THE MOABITE CONFLICT
2 Kings 3:1-27
In the last chapter, we saw Elijah being taken up to heaven. It was a chapter that was full or prophecies and spiritual realities and a seeking for the Spirit of God. As we come to this chapter, we are struck by the stark contrast. This is a chapter or war and politics and dealings with kings and nations. It brings us back to the “real world.” The truth is that BOTH chapters deal with the “real world.”
God works, not only in the voices of His prophets and in the hearts of His followers, but also in the world of politics and kings and nations. Remember that the next time you pick up a newspaper. God is at work in His world.
THE EVIL CHARACTER OF JEHORAM’S REIGN
1 Now Jehoram the son of
Ahab became king over
2 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, though not like his father and his mother; for he put away the sacred pillar of Baal which his father had made.
3 Nevertheless, he clung to
the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made
Jehoram was the second son of Ahab (not to be confused with the son of Jehoshaphat by the same name). The eldest son of Ahab had been Ahaziah who had died after a short reign of only two years. Ahaziah had died childless and so now his younger brother came to the throne.
The good news is that Jehoram
was not as bad as his father and mother had been. He put away the sacred pillar of Baal and
allowed people to return to the worship of Yahweh. The bad news is that his return to the Lord
involved a return to Jeroboam’s politically correct method of worshiping the
Lord. Jeroboam had set up golden calves
at Dan and at
Mesha king of
5 But it came about, when Ahab died, the king of
7 Then he went and sent
word to Jehoshaphat the king of
8 He said, “Which way shall
we go up?” And he answered, “The way of
the wilderness of
The Moabites were descendants
We saw in 2 Kings 1:1 that
Jehoram was seeking victory through strategic planning and military might, not by trusting in the Lord. His theory was that God fights on the side which has the largest artillery, so he did not need God. Instead he trusted in his own military alliance.
Jehoshaphat was the king of
PROMISE IN A DRY LAND
1. The Problem - No Water.
9 So the king of
10 Then the king of
marched around the southern end of the Dead Sea, coming at last to the Wadi Zered which flows into the
southern end of the
a. Blame God and act in unbelief.
This is the typical response of the man who ignores God before trouble comes and then who blames God once it does come.
b. Turn to God in faith, seeking the salvation which He has promised.
Problems can either make you bitter or better. It all depends upon your attitude toward the Lord.
2. Request for a Prophet.
11 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is
there not a prophet of the Lord here, that we may
inquire of the Lord by him?” And one of
the king of
12 Jehoshaphat said, “The word
of the Lord is with him.” So the king of
is Jehoshaphat, king of
Assumed that God had decreed the destruction of his confederation (3:10).
Asked for a prophet of the Lord (3:11).
Assumes the worst of God.
Seeks the voice of God.
Jehoshaphat not only recognizes the hand of the Lord in these events, he also asks for the Lord’s guidance.
The very fact that Elisha was present in the wilderness with these armies is indicative of God’s faithful sovereignty. God had provided for the needs of His people BEFORE they even had needs for which to pray. He had led Elisha into the wilderness to be available to Jehoshaphat’s request.
As Elisha comes before the confederation of kings, there is a contrast between this coming and the previous confrontation which Elijah had with Ahaziah.
Elijah prophesies the demise of Ahaziah, the eldest son of Ahab (2 Kings 1).
Elisha prophesies the deliverance of Jehoshaphat of Judah and Jehoram, the younger son of Ahab (2 Kings 3).
Elijah passes the prophetic mantle on to Elisha (2 Kings 2)
made the difference? It was the presence
of Jehoshaphat, the king of
3. Elisha’s Response.
13 Now Elisha said to the king
14 Elisha said, “As the Lord
of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that
I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of
wisdom of the world would have told Elisha to “butter up” the king of
“The prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother” is a reference to the prophets whom Elijah ordered put to death. Elisha is suggesting that Jehoram follow those prophets to the grave.
There is a principle here. It is that there are times when God does not answer prayer. He makes no promise to answer the prayer of an unrepentant heart.
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2).
only reason that Elisha has consented to come before Jehoram is for the sake of
Jehoshaphat, king of
4. Request for a Minstrel.
“But now bring me a minstrel.” And it came about, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him. (2 Kings 3:15).
Elisha is going to prophesy. He will receive a message from God and he will deliver that message to these kings. But first he calls for a minstrel. Why? There seems to be some connection between the playing of the minstrel and the hand of the Lord coming upon Elisha. What is the connection? I am not certain. But there IS something in music which speaks to the heart of a man. That is why music is to be a part of our worship and our praise to the Lord. We are called to speak to one another “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19).
5. The Promise of Water.
He said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Make this valley full of trenches.’ 17 For thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not see wind nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, both you and your cattle and your beasts.’ 18 This is but a slight thing in the sight of the Lord; He will also give the Moabites into your hand. 19 Then you shall strike every fortified city and every choice city, and fell every good tree and stop all springs of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.’” (2 Kings 3:16-19).
The three invading armies were without water in a dry land. There was no sign of rain. And there would be no sign of rain. Yet the valley in which they were presently camped would soon be full of water.
are called to dig trenches. The purpose
for these trenches will be to catch the water which is promised. Without the trenches, the water will merely
flow down the wadi and out into the
God’s promises are often like that. He gives us a promise and then He calls upon us to act on that promise BEFORE we are able to see the fulfillment of the promise.
20 It happened in the morning about the time of offering the sacrifice, that behold, water came by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.
21 Now all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them. And all who were able to put on armor and older were summoned and stood on the border.
22 They rose early in the morning, and the sun shone on the water, and the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood.
23 Then they said, “This is
blood; the kings have surely fought together, and they have slain one another. Now therefore,
24 But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites arose and struck the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they went forward into the land, slaughtering the Moabites.
25 Thus they destroyed the cities; and each one threw a stone on every piece of good land and filled it. So they stopped all the springs of water and felled all the good trees, until in Kir‑hareseth only they left its stones; however, the slingers went about it and struck it. (2 Kings 3:20-25).
We are not told the source of the water — only that it
came by way of
A BLASPHEMOUS OFFERING
26 When the king of
27 Then he took his oldest son
who was to reign in his place, and offered him as a burnt offering on the wall.
And there came great wrath against
The god of
One of the hallmarks of worship of these deities was child sacrifice. Such a practice was forbidden in the Law.
Neither shall you give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the Lord. (Leviticus 18:21).
This rite of child sacrifice
involved throwing an infant child into the burning furnace at the foot of the
idol. It was a rite which had been
practiced among the pagans in the surrounding nations and, because these
hellish practices had been permitted to take root in
As they now witness this rite, that intimidation takes root in their heart and they disregard the promises of God so recently given and turn their steps toward home. Defeat is snatched from the very jaws of victory.
Why are we given such a story? It is an account of great defeat. Frankly, it would seem a bit depressing if that were the end of the story. It isn’t. This narrative is given to prepare us to see a wonderful contrast. By seeing this defeat of God’s people, we are prepared to see an eventual victory.
This narrative tells of a
victory turned to defeat by a pagan king offering up his son as a sacrifice
upon the walls of the city. By contrast,
we are reminded of how God offered up His own Son outside the walls of the city