2 Kings 3:1-47; Acts 14:8-28; Psalm 140:1-13; Proverbs 17:22
I find the exchange between Joram and Elisha so interesting. Joram, fresh out of sheep from the uprising Moabites, goes out to war with his allies, the kings of Judah and Edom. But while they are in the wilderness, they run out of water. So Jehoshaphat suggests they ask a prophet if they’re even on the right track; Joram agrees and goes to Elisha. But Elisha asks, “What have I to do with you?” (2 Ki. 3:13). Basically, Elisha is telling Joram that he owes the king of Israel nothing - Joram is loyal to Baal (Elisha refers to him as the prophet of his mother and father), and Elisha mockingly implies that he should look to this false god for help. This forces Joram to admit that it’s really the LORD who is in charge, and because of Jehoshaphat, Elisha is willing to seek God’s wisdom on their behalf. I love that Elisha is not pulled into Joram’s schemes (but knows the truth that the kings are all wandering in the wilderness because of Joram’s own initiative not God’s direction), but that he also fulfills his role as a prophet and delivers the words of God. And what a result! The Moabites are tricked into rushing headlong into their enemies and ultimately surrender everything but the city of Kir Hareseth.
In our Acts reading, it’s easy to read quickly along, so much so that you might even miss something like “Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead” (Acts 14:19). What?! Aren’t these the same crowds that were trying to worship and offer sacrifices to them? How fickle the crowds are! And how blandly Scripture reports the stoning of Paul. Can you even imagine being stoned to the point of death? Obviously this is very far from anything most of us have ever experienced.
But what’s really amazing is what follows – on the next day, Paul “preached the gospel” and “made many disciples” (Acts 14:21), and then we see city after city in which they preach the gospel. We read it as a list of deeds and geographical references, but what we’re really seeing is the movement of the Christian church. This is how it all began, folks. This is how the word of God eventually got to you and me. Paul and other Christians like him traveled around and spread the word. As it says at the end of our reading, “he opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (14:27). Amazing. Truly amazing. Let’s pause today to thank God for the spread of our faith and the men and women who came before us who made that possible.
That also makes me want to pause and pray for the current missionaries, who, like Paul, are going to the ends of the earth to tell people about Jesus. What an amazing calling!
And I love how the psalm ties into that theme too: “I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted and will execute justice for the needy” (Ps. 140:12). In many of these remote places, injustice runs rampant; victims are afflicted and it can seem like no one cares. But this psalm reassures us that God sees and that he’s working for their justice. Please, Lord, may your justice come speedily to those in need!
If you have some time today and you feel like an extracurricular Three65 activity, how about contacting a missionary you or your church support? Maybe send them an encouraging email or text, just to say you’re praying for them and you believe in their work of bringing the gospel to all the peoples. Just an idea!
- Esther McCurry
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