Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 21- A Chariot Of Fire

June 21, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Kings 1:1-2:25; Acts 13:42-14:7;
Psalm 139:1-24; Proverbs 17:19-21

Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin' for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot.
Comin' for to carry me home.
~ Spiritual hymn

2 Kings 1:1-2:25

When my daughter was little I would sing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot to her at night before she went to bed.  As she closed her eyes, I would stroke her brow and help her to drift to sleep.  The song speaks of the Lord bringing a chariot down and carrying us away to heaven.  Something like this really happens in our reading today.  Elijah is taken to heaven in a whirlwind accompanied by a chariot of fire.

As our reading begins, King Ahab has died and his son, Ahaziah, is now on the throne.  This man is also the child of wicked Queen Jezebel.  He has fallen through the latticework of a roof and is critically injured.  He sends messengers to the temple of Baal to see if he will recover.  Jesus, in a pre-incarnate state as the angel of the Lord, appears to the prophet Elijah and tells him to confront Ahaziah's messengers about going to Baal for information.  He is to ask, "Is there no God in Israel?"  Do you see how irritated God gets when we do not come to Him for advice and counsel?  Elijah tells Ahaziah's messengers that because he has consulted Baal, he will never get out of the bed, but will die there.

The messengers tell Ahaziah the story and he asks what the man looked like.  We get a nice description of Elijah and find that he is a hairy man who wears a leather belt.  Several captains come to get Elijah and bring him to be killed.  They fail because Elijah calls down fire from heaven to kill these captains and their men. On the third try, after two groups of the captain and their men have been destroyed by fire, this captain begs for mercy. Preincarnate Jesus tells Elijah to go with the man.  Elijah personally delivers God's message to Ahaziah and sure enough, Ahaziah dies in his bed.

Now we have the magnificent story of Elijah being taken to heaven in a whirlwind.  There are some interesting things about Elijah and Elisha in this story:
  • Both men miraculously part the water of the Jordan River.  This is reminiscent of Joshua parting the Jordan River at the start of his leading Israel.  This is a miracle sign of God that He is leading the person's mission.
  • Elisha never leaves Elijah's side, as he is aware that God will be taking Elijah away that day.
  • Elisha declares his loyalty to Elijah and his belief that God is alive. He also believes that even though Elijah is going to be taken away today, he will still be alive. (Ch. 2 vs. 2) His loyalty is reminiscent of Ruth and Naomi.
  • Elijah is described as hairy and Elisha is described as bald.
  • Elisha asks for Elijah's blessing to become his successor.
  • Elijah says that witnessing his being taken away will be the blessing and confirmation.
  • As they walk, Elijah is translated to heaven in a whirlwind accompanied by a chariot of fire.
  • Elisha tears his robe in mourning for the loss of his mentor.
Although the Israelites insist on forming a search party for Elijah, Elisha is able to provide a testimony that he was carried away into heaven alive in a whirlwind.  Elisha then confirms the legitimacy of his ministry by sign miracles that include parting the Jordan River, making bitter water sweet, and calling a curse and a judgment of death upon the mockers of God.

Lessons:  Spiritual mentors are important.  Elijah was a mentor to Elisha.  God uses these types of relationships.  The voice of His prophets will be important until the end of all time.  Elijah's message that there is a God in Israel is the same message to us.  There is the One True God.  Turn to Him for your needs.

Do you follow the God of Israel, who provided Jesus Christ to the world?  Do you go to Him to seek truth?
Are you loyal like Elisha to those who are your spiritual mentors?  Are you a witness to truth like Elisha was?

Acts 13:42-14:7

After Paul's successful preaching in the synagogue at Antioch Pisiidia in Turkey, the whole town turns out to hear him speak.  The Jewish leaders in town get jealous and begin to back stab Paul and Barnabas.  At this, Paul declares that he is going to focus on the Gentiles since the Jews are rejecting the message.

The Jewish leaders incite a mob against Paul and Barnabas and run them out of town. The Bible tells us that in order to prove the truth of Paul's message, the Lord gave them the ability to do sign miracles. This is similar to what the Lord did for Elisha to prove that Elisha's message was true.

Persecution continues and this drives Paul and Barnabas to other cities to continue to spread the Good News.  Are you surprised that even though they are speaking truth and are filled with the Holy Spirit, Paul and Barnabas are experiencing so much difficulty and trials?  What does this tell you about the Christian life?  What do you learn about our situation in this fallen world?

Lessons:  Even though God is with us, we will have trials in this world.  Part of our journey is to learn to rely on God in our trials.  The Good News is about forgiveness of sin and eternal life, not about living a trouble free life on this earth.

Can you accept trials in this life?  How have you suffered when you have tried to give out God's Good News?

Psalm 139:1-24

This is perhaps my favorite psalm in the Bible.  Pray this psalm back to God in wonder and amazement!

Proverbs 17:19-21

This proverb says that if you love to quarrel, you love sin.  Are you a trouble maker?

What did you notice today?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton


  1. Good point about how God gets irritated when we don't come to him for advice & counsel.

    Do you have anymore insight about the mocking boys and how 42 of them were mauled by 2 bears?

    I thought it was interesting how some influential religious women had so much clout as to incite a mob against Paul & Barnabas.

    I also think this is my favorite psalm, Kathy.

  2. Psalm 139:13-16 gives proof that God designed us in the womb, and knows us and our future even before we are born. I say thank you God for these verses to know beyond a shadow of doubt that we are alive and human in the womb, and to be sure that when one of these unborn babies is aborted it is an unholy sacrifice which is an abomination to the Lord.

  3. Terri, I'm not sure how 42 boys got mauled by 2 bears. Perhaps the ones who did not get attacked stayed to help the ones who did and then they got attacked. I know bears can be vicious and fast. Still sounds supernatural to me.

    Women were very influential in ancient religions. Unfortunately, it is because many of them were priestesses of religious prostitution rings. I'm sure they had a good business going. Paul and Silas would have threatened their religion and their livelihood.

    Amen and amen to your comments on Psalm 139. Preach it, sistah!