In these last two days, the readings have been very interesting. It covers the entire time period in which the prophets Elijah and Elisha ministered in the northern kingdom of Israel. In Old Testament times, the only other servants of the LORD who were comparable in miraculous powers were Moses and Aaron. In both these time periods, key events were occurring in which God’s redemptive purposes through His people were at risk.
In the time of Moses and Aaron, Pharaoh was cruelly oppressing the Jews even to the point of ordering the death of Hebrew male babies. In the time of Elijah and Elisha, apostasy within the northern kingdom was threatening to wipe out worship of Israel’s Covenant LORD.
It is no accident that we are introduced to Elijah’s ministry in 1Kings 17 right after the ascension of Ahab to the throne of Israel (1Kings 16:29-34). Israel had already created the idolatrous altars of the golden calves in Dan and Bethel under the kingship of Jeroboam a few years before. Now through the influence of Ahab’s wife Jezebel, Baal and Asherah worship will be aggressively promoted. True prophets of the LORD are being put to death by Jezebel(1Kings 18:4).
In response to to these threats, the LORD raises up 2 ornery, fearless and powerful prophets of the LORD. Elijah and Elisha are 2 men of God that you may not want to invite to your next Sunday School picnic. They are men who understand the times that they are living in, and have a great grasp of their God-given authority to call God’s people back to covenant faithfulness with their LORD. They appear coarse at time, but tough times require tough servants of the LORD.
Elijah and Elisha both raise the dead and perform feeding miracles. We see some resemblance to the miracles of Jesus in these prophets’ ministries. They do have a great deal of authority from the LORD. It seems that the LORD raises up 2 men who are just right for the situation that Israel finds themselves in.
In the northern kingdom of Israel, we have the rise and fall of several dynasties who try to maintain kingship within their family. But murderous coups are the order of the day. In the southern kingdom of Judah, the kings are more faithful to the Mosaic covenant. As a result, peace and blessing are more experienced in this realm of God’s people. But even this kingdom becomes endangered when the Davidic kings intermarry with Ahab’s family (2Kings 8:25-29;11). But again, the LORD raises up the right person for the this critical time period. Jehoiada, the priest, mentors the young boy Joash, who is the only Davidic male heir not murdered by Athaliah, the apostate queen (see 2Kings 11).
Our readings these last 2 days cover a dangerous but exciting time in the history of God’s people. Just as faithful Israelites could count on God’s providential care and provision, so we today can count on God’s intervention just at the right moment. “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). In Christ’s love and service, Pastor John