Our Behind-the-Scenes God.
“But the Lord did not want to destroy Judah, for he had made a covenant with David and promised that his descendants would continue to rule, shining like a lamp forever.” – 2 Kings 8:19 NLT
He is always there, behind the scenes, working in ways that we can’t see. It may appear that God has abandoned us or become too busy elsewhere, but He is always there. His timing is perfect. His knowledge of our needs and circumstances is complete. In writing this chronicle of the kings and prophets of Israel and Judah, the author has a Jewish audience in mind. He is not only giving them a history lesson, but a primer on the character of God. Every story is designed to provide the people of God with an intimate understanding of just who it is they worship and serve. These stories reveal His power and patience, His wrath and redemption, His sovereignty and His faithfulness. The kings of Judah and Israel present a sad portrait of the character of man, full of rebellion, selfishness, unfaithfulness, and sin. Each seems to take the practice of evil to a whole new level of depravity. They lead the people of God away from God. They believe they have become the masters of their own fates. But God reveals over and over again that He is in control. This is His story, not theirs. God has a greater plan that will outlast every one of the kings. He has a purpose behind every circumstance that happens. Even their most willful act of rebellion against God will be used by God to accomplish His will.
The story of the woman from Shunem gives us an understanding of just how gracious and good our God is. Here you have this relatively unimportant woman who had been helped by the prophet Elisha earlier in the story. He had miraculously brought her son back to life. Then Elijah had told her to take her family out of the country because a famine was coming to the land of Israel. She listened to the words of the prophet and did as he instructed her. Seven years later she returned. But her concern was that she would be able to get her land back after having been gone so long. Little did she know that the very moment she was making her way to the king’s palace to make her request, the servant of Elisha was telling the king about her story. “At that very moment, the mother of the boy walked in to make her appeal to the king about her house and land” (2 Kings 8:5 NLT). Not only did she get her land back, but all the value of the crops that had been harvested while she had been away. God took care of her. Her obedience resulted in blessing. This story is here for a reason. It was a reminder to the people of God to obey Him, even when it seemed to make no sense.
This story stands in contrast to that of Jehoram, king of Judah. As was the case with his predecessors, “Jehoram did what was evil in the Lord’s sight” (2 Kings 8:18 NLT). Rather than obey, he rebelled. Rather than trust God, he trusted in himself. He did what was right in his own eyes. He did things his way and eventually lost it all. There would be no blessing from God. But in the midst of his rebellion and rejection of God, we see the faithfulness of God expressed to the people of Israel. While their actions were punishable by God, He remained faithful to the covenant He had made to David. He had made a promise and He was going to keep it. Why? Because His promise came with a provision and a plan. A descendant of David would someday rule who would save His people once and for all. God had a reason for preserving the tribe of Judah, because out of the tribe of Judah would come the Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ. He would become the ultimate King of kings and Lord of lords. He would rule justly and righteously. He would be the faithful King. God would preserve Judah so that He could redeem mankind. Every king and every story in these two books show us that our God is faithful and in full control of history because it is ultimately His story. This is all about Him. He started it and He will finish it. He is working behind the scenes in ways we can’t see, but He is there. We can trust Him. And while we may not like our circumstances, we can rest in the fact that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NASB).
Father, this is Your story. Help me to keep the greater context in mind as I look at the text of my life and of the time in which I live. You are working a far greater plan than the one that I can see. But at the same time, in the midst of all that is going on, You care for me. Like the woman of Shumem, You care for and provide for me in ways that are beyond belief. All I have to do is trust You. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men