He will be called Immanuel (Isa 7:14; Matt 1:23)

We will be turning to Isa 7:14 in just a minute.

I am in a sermon series on prophesies fulfilled in the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophesies related to the Messiah in His life, death and resurrection. This is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent means “waiting.” Throughout the Old Testament they were waiting on a Savior. They were waiting on Jesus.

While waiting in a Nazi prison cell in 1943 a few weeks before Advent, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a friend, “A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”

Shortly after penning those words, the Nazis executed Bonhoeffer. But he was right: the door of freedom for him and for us today is still opened from the outside by the coming and second coming of Jesus Christ.[1]

God became a human to save us.

I read of a Hindu who could not believe in Christianity because he could not contemplate a God who would be so humble himself. Then one day the Hindu came upon an anthill. He tried to get close enough to it to study it, but every time he bent low, his shadow caused all the ants to scurry away. He recognized to himself that the only way in which he could ever come to know that colony of ants would be if he could somehow become an ant himself. And that was the moment at which his conversion began.[2]

Let’s jump into the passages for today.

My theme is:

Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be born some 700 years later.

Application:

Since God is with us we do not have to fear.

  1. Let us look at the prophetic passage in the Scriptures:
    1. Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
    2. I need to give you some brief context about this passage as that will help you understand it more fully.
    3. Isaiah was called a major prophet in the Old Testament not because he was greater than all the others but because he wrote more content than many others. Isaiah prophesied to the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom. Many of you may know that Israel was divided.
    4. Isaiah’s ministry lasted over 60 years and he served under wicked kings as well as godly kings. Ahaz was the current king.
    5. During this time, there was another kingdom called Assyria trying to advance on the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom of Israel. Assyria will eventually defeat the Northern Kingdom. It was truly a sad time period.
    6. Understand that this is the backdrop by which Isaiah ministered for the Lord.
      1. In Isaiah 7:10, Isaiah asks king Ahaz to ask for a sign from the Lord.
      2. In Isaiah 7:12 Ahaz told Isaiah “no.”
  • So, in Isaiah 7:14 the Lord responds with a sign.
  1. “A virgin will be with child…” in some translations it might say, “maiden” instead of “virgin.” To put it simply the Hebrew word is translated maiden. This does mean a young woman who is not sexually active. An interesting thing is that in the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the same passage is translated more consistent to our word virgin and Matthew 1:23 references the Greek version of this passage.
  2. I believe there are two obvious applications to this verse:
    1. The first is the child will be Maher-shalal-hash-baz ( 8:1, 3)who is the son of Isaiah. Or, some suggest, the son of Ahaz who will be Hezekiah, or someone else during Isaiah’s day.
    2. The second is that this passage applies to Jesus. Matthew’s Gospel applies this passage to Jesus and given what Isaiah 9:6-7 is written about we know that this must apply to Jesus.
  3. Do you realize that Isaiah was writing about 700 years prior to Christ? As I have said in the past few weeks God had a plan. This is not just any old plan either.
  4. Deut 18:22: If what a prophet proclaims in the name of theLord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.
  5. That is not the case here. This is being fulfilled. This is from the Lord. This is the prophesy.
  6. But now, notice that He is to be called Emmanuel and this means: God with us. Think about the awesome ramifications in this passage. God came down to be one of us.
  7. This is what sets us apart as Christ followers! What sets us apart as Christians is that God became one of us, but I would even go further than that. God didn’t only become one of us. God is still one of us and also God was not only with us for a time, God is still with us. Do we realize this? Think about it, God is with you. He lives with you. Remember the song we sing at Easter time? “You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart!” God lives with you.
  1. The prophesy is fulfilled in Jesus.
    1. Matthew 1:23:“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
    2. Now, let’s watch the account of this in the Movie: The Nativity Story:
    3. In this location the angel is talking with Joseph. Joseph is told that Jesus’ birth will fulfill an Old Testament prophesy, specifically that a virgin will give birth to a son. I think that most of you know the story. Jesus’ mother, Mary, is the virgin. She is pledged or engaged to be married to Joseph. Everything was going well for this couple, but now things are dramatically changing. They are changing for our good, but it will not immediately be easier for Jesus’ mother and father. I have a daughter and if 6 years from now, when she is 14 she comes home and sits her mother and I down to talk and then proceeds to tell us that she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit, we would be skeptical. Yet, that is what happens here. Joseph is going to break off the engagement quietly. I hope you realize that by the Jewish law she could be stoned because this appeared to be adultery. But I think you know the rest of the story. In this passage an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and the angel confirms what is happening here is of God. Joseph takes Mary as his wife and Jesus is born.
    4. The child is Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
    5. S. Lewis wrote: The Son of God became man to enable men to become the sons of God.[3]
    6. An atheist and a Christian were engaged in an intense public debate. On the blackboard behind the podium the atheist printed in large capital letters, “GOD IS NOWHERE.” When the Christian rose to offer his rebuttal, he rubbed out the W at the beginning of where and added that letter to the preceding word no. Then the statement read, “GOD IS NOW HERE.”[4]
  • Application:
    1. God does not sleep or grow weary: Psalm 121: A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

  1. At one time I heard Pastor Tony Evans share an amazing story about this idea of God with us. You see he was on a cruise ship. It was a cruise for those that listen to his radio program. The cruise was in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Alaska and the cruise ship ran into some heavy seas. The seas were really rough, 35-40 foot waves. This was really bad. People were vomiting, things were moving around and so on. After so long a time of dealing with this Pastor Evans’ wife got unhappy about it and decided to call the Captain. She was unhappy as the captain knew they were heading into a storm and still decided to do so. He couldn’t stall or reroute as the captain had a schedule to meet. He had to be at a certain dock in order to pick up customers for another cruise. But Pastor Evans’ wife felt somewhat responsible as those on the cruise were there for Pastor Evans’ ministry. So, she calls the captain and the second to the captain calls her back. He says, “The captain wants you to do two things: First, the captain wants you to go to sleep. Second, you can go to sleep because I will be staying awake. I, the captain, will be staying awake to pilot the ship through the storm.”Psalm 121 says that our God never sleeps or slumbers. This passage is saying that God is with us. That is great. Like the captain, He is with us and He is awake guiding us through the storms of life.
  2. So, do you realize the very special significance of that? Nowhere in the Bible does it say that there will not be any storms in life. But you know what God is with us. God is with us in the storms.
  3. Now, I don’t want to miss the initial importance in this passage, Jesus came and lived a life as God with us. Jesus died for our sins and then rose again. So, Jesus is still alive and He sent His Holy Spirit to live with us now and that is why He is still with us today.

Matthew 3:11

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

  1. So, if the Holy Spirit is with us meaning that God is with us, we must live like He is with us: John 6:35: 35 Then Jesus declared,“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
  2. The other thing is that if we are living in sin and if we are not seeking God in spiritual disciplines then we are not welcoming God to be with us. Welcome Him in and rejoice because Christ came and He lives with us today.

Close:

Think about these applications:

  1. God with us means that He cares about us.
  2. God with us means that we are never alone.
  3. God with us means that we don’t have to worry about the future, He is with us.
  4. God with us means that the creator of all can also be with His creation.
  5. God with us means that we have the architect of creation with us.
  6. God with us means that if He is with us He can support and guide us.
  7. God with us means that He can and has communicated to us.
  8. We must live with an understanding of this awesome Truth that God is with us.
  9. We must live with an application of this awesome truth that God is with us.
  • We must live allowing God through Jesus to soothe our needs as He is with us.

 

So, Jesus came, God came and lived among us, He died for us, in our place, but He rose again and He is still with us. Praise God.

 

A woman was doing her last-minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall. She was tired of fighting the crowds. She was tired of standing in lines. She was tired of fighting her way down long aisles looking for a gift that had sold out days before.

Her arms were full of bulky packages when an elevator door opened. It was full. The occupants of the elevator grudgingly tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load.

As the doors closed, she blurted out, “Whoever is responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot!”

A few others nodded theirs heads or grunted in agreement.

Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator, came a single voice that said: “Don’t worry. They already crucified him.”[5]

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

 

prayer

 

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, (Touchstone, 1997), page 416

[2] Bruce Thielemann, “Glory to God in the Lowest,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 75.

[3] C S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 14.

[4] Vernon Grounds, Radical Commitment. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 7.

[5] Homiletics (November/December 2006), Volume 18; submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky

God uses a pagan sorcerer to prophesy the Messiah (Numbers 24:17)

God uses a pagan sorcerer to prophesy the Messiah (Numbers 24:17)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, November 24

A number of years ago I heard about a church that would advertise on their website, “Doubters welcome.” I liked that. I hate to think that people stay away from the church because they have doubts. We all have doubts from time to time. Or, we all have had to overcome doubts in order to grow in our faith. About 20 years ago I was studying the book of Revelation. I was going chapter by chapter studying one chapter at a time. It encouraged my faith so much because I saw how the Bible fits together. In studying the book of Revelation, I saw how prophesies from Daniel in the Old Testament were fulfilled in Jesus in the Gospels and how other prophesies are still going to be fulfilled when Jesus comes again. All of these Scriptures from the Old and New Testament fit together perfectly. It is amazing!

John Ortberg writes:

As long as you have faith, you will have doubts. I sometimes use the following illustration when I’m speaking. I tell the audience that I have a twenty-dollar bill in my hand and ask for a volunteer who believes me. Usually only a few hands go up. Then I tell the volunteer that I am about to destroy his (or her) faith. I open my hand and show the twenty-dollar bill. The reason I can say I am destroying his faith is that now he knows I hold the bill. He sees the bill and doesn’t need faith anymore. Faith is required only when we have doubts, when we do not know for sure. When knowledge comes, faith is no more.

Sometimes a person is tempted to think, I can’t become a Christian because I still have doubts. I’m still not sure. But as long as doubts exist, as long as the person is still uncertain, that is the only time faith is needed. When the doubts are gone, the person doesn’t need faith anymore. Knowledge has come.

I tell the audience that this is exactly the point Paul was making in his first letter to the church at Corinth: “Now we see [that a ‘knowing’ word] but a poor reflection [now we have confusion, misunderstanding, doubts, and questions] … then we shall see face to face [we don’t see face-to-face yet]. Now I know in part [with questions and doubts]; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (13:12).[1]

Today, we are going to look at another passage from the Old Testament that is prophetic to the Messiah.

My theme today:

God uses a pagan sorcerer to prophesy the Messiah.

Application:

Realize that God can use anyone.

Let’s read Numbers 24:17:

“I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near;
A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel,
And shall crush through the forehead of Moab,
And tear down all the sons of Sheth…

  1. Baalam and Balak in context.
    1. Context is critical so let me place this passage in context.
    2. In chapter 21, Israel started conquering the people of Canaan. They were getting ready to go into the Promised Land. They were not in the Promised Land yet but soon they would be. If you were to read chapter 21 you would see that when the Israelites trusted the Lord they would win the battles. God took care of them.
    3. So, now we get to chapter 22. There is a man named Balak in an area named Moab. Balak is a king in this area and he hears about or sees how the Israelites are conquering everyone they come into contact with. The Moabites and their king Balak are getting a little scared. So Balak contacts this prophet, pagan prophet, and asked him to curse the Israelites. His name is Balaam and he is internationally famous.
    4. Balaam asks God if he can do this.
      1. Balaam is not asking the Israelite God specifically but probably any of the gods. It was the One True Israelite God that answered. I suspect God might have ignored him but it had to do with His people the Israelites.
      2. God says, “You cannot curse them for they are blessed.”
        1. You may recall Gen 12:1-3. This is the promise of God to Abraham. God says, “those who bless you I will bless and those who curse you I will curse.” Now God proves that.
      3. Balaam sends these messengers back to Moab to tell Balak the Lord will not allow them to curse Israel. But if you look at verse 14 of chapter 22, the messengers tell Balak that Balaam will not come. They didn’t give Balak the message that the Lord would not allow it.
      4. The messengers come back and Balaam ask the Lord about this again. This time the Lord says alright, you can go but only speak what I tell you…. This is because in chapters 23 and 24 the curses that Balaam was supposed to pour out on Israel will end up being blessings. God takes care of His people.
      5. It is easy to read this passage and think that Balaam was a good obedient man but he wasn’t. God forced him to be obedient. The rest of Scripture refers to him as a false prophet who wanted selfish gain.
        1. 2 Peter 2:15 talks of Balaam as selfish.
        2. Revelation does as well in Revelation 2:14.
        3. In Number 31:16 Balaam is accused of giving bad advice to the Israelites which led them into adultery.
        4. In Numbers 31:8 he is killed.
      6. In Numbers 22:28 the Lord talks through a donkey to get through to Balaam.
      7. So, that gets us to Numbers 23 which is where Balaam begins to bless Israel. Here is this pagan prophet blessing Israel, this is powerful.
    5. The prophesy of the Messiah.
      1. Numbers 24:17 is the actual Messianic prophesy, but let’s continue setting the table.
      2. The context of Numbers 24:17 is Balaam as found in chapter 22 and written about above.
      3. In Numbers 23 and 24 Balaam blesses Israel 3 times. Every time he tries to curse Israel he blesses them.
      4. Starting in Numbers 24:15 we have Balaam’s final (fourth oracle) which is our passage.
      5. Numbers 24:1 is continuing the 3rd blessing of Israel.
      6. Beginning in Numbers 23:25 Balak, who is the local king of Moab asks Balaam to curse Israel. He has been asking him to curse Israel, but Balaam can only bless Israel.
      7. The ESV Study Bible shares: Balaam’s second blessing ( 18–24) responds to Balak’s complaint that Balaam should have cursed, not blessed, the people (v. 11). Balaam observes that God does not change his mind, so the blessing already pronounced cannot be turned into a curse (vv. 19–20). So the nation will be free from disaster (v. 21).
      8. In Numbers 23:26: Balaam says that he has do what the Lord tells him.
      9. In verse 27: we have Balak, again the local king of Moab, taking him to a high place thinking this can make him curse Israel.
      10. Then, in verses 28-30: Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor which overlooks the dessert. Balaam then asked for 7 alters and they made sacrifices.
      11. This brings us to chapter 24.
      12. Read with me verses 1-2 of chapter 24: When Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times to seek omens but he set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him.
      13. This is now, specifically, Balaam’s 3rd oracle: now he knew that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel so he did not seek omens but he set his face toward the wilderness.
      14. This is a telling passage.
      15. Verse 2 says that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. That is awesome! The Spirit of the Lord came upon this pagan man.
      16. He saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. Imagine the picture of Israel camping tribe by tribe and the Lord comes upon Balaam at this time.
      17. Verse 3, he takes up his oracle, or discourse:
      18. Verse 3 tells who the oracle is from.
      19. Verse 4: The oracle of him who hears the Word of God, who sees the Vision of the Almighty…This oracle is from God.
      20. Again, this is Almighty God working through a pagan non-believer, sorcerer.
      21. Verses 5-7 are about how great their locations are, etc. Then, in verse 7, he talks about how high their kings will be. Israel’s Kingdom will be exalted.
      22. Verse 8 is about the Lord leading them to military victories.
      23. Verse 9 includes the same idea as Gen 12:3 and the covenant with Abraham.
      24. Verses 10-13 includes Balak’s anger. Balak is angry because he wanted Balaam to curse Israel and now three times he has blessed them.
      25. Verses 12-13: Balak sends him home, but Balaam says that he told the messengers that he must speak what the Lord says.
      26. Now we come to verse 17: “I see him, but not now;
        I behold him, but not near;
        A star shall come forth from Jacob,
        A scepter shall rise from Israel,
        And shall crush through the forehead of Moab,
        And tear down all the sons of Sheth…

        1. A star: symbol of kingship.
        2. A scepter: royalty.
  • Genesis 49:10 tells us “the scepter will not depart from Judah.”
  1. This Star, this Sceptre will lead Israel. They will defeat their enemies.
  • ESV Study Bible: Sons of Sheth should probably be identified with nomads who lived in Canaan. The Shutu are mentioned in Egyptian texts from 1900 B.C.[2]
  1. In Verses 18-19 are more about the Messiah reigning defeating enemies.
  • Verses 20ff are a prophesy about the other nations.
  1. Think about this prophesy. This is all about Israel being the ruling Kingdom.
  2. This is all about Israel having a MIGHTY King.
  • The New American Commentary shares: One of the most remarkable prophecies of the Hebrew Bible, interpreted for centuries before the Christian era as portending and heralding the great Messianic king and kingdom, is here uttered by a pagan divination expert. Allen remarked, “That this prophecy should come from one who was unworthy makes the prophecy all the more dramatic and startling.”622 As noted earlier, the Book of Balaam presents an amazing picture of God in his sovereign desire to bless his people Israel. He will utilize whatever means he chooses to reveal himself and his will for his people, even if it means divinely drafting for service one who would seem the ultimate antithesis of what the world would envision for a leader and spokesman—but his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isa 55:8).[3]
  • This is a simple, yet profound prophesy about the Messiah.
  • Applications:
    1. God uses this pagan king to prophesy the Messiah. Do we trust that God can use everyone?
    2. We must not limit God. God can work in any way He chooses.
    3. We must have more confidence in our faith.
    4. We must have more confidence in God’s Word.
    5. We must have more trust in the Messiah, recognizing God’s pre-ordained plan.
    6. Balaam did what the Lord told Him (Numbers 24:12-13). We must be obedient to the Lord’s will.
    7. Balaam did what the Lord told him regardless of money. Even though he was a pagan man, he was not going to let money sway him (Numbers 24:12-13). Do we let money sway us?
    8. All this was going on behind the scenes, Israel did not know this was going on. We can have more trust in the Lord knowing that He is working behind the scenes.

So, I began this message talking about doubt. It always encourages my faith to see how the Bible fits together. This passage was written some 1400 years before Jesus and it is also connected with Genesis 49:10 which was spoken 400 years before that. All of these Messianic prophesies and inferences fit together. The Bible written by 39 or 40 authors over a 1400 year period all fits together.

In his book Stories for the Journey, William R. White shares the story of Hans, a European seminary professor devastated by the death of his wife, Enid. Hans was so overcome with sorrow that he lost his appetite and didn’t want to leave the house. Out of concern, the seminary president, along with three other professors, paid Hans a visit. The grieving professor confessed that he was struggling with doubt. “I am no longer able to pray to God,” he admitted to his colleagues. “In fact, I am not certain I believe in God any more.” After a moment of silence, the seminary president said, “Then we will believe for you. We will pray for you.” The four men continued to meet daily for prayer, asking God to restore the gift of faith to their friend. Some months later, as the four friends gathered for prayer with Hans, Hans smiled and said, “It is no longer necessary for you to pray for me. Today I would like you to pray with me.”[4]

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

 

prayer

 

[1] John Ortberg, Faith & Doubt (Zondervan, 2008), pp. 139-140

[2] https://www.esv.org/Numbers+24/

622 Allen, “Numbers,” 909.

[3] R. Dennis Cole, Numbers, vol. 3B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 425.

[4] John Koessler, in the sermon “Blessed Are Those Who Mourn,” PreachingToday.com

Jesus is called out of Egypt just like God led Israel out of Egypt.

I love books. When I was in twelfth grade I decided to take advanced English. Sometime around the beginning of the school year I was given a book called Sarum by Edward Rutherford. That book was over 1200 pages. I thought, “No way, this book is too long!” Back then I did not read books that long. Well, little did I know I would really enjoy that book. Also, little did I know that if you schedule your reading little by little you can read a lot in a school year. Sarum is historical fiction. Edward Rutherford tracked a family in England from hundreds of years before Christ up until the 1980’s. It was neat to see how he weaved real historical events into the story. He tracked the family and their descendants from ancient pagan England with the Druids and Stonehenge up through Christianity and the middle ages, renaissance and up until post World War Two. It was neat and I enjoyed it. In fact, there is a series of books by Edward Rutherford in which he takes a family and begins a few hundred years before Christ, and he tracks that family up until the late 1900’s. Most of these take place in England or Ireland, though I understand he has one in New York now. In 2007, I began Rutherford’s book titled “London.” In that book he began in London a few hundred years before Christ and followed a family and their descendants up through the twentieth century. That was neat. He once again began in pagan England and then went up through Roman occupied England and then Christianity entering England and then the Vikings and on and on and on. He wrote about the building of many great buildings and so much more. Once again, I love books. In books you can go to faraway places, in books you can learn about far away things. I love books.

The Edward Rutherford books have a common theme and so does the Bible. We can track that theme from Genesis through Revelation.

What we see throughout the Bible is that God is in control, even of the details. Actually, that was my first sermon EVER, God is in control of the details. God is in control of the details of history. God cares about the details. Cross reference and how one verse correlates with another has always encouraged my faith.

We began a sermon series a few weeks ago in which I wish to talk about prophesies about Jesus in the Old Testament which are fulfilled in Him as the Messiah. I am using the word prophesy lightly. Two weeks ago we talked about a prophesy given by God Himself. Today, we are going to talk about an allusion or a type. Just as Israel was called by God out of Egypt, Jesus will also be called out of Egypt.

Let’s read:

Hosea 11:1

When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son
.

Now, let’s also read:

Matthew 2:14-15:

And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Today my theme is:

Jesus is called out of Egypt just like God led Israel out of Egypt.

Application:

God has total control over the past, present and the future.

  1. The original meaning of Hosea 11:1:
    1. In Hosea 11:1 the prophet is talking about how God led Israel out of Egypt.
    2. Hosea was reminding them how God lovingly led them out of Egypt (Exodus chapter 4 and following), and they returned God’s goodness with idolatry.
    3. Look at Hosea 11:2: The more they called them, The more they went from them;
    4. They kept sacrificing to the Baals And burning incense to idols.[1]
    5. God lovingly took care of Israel leading them out of Egypt, but they went after fake gods.
    6. The ESV Study Bible: When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. Here is one of the most endearing passages in Hosea. The prophet uses another family metaphor, portraying the Lord not only as a husband but also as a father (cf. Luke 15:11–32). This metaphor was not original to Hosea (cf.  4:22–23). Matthew 2:15uses the line “out of Egypt I called my son” to show that Jesus is the “Son of God,” i.e., the heir of David who embodies Israel’s relationship to God (cf. 2 Sam. 7:14Ps. 89:26–27).[2]
    7. So, let’s jump to Matthew 2:14 and 15.
  2. Matthew’s Gospel uses this passage when baby Jesus’ family leaves Egypt.
    1. See Matthew 2:14-15: And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
    2. What we see in Matthew chapter 2 is that God is taking care of the young baby Jesus. That is powerful. Jesus is fully God and fully man, but He also is a baby or a toddler. God sends a message to Joseph telling him to take Mary and Jesus and go to Egypt. In Matthew 2:13 it reads: Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”[3]
    3. God in His providence knows that Herod wants to kill the Savior and so God sends Jesus’ family to Egypt. Then in verses 14-18 we see Herod slaughtering babies to try to kill the Messiah. However, Jesus was safe in Egypt.
    4. One source adds: A very large Jewish community lived in Egypt in this period. Perhaps one-third of Alexandria, located in northern Egypt, was Jewish; with a population estimated at about one million, it was one of the empire’s largest cities. Alexandria included a well-to-do Jewish element, schooled in Greek thought; most inhabitants of Egypt, however, were agrarian peasants, some of the poorest in the empire. Other Jewish communities had existed farther south, especially in Elephantine, for centuries. Literature from Palestinian Jews indicates that many of them questioned the devoutness of their Egyptian Jewish kinfolk, although Egyptian Jews considered themselves faithful to God.
    5. The Nile made travel easy within Egypt, but the coastal road to Egypt from Palestine was not the finest, and Egypt would be even harder to reach from Bethlehem without traveling northward to Jerusalem (one would have to take the poorer route southward to Hebron; see comment on 2:12). Egypt had served as a place of refuge in the past (1 Kings 11:40; Jer 26:21). By leaving “at night,” Joseph’s family made their route of departure impossible to trace; the language might also evoke Jewish readers’ memory of Exodus 12:31.[4]
    6. What is interesting is that while Jesus is in Egypt He is being protected and in reality way back in time while the Jewish people were in Egypt they, also, were being protected. They were being protected and formed into a nation. That is the connection that Matthew noticed. Just as God lovingly took care of the Israelites in Egypt He also lovingly watched over Jesus.
    7. One source shares: “. . . Matthew looked back and carefully drew analogies between the events of the nation’s history and the historical incidents in the life of Jesus.”10[5]
    8. What seems to be happening here is that Matthew noticed that Israel being preserved and made a nation in Egypt is comparable to Jesus and His upbringing being preserved in Egypt.
    9. Matthew does this repeatedly. Repeatedly, Matthew notices similarities in Jesus’ life and Israel’s history.
    10. Matthew is known for being written to a Jewish audience and they were a people that needed to know that Jesus as the Messiah fulfilled the Old Testament. All throughout Matthew’s Gospel he is writing, “this fulfilled…” In fact, look at verses 16-18: Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; And she refused to be comforted, Because they were no more.[6]
    11. In that passage Matthew quotes Jeremiah 31:15.
    12. So, what you need to know is that Matthew knew the Old Testament well enough to make the connection between what Hosea wrote in Hosea 11:1 about God leading the Hebrew people out of Egypt and now how God watched over Jesus.
    13. The question is can we connect the dots?
  • Applications:
    1. Be encouraged: God has total control over the past, present and the future.
    2. If you are ever discouraged in your faith remember how the Bible connects with one giant theme from Genesis to Revelation. There are well over 300 prophesies of Christ fulfilled in His life, death and resurrection. The Bible is a metanarrative. This means it is one grand story made up of smaller stories.
    3. We can trust God in the small matters of life because God is in control of everything.
    4. We may think little details do not matter to God, but they do. God took care of Israel and God took care of His Son Jesus.
    5. We may think our prayers do not matter, there are bigger things for God to take care of, but you know what? God can take care of both, the small and the big.
    6. We may have doubts. We may doubt that Jesus was the real Messiah, but all of these passages in the Old Testament fulfilled in Jesus show the validity of who Jesus was and Is.
    7. We can trust the Bible. We can trust Jesus.
    8. Study the Bible. The Bible is powerful. Isn’t it awesome how the Bible all fits together?

I am amazed at how God works things out.

At one time I was watching a documentary about American history, and the Revolutionary War, and I learned that after the British burned Washington DC, they were heading to Baltimore, but a hurricane hit them. How often does a hurricane hit Washington DC? Not often. I don’t think we are God’s chosen people, but I do think maybe the Lord helped us in the Revolutionary War. Maybe the Lord preserved us so that we could save Europe in WW2. Think about it, what would have happened if we could not help win WW2?

God is in control of history. Think about this. During WW2 Hitler over-extended Germany by entering the Soviet Union, then the Russian Winter also defeated Hitler. The Lord is in control. What would have happened if he did not do that?

I referenced the 300 prophesies, Josh McDowell writes:

One reason the Bible’s Old Testament is so important to Christians is that it contains prophecy — over 300 predictions, in fact — that, like the threads of a tapestry, establish the Messianic credentials of Jesus.

Put another way, the Old Testament is like an intricate jigsaw puzzle. The numerous pieces, on their own, are puzzling — until they are assembled enough to fill out the intended picture. Thus, the New Testament is the decryption key for unlocking Old Testament meaning.

Some might say, after reading through a list of Old Testament prophecy, that some were fulfilled in the deaths of KennedyNasserKing, and other great figures. One could possibly find a prophecy or two fulfilled in the lives of these notable fellas; but not one of them can be credited with fulfilling all of them. Only Jesus did so.

Just a handful of prophecy that Jesus fulfilled: He was born in Bethlehem, preceded by a messenger (John the Baptist), entered Jerusalem on a donkey, was betrayed by a friend who received thirty pieces of silver, was silent before His accusers, and died in the manner Romans used for criminals (crucifixion), during which they pierced His hands and feet.

Peter Stoner, in his classic book Science Speaks, calculated the chance of any man fulfilling these prophecies, even down to the present time, to be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 (10 to the 17th power). 

How can anyone think that Jesus just “happened” to be in the right place at the right time? Clearly, we can’t consider coincidence.[7]

Be encouraged, the Lord is in control.

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

prayer

 

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ho 11:2.

[2] https://www.esv.org/Hosea+11/

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Mt 2:13.

[4]Keener, C. S., & InterVarsity Press. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary : New Testament (Mt 2:12-13). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

10 101. Tracy L. Howard, “The Use of Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:15: An Alternative Solution,” Bibliotheca Sacra143:572 (October-December 1986):325. This article evaluated several other proposed solutions to this difficult citation.

[5] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Mt 2:9–14.

[6] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Mt 2:16–18.

[7] https://www.josh.org/jesus-fulfill-prophecy/

Prophesies of the Messiah (Gen. 3:15)

Genesis 3:15: As Soon as Man Sinned God Prophesied a Way (fulfilled: Gal. 4:4-5, Matt. 1:18)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on November 3, 2019

I like jogging around town at night during the Christmas season. It is great seeing the Christmas lights. It makes me think back.

What are your Christmas decorations like? Do you enjoy Christmas decorating?

When I was a child we were not allowed to listen to Christmas music or watch Christmas movies or television shows until after Thanksgiving. I looked forward to Christmas in every way. I looked forward to the lights, snow, days off school, lights, Santa Claus, trains, family get togethers, and -did I say- lights and so much more.

When I was a child I remember setting up Christmas lights with my dad. I think it was every year, from the time I was in first grade up until I was in sixth or the seventh grade, we would set up Christmas lights the weekend after Thanksgiving. It seems that the day after Thanksgiving we would clean up from the family get together and then maybe set up some indoor Christmas decorations. We could not set up the Christmas tree at that time, we had to wait on that. We would set up the Nativity scene on the mantel and we would string lights along the mantle as well. We would set up various other Christmas decorations around the house. I think I loved the colors of Christmas, but I loved the many colors on the lights. It seems that usually the Saturday after Thanksgiving we would hang Christmas lights all over the exterior of the house. We had a two story and my dad would use the extension ladder as we would hang lights on the top of the house as well. We had a blue spruce tree and we hung lights on there also. It was great getting the lights out of the garage attic plugging them in and watching them light up, or we hoped they would light up. Many times, they wouldn’t light up. My dad could fix anything and so many times he would replace the fuses and rewire things and make them work. We stood there in the cold and watched as he did all the work! We did hold the ladder. We used the big lights, not the little lights, but they sure could blow fuses. At night it was so nice to go outside and see the house lit up. In the next few weeks we would set up the Christmas tree. The tree had snowflake lights and these bubble lights that were supposed to resemble candles. We hung so many lights on the tree, I’m sure many of you would have thought it was too cluttered. In the coming weeks we would drive around and look at Christmas lights. Sometimes we were on our way home from cub scouts or some school event and we would just drive around for awhile.

We had an old train that was probably from the 1930’s, it was a Lionel Train and we would set it up under the Christmas Tree and I remember sitting in that room with the lights off except for the tree and letting the train go around the tracks. The Train had a light on the front and the cars lit up inside.

I wonder if you have memories like this?

Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zpk9Fk6sR3g

Pictures and videos of Christmas lights displays.

Today, I intend to show you how Jesus was prophesied in the Old Testament and these prophesies are fulfilled in the New Testament. I intend to show you that Jesus is the Light of the world and as people engaged Him they had enlightening experiences. You know, Jesus calls us the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

My theme:

As Soon as Man Sinned God Prophesied a Way

The applications are:

  1.         Have we trusted in the light of the world?
  2.         Are we encouraged that the whole Bible talks of God sending the light?
  3.         Notice God provides the light, salvation is of God.
  4.         Can we rejoice in our salvation? (Psalm 51:12)

 

  • Let’s turn in the first book of the Bible and look at: Gen. 3:15: And I will put enmity
    Between you and the woman,
    And between your seed and her seed;
    He shall bruise you on the head,
    And you shall bruise him on the heel
    .”

    • Take note, this passage is written right after the first recorded sin. I don’t know how many years before Christ came to earth this was written, but I would think about 4,000 years and just days, weeks or months into creation. Adam and Eve had the reign of the Garden of Eden and walked with God. Then, the devil came and tempted them. 2 Corinthians 11:14 says that satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Take note that there is spiritual warfare and we see it in this passage. The devil comes all innocent and disguises himself as a snake. Next thing we know they are disobeying God.
    • Now, in verse 15 God is giving the punishment for satan and for Adam and Eve.
    • In the middle of the punishment is this prophesy.
    • Enmity: this means that there will be a barrier between the devil and Eve and her offspring and the devils. It would be easy to think this is simply talking about a fear between man and snake, but historically that is not how it was interpreted.
    • Luther commented on the nature of “the woman’s Seed”: “This means all individuals in general; and yet he is speaking of only one individual, of the seed of Mary, who is a mother without union with a male” (LW195).
    • One writes: The “offspring” of the woman was Cain, then all humanity at large, and then Christ and those collectively in Him. The “offspring” of the serpent includes demons and anyone serving his kingdom of darkness, those whose “father” is the devil (John 8:44). Satan would cripple mankind (you will strike at his heel), but the Seed, Christ, would deliver the fatal blow (He will crush your head).
    • Another writes: The serpent’s poison is lodged in its head; and a bruise on that part is fatal. Thus, fatal shall be the stroke which Satan shall receive from Christ, though it is probable he did not at first understand the nature and extent of his doom.
    • Here we have the common case where an individual represents many.204 Eve and her adversary are the progenitors of a lifelong struggle that will persist until a climactic moment when the woman’s offspring will achieve the upper hand.
    • Now think about this verse and our applications. Notice that salvation comes from the Lord.
    • Here we are in the beginning of time. Here we are and man and woman have just sinned, they have broken God’s perfect standard. But God is saying, “I am going to bring you back.” God is saying, “There is a punishment, but I will send the light.”
    • The Bible says that we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). The Bible says that God wants all to come to salvation. (2 Peter 3:9).
  • All throughout the Old Testament God reminds them of the Light that will come. God reminds them of the Light of the world. God continues to talk about the birth of Jesus.
    • Isaiah 7:14:“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
    • Isaiah was written some 700 years prior to Christ and God is reminding the people that He will provide the Light.
    • Notice that the whole Bible talks of God sending Jesus. Isn’t that encouraging?
  • Listen to Isaiah 60:1 and 19-20:
    • Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
    • Isaiah 60:19-20:
    • The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.
    • These verses are about a time still to look forward to. But notice, who provides the light? God will provide the light. On March 9, 1979, nine satellites stationed at various points in the solar system simultaneously recorded a bizarre event deep in space. It was, in fact, the most powerful burst of energy ever recorded. Astronomers who studied the readings were in awe. The burst of gamma radiation lasted for only one-tenth of a second . . . but in that instant it emitted as much energy as the sun does in 3000 years. If the gamma-ray burst had occurred in the Milky Way Galaxy, said one astrophysicist, it would have set our entire atmosphere aglow. If the sun had suddenly emitted the same amount of energy, our earth would have vaporized. Instantly.
    • Let’s look at the New Testament:
  • In Matt. 1:23 Joseph is having a dream and this is what the angel says: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”). This is the fulfillment of that prophesy way back in Genesis 3:15.
  • One more Bible passage which shows a more direct fulfillment of that prophesy is Gal. 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law. Notice how this passage says, “born of a woman” and that is alluding to Genesis 3:15: the seed or “offspring” of a woman…

Close:

[The Passion of the Christ with Jesus stepping on the snake, maybe silent only.]

  1. Have we trusted in the light of the world?
  2. Are we encouraged that the whole Bible talks of God sending the Savior?
  3. Notice God provides salvation.
  4. Can we rejoice in our salvation (Psalm 51:12)?

Do you have the Light? Do you know Jesus?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

 

prayer

Uzziah, the Leader Who Fell by Pride (2 Chron. 26)

Uzziah, The Leader Who Fell by Pride (2 Chronicles 26)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 27, 2019 

The Patriot and pride:

One of my favorite moves is the Patriot. It is a movie that takes place during the Revolutionary War. Mel Gibson stars as Benjamin Martin who leads the militia to repeatedly defeat the British. His character is based on the Swamp Fox, a real man, who knew the terrain so well he defeated the British repeatedly using his knowledge of the area as a strength.

Watch this clip from the movie. 

https://youtu.be/yRkynBxVwQU

Pride is a weakness and a sin.

We are in a sermon series on forgotten lives from the Old Testament. We are in our final sermon and one such person is Uzziah. Let’s talk about this man.

My theme is:

Uzziah, The Leader Who Fell by Pride (2 Chronicles 26)

My application is:

While you seek the Lord, seek humility.

Let’s read 2 Chronicles 26:

And all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the place of his father Amaziah. He built Eloth and restored it to Judah after the king slept with his fathers. Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Jechiliah of Jerusalem. He did right in the sight of the Lord according to all that his father Amaziah had done. He continued to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding through the vision of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him.

Now he went out and warred against the Philistines, and broke down the wall of Gath and the wall of Jabneh and the wall of Ashdod; and he built cities in the area of Ashdod and among the Philistines. God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians who lived in Gur-baal, and the Meunites. The Ammonites also gave tribute to Uzziah, and his fame extended to the border of Egypt, for he became very strong. Moreover, Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate and at the Valley Gate and at the corner buttress and fortified them. 10 He built towers in the wilderness and hewed many cisterns, for he had much livestock, both in the lowland and in the plain. He also had plowmen and vinedressers in the hill country and the fertile fields, for he loved the soil.11 Moreover, Uzziah had an army ready for battle, which entered combat by divisions according to the number of their muster, prepared by Jeiel the scribe and Maaseiah the official, under the direction of Hananiah, one of the king’s officers.12 The total number of the heads of the households, of valiant warriors, was 2,600.13 Under their direction was an elite army of 307,500, who could wage war with great power, to help the king against the enemy. 14 Moreover, Uzziah prepared for all the army shields, spears, helmets, body armor, bows and sling stones. 15 In Jerusalem he made engines of war invented by skillful men to be on the towers and on the corners for the purpose of shooting arrows and great stones. Hence his fame spread afar, for he was marvelously helped until he was strong.

16 But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 Then Azariah the priest entered after him and with him eighty priests of the Lord, valiant men. 18 They opposed Uzziah the king and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful and will have no honor from the Lord God.”19 But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged; and while he was enraged with the priests, the leprosy broke out on his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, beside the altar of incense. 20 Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous on his forehead; and they hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out because the Lord had smitten him. 21 King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death; and he lived in a separate house, being a leper, for he was cut off from the house of the Lord. And Jotham his son was over the king’s house judging the people of the land.

22 Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first to last, the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, has written. 23 So Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of the grave which belonged to the kings, for they said, “He is a leper.” And Jotham his son became king in his place.

  1. Uzziah becomes king (verses 1-5)
    1. Let’s put this sermon in context. As I have stated before chapters were not in the original Hebrew texts. Depending on your translation this chapter begins with “and” or “then” or “for.” The point is this chapter about Uzziah follows chronologically with the previous material.
    2. One thing we should share up front is that Uzziah is translated as Azariah in 2 Kings 14:21. He is written about briefly in 2 Kings 14 and 15. 1 and 2 Kings are historical books of the Old Testament as are 1 and 2 Chronicles among others. Similar material is written in 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles.
    3. Context during the history of Israel is critical, Swindoll shares the following:
    4. Uzziah was born during a tumultuous period in the history of the Hebrew people. One hundred years prior to Uzziah’s reign, the foolishness of Rehoboam (remember him?) had torn the kingdom into two bitter enemies: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. In the century that followed, the nations routinely warred against one another, as progressively evil kings occupied their thrones and dominated their people. Israel’s kings were all reprobate, violent pagans, while many of the kings in Judah were at least somewhat godly. But eventually the violence of the north became commonplace in Judah.[1]
    5. ESV Study Bible:The reign of Uzziah included co-regencies with his father Amaziah (796–767 C.) and his son Jotham (750–733). Uzziah’s reign saw the beginning of Isaiah’s prophetic ministry (Isa. 1:1; 6:1).[2]
    6. Uzziah is about to be anointed as king over all the people of Judah, not Israel, which would be the southern kingdom.
    7. Notice that Uzziah is 16 years old at this time.
      1. Think back to when we were sixteen years old.
      2. What were you doing?
  • Imagine your sixteen-year-old teenage self as king.
  1. It is possible that Uzziah was co-regent for a time with his father or maybe prior to this, but still he is very young. He also seemed to depend upon the Lord at this time.
  2. Verse 2 shows that he built a certain city “Eloth” and restored it to Judah. This may be part of his wars which are talked about later on.
  3. It seems that these first few verses are simply summarizing things.
  4. In verse 4 the text says that he did right in the eyes of the Lord and further compares him to his father in this way. As long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him.

Swindoll writes: Before we continue, allow me to make this personal by asking you a probing question. If your children follow in your steps, will they do what is right in the sight of the Lord? If your children emulate you—and they will—will you be able to say that their adult years were God-honoring?

Imagine walking over snow-covered ground a few paces ahead of your child. Each step you take leaves an imprint he or she can clearly see. Now imagine that little person following you stretching those short legs to place his or her feet in the footprints you left behind. That’s exactly what your children will do in life. In fact, that’s what we see Uzziah doing. He made good tracks early on, just like his father, but he made them with a reluctant heart, also like his father.[3]

  1. Uzziah succeeds in war (verses 6-15)
    1. The first instance is war with the Philistines.
      1. Broke down the wall of Gath
      2. And the wall of Jabneh
      3. And the wall of Ashdod;
      4. And he built cities in the area of Ashdod and among the Philistines.
    2. Verse 7 is about God’s help against the Philistines.
    3. Verse 7 mentions other ways that God helped him with war.
    4. Arabians who lived in Gur-baal and the Meunites.
    5. Verse 8 mentions the Ammonites too.
    6. This now mentions 4 people groups with war.
      1. Philistines
      2. Arabians
      3. Meunites: these people as well as the Arabians were nomadic groups to the south.
      4. Ammonites
    7. Further, the Ammonites also gave tribute to Uzziah.
    8. His fame extended to Egypt. This is the Lord’s blessing.
    9. Verse 5 had stated that the Lord blessed him as he sought the Lord. So, now we see the Lord’s blessing.
    10. Verse 8 says that he became very strong.
    11. Verses 9-10 are written about his work in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas.
    12. He built towers in Jerusalem, they were at the corner gate and the valley gate and at the corner buttress and fortified them.
    13. These seem to be repairs needed because in 2 Kings 25:23 we see how king Joash of Israel (the northern kingdom) captured King Amaziah and then did damage to the wall of Jerusalem.
    14. Verse 10 continues about his building campaigns. He built towers in the wilderness and dug cisterns and took care of livestock needs.
      1. Interesting note about how much livestock he had.
      2. There is an interesting note that he loved the soil.
    15. Verses 11-15 are written about his military. He had an army ready for battle. What is interesting about this is that it means they had a paid army. Oftentimes they could not afford an army and would need to recruit a militia for battles. Now, their wealth is increasing and they can afford an army.
    16. Verse 12 gives the numbers: 2600 of the heads of household of warriors. The warriors are “valiant.”
    17. Verse 13 continues with the numbers under the direction in verse 12:
      1. An elite or powerful army
      2. 307,500
  • They could wage war with great power.
  1. To help the king against the enemy.
  1. In verse 14 we see the supplies: army shields, spears, helmets, body armor, bows and sling stones. The ESV Study Bible shares: Murals from the siege of Lachish (701 B.C.) show defenders on the city walls shooting arrows and hurling stones from behind wooden frames on which shields have been hung.[4]
  2. In verse 15 this continues with engines for war
    1. These were on the towers
    2. And the corners for the purpose of shooting arrows and great stones.
  3. His fame spread.
  • Uzziah downfall (verses 16-23)
    1. Verse 16 begins with a change of direction.
    2. Everything has been good about Uzziah up until this point.
    3. BUT…
    4. When he became strong…
    5. His heart was so proud and this pride caused him to act corruptly.
    6. He was unfaithful and the writer is going to share how he was unfaithful.
    7. He entered the temple to burn incense on the altar of incense. Keil and Delitch: “When Uzziah had become mighty… his heart was lifted up (in pride) unto destructive deeds.” He transgressed against his God, and came into the sanctuary of Jahve to offer incense upon the altar of incense. With a lofty feeling of his power, Uzziah wished to make himself high priest of his kingdom, like the kings of Egypt and of other nations, whose kings were also summi pontifices, and to unite all power in his person, like Moses, who consecrated Aaron and his sons to be priests. Then, and Ewald, indeed, think that the powerful Uzziah wished merely to restore the high-priesthood exercised by David and Solomon; but though both these kings did indeed arrange and conduct religious festal solemnities, yet they never interfered in any way with the official duties reserved for the priests by the law. The arrangement of a religious solemnity, the dedicatory prayer at the dedication of the temple, and the offering of sacrifices, are not specifically priestly functions, as the service by the altars, and the entering into the holy place of the temple, and other sacrificial acts were.[5]
      1. He thought he could do whatever he wants.
      2. He thought I am the king. I have conquered enemies. I have great possessions. I can do what I want. I don’t need the priest to do this.
  • Before we are so critical of him, do we do the same thing?
  1. We may think, I am an adult, I worked hard for my money, I can buy this. But do we think and ask if the Lord wants us to buy it. Our money is really the Lords. Everything is the Lord’s. He created all things (Genesis 1-2).
  2. We may think, I am an adult, if I want to look at these pictures on the internet I can.
  3. We may think, I’ll do what I want with MY time. But we are neglecting our children or grandchildren or the church.
  • Pride focuses on ourselves. We must focus on God and then others (Matthew 22:37-39).
  • Pride does what we want to do and justifies every sin.
  1. Pride makes us lie, cheat and steal.
  2. Pride leads to adultery. Pride makes us think, “I deserve this.” You think, “I can cheat on my wife, or my husband.” You may even justify it that he/she is not faithful to you in other ways. You may say, “He is always at work all the time.” You may say, “He already cheated on me with pornography.”
  3. Pride leads to idols. “I deserve this nice car.” I deserve this __________.
  • Pride leads to anger.
  • Pride leads to our lies to cover up our sins.
  • Satan had pride and this led to his fall:
  1. Ezekiel 28:11ff
  1. God cannot have pride. Think about it, it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to have pride. To have pride means to think of yourself higher and greater than you are. The Lord already IS the greatest BEING. There is no one greater than Him. God knows it is best for us to worship Him and humbly bow to Him.
  1. Verse 17 tells us how this went down.
  2. Uzziah is in the temple.
  3. Azariah the priest enters.
  4. Azariah enters with his 80 (wow) priests of the Lord. These are valiant men.
  5. Azariah entered prepared to take this man, their king, down.
    1. Azarariah stood for truth and risked his livelihood for this.
    2. He could have been rebuked by the king and maybe his men would not support him.
  • He was going against the king.
  1. That is another application, we must stand for truth.
  1. In verse 18 they opposed him, and we read the conversation.
  2. This burning of incense is for the priests, the sons of Aaron, they are consecrated.
  3. Numbers 3:10: So you are to appoint Aaron and his sons, and they will be responsible for their priesthood; but the unauthorized person who comes near must be put to death.
  4. They order him out of the sanctuary. They tell him he has been unfaithful. They tell him he will have no honor from the Lord.
  5. In verse 19 we read that Uzziah was enraged. He breaks out with leprosy.
  6. In verse 20 we read that Azariah the chief priest hurried him out of there. Uzziah himself recognized the Lord’s punishment and got out as well.
  7. Verse 21 tells us he was a leper until the day of his death.
    1. He had to live in a separate house.
    2. He was cut off from the house of the Lord.
  • His son, Jotham, was leading as king.
  1. 2 Kings 15:5-7 records similar words.
  2. Verses 22-23 record his death and burial. Isaiah was a prophet while he was king (among others) (See Isaiah 1:1 and 6:1).
  3. I like what one writes: As L. C. Allen has explained, the “royal trilogy” of Joash, Amaziah, and Uzziah, all of whom served the Lord faithfully only during the first part of their reigns, dramatically presents a message to believers to “hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first” (Heb 3:14).86[6]
  4. The ESV Study Bible shares: A stone plaque was found in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, from the Second Temple period that bears the inscription, “Here were brought the bones of Uzziah, king of Judah. Do not open!” It may be that the king’s bones were moved to the Mount of Olives many centuries after his death.[7]

Swindoll writes:

I mentioned before that I played in the Third Marine Division band. Something I learned as a musician is that the most important notes you play are often those in the last few bars of the piece. You can recover from a rough beginning. You still have time to settle down and find yourself in the middle. But there’s nothing to follow those last notes except silence. The quality of those final notes on the final page of the finale will usually be the ones that shape the audience’s memory of your performance.

Without question, Uzziah started well. The majority of his career provided a godly, safe, prosperous environment for God’s people. But the final notes of his performance spoiled the whole concert. Observe what his audience remembered:

“So Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of the grave which belonged to the kings, for they said, “He is a leper.” And Jotham his son became king in his place. 2 Chronicles 26:23; emphasis added

Because he was a leper, he lived out the rest of his days all alone. Think of it! When he died, they buried him in a field adjacent to the royal cemetery—not within it—because he was still considered unclean. They didn’t mark his gravestone with “He was a king.” They didn’t even say, “He was a king who became a leper.” By the end, his greatness was forgotten. They wrote what they remembered: “He was a leper.[8

When he finally accepted his status as a “nobody,” he took his place alongside the rest of humanity. Then, and only then, was he prepared to meet the only real Somebody. My hope is that Uzziah, quarantined from society at large and permanently barred from public service, allowed the Lord to make him somebody worth emulating. It’s quite possible. After a long string of outright evil kings and good kings gone bad, Uzziah’s son, Jotham, became the only king of Judah in 130 years to be listed as exclusively good. I would like to think that it was the seven years Jotham spent in coregency with his father, perhaps learning from his mistakes.

If so, that’s the kind of impact every “nobody” should have, including you . . . and me.[9]

Close:

Remember that I began this sermon with the clip about the pride of General Cornwallis. Let’s contrast that with George Washington.

As you likely know, I love history and I love Revolutionary War history. Last year I listened to an audio book about George Washington. It was called Washington, A Life by Ron Chernow. There is a point in the book in which he writes the following about Washington as Commander and Chief:

Washington’s job as commander in chief was as much a political as a military task, and he performed it brilliantly, functioning as de facto president of the country. His stewardship of the army had been a masterly exercise in nation building. In defining the culture of the Continental Army, he had helped to mold the very character of the country, preventing the Revolution from taking a bloodthirsty or despotic turn. In the end, he had managed to foil the best professional generals that a chastened Great Britain could throw at him.

As Benjamin Franklin told an English friend after the war, “An American planter was chosen by us to command our troops and continued during the whole war. This man sent home to you, one after another, five of your best generals, baffled, their heads bare of laurels, disgraced even in the opinion of their employers.”[10]

I don’t know whether Washington was humble or not, I hope so, but I do know that pride is a weakness and the root of many sins.

Seek the Lord and seek humility.

Do you know Jesus?

Luke 9:23:

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

prayer

 

[1] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[2] https://www.esv.org/2+Chronicles+26/

[3] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[4] https://www.esv.org/2+Chronicles+26/

[5] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 666.

86 Allen, 1, 2 Chronicles, 345.

[6] J. A. Thompson, 1, 2 Chronicles, vol. 9, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 326.

[7] https://www.esv.org/2+Chronicles+26/

[8] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[9] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[10] Chernow, Ron. Washington (p. 460). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Quoted from: Burns and Dunn, George Washington, 27.

 

Gehazi

Gehazi, Elisha’s Servant Who Got Greedy (2 Kings 5:15-27)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 20, 2019

We are going to talk about Gehazi in a minute. I encourage you to turn to 2 Kings 5:15.

 Chuck Swindoll writes: 

Ministry serves others; greed serves self. Ministry calls a woman or a man to set aside selfish gain in order to assist another. Greed is an excessive or reprehensible desire to acquire something for the benefit of self. A minister must live by the highest ethical standard, especially in regard to wealth and material possessions. A greedy person will sacrifice his or her ethical standard when it blocks the path to an object of desire. Whereas ministry uses things to serve people, greed uses people to obtain things.

Greed is never acceptable. Some work hard to rationalize it, sanctify it, even attempt to build a theology around it. Still, greed is a deadly enemy of genuine service to others.[1]

I recently read the following:

Zogby recently conducted a large benchmark poll in which respondents identified “greed/materialism” as the number one “most urgent problem in American culture.” “Poverty/economic justice” finished in second place. In a 2014 Vanity Fair poll, 78 percent of Americans disagreed with the famous Gordon Gekko quote “Greed is good.” Only 19 percent agreed. A recent poll of Economist readers asked “What is the deadliest sin?” and, greed ranked number one.

But, surprisingly, although everyone thinks greed is a terrible problem, most people don’t think they are greedy. When the BBC conducted a poll on the seven deadly sins (anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride and sloth), greed was last on the list in answer to two questions: Which sin have you ever committed? and Which sin have you committed in the past month? Plenty of Brits copped to being lazy, proud, envious and angry. But greedy? Seventh out of seven, last on the list. Tim Keller, argues “even though it is clear that the world is filled with greed and materialism, almost no one thinks it is true of them … Greed hides itself from the victim.”[2]

Today, we look at Gehazi, Elisha’s servant. We began this section last week. Last week we saw Naaman healed and now we will see Naaman want to pay Elisha. Elisha refuses the pay, but his servant schemes to get the money.

My theme is:

Gehazi, Elisha’s Servant Who Got Greedy

My application: Greed leads to a multitude of sins.

Let’s read 2 Kings 5:15-27:

 When he returned to the man of God with all his company, and came and stood before him, he said, “Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel; so please take a present from your servant now.” 16 But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will take nothing.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. 17 Naaman said, “If not, please let your servant at least be given two mules’ load of earth; for your servant will no longer offer burnt offering nor will he sacrifice to other gods, but to the Lord. 18 In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” 19 He said to him, “Go in peace.” So he departed from him some distance.

20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, thought, “Behold, my master has spared this Naaman the Aramean, by not receiving from his hands what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him.” 21 So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw one running after him, he came down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?” 22 He said, “All is well. My master has sent me, saying, ‘Behold, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothes.’” 23 Naaman said, “Be pleased to take two talents.” And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags with two changes of clothes and gave them to two of his servants; and they carried them before him. 24 When he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and deposited them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed.25 But he went in and stood before his master. And Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.”

26 Then he said to him, “Did not my heart go with you, when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Is it a time to receive money and to receive clothes and olive groves and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants?27 Therefore, the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.

  1. First, we see Naaman’s offer (verses 15-19).
    1. This is picking up after the healing of Naaman.
    2. Verse 15, says, “when he returned to the man of God.” This is about Naaman returning to Elisha. Elisha is called a “man of God.” That is a wonderful title to be called.
    3. Naaman is a military commander in Aram/Syria.
    4. He is grateful to be healed.
    5. Naaman has now dipped 7 times in the Jordan River and now he returns to Elisha.
    6. Notice that he comes to Elisha with his entourage, it says “with all his company.” Naaman is a high ranking official and so he comes with a large group.
      1. Have you ever seen a show in which a person travels with an entourage? I am an expert because I have watched Madam Secretary and Blue Bloods. In both shows the main character travels with a motor cade.
      2. Naaman has a large group with him.
    7. Notice, Naaman gives a lot of credit to the Lord.
    8. He essentially says the only God is the Lord in Israel.
    9. This is a major profession of faith. Ever since Gen. 12:1-3 the Lord was wanting to bless others through Israel. One source shares: Sadly, Naaman’s confession of faith condemns most Israelites of that era, since they have rejected the one true God and embraced gods that cannot heal. Jesus makes this point while rebuking the people of Nazareth in Luke 4:23–30.[3]
    10. The Moody Bible Commentary: Realizing that he had been healed, Naaman returned to the man of God, along with his entourage, and made a surprising confession. What was even more impressive was his change of attitude toward Elijah. He stated, Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel (v. 15). The story of Naaman illustrates God’s faithfulness to Gentiles. Anyone who turns to the God of Israel, even in the period of the OT, would find grace, forgiveness, and a relationship with Him. Even citizens of Israel did not have the same conviction.[4]
    11. He now offers Elisha a gift.
      1. He probably comes from a background in which you pay profits for their work.
      2. He for sure believes people should be paid for what they do.
    12. In verse 16, Elisha claims the Lord with what he says. “As the Lord lives…” We serve a living God. Elisha stands before the Lord, the Lord is his witness. Elisha is saying this is the Lord’s will. Elisha refused to take anything. Naaman urged him, but he still would not take anything.
      1. This is very honorable of Elisha.
      2. I am sure he could have used the money for something, but he refused.
  • I must ask, can I have that kind of integrity?
  1. Elisha was recognizing that he did not do anything, the Lord did the miracle. Therefore, he could not take the money.

I like how Swindoll writes about this: The wise prophet dismissed him in peace, trusting that this was merely the beginning of the general’s long journey to becoming a devout, mature worshiper of the one true God.

When someone becomes a brand-new believer, the next few days are crucial. The information he or she receives during that brief period may either confirm grace or steal it. “OK, you have received the free gift of salvation in Christ and your place in heaven is secure. Now you must be baptized. Now you must start tithing. Now you must clean up your life. Now you must give up cigarettes, and alcohol, and your foul language, and . . . Now you must . . . now you must . . . now you must . . .” The poor, new Christian is left to wonder, “But you said I was free! What happened?”

When Naaman found he had been cleansed, he wanted to give the prophet a gift—not a bribe, like before, but a gift of thanksgiving. Observe Elisha’s noble and unselfish reaction:

But [Elisha] said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will take nothing.” And [Naaman] urged him to take it, but he refused. 2 Kings 5:16[5]

 What Elisha refused was no small sum. We don’t trade in talents and shekels, so let me convert the gift into today’s currency. Naaman offered this humble servant of God 750 pounds of silver and 150 pounds of gold. That comes to roughly $1.1 million dollars. (The clothes were by no means cheap, but they were probably included as a gesture of friendship with the original payback.)

Imagine the ministry potential of a sum like that in the hands of an honest prophet of God. And, let’s face it, if you were the one living on a prophet’s salary, that would be enough money to make your eyes tear up. You’d be fixed for life. So why did Elisha refuse the gifts? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but we can put enough clues together from the story to conclude that it was to reinforce the lesson that Naaman had learned. The Lord cannot be charmed. His salvation is freely given by grace, through faith. Taking Naaman’s money would compromise that message.[6]

  1. In verses 17-18, Naaman is sharing how he will carry dirt back and make a sacrifice to the Lord. Naaman recognized they will only offer to the Lord. In Ex. 20:24 God instructed them about making alters of dirt.
  2. One other source shares: It is very evident from Naaman’s explanation, “for thy servant,” etc., that he wanted to take a load of earth with him out of the land of Israel, that he might be able to offer sacrifice upon it to the God of Israel, because he was still a slave to the polytheistic superstition, that no god could be worshipped in a proper and acceptable manner except in his own land, or upon an altar built of the earth of his own land. And because Naaman’s knowledge of God was still adulterated with superstition, he was not yet prepared to make an unreserved confession before men of his faith in Jehovah as the only true God, but hoped that Jehovah would forgive him if he still continued to join outwardly in the worship of idols, so far as his official duty required.[7]
  3. Basically, he wants to take dirt back to build an alter.
  4. Verse 19 shows that Elisha sends him away in peace.
  5. Elisha does not approve or disapprove of this.
  6. It also shares that he has gone some distance before the next event.
  1. Now, we see Gehazi’s lust and lies (verses 20-24).
    1. In verse 20 the narrative switched to Gehazi. This is different because he has not had the spotlight until now.
    2. Gehazi is modified by “the servant of Elisha,” and “the man of God.” This is showing who he is and who he is connected with.
    3. This verse clues us into Gehazi’s thinking. He thought or “said to himself.”
      1. This sermon could focus on controlling our thinking.
      2. Thinking can be dangerous. Col. 3:1-2 tells us what to think on. Phil. 4:8 also talks about our thinking. 2 Cor. 10:5 tells us to take every thought into captivity.
  • We must focus on positive and good thoughts.
  1. We can gossip in our head and that is not good.
  2. Sin begins in our mind.
  3. We start thinking: “I deserve better.” We start think “I deserve a nice car like that” and then we lust.
  • Or, we start thinking, “I work hard, this pornography helps me relax.” Then sin begins.
  • Or, maybe it is different, we are meditating on a person of the opposite sex. We think, “well they dress that way, that is their choice. If she is going to dress that way, I will look.” We may think, “I am a man, God gave me these desires.”
  1. Or, we think, “it is only a white lie…” Sin begins this way. We must make our thoughts bounce. Change the channel in your head. Sometimes we must change the channel a few times.
  2. Screen your thinking with the Word of God.
  1. Gehazi is justifying his greed. He says, Elisha (his master) spared Naaman by not taking what he brought. Now, Gehazi is going to catch up and take it. Notice also how Gehazi says, “as the Lord lives…” this means he is including the Lord in this greed and deceit. This is an example of taking the Lord’s Name in vain (Ex. 20:7). He is even basically saying that this is the Lord’s will.
  2. In verse 21we see that Gehazi catches up to him by running. He is running a marathon or something to catch up.
  3. In verse 22 we see Gehazi talk with Naaman. Now, there is a total lie.
    1. There is an application and that is that greed gets us into lies.
    2. Lies then build up.
  4. He says this is from his master, Elisha.
  5. 2 young men of the sons of the prophets have arrived.
  6. They came from Ephraim.
  7. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothes.
  8. In verse 23 we see that Naaman gives him what he asks but he doubles the amount of silver.
  9. IVP BBC OT: Considering what Naaman had been prepared to offer, Gehazi’s request is extremely modest, yet it is still a considerable sum. A talent of silver is three hundred years of wages (for someone making thirty to thirty-five thousand a year, that would be like getting about ten million dollars), and Naaman doubles it. Gehazi is trying to set himself up for life.[8]
  10. Two of his servants went along with him.
  11. In verse 24 they come to his house and the servants leave.
  • Lastly, we see Gehazi’s lie and consequence (verses 25-27).
    1. So, now, in verse 25 Elisha is present.
    2. I don’t know if they live together or not, but Elisha is back in the narrative. Elisha asks where he has been. Gehazi lies again, saying that he did not go anywhere.
    3. In verse 26, we see Elisha respond. Elisha essentially says that he was present spiritually when he went there.
    4. Elisha says that now is not the time to receive money and clothes and olive groves and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants.
    5. IVP BBC OT: Elisha’s reference to olive groves, vineyards, livestock and servants all reflects what Gehazi could purchase for himself with the money. His newfound wealth would have bought him a life of luxury and leisure. Thus Gehazi was reducing the high prophetic calling to a mercenary vocation that exploited divine power for personal gain.[9]
      1. An application here is Numbers 32:23: be sure your sin will find you out.
      2. We think our sin is hidden but it is not.
  • The Lord sees everything!
  1. It does not say that he receives olive groves and vineyards and sheep and oxen, but maybe he did. Or, maybe Elisha is exaggerating.
  2. In verse 27 we see the consequence. Now, Gehazi receives the leprosy. It also says that his descendants will also receive leprosy– forever.
  3. Swindoll shares: Apparently Gehazi repented, though he was never cleansed of the consequence, his leprosy. According to Hebrew law, he was able to continue serving as Elisha’s assistant because his skin had turned completely white (Leviticus 13:12–13). Later, he would stand before King Jehoram as the servant of Elisha. He had been restored to ministry, but his white, flaking skin would forever remind him of three mental images: the face of the Syrian, whose faith he compromised; the disappointed look of his master, whom he had undermined; and the awful day when he gave in to greed.[10]

In this account we see many of the Ten Commandments violated. We see taking the Lord’s name in vain, we see lies and we see others. Watch this:

Ignitermedia video:

The Ten Commandments

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

 

prayer

 

[1] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[2] Adapted from Ted Scofield, “Everybody Else’s Problem, Pt. 2,” Mockingbird blog (7-28-15)

[3] Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, vol. 8, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 273.

[4] The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 20861-20865). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[5] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[6] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[7] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 226.

[8] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:23.

[9] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:26.

[10]

Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

Naaman, the Foreigner Who was Healed by the Lord of Hosts (2 Kings 5:1-14)

Naaman, the Foreigner Who was Healed by the Lord of Hosts (2 Kings 5:1-14)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on October 13, 2019

Robert Chesebrough believed in his product. He’s the fellow who invented Vaseline, a petroleum jelly refined from rod wax, the ooze that forms on shafts of oil rigs. He so believed in the healing properties of his product that he became his own guinea pig. He burned himself with acid and flame; he cut and scratched himself so often and so deeply that he bore the scars of his tests the rest of his life. But he proved his product worked. People had only to look at his wounds, now healed, to see the value of his work–and the extent of his belief.[1]

We are going to look at a passage dealing with faith. We are going to look at a man who had to trust that he could be healed by a prophet of God.

My theme: Naaman, the Foreigner Who was Healed by the Lord of Hosts (2 Kings 5:1-14)

Let’s read 2 Kings 5:1-14:

Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.”Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus spoke the girl who is from the land of Israel.” Then the king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” He departed and took with him ten talents of silver and six thousand shekels of gold and ten changes of clothes.

He brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.”

It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.”11 But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ 12 Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.

  1. In verse 1: Naaman’s disease
    1. Naaman is introduced in this first verse. He is captain of the army of the king of Aram. He is a very high court official as we will see in a little bit.
    2. About Aram I read: The land of Aram, north of the land of Israel, was known by the Greeks as Syria. Current evidence suggests that the Arameans inhabited the upper Euphrates throughout the second millennium, first as villagers and pastoralists, then as a political, national coalition. During this period they are alternately allies and the most troublesome foes of Israel.[2]
    3. He is a great man, meaning highly respected.
    4. Interesting it says that “by him the Lord had given victory to Aram.” One source shares: The author states that the Lord gave Naaman his victories. At first this claim may seem startling because Naaman is not an Israelite. However, 1, 2 Kings emphasize repeatedly God’s sovereignty over all nations and all people. The Lord has already laid claim to ownership of Syria’s political future (1 Kgs 19:15). Surely he can work on behalf of a Syrian, if only to discipline Israel for idolatry (cf. 2 Kgs 13:3). The Lord also has sent the prophets earlier to non-Israelites (1 Kgs 17:7–24), so it is not surprising for him to deal with Naaman here.[3]
    5. He is a valiant warrior, but he is a leper.
    6. That is a major statement in that day and age.
    7. Leper just means a skin disease that can take various forms. I read: There is an allusion here to the difference between the Syrians and the Israelites in their views of leprosy. Whereas in Israel lepers were excluded from human society (see at Lev. 13 and 14), in Syria a man afflicted with leprosy could hold a very high state-office in the closest association with the king.[4]
    8. In Luke 4:27 Jesus referenced this account: And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, yet none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.[5]
  2. In verses 2-5: Naaman’s determination
    1. Verse 2 is sad to me. There is a little girl who was taken captive during a raid. This is very sad. This was an Aramean raid on probably Israel. My heart breaks when I read this. I think of my daughters being taken captive because of some war. Then, at a young age they are forced to be slaves. Unfortunately, this still happens. This happens even in the U.S. with sex trafficking.
    2. This little girls is a servant of Naaman.
    3. In verse 3 she talks to her mistress, this seems to be a wife of Naaman or one of his wives or a woman who leads the servants. This little girl wants Naaman to get help from a prophet in Samaria. Samaria was the capitol of the northern kingdom of Israel. Elisha was a prophet in the northern kingdom. She says that this prophet could cure him.
    4. Interesting that apparently she cares. Even though she is a prisoner of war, she cares. This could be Stockholm syndrome: this means that a captive starts to identify with his or her captors. Or, maybe she thought she would get better treatment if she helps him. Or, maybe they were just really nice to her. I hope the latter. It seems that she may be like Daniel, Mordecai, Ezra, Nehemiah and others who would be exiled but good servants to their pagan country.
    5. In verse 4 Naaman goes in to tell his master what the girl said. Who was his master? It seems by context, looking at the next verse that his master was the local king.
    6. In verse 5 we see that this does get back to the king of Aram and the king of Aram sends a letter to the king of Israel. They were going to pay the king of Israel for this:
      1. Ten talents of silver,
      2. Six thousand shekels of gold,
  • Ten changes of clothes.
  1. About this gift I read: The gift accompanying Naaman is exorbitant—a king’s ransom. Ten talents equals thirty thousand shekels, about seven hundred fifty pounds of silver. The six thousand shekels of gold equals about one hundred fifty pounds (one gold shekel equaled fifteen silver shekels). Converted to today’s buying power, it would be in the vicinity of three-quarters of a billion dollars. One can get an idea of the proportions by understanding that a typical wage would have been ten silver shekels per year, and one gold shekel would purchase one ton of grain.[6]
  • In verses 6-8: Naaman’s determination and the king of Aram to the king of Israel followed by Elisha’s response
    1. Now, the king of Israel is receiving this letter.
    2. I read: A number of examples exist of kings sending to other kings for help in the area of healing sickness. Babylonian exorcists were prized by the Hittites, and Egyptian doctors were famed for their healing skills, especially in their treatment of eye diseases.[7]
    3. The letter is coming but so is Naaman.
    4. Verse 7 shows that the king of Israel reacted in outrage; He tore his clothes. The tearing of robes, especially royal robes, was a sign of mourning. This would have signaled a national crisis or tragedy. We are never told which king of Israel this is, though much of Elisha’s interaction is with Jehoram.[8]
      1. He actually thinks that the king of Aram is seeking a quarrel. However, one source notes the Syrian king imagining, according to his heathen notions of priests and goëtes,[9]that Joram could do what he liked with his prophets and their miraculous powers. There was no ground, therefore, for the suspicion which Joram expressed.[10]
      2. I wonder if he thought it was a test. You cannot heal Naaman so we go to war.
    5. In verse 8, Elisha hears about this. Elisha pretty much acts like: why did you tear your clothes, why not send them to me? Elisha says, send them to me and let them know that there is a prophet in Israel.
    6. It seems as though Elisha is saying that they may not have prophets, but we do!
  1. In verses 9-13: Naaman and Elisha
    1. Now, Naaman comes to Elisha.
    2. Notice that Naaman comes with horses and chariots. He comes right to Elisha’s doorway.
    3. Elisha was ready. Elisha gives him a simple message.
    4. “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean.”
    5. In verse 11 Naaman is upset, he was not just upset, he was furious. He wanted something dramatic.
      1. Do I want instant gratification?
      2. It seems that Naaman wanted the McDonald’s way.
  • It seems likely that he is advanced in the military and he was used to having things his way. It does not work that way in God’s Kingdom. We pray and we wait and we seek the Lord.
  1. God has a plan.
  1. Naaman continues in verse 12. He is basically asking why the rivers of Damascus are not good enough. He thinks the rivers of Damascus are better. The waters in those rivers are beautiful and clear whereas the waters in the Jordan are muddy. Why the Jordan River?
  2. He goes away in a rage.
  3. Swindoll shares: Naaman was furious.” Of the six primary Hebrew words referring to anger, this is perhaps the strongest. It usually describes God’s righteous wrath toward sin. Naaman was angry because his encounter with God met with none of his personal expectations. (That still happens.)
  4. He expected to be taken seriously by the prophet. Naaman was a man who commanded armies. When he spoke, people jumped to action. His mere presence brought others to their knees. He was important and probably thought that the prophet ought to be impressed to think a man of his rank and authority would even show up at his obscure little village.[11]
    1. How do we react when things do not turn out our way?
    2. Do we go away in a rage?
  • Do we go away in tears?
  1. How do we handle disappointment?
  2. Pr 14:17 A person who has a quick temper does foolish things, and a person with crafty schemes is hated.
  3. Pr 16:32 Better to be slow to anger than to be a mighty warrior, and one who controls his temper is better than one who captures a city.
  • Pr 19:11 A person’s wisdom makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
  1. In verse 13 we see the servants speak to him. They speak respectably, addressing him as “my father…” basically, they say that this is so simple, why not try it. If the prophet asked something else would you have done it?
  2. The obvious answer is yes.
  3. The funny thing is that Naaman came close to not being healed because it was too simple. This happens today.
  4. The Gospel is simple. Our eternal life is free. My dad often tells me that I am in sales too, but what I sell is free. That is true, but I wonder if people would take the Gospel more seriously if it costs money.
  1. Verse 14: Naamon obeys Elisha and is healed.
    1. Naaman now obeys.
    2. He is restored, but not just a little bit, his flesh is now like the flesh of a child.
    3. He was clean, certain skin diseases make one unclean.
  2. Some applications (a few of these come from Swindoll’s Book, Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives)[12]
    1. Only when we acknowledge our own sin-sick state will we seek cleansing. We, as Christians must understand that we are sinners in need of a Savior and our spiritual healing is free.
    2. Our spiritual healing is simple too.
    3. Only when we hear the truth will we discover the path to cleansing. We need to hear the truth just like Naaman did. The truth is in the Gospel and in the Word of God.
    4. Only when we reach the end of our own way will we be ready to follow the Lord’s. Some of us need to reach the bottom before we realize we need God’s help. You have all most likely been there. Has there been a time when you kept trying to work something out on your own, but eventually you realized you needed help?
    5. Fourth, only when we do as God requires will we receive His cleansing.
    6. Are you being obedient to the Lord? Some of us may be wanting God’s help but still living in the flesh. Some of us want God’s favor but will not surrender to Him. Are you surrendered to the Lord? Are you seeking the Lord?
    7. I notice Naaman’s rage in verses 11-12, we must watch our anger and get rid of it. Instead of being angry seek the Lord, pray about things, get help, write in a journal, go for a walk.

The powerful, pleading words of a Scottish preacher provide a fitting conclusion: 

I advise you to get over your temper, and to try that very way that you have up till now been so hot and so loud against. It will humble you to do it, and you are not a humble man; but if you ever come back from Jordan with your flesh like the flesh of a little child, you’ll be the foremost to confess that you had almost been lost through your pride, and your prejudice, and your ill-nature. . . .

You all know, surely, what the true leprosy is. You all know what the leprosy of your own soul is. It is sin; yes, it is sin . . . it is yourself. . . . O leper! leper! go out with thy loathsome and deadly heart . . . Go wash in Jordan. Go in God’s name. Go in God’s strength. Go in God’s pity, and patience, and mercy. . . . Go this moment. 

Do you know Jesus?

Luke 9:23:

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

 

prayer

[1] Ralph Walker, Concord, North Carolina. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 1.

[2] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:1.

[3] Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, vol. 8, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 271.

[4] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 224.

[5] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2005), Lk 4:27.

[6] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:5.

[7] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:6.

[8] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:7.

[9] The term góētes (γόητες), RV “impostors,” AV “seducers,” is used of a class of magicians who uttered certain magical formulae in a deep, low voice (cf the vb. goáō[γοάω], which = “to sigh,” “to utter low moaning tones”). Herodotus (ii.33) says that there were persons of the kind in Egypt, and they are mentioned also by Euripides and Plato.[9]

[10] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 224.

[11] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[12] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271