Not What You Expected

2 Kings 5-6


As ignorant, stuck-up, entitled humans, we often think we know what we need. We have this nice little idea of what will make our lives better, and we go to God expecting Him to grant us our wishes. But the thing is, we don’t know what we need; we don’t know how God works or what He plans to accomplish through us, or how He even uses our situation for His glory.


In 2 Kings 5, we read about one particular ignorant human who went to Elisha hoping to be healed of his leprosy, despite being a gentile and enemy of Israel. Now this man, Naaman, wasn’t mistaken in thinking he would receive the help he needed, but what he thought he needed and what God knew he needed were two separate things. When Elisha told Naaman to wash 7 times in the river Jordan, he became angry and almost turned around to head home, because this wasn’t the grand solution he expected to hear. Fortunately, however, his servants reminded him what was at stake, and what he should be willing to try for the sake of healing his leprosy. So Naaman, I imagine quite reluctantly, went down to the river and followed Elisha’s instructions. And what do you know – he was healed!


After experiencing this miraculous restoration of health, Naaman knew who the one true God was (and is), and came back a changed man. Even in the few paragraphs we read about Naaman, we can see a drastic difference in his overall attitude and behavior. God changed his heart. If Naaman wasn’t lucky enough to have those servants around, he would’ve missed out on everything he gained in his short encounter with Elisha. Because of his own pride and desires, he
was prepared to walk away from the only chance he would ever get at healing his fatal disease, and finding a relationship with his Creator.


Naaman’s story can serve as a reminder to let go of our self-conceived ideas of what is best for us, and instead trust God to handle every situation His way. God’s way is always the best way, whether or not we are capable of understanding it. He has a plan for all His children, and this plan has already been set in motion. He answers our prayers in ways we could never imagine,
and sometimes in ways we can’t even see. We have to trust that our loving, heavenly Father knows what’s truly best for us, and that everything He does is part of the ultimate plan He has for us to live together with Him in His eternal Kingdom.


God knows what you need, all you have to do is trust Him.

–Isabella Osborn

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Kings 5-6 and Proverbs 7

Keep on Praying! (2 Kings 18-20)

Friday, November 11

2-kings-19-so-now-o-lord-our-god-save-us-please-from-his-hand

Watch out!  The Assyrians who just attacked and captured Israel are now on the doorstep of Judah, ready to do the same to the smaller neighbor to the south.  Judah is shaking in their boots – and wearing sackcloth – and PRAYING.  The Assyrian king sends a letter of doom to Hezekiah, King of Judah, in which he also questions the power of Judah’s God (big mistake).  Hezekiah goes directly to the temple and prays for his country:

Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. 17 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”      2 Kings 19:15-19

The prophet Isaiah sends a message to Hezekiah that God has heard his prayer.  And sure enough – THAT night a miraculous answer is given.  An angel of the Lord puts to death 85,000 Assyrian soldiers, and the rest run away in the morning.

All looks great – until Hezekiah becomes deathly ill.  And so, Hezekiah prays:

“Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

and God hears and answers and Hezekiah is told he will be given 15 more years of life.   When bold Hezekiah asks for a sign to be sure this is true, the shadow cast by the sun moves backward 10 steps!  This healing was no mere coincidence or just really good medicine at work.

Talk about some power in prayer!  Wouldn’t you love to go to a class on prayer taught by Hezekiah.  Prayer is powerful because the God Hezekiah prayed to is so powerful!  There is no enemy or illness too strong for the Almighty God!

So, what about when we faithfully pray for our crisis to be fixed and the answer is no or not now?  The enemy wins or the illness brings death?  Is it because God isn’t powerful enough?  NO.  Or perhaps we weren’t good enough?  NO, not necessarily.  Just a few chapters ago we were reading of Elisha, the God-fearing, power-praying prophet who performed many miracles: parting the water, healing leprosy, feeding a hundred men with just 20 loaves of bread, changing the deadly stew to nourishing, making the ax-head float and the oil over-flowing AND raising a boy from the dead!   Elisha was no doubt a man of God and God answered his prayers in mighty ways time and time again.  However in 2 Kings 13:14 we read “Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died.”  Even on his deathbed he delivers another message from God to the king of Israel.  Then, he died.  And even in death his bones were powerful enough to raise the life of another (2 Kings 13:21).   Sometimes the miracle even comes after death – in the lives of others.

Not only is God all-powerful but He is also all-knowing and all-wise.  And, sometimes that means the good die or the enemy has a victorious day.  In 2 Kings 19 after Hezekiah prays for deliverance for his country, Isaiah delivers a message from God against the attacking Assyrians.  He says: “Have you not heard?  Long ago I ordained it.  In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone…but I know where you stay and when you come and go…and I will make you return by the way you came” (19:25,27,28)

God has got this.  Nothing He doesn’t see.  Nothing He doesn’t know. Nothing He doesn’t know how to handle.  He sees the big picture.  He IS the big picture.  Rest in that knowledge.  Pray big to the Almighty, just as Elisha and Hezekiah did.  You just might  witness a miracle!  Or it might be a day ordained for the enemy to win or the prophet of God to die.  Either way – God is God and He is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-wise.

Keep on Praying!

Marcia Railton

2-kings-20

The God of Angel Armies (2 Kings 6-8)

Monday, November 7

god-of-angel-armies

Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash and Scott Cash wrote a powerful song titled “Whom Shall I Fear” – with the alternate subtitle “God of Angel Armies”.  Perhaps 2 Kings chapters 6 & 7 offered some inspiration as they were writing this song.  The Arameans are attacking Israel and are extremely flustered because it is as if someone keeps telling the king of Israel the battle plans of the king of Aram, foiling his plan of attack time after time.  They are tipped off that Elisha, the prophet of God, just might be the informant and so a large force is sent during the night to surround Elisha’s town to capture him.  In the morning Elisha’s servant is dismayed to see such a large posse ready to pounce.  But this is what the  prophet Elisha says,

“Don’t be afraid.  Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.”   Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.                                                         2 Kings 6:16,17

Wow!  What a sight!  And, sure enough, there is NOTHING to fear when you are on the side of God’s Angel Armies!  The Aramean army is struck with blindness and Elisha leads them – right into the presence of the Israelite king.

In the very next chapter the LORD causes the attacking Arameans to be scared away by the sound of a great army – a great heavenly army with many horses and chariots.  (7:6,7) Wow!  What a thunderous sound!  And sure enough, there is NOTHING to fear when you are on the side of God’s Angel Armies!  The long siege on Samaria, which had brought starvation and hyperinflation, is suddenly and miraculously over as the Arameans high-tail it out without looking back.  As an added bonus the Israelites plunder everything the retreating army left behind.

Does it sound too good to be true?  Some thought maybe.  While the city was still surrounded and in the throes of despair Elisha predicts that by the very next day food would once again be abundant and affordable.  One of the king’s officers voices his doubt that this could ever happen – because it indeed did not seem humanly possible.  Elisha said, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it.” (7:2)  And, sure enough, the doubting officer with a negative attitude was serving at the city gates the very next day when the Israelites celebrated the end of the siege and the joyous mob ran out of the city to get a share of the plunder.  He saw it – and was trampled in the gateway before he had a chance to eat of the bounty.  The doubter did not reap the rewards.

You likely will not find yourself facing an attacking foreign king or a city under siege today, but perhaps you will be up against depression, temptation, a negative spirit, a difficult relationship, or struggles at school, work or home.  There is a lot to fear when you get sucked into becoming the doubter who sees things in only human terms – and misses out on the rewards.  But there is nothing to fear when you are on the side of God – and His Angel Armies.

Maybe you have limited your line of sight to what is humanly possible or worldly acceptable.  Pray that your eyes will be opened, and your ears unstopped so that you may see and hear God at work and follow His leading.  He might choose to show you a whole army of angels – or maybe he will show you a wise Biblical counselor to help steer you through a crisis, or a verse to give you direction, or a neighbor for you to share hope with.  May our eyes be opened to see all of the ways God guides and provides!

Marcia Railton

(Another great “Angel Army” is heard in 2 Samuel chapter 5 – and will actually be retold in our readings next week in 1 Chronicles 14.  Don’t miss it – follow God’s Angel Armies!)

Even When it Hurts or Doesn’t “Make Sense” (2 Kings 4-5)

Sunday, November 6

naaman80

There are so many interesting stories and characters and lessons in today’s two short chapters, but here’s a few nuggets that strike me as extremely valuable.

First, there is the wisdom of the widow who faced debt collectors who were going to sell her two sons (her only assets) as slaves.  What a devastating predicament!  She did indeed feel like she had NOTHING.  But she went to a source of Godly wisdom and strength (Elisha), opened her eyes to what she did have (oil), and carefully followed Elisha’s directions – even when it was unclear how this was going to solve her problem.  As it turns out, the size of the miracle God blessed her with was in direct proportion to how much she prepared for a miracle. If she had left Elisha mumbling about how this didn’t seem like useful advice at all, such a waste of time, grumbling about feeling foolish going door-to-door asking for jars, and decided to ultimately just get 2 or 3 jars to give it a try – just enough to be a little obedient – her sons may well have been sold.  Skimping by, just doing the minimal and hoping for the best doesn’t lead to results that glorify God.  Even in a crisis situation – seek Godly wisdom, open your eyes to what you DO have, and throw yourself “all in”as you follow God’s direction – and be prepared to watch for God’s miracles.

The story of Naaman delivers more nuggets.  There was the foreign army commander who humbles himself, follows directions from a Godly prophet even when those directions didn’t appear to make sense.  He receives healing as well as the revelation that “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel” (2 Kings 5:15).  There was also the greedy scheming and lies that turned Elisha’s right-hand man, Gehazi, into a leprous outcast who brought this curse on all of his descendants.  His greed didn’t get him the spoils he was thinking it would.  AND, perhaps my personal favorite – the young Israelite slave girl who remembered God and continued to believe in God’s almighty power and work through His prophets – even though her life had personally seen many heartaches at a young age (stolen from her homeland and made a slave in a foreign land).  Rather than trashing God and becoming sullen and bitter towards God and her foreign master – she shows compassion for her master and courage in speaking up and becomes a witness that leads Naaman to a miracle of healing  and the worship of the One True God.  It appears her trials had put her right in the place God wanted to use her.  May we handle our adversities as well – remaining faithful to the faithful God.  Be a witness of His power and love which just might lead someone else to healing and a new-found belief in Yahweh.

By Marcia Railton