Daily Bible Reading for July 1, 2014, with Commentary: 2 Kings 1-5
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Author: Unknown. Authorship is generally attributed to "the prophets," although, the prophet Jeremiah is often credited.
Date: Sometime after 550 BC. The book spans a time range of over 400 years, from the rise of Solomon, to the fall of Jehoiachin. A single prophet (such as Jeremiah) could have written the book using historical records, or several prophets could have each written sections of the book as they lived it.
Context: 2 Kings picks-up immediately where 1 Kings ends. Originally, the two books were one and there is no clear division between the two books. Ahaziah is king of Israel. He falls and injures himself. When messengers inform Ahaziah of Elijah's prediction, Ahaziah sends men to bring Elijah to him. Ahaziah is the son of Jezebel. No doubt he dislikes Elijah as much as his mother. The men sent to capture Elijah are arrogant, just as their master, and they pay the ultimate price. Only when the captain approaches Elijah with respect, is his life spared. Elisha knew when Elijah was going to be taken by the Lord and refused to leave his side. Elisha also requested that he made Elijah's successor. The remaining chapters of today's reading tell of some of the miracles performed by Elisha. Chapter 2, verse 23 has caused concern for many who read it. How could God allow such a thing to happen?! We must remember that we are reading a translation, and translations are not always exact. The youths or children (depending on your translation) were actually young men, similar in age to Elisha. By mocking Elisha, they were also mocking God. The recorded miracles of Elisha are similar to Elijah, however, they are greater, as Elisha inherited a "double portion" of Elijah's spirit. Chapter 5 introduces us to the character of Naaman, a great man that was used by the Lord, even though he was not a believer. Naaman however, suffered from leprosy. The leprosy represents sin. Naaman, eventually, went to see Elisha, in the hopes that he could be healed of his leprosy. Elisha, a lowly prophet, would not even speak to Naaman, a great army commander! Then, to add further insult, Elisha told him, through a servant, to go and bathe in the muddy river Jordan! Naaman was humiliated and enraged! Naaman represents many Christians. They think they are something special and should be treated as such. That is called pride. Service to Christ is not always going to be clean and pretty. Sometimes, we are called to go bathe in the muddy river Jordan, we are called to go do some dirty and humiliating work.
World History: Ahaziah was likely drunk when he fell through the lattice, a privacy screen made of wood which surrounded upper level balconies.