Summary: Elisha boldly confronts Joram about his compromise with sin. God also shows how gracious he is to Joram by granting him victory.
The NFL has started its season again, and in about a month the NHL will begin its regular season too. As always, fans are eager to learn how the new crop of draft picks will do. Will they live up to the hype that accompanied their first-round selections and their multi-million dollar contracts? Very few of them do. It’s a big step from the collegiate level and developmental leagues to Prime Time.
Last week we heard how the prophet Elisha went from plough-hand to prophet and succeeded the famous Elijah as the leading prophet in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. In sport’s terms, Elisha was now playing in the big leagues. But not everyone thought highly of Elisha. A gang of juveniles from Bethel taunted Elisha, making fun of his baldness and making it clear that they didn’t want to have anything to do with him or his message from the Lord. Do you remember what happened to those guys? 42 of them were mauled by a couple of bears God sent out of the woods to protect his prophet. It was clear that Elisha would not labor in obscurity. As we continue our sermon series today about this bald ‘n’ bold prophet, we’ll learn how he was summoned by kings to offer assistance.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel was now ruled by one of Ahab’s sons named Joram. The good news was that he was not as wicked as his father Ahab had been. In fact he destroyed one of the idols of Baal his father had made. That’s especially commendable when you consider how Joram’s mother Jezebel was still alive, and it was she who had urged Ahab to promote Baal worship. But Joram did not make a full U-turn back to the Lord. He continued to promote the worship of golden calves at Bethel and Dan that a previous king had set up.
There are two things that we can learn here. As we said last week, God does not want any compromise with sin. He wants a complete break from it. And so while it was great that Joram had turned away from the worship of Baal, he should have also destroyed those golden calves even though he claimed that this was a just a different way in which one could worship the true God.
You still hear that a lot today in a world where the majority of people say they believe in God. However, many also insist that it doesn’t matter how you worship God. “Just follow your heart,” they say. “Do what feels right and God is happy with that.” Well Joram had done what he felt was right, but it wasn’t in line with God’s Word. God had said that his Old Testament people were only to worship him at the temple in Jerusalem. Likewise God has clearly said that the only way we can approach him in worship is through faith in what Jesus has done for us through his death on the cross. Any religion or any philosophy that says Jesus is not the only way to approach God will actually lead us farther away from him and should be avoided.
The other truth that is impressed upon us again is the great influence parents have on their children. Ahab had dug a big spiritual hole for his sons they found hard to climb out of. Likewise what you do, more than what you say will have a spiritual impact on your children. So what example are you setting for them, dear parents? Do you model for your children a love for God’s Word the way that you eagerly look forward to church and Bible class, as much as you look forward to seeing a movie? Or do you give the impression that church is just another appointment to be endured? Sunday School is starting today. Have you set aside time to take your child there the way you set aside time to get them to their music lessons and their sports practices? Your child’s spiritual instruction shouldn’t only take place at church on Sunday morning of course. That’s why you should have found in your email inbox this past week a summary of the lesson that your child will learn today in Sunday School. Be sure to read it so you can review the lesson and the memory treasure with your child. God has made you parents the first line of spiritual defense for your children. Build a fortress for them, not a hole from which they’ll find it hard to climb out of!
Our text goes on to describe how the country of Moab rebelled against King Joram. It was no longer going to send Israel the wool that it had once sent when Ahab was king. So Joram decided to claim what he thought was his. He garnered support from Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah and also teamed up with the king of Edom. The three kings set out to attack Moab from the south. This, however, meant a long march through the hot and dry desert. After seven days they ran out of water. Joram’s reaction was typical of someone who thought he could worship God on his terms. He exclaimed: “What! Has the LORD called us three kings together only to hand us over to Moab?” (2 Kings 3:10)