IIT UBF - University Bible Fellowship at IIT





Date: Jun. 7, 2015

Author: Bob Henkins

2 Kings 8:1-6

Key Verse: 2 Kings 8:6

“The king asked the woman about it, and she told him. Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, ‘Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.’”

Have any of you ever restored something? To restore means to bring back. When I was in college, several of my friends were into cars. I had a 71’ Dodge Challenger, it wasn’t in very good shape but it was real fast. I always wanted to restore it to its original condition but I never had the patience or money to do so. But a good friend of mine did have the patience and over time he earned the money. He had a 69’ Chevy Chevelle and he took it completely apart down to the last nut and bolt. And then he meticulously cleaned up each part and painted it until it was like new and if he couldn’t make it like new, he replaced that part. And over the course of a decade or so he put it back together. He restored it to mint condition. That car was incredible. In that car you could see his passion and care. And I don’t know about you, but I think the concept of restoration is a thing of beauty. When something that has been broken down and is on the verge of being destroyed and thrown out, when all of a sudden someone comes along and gives it new life, that’s a beautiful thing. However restoration doesn’t have to be confined to restoring an old object, it could be to reinstate a previous right, practice, custom, or situation. It could even be returning someone or something, to a former condition, place or position. For example it has taken seven or so years, but maybe now the economy is turning around and the people’s confidence has been restored in the housing market. Restoration can come in many forms. Especially in our throw-away culture today, where things don’t last, I think restoration is a thing of beauty. And as you may have guessed, today’s passage is going to touch on the theme of restoration. In it, a family’s life is turned upside down and by God’s grace they are restored.

Our passage today is a bit confusing because although it’s recorded in chapter 8, it may, or may not, have occurred earlier. We are not sure exactly who the king is, and Gehazi, after being driven out in chapter 5 with leprosy, returns seemingly without leprosy. And a famine was also mentioned in chapter 4, is this famine the same one mention there or is it another one? So I’m not exactly sure of where this incident fits into the timeline but still there’s and important lesson we can learn from it. Take a look at verse 1. “Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the Lord has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.”” When we first heard about this woman it was in chapter four when we found out that she had asked her husband to build a room on their roof for Elisha to stay in whenever he and his servant Gehazi came to town. She offered this out of her own free will and wanted to be a blessing to the man of God. Because of her kindness Elisha wanted to bless her. She refused his offer. Elisha asked his servant, “Isn’t there something that we can do for her?” Gehazi replied, “Well, she doesn’t have a son and her husband’s old.” (4:14) The following year she was blessed with a baby boy. Then if you recall her son became sick and died. She ran to get Elisha and her boy’s life was restored. So already she has had her family restored, with a gift of a son, and her son’s life restored and next her land restored. To her, our God is the one who restores.

In verse one, she finds out from Elisha that a terrible famine is coming. Either Elisha has sought her out or she sought him, either way we can see how closely connected she was to the man of God. The kindness that she had shown to Elisha was also shown to her as she was given notice of the coming disaster that would last seven long years. How nice it would be to know about disasters before they happen. That way we could avoid them. I was reading one of my son’s books about the Titanic, and there was a man who had a “funny feeling” about the ship so he didn’t get on it when it set sail. Who knows, maybe that was God’s intervention? Usually most of the time people are caught unaware when a disaster occurs and they have little or no time to prepare. When this famine hit, most people would have tried to “ride it out” using up what resources they had until everything was gone and then they would be in trouble unable to get out.

So that beckons the question, why didn’t Elisha tell everyone about the coming famine? Warn them so that they could get out too? We don’t know, maybe he did try and the people didn’t listen? Often when people are told that something terrible is coming, they don’t believe and ignore the message. But I don’t think that is the case here. I don’t think that Elisha told many people about the coming famine because this was God’s punishment upon the people of Israel for their disobedience. For some time now, God has been trying to get the people of Israel to repent of their wickedness and to turn from their evil ways back to him but they have been unwilling to do so. Therefore God has determined to get their attention one way or another through this famine. God does not delight in punishment, but he won’t ignore wickedness forever. God is patient, but at some point his patience runs out and he punishes in the hopes to humble people and to turn their hearts back to him.

Verse one tells us that Elisha knew this famine had been decreed by God. Famine was considered a covenantal curse. Which means it was part of the covenant God made with Israel. We find in Deuteronomy 28 sections of the covenant. Listen to what it says, “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: 3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. 4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. 5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. 6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. 7 The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. 8 The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. 9 The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him.” (Dt 28) The Lord told them that if they obey his commands, they will be blessed in every way.

However if they disobey let’s find out what happens. “However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you: 16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. 17 Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. 18 The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. 19 You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out. 20 The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him.” (Dt 28) And again in Leviticus 26 God said, “18 “‘If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. 19 I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. 20 Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of your land yield their fruit.” Again God wasn’t doing this because he gets sadistic joy in watching people suffer, he punishes so that people’s hearts may be restored to their proper state as in verse 19 breaking down stubborn pride. But this woman’s heart must have been ok as God wanted to spare her this suffering, so Elisha told her to get out of town, go wherever you can.

Look at how the woman responds to Elisha in verse 2. “The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years.” She accepts Elisha’s advice and follows his direction. What would you do if suddenly one day, M. Daniel came to you and said, “Leave Chicago because devastation is coming?” Would you listen? Could you leave everything you own behind and get out of town? That’s what this woman and her family did. Remember she was wealthy and yet they abandoned their house and everything they owned, knowing that if no one was there to occupy it, it would be forfeited to the king. Or worse someone else could move in and either take or destroy their belongings. This might have been easier for someone to do if the situation was different like war torn Europe after everything was destroyed. You may think there was nothing left of your belongings, but I would think that this is hard to do especially before the disaster occurred; she had to put her faith in action and to trust in God’s leading. So they went next door to the land of the philistines, their former enemies. Even though they may not have been Israel’s current enemy, she would undoubtedly experience hardships, being in foreign land with a different language. She may have suffered mistreatment and being an outcast. They would be alone and seven years is a long time to dwell in a land that was the home of giants, (Goliath) and you have to stay out their way. And she does it. That is amazing faith.

I find it interesting to note that the famine seems only to affect Israel and not the neighboring countries. And what’s odd is that there seems to be no attempt to import food. I believe these are also signs that God’s hand was involved in judgment against Israel.

The story continues in verse 3. “At the end of the seven years she came back from the land of the Philistines and went to appeal to the king for her house and land.” When she returns from her journey, her greatest fears have come true, her property is occupied. Either it has been confiscated by the king, taken over by her neighbors, or if she had entrusted someone to watch over it, they were not trustworthy. There was a time in her life, when she needed nothing. Elisha had asked her, “Can I speak to the king for you?”, but she replied, “No that’s ok. I have a home among my own people.” (2 Ki 4:13) But now she is in a very different situation. For some reason, she didn’t have the help of her own people. Either they died from the famine or were unwilling to help her. What I find strange here is that this woman makes the appeal to the king. This would be uncommon in a male dominated society. But we find she is the one standing before the king, this may indicate that while she was out of the country, her husband died. Remember he was old back in chapter four and it’s at least seven years later. Now she was the head of the household and deal with this problem. She doesn’t have a husband to rely upon, she has to take care of it herself. She had to have courage to approach the king.

So she makes the decision to approach the king. Take a look in verses 4-5. “The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, “Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.” Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to appeal to the king for her house and land. Gehazi said, “This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.”” Let me ask you this, “What are the odds that Gehazi is at the king’s place the exact time the woman arrives? What are the odds that he is talking about an incident that involves the woman at the exact time she arrives? You can call it coincidence, but I believe it is more than that. I believe that God orchestrated this meeting. I believe that it is God’s sovereignty and he is trying to teach his people something from this situation.

Let’s see what happens in verse 6. “The king asked the woman about it, and she told him. Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, “Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.”” So the king has an official assigned to her case. This shows that they have the infrastructure and staff to handle these types of problems. And not only was she given all her property back, but she was even compensated for all the income she lost during the famine. Her situation was completely restored. She was even in a better situation (minus her lost husband) than before the famine because she was given all she could have earned in one lump sum. It’s like receiving seven years salary all at once. Not bad.

Let me ask you this, “Does she deserve to have her belongings restored?” What do you think? That’s an intriguing question. In America we would should, “You’re darn right she does. It was hers in the first place.” (Might have been family land inherited as Israel’s birth right) But those were different times. I would have to answer that question, I guess it’s up to the king. Do you remember how the Pharoah acted in the time of Joseph? When there was a famine in Egypt, the Pharoah used the situation to his benefit to increase his wealth. What could she do in this helpless situation? She was at the mercy of the king. It’s his kingdom, he is in charge and he has the authority to do what he wants. And it’s here that I draw this parallel. This is a glimpse of God and his kingdom. Ultimately we are at the mercy of God. Romans 9 tells us, “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (v14-16) Just like this woman was at the kings mercy, we are at God’s mercy. When she went to the king, she was hoping just to have her property restored but she was blessed with so much more. And this is true with God as well. God always restores beyond what we deserve, it just may not be what we expect.

If we take a moment and contrast the officer’s attitude in verses 7:2 & 7:19. His attitude was one of unbelief and he died because of his unbelief. On the other hand this woman had an attitude of obedience was blessed because of her faith. Sometimes it’s not what we do but our attitude in doing it. Two people can do the exact same thing but with very different motives. For example, Abraham experienced a famine and he left the land just like this woman. But his motive was out of fear for his survival. But this woman left by faith in God. Very different. We can’t judge people based upon their actions. But what’s amazing is how God was able to restore Abraham and bring him back and he could be used for the purpose that he was called for. Abraham was faithless and yet God restored him to be a father of faith. As I said earlier, restoration is a thing of beauty. How amazing is it that God could take a person like Abraham, who failed time and again, and yet he restores his failure. The woman’s life was restored, but she was told to go, yet Abraham was restored because of his failure. This is also a picture of God’s mercy and grace that he shows to us. Just as God restored this woman’s life – we are restored from our sins through Jesus. Our relationship with God is restored through Jesus. This reminds me of what the apostle John said, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (Jn 1) Even though we have sinned against God, when we believe in Jesus (trust in him) we are restored to be his children.

God could have gotten rid of us, he is the creator he could have made a new race, just like in our throw-away society. But he didn’t he restores our failures. We can take solace in the fact that God wants to restore us. Usually people restore things that they value, this shows that God values us. We can see how God cared for this woman. He cares for those who put their trust in him. Also when something is restored, they often become more valuable that they were when they were first made, like antique cars.

What does God’s restoration look like? First there is the partial restoration on earth. The blind see, lame walk, useless becomes useful, faithless becomes faithful. The full restoration comes in God’s kingdom when all things become anew. There will be no more cracks and mud everything with be new. We won’t need the sun because the glory of God will light the place. Revelation 21 says, “3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”” How wonderful will it be when all of us are fully restored when we enter into the kingdom of God.

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