Time to say goodbye – Elijah leaves Elisha…Paul leaves the Ephesians

13 08 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-ONE : 2 Kings 1 v. 1 – 2 v. 25; Acts 20 v. 1 – 38; Psalm 78 v. 40 – 55

2 KINGS
The Lord’s Judgment on Ahaziah – After the death of Israel’s king Ahab, Moab rebels. Ahaziah (the successor) fell from his upper room in Samaria and was injured, so he enquired of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if he would get better.
The Lord sent Elijah to intercept the messengers, and he questioned them : ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub…therefore you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die.’
The messengers pass on the news to Ahaziah. From a description of the man who had met them on the way, Ahaziah worked out it was Elijah (‘a man with a garment of hair and a leather belt around his waist’), so Ahaziah sends a troop of fifty men with their commander to bring Elijah to him.
Elijah, sitting on top of a hill, states that if he is a man of God, fire will come down from heaven and consume them….and it does. All of them!
The king sent another fifty men with a captain. The same thing happens again – fire from heaven consumes them all.
The king sent a third captain and fifty men. This time the captain pleads with Elijah to ‘have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men…’, aware of the destruction of the previous two groups.
Elijah is instructed by the angel of the Lord to accompany this third group, which he does. He passes the same message directly to the king – ‘because you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub…you will certainly die.’ And he does. There and then!
Ahaziah has no heir to his throne, so Joram becomes king as Jehoram is enjoying his second year as king of Judah.
All Ahaziah’s deeds are recorded in the annals of the kings of Israel.

Elijah Taken Up to Heaven – It is coming towards the time when Elijah is to be taken up to heaven, and he and Elisha are together, travelling from Gilgal. Elijah asks Elisha to stay where he is, whilst Elijah goes on to Bethel. Elisha says he won’t leave him, so they travel onwards together.
The prophets of Bethel know what is about to happen, too. They approach Elisha and ask if he’s aware that the Lord is going to take Elijah on that day. Elisha says that he knows. Elijah says he must push on to Jericho, but that Elisha should stay put. Again Elisha insists on going, and not leaving Elijah, so they travel onwards together.
The prophets of Jericho come and ask Elisha the same question, and Elisha says he knows that the Lord is going to take Elijah on that day.
Elijah says he must push on to the Jordan, but that Elisha should stay put. For a third time, Elisha insists on going with him, so they walk on together.
Fifty prophets have accompanied them to this place and, at a distance, face Elijah and Elisha at the Jordan.
Elijah takes his cloak off and strikes the water with it – the Jordan river parts, and they cross over the river on dry land.
Elijah offers Elisha any last request – ‘what can I do for you before I am taken from you?’
Elisha asks for ‘a double portion of your spirit’. Elijah suggest that though this is difficult to promise, yet‘if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours’.

The ‘double portion’ represents the first-born son’s inheritance – a double portion for the son-and-heir, and a single portion for other sons. Elisha is asking to be Elijah’s true successor / heir.

Suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared, and Elijah is taken up into heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha is just stunned and stands shouting, ‘My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!’ Elijah disappears from his sight, and Elisha tears his own clothes in anguish.
He picks up Elijah’s cloak (symbolic of passing / receiving the baton), and when he arrives back at the Jordan river, he strikes the water with Elijah’s cloak, and the waters part for him. Clearly this indicates that the ‘God of Elijah’ is most definitely with Elisha.
The prophets from Jericho see all this and recognise that ‘the spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha’.
The prophets go to meet Elisha, and bow before him. They ask that they might go searching for Elijah – ‘perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley’.
Elisha urges them not to waste time looking for Elijah, but they will have none of it, and so fifty men are sent to search for him. Three days later they return with no news of Elijah, and Elisha says…’told you so!!’.

Healing of the Water –
Something has gone wrong with the water supply in Jericho, and it is making the land unproductive. Elisha asks for a new bowl and some salt to be brought to him. Elisha then throws the salt into the spring, and says, ‘The Lord says, ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive’. Jericho’s water has remained ‘wholesome’ from then on.

Elisha is Jeered – Elisha returned to Bethel, where some young people came out and started laughing at him, jeering, calling him ‘bald-head / baldy’. Elisha looked at them, calling down a curse from the Lord upon them. Two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of them to death.
Elisha continued on to Mt. Carmel and then on to Samaria.

Paul raises Eutychus from death

ACTS
Through Macedonia and Greece – after the riots, Paul sends for the disciples, encourages them, and then prepares to leave for Macedonia. He went encouraging people throughout that region, finally arriving in Greece, staying there for three months.
The Jews are plotting against him, so he alters his plans, not sailing for Syria but going back through Macedonia.
He has many companions, including Sopater, Aristarchus, Sedundus, Gaius, Timothy and Tychicus and Trophimus. They go on ahead of Paul, waiting at Troas, whilst Paul sails from Philippi and join the others five days later. They stayed in Troas seven days.

Eutychus Raised from the Dead in Troas – there’s a breaking of bread on the first day of the week (Sunday?), Paul speaks to / teaches the people all night (’til midnight). The upper room where they were sitting was filled with lamplight. A young man, Eutychus, was sitting in the window the home, and he dropped off to sleep (as Paul ‘talked on and on’), and dropped out of the window! It was a three-floor drop, and he died when he hit the ground. Paul went down, threw himself on the man, and wrapped his arms around him, telling the people not to worry and proclaiming him alive. They went upstairs and shared broken bread.
Paul didn’t even call it a day then, but carried on teaching until daybreak, then he left them.
Eutychus returned home fit and well.

This story is almost an aside in the teaching ministry of Paul, but how wonderful that he sees the dead raised ! Check out Jeff Larson’s brilliant cartoon, where he jokes that Eutychus becomes the patron saint of all who fall asleep in church !!!
http://thebackpew.com/backpew/0_eutychusfalls.htm

Paul’s Farewell to the Ephesian Elders – the journeys continue : sailing for Assos to take Paul on board, as he had travelled there on foot. Sailing on to Mitylene, and then to Kios, and on to Samos, and Miletus. Paul was keen to get to Jerusalem as soon as possible (by Pentecost), so decided to sail past Ephesus, but he did send word to the Ephesians, asking to see the church elders. His message to them included the following :
~ I served the Lord amongst you with great humility and tears, tested by the plots of the Jews
~ I have taught publicly what I believed to be helpful, to both Jews and Greeks (turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord)
~ compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem
~ I know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me
~ ‘However I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace’
~ you won’t see me again; I declare my innocence (others must be casting doubt on this, claiming Paul is guilty of bloodshed);
~ keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, bought with His own blood
~ savage wolves will come in to destroy…arising and distorting the truth to draw disciples away. Be on your guard !
~ I commit you to God and to the word of His grace which can build you up…among all who are sanctified (made holy)
~ my own hands have worked for what I’ve needed – I’ve not coveted – help the weak
~ ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’
Paul kneels and prays for them all. Lots of weeping and kissing, because he’d said they’d probably not see him again. They go to the ship with him to wave him off….

PSALM
‘they kept on rebelling against Him in the desert
again and again they put God to the test
they did not remember His power – the day He redeemed them
forgetting all the plagues He sent – rivers of blood, swarms of flies,
frogs, grasshoppers, sleet, hail and lightning, striking the firstborn of Egypt.
He brought His people out like a flock…He guided them safely whilst the sea engulfed their enemies,
bringing them to the holy land…and settling the tribes of Israel in their homes.’

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