When life deals us a painful blow, we're often tempted to strike back, aren't we? It goes against our nature to weather the storms of life silently. But that's exactly what God wants us to do sometimes. Obedience is learned through patience, and patience is only born through trials.
“A WIDOW & A WOULD-BE KING”
(II Kings 8)
THE TRIBULATIONS OF A HEBREW WIDOW
TYPE 2 Kings 8:1-15
Two Truths About Tough Times:
1) God most clearly works in the lives of those who are willing to accept the penalties of obedience.
When the widow obeyed the prophet it meant:
-leaving her home and her surrounding friends
-turning her back, perhaps forever, on the estate and land her husband and she had cherished.
-going to a strange land which would never be inviting
-she’s an Israleite who loves God - she will now live among idolatrous Philistines
-her heart was sensitive and open
2) The solutions of God are most often experienced by those willing to trust Him with a difficult future.
The famous missionary, David Livingston was once contacted by a Missions Agency in England - the letter suggested that several missionarier would be willing to join him in Africa - the agency asked in behalf of the men, “Are there any good roads out to where you are? Livingston responded in writing, “If the men you are sending require good roads, do not send them.”
Discipleship is a distasteful word today - give us Christianity without a personal cross - give us Christian service opportunities without inconvenience and we might sign up - I’ll follow Christ so long as He guarantees a safe future.
Then you discover this paragraph description of a widow - the truth was - she knew when she obeyed the prophet and abandoned her property, she abandoned any hope of ever returning home again.
She was giving God permission to make her future difficult.
And now, she had nothing but a prayer to ever hope having her home returned to her again - 7 years later.
Some of you have had the priviledge of growing up in one home - it’s rare today for that to occur - I can remember growing up in one home. It wasn’t until I was in college that my parents moved - I can still remember going back to that house on Red Brook a few years ago - the front year which used to seem so big was in fact, so small. There was that tree I used to climb- only the best limb for climbing had evidently been cut off. I knocked on the door - hoping that whoever lived there would let me walk through it and remember - I knew it would be a strange request! A young woman carrying a baby answered the door. I said, “Hello - I know this is going to sound strange, but I grew up in this house - I had the urge to say - You’d better be taking good care of it - “I lived here for 18 years” She said, “Cool!” I felt courage to ask her - she said, “Sure, c’mon in.” So I did - I walked into that living room - we were never allowed to come into the house with shoes on - I almost ‘em off out of habit! I walked into the dining room where the drop ceiling still hung that my father had put in - the kitchen - the side door that looked out into the back yard - the big bush was missing right outside the kitchen door that used to supply my mother with the most effective switches - for four bare-legged boys. God had answered our prayers - that bush was destroyed - only 20 years too late. I went down to the basement where we use to play pingpong - where I slaved through those piano lessons - these people had carved that big basement into little rooms - I thought, “what a rotten idea”. There’s no way now that you can have the worlds longest hot wheel track for races. I went up to my little bedroom and remembered that spring night when I knelt alone, beside my bed and gave my heart to Christ
Can you imagine this widow - this is the house he husband had built - this was the beautiful estate where they held all their memories - can you imagine seeing her riding out to see it again - only, this time, there are people living in it - people she doesn’t know. There’s the room that she and her husband built onto the house for the prophet Elisha - think of all the memories.
She had been willing to leave it all behind in obedience to the prophet of God - she had sacrificed all hope of future security . . . she had no place to call home.
And notice the timing of God - v.............
Coincidences? Not on your life!
-Did it just so happen that this wayward Israelite King, the son of Ahab and Jezebel, developed a curiosity to hear about the life of the prophet he cared little for?
-Did it just so happen that Gehazi, the man who was still referred to and known as the servant of Elisha - sort of like you’d refer to some aging, retired athelete as “that great baseball player”.was called into the Kings court that day?
-Did it just so happen that on the day Gehazi arrives and at the moment that Gehazi is finishing the story of the widow and her son that the widow arrives with her request?
-Did it just so happen that as she came without a representative to validate her claim, that only man aside from Elisha who could testify to the truth of her claim was in the palace court that day?
All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose - ultimately, as the next verse declares, that we might be conformed to the image of His Son.
If there is anyone deserving of that reward it is this woman. We like to attach Romans 8:28 to our month old requests - our year long challenge - this woman waited 7 years to see God move in her behalf.
To those who wait upon Him, there is no such thing as a coincidence.
I’ve read it put this way: “A coincidence is really a small miracle where God prefers to remain anonymous.”
Oh for the perception to see God in the small miracles of His providence and provision - be alert Christian - it’s so easy to overlook the little things that are nothing less than displays of God’s grace to you.
There’s a happy ending to the trials and tribulations of this godly widow as God worked all things together.
Ultimately, every believer will have a happy ending when you lay claim to your inheritance in the eternal kingdom, and your representative in court, the Lord Jesus Christ, validates your claim to the Father’s estate.
THE TEMPTATIONS OF A WOULD-BE KING
Now the chapter moves on to uncover the story of temptation - it’s hidden - it’s secret - yet, when exposed it provides incredible insight for the believer who struggles with the power of temptation.
Verse . . . . .. ..
Elisha never said, “Hazael, you are going to murder the king.” He did say, “Hazael, the king will recover from the illness, yet die.” If Hazael was planning a coup attempt - now was the time! Now, while the king is sick on his bed and weak with illness. Now!
Notice the steps downward:
James gives every new Testament disciple the steps of progression downward - into sin that we could never imagine ourselves possible of committing:
I’ve adapted the way J.B. Mayor put the steps this way:
Steps to Sin: Steps to Godliness:
Step 1) Pasively yielding to Step 1) Actively resisting under
fleshly influence Divine influence
Step 2) The impulse visualizes Step 2) The impulse visualizes the pleasure of gratification the aspects of sin and consequence
Step 3) The will identifies with the impulse Step 3) The will identifies with
and creates the steps necessary conscience and refuses
to attain the desired object temptation
Step 4) The sinful act is committed Step 4) The virtuous choice is committed
Step 5) A habit of sin is formed Step 5) A habit of godly by repetition of sinful acts character is formed by repition of virtuous choices
Jiminy cricket - “Give a little whistle. . .” Read words! Show video?!!!
Part of the prayer the Lord taught us to pray says, “And lead us not into temptation” Now that prayer is not based on the fact that God has anything to do with our sin - but it is based on the fact that when we pray that way we are consciously, fearfully, sensitively aware that we are weak - like the hymnwriter of Come Thou Fount wrote, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave thy courts of love. . . Mark Twain, “I can resist anything but temptation!”
The prayer goes on to say, “Lead us not into temptation - not that we can avoid it’s presence, but the next key words say, “But deliver us from evil - that is the next step in the progression - falling to the lure of temptation and sinning.
Two truths about temptation:
1) It’s presence is inevitable in spite of fellowship with God.
It is never a matter of if but when.
I will never forget a professor of mine who shared with me in his office one day - a man who had pastored a number of churches - written books - served faithfully as a teacher of pastor/teachers - he said as a man closing in on 70 years of age - “The closer I walk with God, the more severe temptation becomes.” I thought, “Now that’s encouraging.”
But that’s the warning behind the verse - “Take heed while you stand lest you fall.”
Hazael recoiled with horror at the thought that he would brutally murder men and women and children - “Not me - I would never do that to another nation of innocent people!” Yet within a matter of hours his hands, as it were, would be stained with the blood of his own King.
It started out with a thought - “I’d like to be the king. . .” Then a lie, then murder. Someone wrote, “The bad thing about little sins is that they grow up so fast.
Whatever it is you think you are least likely to fall into - beware at that point!
2) It’s power is impossible to overcome without intervention from God.
Paul writes in I Corinthians, “There isn’t any temptation in your way that isn’t common to all of mankind - but God is faithful who will make a way of escape that you might be able to endure it.”
We’re not faithful - we’re not strong - we’re trapped - we’re weak - but God is faithful - if you allow Him to be for you - and if you submit to Him, He’s marked out a door that reads, “Emergency Escape”.
The only thing I point that I would argue over with that cartoon theologian, Mr. Disney, is that when you are facing temptation - don’t whistle for your conscience - cry out for the grace and power of God.
In other words, when temptation comes knocking, let the Lord answer the door.
I want to get very specific:
-Some of you might be even now planning to walk away from a difficult or what the world would categorize, an impossible marriage - you have the logic all worked out
-Perhaps someon here has just signed on to a magazine subscription - no one knows but you - or perhaps you’d never do that but you did buy the latest swimsuit issue - what I refer to as “Socially acceptable pornography” - you’ve begun taking steps toward ungodliness
-Maybe there are some Senior high students who are struggling with the peer pressure - prom night is just around the corner - the pressure is on to conform
-Perhaps someone here is on the verge of yeilding to the advances of a co-worker . . . you’ve already begun rationalizing the way your feeling and what you’re thinking
-Some of you might be thinking of making a job change that would be wonderful for your career, but terrible for your children - they’ll hardly ever see you.
-Maybe a college student here is struging with upcoming final exams - and the easy temptation is there to take short-cuts on papers, to cheat on the test.
Temptation is knocking - who is going to answer the door?
Some of you may have identified with the widow - 7 long years of lonliness - 7 years without security - wondering what God will do:
For you, as hard as this may sound, it’s the truth - will you re-submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and to the penalties of obedience - I donw the word, penalty doesn’t sound very spiritual - but it’s real - and there are times when the Lord asks you to submit to hard times.
In my life, Lord, be glorified, be glorified, in my life, Lord, be glorified today.
Let’s become even more specific - “In my plans, Lord, be glorified...”