II Kings 10

“Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel” (v28).  The prophets Elijah and Elisha had fought hard against the idolatrous worship of Baal; however, King Ahab and Jezebel had built altars to Baal and supported the cult’s priests. Baal worship – which included ritual sexual promiscuity and even child sacrifice – had spread throughout Israel.  Jehu executed the priests, “demolished the pillar of Baal, and demolished the house of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day” (v27).

“See my zeal for the Lord” (v16).  God hates idolatry because when we worship anything but Him, it destroys us.  He wants the total loyalty of our hearts.

II Kings 9

"What peace can there be, so long as the whorings and the sorceries of your mother Jezebel are so many?” (v22).  Jehu was God’s chosen method of bringing wrath down upon the wicked family of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel (v1-10).  Through them, the whole land of northern Israel had been polluted by idolatry and violence, and as Jehu declared, there could be no peace until justice was restored and the deaths of innocent people, like Naboth (v25), were avenged.

“What do you have to do with peace?” (v18). Peace can’t be enjoyed until we deal with sin and its consequences.  Rather than ignoring wrongdoing, God calls us to truth, forgiveness, and restoration.  

II Kings 8:7-29

 “Yet the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David his servant” (v19).  Jehoram, king of Judah, “did evil in the sight of the Lord,” just like many of northern Israel’s kings (he was married to wicked Ahab’s daughter, v18).  While the land of Judah suffered under this sinful king, God promised not to wipe them out completely; Jehoram was David’s descendent, and God had promised David that his family would continue and be part of the salvation of the world.  

“He promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever” (v19).  Even when the people rebelled, God remembered His covenant.  God’s mercy and faithfulness are far greater than our sins. 

II Kings 8:1-6

“So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God” (v2).  The Shunammite woman had seen God do miracles both privately (raising her son from the dead) and publicly through Elisha, and so she was obedient when Elisha told her to flee the famine and live in “the land of the Philistines” for seven years. Her experience with the Lord gave her faith for the new challenge. When she and her son returned, she reclaimed their land. 

God does “great things” for us (v4) not just to help us in the moment, but also to increase our faith so that we trust Him more and more. 

II Kings 7

“But Elisha said, "Thus says the LORD, Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel …” (v1).  Elisha was a proven prophet, and he declared that even though the Samaritan people were starving (due to a military siege), in one day’s time, everything would change, and food would be plentiful and cheap.  It was an opportunity for people to return to the Lord and believe He could do this “impossible” thing.  The military captain scoffed (v2), revealing his lack of faith in Israel’s God.

“According to the word of the Lord …” (v16). God has proven His love and power to us, and He calls us to have faith in His word.

Acts 25

“And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul …” (v2). Paul’s legal trials involved various power structures that tried to silence his witness.  Jewish religious authorities accused him, the Roman governors Festus and then Felix questioned him (v25), and finally King Agrippa and Queen Bernice “came with great pomp … with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city” (v23).  Yet, Paul calmly insisted, “I have done no wrong” (v10).

“But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them” (v11). Paul knew from experience that we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom 8:37). 

Psalm 76

“His abode has been established in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion. 
There he broke the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war” (v2-3).  The psalmist used the names Salem and Zion to speak of Jerusalem, God’s “dwelling place,” reminding the Israelites of all God had done there: defeating Israel’s enemies, giving them a home and a Temple, extending justice and salvation (v8-9). In the New Testament, Zion is where we dwell with God, now and forever, through Christ (Hebrews 12:22).

“God arose … to save all the humble of the earth” (v9).  Our King defeated “the weapons of war, sin and death, so that we can live with Him forever. 

Proverbs 15

“The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise” (v31).  God’s Word to us is “life-giving reproof,” and when we ignore it, we self-destruct (v32).  The natural consequences of sinful choices are a “severe discipline” in our lives (v10), causing us to seek God’s forgiveness and help.  When we begin to walk with God in obedience and faith, “the path of life leads upward” (v24) – not necessarily to riches, but to right relationships, peace and joy (v16-17). 

“In the house of the righteous there is much treasure” (v6).  God shows us the right path so that we can enjoy the treasures of a clean conscience, healthy relationships, and fellowship with Him.

II Kings 6

“Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (v16).  Elisha the prophet saw the world with eyes of faith; he prayed that his servant also could see the chariots and horses of fire protecting them (v17).  His faith in God’s power led him to pray that their enemies would be confused and “struck with blindness,” so that their attack would utterly fail (v18-20).  For Elisha, God’s reality was all around them and His help was available at any moment.

“Oh Lord, please open his eyes …” (v17).  As our faith increases, our eyes are opened to God’s constant presence and powerful work on our behalf. 

II Kings 5

“And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes …” (v7).  When the king of Israel heard that Syria’s king expected him to cure the general, Naaman, of leprosy, he responded in anger and disbelief.  In contrast, the young Israelite servant girl who had been kidnapped and taken to Syria to serve Naaman’s wife was totally convinced that God could heal the man.  Her faith convinced the Syrian general to trust in Israel’s God and wash in the Jordan, though the king himself doubted.

“Wash and be clean” (v13).  God responds to anyone – servant, child, pagan general – who calls on Him in faith and accepts His Word as true.    

II Kings 4

"Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath” (v23). The Shunammite woman was familiar with the regular times for worship and sacrifice and petition.  But she had already received a great, unexpected miracle – her son – and so she knew that God was not limited to religious rituals and rules. When disaster struck, she ran straight to God’s prophet, disregarding protocol (v27), believing God would answer.

“I will not leave you” (v30).  The Shunammite woman’s faith and desperation drove her to cling to God without shame.   God wants us to run to Him with full confidence in His willingness to answer.

II Kings 3

“The word of the Lord is with him” (v12).  With the prophet of Elijah gone, and idolatry widespread in northern Israel and Judah, it was important that God’s power and truth be displayed through the new prophet, Elisha.  When the three kings and their troops ran out of water, he prophesied that God would miraculously provide both water – “a light thing in the sight of the Lord” (v18) – and victory over the Moabites.  God’s power had not disappeared with Elijah; He was still at work among His people.

“As the Lord of hosts lives …” (v14).  God’s saving power and anointing are not confined to certain people and places; He is alive and at work in all generations.

Acts 24

“I cheerfully make my defense …” (v10).  Paul stood before the governor Felix, being accused by the prosecutor Tertullus on behalf of the high priest and others. This group claimed that Paul had profaned the Temple and stirred up a riot.  Paul defended himself against these false charges without panic or fear, voluntarily confessing that he followed “the Way” and believed in the resurrection.  Later, Paul witnessed to the governor about “righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment” (v25).

“I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man” (v16). When, like Paul, we are at peace with God and others, we meet unexpected challenges without fear.  Not even death can separate us from His love.       

Psalm 75

“When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars” (v3).  From our perspective, it feels like the world “totters” or is shaken by big events, just as our lives may be shaken by disaster or sickness. But the psalmist said that in these circumstances, he “gave thanks” because God is near to us (v1). He keeps us steady, and He will sort out all confusion and chaos by His judgments (v2-5, 8).

“For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment” (v6-7).   We seek wisdom and safety in God’s presence, because He is our unshakeable refuge.

II Kings 2

“As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live …” (v2).  Elisha had seen the prophet Elijah perform miracles in God’s name: impacting weather patterns, predicting battles, and calling fire down from heaven on Mount Carmel.  Elisha believed that these signs meant “the Lord lives” – the God of Abraham is powerful and present – and he wanted to follow in Elijah’s footsteps as God’s prophet (v9).  God took Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind of “chariots and horses of fire” (v11), and Elisha received his spiritual gifts (v14).

“I will not leave you” (v2).  When we catch a glimpse of God’s greatness and love, we want Him above everything, and we open our hearts to His will for us.

II Kings 1

“Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?” (v3).  King Ahaziah’s pain (he was injured, v2) revealed the inclination of his heart: he asked his servants to pray to the idol Baal for his healing.  God sent the prophet of Elijah to declare the dire consequences of Ahaziah’s putting his trust in an idol: he would die of his injury.  Ahazaiah tried to capture and kill Elijah, but God’s power prevailed.

When we are in emotional or physical pain, finding comfort in idols (such as work, entertainment, immorality, or self-reliance) only destroys us.  Our Creator wants to revive our souls.

I Kings 22

“I saw the Lord, sitting on his throne …” (v19).  King Ahab of northern Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah banded together to fight Syria, and they wanted to make sure God was with them.  Four hundred prophets said what Ahab wanted to hear – God will give you victory (v6).  But Jehoshaphat wanted a real word from God.  The prophet Micaiah, known for speaking truth and angering Ahab, declared Ahab would die in battle.  The truth was unwelcome (v26).

“What the Lord says to me, that I will speak” (v14).  God’s Word isn’t always what we want to hear, but instead brings correction and conviction. However, His Word produces life in those who listen.

I Kings 21:17-29

“Have you killed and also taken possession?” (v19).  While it seemed like King Ahab and Queen Jezebel had gotten away with theft, lies, and the murder of an innocent man, the truth was that God saw every action.  He sent the prophet Elijah to Ahab to tell him that all his sins were completely known to God, and punishment was coming.  Terrified, Ahab humbled himself and repented, which, due to God’s amazing mercy, softened the consequences of sin (v27).  

“He is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession” (v18).  God knew exactly what Ahab had done and where he was.  No sin is hidden from His sight, and His judgments are always right.

I Kings 21:1-16

“The Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers” (v3).  Naboth was a landowner who possessed a vineyard near King Ahab’s palace (v1).  Ahab wanted to buy the vineyard, but Naboth refused, citing the Mosaic Law which commanded that land should stay within families and tribes as part of the covenant between God and Israel.  Naboth’s refusal cost him his life.  Queen Jezebel persuaded men to falsely accuse Naboth, and he was executed.  Ahab then possessed the vineyard.

“The Lord forbid …” (v3).  Naboth was more concerned about God’s rule over his life than Ahab’s rule.  Obedience to God may cost us in this life, but our great reward is eternal.

Acts 23

“Then a great clamor arose …” (v9).  Paul’s faith in Jesus and insistence that salvation included the Gentiles caused a riot (ch 22), and so the Roman authorities brought him to – “the council” – the high priest and other religious authorities of Israel.  Paul’s testimony caused a violent uproar there too (v10).  When a plot by 40 Jewish men to kill Paul was uncovered, the Roman soldiers took him by night to the governor in Caesarea.  The Lord assured Paul that all this would lead to his testifying in Rome (v11).

“Take courage … “ (v11).  Human powers (both government and religion) may oppose the gospel, but we are empowered by the Spirit to testify by our words and lives.