JUNE 2 - Nº 153 2 Kings 8:7-15
God created the nation of Israel as a means of demonstrating His presence to the world. He wanted to pour out His love and blessings on the nation so that others would see His goodness and choose to follow Him. Unfortunately, the Israelites kept sinning. They worshiped false gods and distanced themselves from the God who loved them. When a civil war split the nation into two kingdoms (Israel in the north and Judah in the south—see #131 - May 11) God sent prophets to both kingdoms to warn His people of the consequences of their sins. Although He displayed His power in mighty ways through these prophets, the people paid little attention. The northern kingdom of Israel was especially stubborn. Not a single one of their kings tried to obey God or follow His Laws. In order to capture their attention and turn their hearts back to Him, God used other nations to discipline them. Syria was a large pagan nation located on the northeast boundary of Israel. They were a constant threat to the northern kingdom. King Benhadad frequently sent raiding parties into Israel. He despised the prophet Elisha because of his role in so many of Israel’s victories over the Syrians (see #149 - May 29). But suddenly, Benhadad became very sick. When he heard that Elisha was in Damascus, the capital city of Syria, he sent his servant Hazael to find the prophet. Instead of plotting to kill Elisha, this time the king wanted his help. “Take some gifts to the man of God and ask him if I will recover from this illness,” he instructed. Hazael loaded up 40 camels with the finest products from Damascus. When he found Elisha, he stood in front of him and said, “The king of Syria wants to know if he will recover from his illness.” Elisha replied, “Go tell him that he will certainly recover from the illness, but God has revealed to me that he will still die.” Elisha began to stare at Hazael, the king’s servant. He stared so long and hard that Hazael became embarrassed. Then Elisha began to cry. Hazael asked, “Man of God, why are you crying?” “My tears are because I know the horrible things you are going to do to the people of Israel,” Elisha answered. “God has revealed to me that He will let you set fire to their cities and kill their young men. You will crush the heads of babies and murder pregnant mothers.” “But I am just a servant!” Hazael responded. “How could I do any of that?” “The Lord just showed me that you will become the king of Syria,” Elisha stated. When Hazael returned to the palace, the king asked, “What did Elisha tell you?” Hazael revealed only part of Elisha’s message. “He told me that the illness will not kill you,” he shared. The next day, Hazael took a thick cloth, dipped it in water, and held it over King Benhadad’s face until he stopped breathing! Although he was just a servant (and his name meant “Son of Nobody”), Hazael became the next king of Syria.God was about to use one of history’s bloodiest gangsters to discipline the nation He loved!
The people of Israel were not “sons of nobody.” They were the children of God! As their Father, He was willing to discipline them so they would come back to Him and experience His love and receive His blessings. Are you able to recognize and accept God’s discipline knowing that it is for your own good? That His discipline is motivated by love?