2 Kings 2
Throughout history, the transfer of leadership has been a tenuous moment. Even today, some nations around the world teeter on the brink of civil war when one leader dies and another comes to power.
With such shifts in leadership often comes the question: What will the future hold? A similar question underlies today’s passage as we read about the end of the prophet Elijah’s ministry in Israel. His impending end was seemingly known by all, and Scripture builds our suspense for ten verses before we learn his (and Israel’s) fate. When Elijah was finally taken up in miraculous fashion, Elisha’s words summarized the sentiment of the moment: “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” (v. 14).
The answer is found in the details of the text. Just as Elisha accompanied Elijah from Bethel to Jericho to the Jordan, so now starting in verse 14, Elisha retraced those steps, moving from the Jordan to Jericho to Bethel, performing notably miraculous actions. He parted the Jordan, healed deathly water, and cursed opponents of God. Where is God? He is right here, just as He had been for generations. Circumstances change and leaders come and go, but God and His powerful word remain the same.
Our passage illustrates God’s enduring presence in a two-fold manner.
First, we see God’s restorative power (vv. 19–22). Through Elisha, God’s grace healed the tainted waters of the cursed land (cf. Josh. 6:26). Just as Moses healed the bitter waters of Marah (cf. Ex. 15:22–26), so now God’s restorative power continued. Isn’t this the ultimate message of the gospel, that God can reverse a once cursed and fallen land and bring about blessing and life?
Second, we see God’s power in judgment (vv. 23–25). As the youths of Bethel (a hot-bed of idolatry; see 1 Kings 12:25– 33) maliciously rejected God and His prophet, the consequence were consistent with the warnings of judgment in Leviticus 26:21–22. God’s powerful word brings either blessing or curse, depending on how we receive that word. The real question is not, Where is God?, but How will you respond to His enduring presence?
Do you ever wonder where God is as you consider the future? Do you doubt His presence, His power, and His care, wondering if He can ever restore the brokenness of your own life? Be encouraged by God’s enduring power and presence in our lives. Perhaps you can make a list of the anxieties in your own life, then bring them before the Lord asking Him to instill you with confidence in His enduring word that can heal even those most broken aspects of our lives.
Verse to ponder...
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8