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July 1, Day 183 – Elisha’s Double Portion

In the book of 1 Kings, we saw five miracles of Elijah – [1] the drought (1 Kings 17:1); [2] the jar of flour and the jug of oil (1 Kings 17:14); [3] the resurrection of the widow’s son (1 Kings 17:22); [4] fire of the LORD (1 Kings18:38); and [5] rain after the drought (1 Kings 18:41). Here in 2 Kings, we will see three more miracles of Elijah as the story of the kings of Israel continues. In chapters 1-2, we observe the contemptuous king of Israel - Ahaziah – who consults a false god, and experiences God’s judgment for it. Ahaziah issues a warrant for the arrest of Elijah and sends three different detachments of soldiers after Elijah who, in his sixth and seventh miracles, calls down fire from heaven to consume the first two detachments (verses 5-14). On first thought, this judgment may seem undeserved, but Ahaziah’s soldiers likewise suffer judgment for their support of and submission to the king’s wicked summons and his persecution against Elijah. In this way, Elijah demonstrates that his authority by God’s power is greater than the king’s authority to govern. In chapter two, we see Elijah’s eighth miracle when he struck the water with his cloak and divided the Jordan River to cross over on dry ground (verse 8). In his ten years of service, Elijah performed eight miracles. Earlier, we saw that Elijah assigned Elisha to be his replacement (cf., June 29, Day 181 – They Kept On Sinning), and that appointment now becomes effective in 2 Kings 2:9, where Elijah is about to be taken up to heaven in a “chariot of fire” (verse 11). But first, Elisha asks Elijah for “a double portion of Elijah’s spirit” (verse 15) – which the LORD grants (verse 15). Interestingly, Elisha will perform at least sixteen miracles in twenty years of service – double that of Elijah. In the rest of this chapter, we see Elisha’s first two miracles – [1] he divides the Jordan River with Elijah’s cloak (verses 13-15); and [2] he heals the bad water supply of Jericho by throwing salt into it. Purifying the bad water supply with salt portrays the believer’s work in the world contaminated by sin. The chapter ends with Elisha’s third miracle – “calling down a curse in the name of the LORD on the youths who mocked him” (verse 21-24). Mocking is a greater sin than we realize – “if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer,” and “mocking shows contempt for God” (cf., Proverbs 9:12; 17:5). Mocking others is not a good idea.

Once again, from the history of Israel, Psalm 78:40-55 reminds us how the Israelites “rebelled against God and grieved Him” (verse 40). God clearly demonstrated His authority and power over the gods of Egypt through the miraculous plagues He inflicted upon the Egyptian taskmasters. Although the passage focuses primarily on God’s judgments on Egypt, it begins with the vexatious rebellions of the Israelites. They were eyewitnesses and beneficiaries of these judgments, but they “did not remember His power” (verse 42). We wonder, how could that be true? How could they close their eyes, their minds, and their hearts to what God did? Yet, the lesson here is clear: God’s people must NOT whine and complain about their circumstances, and they ARE expected to remember His majesty and interventions.

Today in Acts 20, we see that, “after the uproar in Ephesus ended” (verse 1), Paul now continued on to Macedonia and then to Greece “where he stayed three months” (verse 3). Once again, we see that the jealous Jews conceived “a plot against him” (verse 3), so “he decided to go back through Macedonia” (verse 3). Later, we note that believers at Troas “were meeting together on the first day of the week and breaking bread’ (verse 7). Here, Paul “spoke to the people … and kept on talking until midnight” (verse 7). Eutychus was “seated in a window and sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on,” and “he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead” (verse 9). That was quite a fall, but Paul “threw himself on the young man” and miraculously raised Eutychus from the dead (verse 10). Then, he went back to his message and continued speaking until “daylight” (verse 11). Here, we see the itinerary Paul followed on his return to Ephesus and his desire to go to Jerusalem, “not knowing what would happen to him there” (verse 22). This is true of all of us – we have no idea what will happen next – but like Paul, we entrust our future into the Lord’s hands. He knows what will happen. Finally, we see Paul’s encouraging words to the believers at Ephesus and his sad departure from them. This passage reminds me of the many times that we departed from the foreign fields with similar grief and sadness - knowing that we would never again on this earth see the many wonderful people among whom we had worked.

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