Death and life after a series of three is always a messianic prophesy, as we see in 2nd Kings 13. Elisha doesn’t know it yet but he isn’t just speaking a prophesy, his death will be a part of the prophesy. The prophesy is the death and resurrection of the nation of Israel itself.
There’s one detail of 2Kings 12 that I need to go back to. This is just after Yehoash (Jehoash) became king of Israel. He became king of Israel when he was 7 years old. He was the only one of Ahab’s descendants who survived. We read towards the end of the chapter that Hazael had rampaged the northern tribes and the Philistines, Yehoash decided to pay off Hazael to keep him from invading Yehudah (Judah). He did not ask God what to do. This decision cost him his life.
The rest of the account is in 2Chron. 24:15-27 explains why Yehoash acted the way he did and how he died. Hosea and Amos (and possibly Yoel (Joel)) were contemporaries to Yehoash and his son Amaziah. Elisha is leaving the scene as Hosea, Amos, Joel and Isaiah are coming on.
Yehoash started off well, but his life ended badly.
“In the twenty-third year of Yoash (Joash) the son of Ahaziah, king of Yehudah, Yehoahaz (Jehoahaz) the son of Yehu (Jehu) became king over Israel at Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed the sins of Yeroboam (Jeroboam) the son of Nebat, with which he made Israel sin; he did not turn from them.” (2Kings 13:1–2)
What are the sins of Yeroboam of Israel? Yeroboam was a contemporary of Solomon and Rehoboam so the “sin of Yeroboam” has been a part of the Israel’s religious culture sinc that time. Even though Yeroboam is long gone, these remain.
- Changing the holy festival seasons.
- Established golden calves and claimed that they were YHWH.
These sins literally put God’s name in vain. Yehu didn’t change this but God did give him “partial credit” and allowed his family, through his great-grandson to rule over the Northern Tribes. The people of the northern tribes knew that Elisha was a prophet of YHWH but since Yeroboam had falsely named his golden calves with God’s personal name, the people of Israel were confused, believing that Elisha was a servant of the golden calves and not a servant of the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This made Elisha’s mission that much more difficult and frustrating.
Hazael, the king of Aram, was anointed king of Aram by Elisha. That makes him unique of the kings of Aram. Since Hazael was anointed by God, he had some of God’s favor. Even though Hazael was killing people in the Northern Tribe, he is also being protected by God.
“Then Yehoahaz entreated the favor of the LORD, and the LORD listened to him; for He saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Aram oppressed them.” (2Kings 13:4)
Why did God listen to Yehoahaz even in his apostasy? It was only for the sake of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that God listened to Yehoahaz. Israel had 100 years to go before they were going to be destroyed as it says in 2 Kings 13:23:
“But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them and turned to them because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them or cast them from His presence until now.”
The salvation of Israel against Aram doesn’t occur until after Hazael dies. It happens under the reign of his son Ben-Hadad.
What Elisha does here at the end of his life is important. Elisha has probably been ill in the past but this illness is going to be the illness that takes his life.
“When Elisha became sick with the illness of which he was to die, Yoash the king of Israel came down to him and wept over him and said, ‘My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’” (2Kings 13:14)
This Yoash is the grandson of Jehu of Israel, not the Yoash of Yehudah. Yoash the King of Israel, the grandson of Jehu, learned from his grandfather the role that Elisha has played in the history of Israel and Yoash respected him greatly. Elisha is the one in control of Israel’s status on the world stage. At this point, there is a small country to the east of Aram, called Assyria, growing in the east. At this point, Assyria is a small country but they are a growing threat. Aram sees this threat and is turning their back to Israel because they were being pulled towards defending themselves against Assyria’s growth. Elisha knows that this is the time to strike Aram and for Israel to take her territory back from Aram. This is what Elisha is telling Yoash to do.
“Then he said, ‘Take the arrows,’ and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, ‘Strike the ground,’ and he struck it three times and stopped. So the man of God was angry with him and said, ‘You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times.’” (2Kings 13:18–19)
Elisha was frustrated by Yoash’s “weak” thrashing but Elisha doesn’t know when that Yoash was only supposed to strike the ground three times. How do we know this? The fulfillment of this prophesy didn’t occur until after Elisha died.
“Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites would invade the land in the spring of the year. As they were burying a man, behold, they saw a marauding band; and they cast the man into the grave of Elisha. And when the man touched the bones of Elisha he revived and stood up on his feet.” (2 Kings 13:20–21)
Death and life after three days is always a Messianic prophesy. This is the point of the three arrows, three strikes. That’s often how prophesies are known, they aren’t understood when they are spoken, they are only understood after they are fulfilled. This chapter is not chronologically but topically. That’s why it’s choppy.
“But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them and turned to them because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them or cast them from His presence until now.” (2 Kings 13:23)
Israel was going to be wiped away in about 100 years from the time recorded in 2nd Kings 13. When Yeshua came to Earth to live and die, He was the One Who brought Israel back to life. That is the point of Elisha’s final story. Elisha knew that Israel was going to lose. They were going to die in the long-term, but this prophesy, which Elisha didn’t live to see fulfilled, was the spark of hope that Israel would be restored.
This weakening of Aram is what Assyria needs to take our their neighbors and control the known world.
Speaker: Daniel Agee. Summary: Tammy.
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