March 19, 2017 – God at Work in the Details
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Preacher: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: Changing World, Unchanging God
2 Kings 8:1-15 (ESV)
1 Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can, for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years.” 2 So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. 3 And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went to appeal to the king for her house and her land. 4 Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.” 5 And while he was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” 6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”
7 Now Elisha came to Damascus. Ben-hadad the king of Syria was sick. And when it was told him, “The man of God has come here,” 8 the king said to Hazael, “Take a present with you and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the Lord through him, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this sickness?’” 9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, all kinds of goods of Damascus, forty camels’ loads. When he came and stood before him, he said, “Your son Ben-hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this sickness?’” 10 And Elisha said to him, “Go, say to him, ‘You shall certainly recover,’ but the Lord has shown me that he shall certainly die.” 11 And he fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was embarrassed. And the man of God wept. 12 And Hazael said, “Why does my lord weep?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel. You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women.” 13 And Hazael said, “What is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?” Elisha answered, “The Lord has shown me that you are to be king over Syria.” 14 Then he departed from Elisha and came to his master, who said to him, “What did Elisha say to you?” And he answered, “He told me that you would certainly recover.” 15 But the next day he took the bed cloth and dipped it in water and spread it over his face, till he died. And Hazael became king in his place.
Introduction: Gods’ work in the course of history (providence) can be easier to recognize if we look at the big picture.
I) God is at work over the mess
- v10 “you [Ben-hadad] shall certainly recover… but… he shall certainly die”
- v13 “you [Hazael] shall be king”; v15 (1 Kings 19:15)
- v12 “I know the evil that you will do…” (v11 “the man of God wept”)
II) God is at work within the mess
- v5 “while he was telling the king… the woman… appealed to the king” (2 Kings 4:13)
- v6 “restore all that was hers”
Questions for Reflection
- Do you believe things in life happen for a reason? Do you believe this when events don’t appear to have purpose (or otherwise don’t make sense to you)?
- What challenges are there to consistently believing God is good over the course of our lives? What beliefs or principles can ground you so you better understand life as it happens, or are sustained through periods where you don’t understand what is happening (or why)?
- Are you able to discern the outcomes of decisions and actions? Can you see how morally wrong actions lead to problems, and how good actions lead to flourishing? How can you grow in discernment and be more consistent in making good choices?
- While God is at work outside of history, it is remarkable that Jesus comes into history and that God’s work is fulfilled even within the mess of this world. What encouragements come from Jesus entering into the suffering of our world to bring redemption? What implications are there for how you should live?
- Jesus says “whoever receives me receives him who sent me” (Matt 10:40) Just as the Shunammite woman welcomed Elisha, served him, and listened to him, we are told that in welcoming, serving and listening to Jesus we live in a context where all things will work for our good. What steps do you need to make to more fully live in relationship with God through Jesus? Have you welcomed him, and are you serving and listening to him? Where is your life out of sync with this?