Daily Devotion for August 12, 2014
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer of the Ancient Christians
I give you thanks Holy Father, for your holy name which you have caused to dwell in my heart, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which you have made known to me through Jesus your servant; to you be the glory forever.
You, almighty Master, created all things for your name's sake, and gave food and drink to men to enjoy, that they might give you thanks; but to me you have graciously given spiritual food and drink, and eternal life through your servant Jesus. Above all I give thanks because you are mighty; to you be the glory forever.
Remember your church, Lord, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in your love; and gather it, the one that has been sanctified, from the four winds into your kingdom, which you have prepared for it; for yours is the glory forever.
May grace come, and may this world pass away. Hosanna to the God of David. If anyone is holy, let him come; if anyone is not, let him repent. Come, oh Lord!
Prayer for All Who Have Injured Me
O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us; remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to this suffering — our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this, and when they come to judgment, let all the fruits which we have borne be their forgiveness.
[Let the fruits of my life be the forgiveness of those who have injured me.]
Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Our Hearts' Desire
Wise leaders should have known that the human heart cannot exist in a vacuum. If Christians are forbidden to enjoy the wine of the Spirit they will turn to the wine of the flesh. Christ died for our hearts and the Holy Spirit wants to come and satisfy them.
~ A. W. Tozer
2 Kings 3 (ESV) (excerpts)
Israel after Solomon (12): Elisha
Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.
Now the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful.” He said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.” So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke.
He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.
Notes on the Scripture
Even among Christians who attend a Bible study, many have hardly heard of Elisha, and few know who he was with any certainty. Part of the problem is that he followed Elijah and had an unfortunately similar name. And also, he does not have to his credit Elijah's spectacular departure from earth. Yet he is enormously important in two very different ways. First, he is simply a prominent figure in the heart of the history of the Northern Kingdom; he is a major figure in both Judaism and Islam.
Second, and probably more significant to us, is that he is even more an embodied precursor of Christ than Elijah. This comes later in Elisha's life, so we will return to the subject Thursday.
We see two very different types of people lumped together as “prophets” in the Bible. The more famous were those who fulfilled the role of teachers and prophesiers. When we think of “prophet”, we naturally think of prophecy. But after Moses, who died (let's say) around 1300Mainstream Judaism, as best I can tell, places his death in 1273 B.C. Christian scholars (and those secular scholars who believe Moses even existed) debate the matter furiously, but almost all place Moses somewhere between 1500 B.C. and 1100 B.C. B.C., until Amos and Hosea appear in about 750 B.C., there are no books of prophecy.
Instead, we see prophets whose predictions of the future are short-term and local, e.g. predicting the outcome of a battle, or the death of a king, or a time of famine. They cooperate with the judges and (later) the kings, performing a function within the Hebrew theocracy. But as the kings draw away from Yahweh, the prophets, who are driven by the spirit of God, become inimical to them. God moves over long spans of time; and if we step back, we can see His wrath building slowly from the time of Solomon to the fall of Judah; and as his wrath grows, a class of prophets — the prophets we know as “prophets” — act as his voice, declaring His wrath and ultimately predicting the final destruction of the Temple and the coming of Christ.
Because Ahab was so extremely wicked and murdered prophets of Yahweh, Elijah was a spectacular enemy of the king. But Ahab has died, and he will be followed by a motley of kings whose obedience to the law of Moses varies. Thus Elisha slips back into the mainstream and will actually assist the kings he lives under, a forgettable list of names: Joram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Jehoash. When the kings are only somewhat idolatrous, the prophecies are only somewhat dire. Jehu, for example, will destroy all of the idols except the two golden calves.
Today's Scripture gives several early miracles of Elisha as a taste. We don't really see Christ yet; Elisha curses and kills a group of blasphemous children. which isn't Christlike at all and shocks the modern reader. The key line in this passage is the end, for he returns to Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom (Kingdom of Israel). The prophets no longer need hide themselves from the kings.