Our last several lessons have examined the judgment God brought on Ahab, his house and ultimately on all of Israel. God had foretold even before Israel entered the promised land that disobedience to the covenant would result in them being “defeated before your enemies; you will go out one way against them, but you will flee seven ways before them, and you will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 28.25). So, we shouldn’t be surprised to read that the Lord promised to use Hazael of Syria to execute His justice on Israel (1Kings 19.15-17). Yet, even though God was using the nations to judge His people, the passages we examine in this lesson show that Jehovah remained Sovereign over all the nations.
Jehovah remained Sovereign over Aram (2Kings 6-7)
In our last lesson we noted how Hazael was “anointed” as the next king of Aram (2Kings 8.7-15) and how he began oppressing Israel (2Kings 10.32-33). The very fact that it was the Lord’s prophet Elisha who anointed Hazael as king shows that Jehovah remained in control of world affairs. And while the events of 2Kings 6-7 occurred before the anointing of Hazael, they further amplify the fact that Jehovah was sovereign over Aram.
Notes from the text:
- 6.13, Dothan is 10 miles north of Samaria, located on a main route leading into the Jezreel valley.
- 6.17, compare with what Elisha witnessed when Elijah was taken up into heaven (see 2.11-12).
- 6.22, captives would normally be made slaves, but in this case Elisha instructs the king to treat them as guests. Perhaps this was to make peace with the king of Aram, which it would seem temporarily occurred (note vs. 23).
- 6.25, we read in 1Kings 10.29 that a horse from Egpyt would sell for 150 shekels of sliver. The famine in Samaria was so bad that it required more than half the price of a horse to purchase a donkey’s head. Also, 5 shekels of sliver was what the average worker could make in 6 months.
- 6.31, “In Israel the distinction was not always sharply drawn between the prophet as proclaimer and the prophet as instigator. This confusion occurs because the widespread belief in the ancient world still persisted in Israel that the utterance of words by skilled individuals had the power to coerce the gods to act accordingly. The Israelite king has decided that Elisha must have had some role in inducing Yahweh to take this action against Samaria.” (IVP Bible Background Commentary)
- 7.1, under normal circumstances a shekel could purchase 100 quarts of barley, but here it would only buy 15. Still, this is a drastic improvement from the conditions described in 6.25.
We’ve already noted that Israel was guilty of transgressing the covenant, thus God was bringing the judgment of the covenant on them. In this case, Aram was the Lord’s tool to execute His judgment. However, these episodes revealed that Jehovah could still deliver His people from foreign oppression and more importantly, that He would protect His faithful servants. Elisha and his servant, along with other faithful followers of God, lived among a wicked people, a people that would ultimately be taken out of the land. Yet, God protected Elisha and his servant from the Aramean forces. These prefigures the many “remnant” promises found in the prophets, where God emphasized that He would continue to protect His faithful remnant (see Isaiah 28.5; 37.32; Micah 4.7; etc.). What a wonderful thought to consider, that though we live in a wicked world, the Lord still protects His remnant!
Jehovah was Sovereign over Moab (2Kings 3)
This chapter records an event that doesn’t seem to have a lot of relevance to the main narrative regarding Israel during the time of Ahab’s dynasty. The main connection is that the king of Moab chose to rebel after the death of Ahab, during the reign of Jehoram (vss. 1-5). However, taken in context with the rest of what Scripture records about Moab, this chapter emphasizes God’s sovereignty over this nation.
Notes from the text:
- Historical notes regarding Moab from Scripture:
- Moab descended from Lot (Genesis 19.30-38)
- God would not allow Israel to attack Moab while they journeyed to Canaan (see Judges 11.12-28).
- Balak, king of Moab, employed Balaam to curse Israel while they were camped on the border of Moab (Numbers 22-24).
- Moab took opportunity to oppress Israel during the days of the Judges (Judges 3.12-30).
- Saul had military victories over Moab (1Samuel 14.47)
- David completely subjugated the Moabites (2Samuel 8.2).
- Solomon promoted the worship of the Moabite god, Chemosh, to please one of his wives (1Kings 11.7).
- 3.4, on the Moabite stone, Mesha boasts how we overthrew the rule of Israel: “Omri was the king of Israel, and he oppressed Moab for many days, for Kemosh was angry with his land. And his son succeeded him, and he said — he too — “I will oppress Moab!” In my days did he say [so], but I looked down on him and on his house, and Israel has gone to ruin, yes, it has gone to ruin for ever!
- 3.7, remember that Jehoshaphat was allied with Ahab’s house (see 2Kings 8.16-18).
- 3.8, “The allies cannot easily come against Moab from the north because Mesha has fortified the Medeba plains north of the Arnon. As a result they march south through Jerusalem, Hebron and Arad, around the south end of the Dead Sea (through the desert of Edom) and come at Moab from an unexpected direction. The march from Samaria to Arad is about eighty-five miles. From there it may be as many as fifty more to Kir Haresheth if a fairly direct route is taken.” (IVP Bible Background Commentary)
- 3.13, “It is interesting that Joram does not disavow those prophets or the gods they serve, but only replies that Yahweh was the one who had instigated the campaign, so he must be dealt with. This may suggest that oracles had been sought from Yahweh by this northern king and that the oracles had answered favorably concerning this military action, though, alternatively, the alliance may have taken shape only because Jehoshaphat consulted Yahweh concerning his involvement (see 2 Chron 18:4–7). This divine direction, however it came, is now interpreted by Joram as Yahweh’s intention to bring about their destruction.” (IVP Bible Background Commentary)
- 3.17, “It is likely that the army was in the vicinity of the Wadi Zered. Like all wadis, Zered fills up seasonally with the runoff from the higher elevations. As a result, it can suddenly course with water even though no rain has been experienced at the lower elevations. The digging of pits in the wadi would be a means of capturing the runoff for their use lest it all surge right past them. Prophetic knowledge of rain in high elevations that would bring water into the area is also demonstrated by Deborah (see comment on Judg 4:14–16).” (IVP Bible Background Commentary)
- 3.25, “The ecological destruction was intended to cripple the economy for years. The springs and fields could eventually be cleared of stones, but needing to do so would make it a long, slow process to reestablish a productive agriculture. Sometimes springs would find other, less usable outlets and fields would be so damaged as to have greatly reduced fertility. The cutting down of trees would have even more devastating effects on the ecological balance. Not only would shade and wood supply be lost, but topsoil erosion would increase and the loss of forestation’s contribution to the environment would accelerate the development of wasteland conditions. Some fruit trees (such as the date palm) take twenty years of growth before they become productive. Agricultural devastation and deforestation were typical tactics of invading armies seeking to punish those they conquered and as an attempt to hasten their surrender.” (IVP Bible Background Commentary)
- 3.27, “The subsequent great fury against Israel could be taken as the Moabites’ angry reaction which caused Israel to return (so Josephus, Ant. ix.3.2), the wrath of God turned against the alliance who had provoked such an action or, more likely, Israel’s horror and dismay made them withdraw.” (Tyndale)
Recall that when Balak, king of Moab, employed Balaam to curse Israel, Jehovah would not allow the seer to do so, but rather told him to issue a series of blessings. Of note was this prophecy uttered by Balaam:
“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.” (Numbers 24.17)
It may be that this prophecy was originally fulfilled by David in 2Samuel 8.2, but as the Moabite king’s rebellion in this chapter shows that David did not complete the prophecy. Yet, just as 2Kings 3 shows that defeated Moab was but a small thing (see vs. 18), God would bring further judgment on Moab (see Amos 2.1-3). And ultimately it is Jehovah’s Son who would subjugate Moab and all the nations (Psalm 2).
Leave a Reply