah was related to Ahab's family, he acted just like them and disobeyed the Lord by doing wrong.
28Ahaziah went with King Joram of Israel to attack King Hazael and the Syrian troops at Ramoth in Gilead. Joram was wounded in that battle, 29so he went to the town of Jezreel to recover. Ahaziah went there to visit him.
How do you react when God doesn’t answer your prayers the way you think he should?
In 1 Kings 19, after Elijah’s public showdown with the false prophets on Mt. Carmel, the prophet has an emotional crash at news the queen has called for his head. God doesn’t coddle Elijah, instead answering his prayers in verse 17 by ordering him to appoint successors: Hazael (to kill Baal worshippers), Jehu (to kill those who escape Hazael) and Elisha (to kill those who escape Jehu). Elijah never fulfills the first two orders, leaving them to his successor Elisha.
So, in today’s reading Elisha approaches Hazael, tears in his eyes from the scenes that play out in his mind. Yes, Hazael will fulfill God’s promise to Elijah, but he won’t stop with battle-hardened idol-worshippers; he will kill pregnant women and babies.
How does a Christian in Canada handle a God who fulfills prayer this way? Couldn’t God find a “cleaner” way to bring an end to Ahab’s line? Shouldn’t God only work through godly men and women? God never fits easily into boxes. To understand his purposes in this story, we have to look a little deeper.
Ahab is the root of all kinds of evil. So when Jehoram, king of Judah, marries into Ahab’s family, he takes on the family practices. Then Ahaziah follows the tendencies modeled by his father. God warned that, “If you reject me and worship idols, I will punish your families for three or four generations” (Deuteronomy 5:9).
However, God’s promise of grace is on a different scale: “. . . if you love me and obey my laws, I will be kind to your families for thousands of generations” (Deuteronomy 5:10). Consider how many years there are in a thousand generations. What blessings have you enjoyed because of God’s kindness? What blessings will your descendants experience because of your obedience?
Merciful God, you punish sin while showing kindness to thousands of generations. Thank you for the blessings I enjoy because of your promises. May I be the catalyst for a new generation of followers, that children yet unborn will worship you and enjoy your blessings. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.