Ben Stahl

The Kingdom of Heaven is Like…

The Kingdom of Heaven started small but grows large (like the mustard seed and leaven) into which all nations are drawn (13:31-33); The Kingdom of Heaven casts a wide net with the gospel call seeking for dying souls. Such as should be saved will be saved by God Himself ordinarily through the preaching of the Word (13:47-52).

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
Matthew 25:1
Upon arrival in the Rocky Mountains visitors are struck by the many sights all around them. Snow capped mountains, high waterfalls, flowing rivers, pristine mountain lakes, and wildlife in abundance. To enjoy the fullest experience of the mountains, time must be spent focusing on each sight. As we embark on the study of this majestic parable we are similarly struck by the many elements within. We are introduced to a kingdom, virgins, lamps, a bridegroom, oil, a fixed time, a marriage, and a door. For our greatest benefit from the parable we need to understand something of the various elements of the parable by looking at each one on its own terms.
We are introduced to the parable not by meeting the ten virgins who appear later in the first verse but rather the Lord begins the parable with commentary on a kingdom. “Then shall the Kingdom of heaven be likened…”
This is not the first time Matthew uses the title, “The Kingdom of Heaven,” nor is it the last. It is a phrase, however, that we only read in the Gospel of Matthew. Other gospels use the similar phrase, “The Kingdom of God.” “The Kingdom of Heaven” is used more than 30 times in Matthew’s Gospel beginning with the start of John the Baptist’s ministry (3:2) and continuing with Jesus’ ministry when He, “began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” ( 4:17).  Among the many uses of this phrase there are at least twelve kingdom of heaven parables where the Lord describes the Kingdom of Heaven by illustration.  The parables begin with the Wheat and the Tares in 13:24 and continue to the parable of the talents in 25:14. The parable of the ten virgins then is the eleventh in the series of parables beginning in this way, “The Kingdom of heaven is likened…”
Christ’s parables are word pictures. As such we need to use them accordingly. We do not need to interpret the book solely through the picture but rather we should interpret the picture through the book. By interpreting Scripture through Scripture in this way we we will glean the spiritual realities the Lord has reserved for us through the illustration of the parable.
There are a variety of interpretations given for the Kingdom of Heaven among theologians.
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The Return of Christ

While the world is wholly and willfully foolish regarding the end of the world, the Lord our God “would not have us ignorant.” The series of articles and devotionals that follow bring us to the Word of God concerning the return of Jesus Christ through the parable of the ten virgins from the first thirteen verses of Matthew 25. By God’s Grace we will consider the topic of Christ’s return and the Parable of the 10 Virgins under four general parts, each of which will have several lessons attached.

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Matthew 25:6
Its 2022 and thoughts of the end of the world are common and well documented both in the academy as well as in pop culture. It’s been a trend of the last several decades in countless books, Hollywood movies, and all types of shows, podcasts, and youtube channels to depict and orate on the end of the world as we imagine it. We have been left with shows depicting apocalyptic scenarios, zombie creatures, population destroying diseases, and other imaginations. As these ideas were hitting a fever pitch an actual pandemic came that killed many around the world, leading many of the survivors to embrace greater excess, anger, violence, drugs, science so called, in an effort to enjoy or extend their lives a little longer before the end.
For many cults the end of the world plays a prominent part in their history. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have been predicting dates for Christ’s return since their beginning in the late 1800s and as recently as 1975. Similarly, the World Mission Society Church of God grew in South Korea and around the world with promises of a heavenly jerusalem descending in Korea and ushering in the end of the world. This did not happen in 1988 or in 2010 as predicted but people keep following. In evangelical circles strange ideas of the end of the world are prevalent on the internet, social media, in best selling book series’s, and on the conference circuit. The 24 hour news cycle provides ample material for 24 hour newspaper exegesis wrecking havoc on many poor souls. In academia and business alike, scientists are regularly hypothesizing about when the sun will burn out and freeze the earth; when the ozone layer will disappear destroying our air, killing all life; or when an asteroid or comet will make a direct hit and wipe out humanity as we know it. All around us, the end of the world is considered, hypothesized, and modeled but few are searching for the truth where it is always found, in Scripture alone.
The end of the world, the day of judgment, and the return of Christ are all prominent themes in Scripture. Some of the longest chapters in the gospels are dedicated to Christ’s teaching concerning the end of the world. God spoke to us through the prophets in times past giving us lessons and pictures of the end of Jerusalem and the end of the world as a whole.
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Behold, The Bridegroom Cometh

It is time to make my calling and election sure and to go into the world calling all to repentance of sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. My desire is that these verses of Scripture would have a similar impact on the reader – to show the power and glory of God revealed in the person, work, and promised imminent return of Jesus Christ. In so doing, I pray that God would bring all men and women boys and girls in all places to know the time, that now it is high time to wake out of sleep, “for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (1).

And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
Acts 1:10-11
Are you prepared for Christ to return today?
Several years ago as I was reading the first thirteen verses of Matthew 25, I was struck with the urgency of the message. These verses weighed heavily on me for they showed me my own lack of urgency towards the things of the Lord. The wise virgins were ready, they heard God’s Word, believed, and were prepared for the Lord’s coming. The foolish virgins had heard the same word, did not believe, and were therefore unprepared. While trusting in Christ alone for my salvation was I acting like Paul who pressed on for the high call of Christ Jesus or like the man who decided tomorrow he would tare down his small barns and build bigger barns?
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The Ten Virgins

Oh may we strive by the grace of God to be as those wise virgins who were ready for the call at midnight, whose lamps were full, and who entered joyfully into the presence of the king.

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.Matthew 25:1
She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee. With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the King’s palace.Psalm 45:14-15
The Lord makes many comparisons in Scripture. He compares His people to sheep, and He is the good Shepherd (John 10). He compares His people to wheat and glory is His barn (Matthew 13:24). He compares His people to a young child, loved when they were young and held fast until they are old (Isaiah 46:3-4). He compares them to dust, clay, branches and many other things. Then in Matthew 25 Christ likens the Kingdom of Heaven unto ten virgins. We notice many things about these virgins from this one verse. There is not one virgin but there are ten virgins. They appear outwardly pure and fair in all respects like as the young virgins who were brought before the king in Esther 2:2. We notice God does not say “virgins are the Kingdom of Heaven” or “the Kingdom of Heaven is ten virgins.” Catholic theology that uses this parable to falsely give veneration and adoration to Mary as a perpetual virgin despite her having several addition children with Joseph after Jesus was born (12:47) is hereby, as in every place in Scripture, firmly refuted.  Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is likened unto ten virgins.  Jesus is illustrating the Kingdom of Heaven, as He so often does, by comparison to something. In this case, Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to ten virgins.
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Elisha, God’s Servant, is Dead

Let us answer the call of the Lord, serve our neighbors with love, and fear, trust, and love the Lord above all else. Then, we shall take up the mantle of Elisha, answer the call of the Lord, carry out the work of the Lord, and hear at the end of our days, just as certainly Elisha heard, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Then Elisha died, and they buried him. And the raiding bands from Moab invaded the land in the spring of the year.
II Kings 13:20 NKJV
During a recent sermon on Isaiah 38 and the sickness of Hezekiah, our church was reminded of the reality of death for the enemies of God as well as for the friends of God. “Death spread to all men, because all sinned.” With only two exceptions among mortal men, Enoch and Elijah, all who ever lived eventually died. Where are Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Joshua, Rehab, David, Jeremiah, Esther, Daniel, Peter, Mary, John, Paul, and the whole host of Bible era saints? They are not with us for they have gone to sleep in the Lord. They have died. Likewise, Elisha, faithful servant of God for more than sixty years, eyewitness to the great miracles of God in Israel, preacher of the Word of God, defeater of the Syrian armies, counsellor to kings, watchman over the church of the Lord is not with us for Elisha died, and they buried him.
The death of a faithful example in the faith should cause us to analyze our own lives. The Lord has appointed for men once to die and afterward the judgment. The Day of the Lord is hastening on.
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Abortion: Roots, Causes, and Defeat

When the lusts of the world are conceived they deceive many to carry out sin. Sin when it brings forth fruit leads to death. Millions upon millions of children have died and are still dying because parents and abortion providers have been deceived by lies of the wicked one and are acting out those lies in the murder and killing of their own and others’ children.

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days… (Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NKJV).
The American Thinker recently posted an article republished on many Christian websites titled “What Hath Roe Wrought?” The author notes reasons abortion clinics are closing and Americans are turning against abortion. The reasons include studies documenting harm to many women from abortion; too many abortions driven by designer baby goals; and the profit generated through abortion. Recently at an Atlanta abortion clinic as a pregnant woman entered for an abortion, a woman standing against abortion called out, “You are a great mom! This procedure will hurt you because many women regret their abortion.” Many today are rightfully hoping and praying for abortion to end, but the way it is being opposed is with wisdom of this world rather than wisdom from the Lord.
The Lord does not call abortion one of the seven things He hates (1) because of the documented harm to the mothers who murder their own children – the Lord hates abortion because it is an abomination to Him. Christians oppose abortion because we are in a spiritual warfare against sin and abortion is sin. The articles that follow seek to frame abortion in its true context, that is the biblical context, so that the people of God might be thoroughly equipped in their prayer lives and evangelism to those on the road to death. In this manner, the Word of God will go out faithfully, and men and women will be saved for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
Abortion: Its Roots
“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:15 KJV)
These words of the Lord written by James trace the origins of all sin. Sin is conceived by lust and therefore the root of abortion is lust (2).
Lust of the Flesh
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines bloodlust as the “desire for bloodshed.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “enjoyment of being violent or watching other people be violent.” At some risk of lowering the level of scholarship, perhaps the Urban Dictionary defines the term most accurately in our context: “an uncontrollable desire to kill people.” The bloodlust of abortion is the insatiable appetite for the shedding of innocent blood. We often see this bloodlust in politicians and abortion promoters who speak so cruelly of children being killed. Rather than crying out, “Enough, enough,” they cry out “More, more!”
The recent U.S. house bill H.R. 3755 (dubbed by some the Unrestricted Warfare on Children Act) includes this line: “Access to equitable reproductive health care, including abortion services, has always been deficient in the United States for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) and their families.”
In Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, and many other cities, more African American children are murdered by abortion than are born alive. A large portion of politicians believe murdering half of all Black babies is not enough, it is deficient!
There are three things that are never satisfied, four never say, “Enough!” The grave, the barren womb, the earth that is not satisfied with water – and the fire never says, “Enough!” (Proverbs 30:15-16)
A devouring fire is never satisfied. Burning half the fuel is not enough – it wants more! A fire seeks to burn all and only goes out by reason of loss of fuel. So are those who hate innocent life. One half of minority children being slaughtered is “deficient.” When will it be enough? There is only one way – when all are consumed and there are no more to murder.
Lust of the Eyes
The concept of devouring fire and abortion is not a new idea. In ancient Canaan, there was a horrific idol named Molech.
God warned His people Israel against engaging in the barbaric idolatry of Molech in several places including Leviticus 18:21 and 20:3-5. And yet, the people quickly fell into the sin of worshipping Molech along with the Baals, Chemosh, and Ashteroths who seem to have utilized overlapping practices of requiring blood at the hands of their worshippers (3).
In I Kings 11:7, Solomon in his multiplication of wives built a high place for Molech outside Jerusalem. In II Kings 21:6 King Manasseh of Judah offered his son through fire as a sacrifice to false gods. Molech, required the shedding of the innocent blood of children at the hands of their parents. The blood was shed by burning the child alive in the devouring fire of the idol.
12th century Rabbi Schlomo Yitzchak wrote a commentary on Topheth (Molech) who is mentioned in Jeremiah 7:31 and gave this description of the practice:
“Topheth is Moloch, which was made of brass; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.”
This horrific practice of which the Lord says, “I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart,” was one of the primary reasons that Judah was destroyed by Babylon. The lust of the eyes towards the idols of the world and their worship always comes with the shedding of innocent blood, one of the seven things the Lord hates (Proverbs 6:16-17). Similar practices are recorded throughout history in places such as Carthage and portions of the Roman empire.
Today, as children are sacrificed to the gods of this world, their parents turn up loud music in their cars or on their headphones to drown out the words of God presented by Christians on the street warning them of the cries of their little ones that call to for their parents and their Creator for help and protection! So it was many years ago as the babies screamed in the flaming arms of the idol Molech that the priests beat the drums and blew the trumpets drowning out the cries of agony.
Pride of Life 
“Reproductive justice!” “Bodily autonomy!” “International human rights!” “Women’s health!” Such are the rallying cries of the wicked as they lead their followers to murder their own flesh and blood. Like the “Answer to the Jewish Question” of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, so the euphemisms of our day are the death sentences of millions of innocents. Why?
“The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor” (Psalm 10:2 NKJV).
Lord willing we will consider Psalm 10 in more detail in future articles but to introduce the chapter and its teaching, the wicked in their pride think God doesn’t know, see, or care what they do and through vain words they carry out atrocities on the innocent. This foolish pride is a root of the sin of abortion.
Abortions: Its Cause
When lust conceives it brings forth sin. When sin is finished it brings death. The lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life have conceived together to bring forth sin in the form of abortion. Their fruit has largely been born through deceit.
In my experience at several Atlanta abortion mills, few if any parents enroute to murder their children have ever thought about shedding innocent blood. They have never thought about minority abortions as a percentage of the minority population. They may have never heard of “bodily autonomy,” and in the many conversations with folks, I have never heard that term used in their own defense. What they have said are things like this:

If the life in the womb seems to be an inconvenience then the right thing to do is to abort.
There is no moral issue with abortion as the baby is not “viable.”
The mom’s choice to abort is a valid choice.
God understands their difficult decision and will accept or at least forgive them if it is wrong.
It is better to end the baby’s life than to lose friendships over pregnancy.
It is better to abort the child than to raise the child without a father.
No one can judge their decision, as God says, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

What these ideas have in common is that each is false. Those who believe these things and practice their belief have been deceived by the lies of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Jesus said,
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it (John 8:44 NKJV).
When the lusts of the world are conceived they deceive many to carry out sin. Sin when it brings forth fruit leads to death. Millions upon millions of children have died and are still dying because parents and abortion providers have been deceived by lies of the wicked one and are acting out those lies in the murder and killing of their own and others’ children.
This is what the devil subtly came to do: steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Those that participate in such murder are demonstrating two things: 1) They are children of their father the devil; and 2) They do not have eternal life abiding in them, for murderers “shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).
Abortion: Its Defeat
And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (I Corinthians 6:11 NKJV).
There are many individuals and groups today that call themselves “pro life.” Some mean by this that they are for laws that limit and restrict abortion. Others mean that they want mothers to know that they have other options besides abortion. Still others consider mothers to be victims of abortion and want to help rescue them. None of these ideas will hinder the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life. They will not defeat Satan, his deceit, and his deceived children from bearing forth the fruit of their sin, which is death. There is only one way that sin is defeated and it is not found in politicians, laws, or slogans. Sin is defeated by a person whose name is Jesus Christ.
To those who are living in sin and murder, deceiving and being deceived, the Lord calls out from Heaven:
Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword”; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken (Isaiah 1:16-20).
The defeat of abortion and all sin comes from the one who bore my sin on the cross and shed His blood for me, even Jesus Christ. God has made “Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21). Christ Jesus came to save the murderer. The one who was a captive to Satan and sin Christ came to set him free.
Christ did not sugarcoat sin or tell people their sin was ok as so many are apt to do today, but He came telling them it was evil, of their father the devil, and He could set them free. How can sinners, murderers, evil men and women be set free? By repenting of their sins and believing in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. For this reason Jesus came into the world, to set the prisoner free!
The faithful proclamation of the full counsel of God and of His holiness, righteousness, perfection, glory, sacrifice, redemption, and salvation – in other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ – will defeat abortion. As the gospel goes out, lost souls are saved. As lost souls are saved, the day of the Lord is hastened. As lost souls are saved, they and their children live. As children live, the abortion doctors have no more work to carry out. Sin is defeated by Christ and His glorious gospel.
Go Ye Therefore!
Many people view the proclamation of Christ and His Word to the lost and dying at abortion mills as folly. Just before Christmas I was surrounded by a group from another religion who told me, “God’s Word that you’re reading cuts people to their hearts. We don’t want to do that. We want to show them love.” A group then exceeding thirty people stood on the sidewalk and sang Jingle Bells and the 12 Days of Christmas as mothers carried their children into the modern day temple of Molech to pour out their blood a sacrifice to their own idols and lusts.
Let us not be deceived, the world and its religions, even sadly, many in various pro-life movements, are no friends of the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are no friends of preaching when it is preaching of the cross. They consider it foolish and powerless. Instead they desire men’s wisdom. Fifty years of men’s wisdom later, abortion is alive and well. It is high time for the gospel of Jesus Christ (4) to be preached and to give no quarter to those who would seek to stop it.
Christ sent us into the world not with wisdom of words but to preach the gospel!
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”  Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,  but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (I Corinthians 1:18-25 NKJV).
The Kingdom of Heaven has come, Satan is bound, Christ is ruling, all power in Heaven and on earth has been given unto Him, He is destroying sin and setting free those who are slaves to sin, and He is doing it by the proclamation of His Word and by His Holy Spirit. Here is how abortion is defeated – by Jesus Christ the Lord and giver of life. Go out to the fortresses of Satan and proclaim freedom to the prisoners through that everlasting Word that cuts to the heart of men for their salvation. Christ is for you in this! Who can be against you? Make Christ known, call all to repentance and faith, and Christ will be glorified, wickedness will subside, souls will be saved, and children on the path to death will live.

“These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood…” Proverbs 6:16-17
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” I John 2:15-17
See I Kings 18:25-29 as the prophets of Baal cut and butchered themselves over their altar. See also II Kings 2:26-27 when the Moabites who worshipped Chemosh were in a fix in battle the king offered up his oldest son as an offering spilling his blood all around.
The gospel message can be read of further here, here, and here. The gospel call can be read here and listened to here (Spurgeon) and here.

Ben Stahl is a member of Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Doraville, Ga. This article is used with permission.

Fame Among the Faithless

Let us not be content to know of Elisha in these chapters of Scripture. Let us not be content to know of Christ and His glory in the Scripture. There are many in that great day who may say Lord Lord did not we know these famous prophets of old and He will tell them to depart from Him. Instead, take hold of Christ by faith that you may know Him and be found in Him, trusting in Christ alone for salvation.

Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, “O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!”
II Kings 9:14 NKJV
Shortly before Jesus was crucified, Pilate realized Jesus was from Galilee and sent for Herod who was ruler of that region and in Jerusalem for business that night. Luke 23:8 tells us Herod “was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him…and hoped to see some miracle done by Him.” Jesus did not provide answers to Herod at which point Herod and his soldiers treated Jesus with contempt and mocked Him. It is not uncommon for those who have great fame to be sought out by those who have no faith. The world loves to be among the famous.
In the final account of Elisha’s ministry, Joash the king of Israel went to see Elisha. We know only a little of King Joash but what we know is not good and summed up like this:
And he did evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, but walked in them.
II Kings 13:11 NKJV
When Joash visited Elisha it seems he went hoping for some help from Elisha in fighting against Israel’s long-time enemy, the Syrians.
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A Few More Years Shall Roll

Will our lives be remembered at all? As we think on the closing of Elisha’s life in the few remaining verses in our study, let us set our own minds towards serving our King for all the years the Lord gives us so that He may be well known and that we may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of for us (Philippians 3:12). 

And Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, “Get yourself ready, take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Remoth Gilead. Now when you arrive at that place, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, and go in and make him rise up from among his associates, and take him to an inner room. Then take the flask of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, ‘Thus says the LORD: “I have anointed you king over Israel.”’ (9:1-3)
So Jehu rested with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria. Then Jehoahaz his son reigned in his place. And the period that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years (10:35-36).
Jehoahaz the son of Jehu became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD (13:1).
So Jehoahaz rested with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria. Then Joash his son reigned in his place. In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash* the son of Jehoahaz became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned sixteen years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD (13:9).
So Joash rested with his fathers. Then Jeroboam sat on his throne. And Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel (13:13).
Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, “O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!” (13:14).
Excerpts from: II Kings 9 – 13:14 NKJV
Who was the longest serving prophet in the Bible? Moses served the Lord as a prophet for about 40 years. Samuel served about the same amount of time. Hosea served during the reigns of seven different kings, perhaps as long as 60 years. Isaiah served the Lord during the reigns of five kings of Judah during a ministry that may have exceeded that of Hosea’s in length. But Elisha served the Lord beginning with Elijah in the days of King Ahab and continuing through the reigns of Ahaziah (1 year), Joram, (9 years), Jehu (28 years), Jehoahaz (17 years), and a portion of the reign of King Joash* of Israel (16 years). Conservatively, it seems Elisha’s ministry stretched more than 65 years in length!
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Is Health Everything?

The cry of the Lord these past two years continues to be the same as the 2,000 before, “Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” By all means care for your physical body, after all it is the temple of the Lord. But do not let these physical pursuits blind your eyes from Him who is eternal and who freely gives life to all who ask, seek, and knock! Death is coming. Today then is the day to find life by believing in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. 

Then he departed from Elisha, and came to his master, who said to him, “What did Elisha say to you?” And he answered, “He told me you would surely recover.” But it happened on the next day that he took a thick cloth and dipped it in water, and spread it over his face so that he died; and Hazael reigned in his place.
II Kings 8:14-15
Earlier this week during a driving rain I drove past a Covid testing center. More than 100 people were standing outside waiting for their chance to have a Covid test. The next day I passed a drive thru testing site where cars were lined up for more than a mile. The news is full of similar stories as the world risks sickness from exposure to the elements and spends massive amounts of time for the opportunity not to be treated for Covid, but simply to find out from tests if they might have Covid. The world has trained many to consider health the most important thing in life and worthy of all sacrifice to maintain it for as long as possible.
King Ben-Hadad and his armies had killed untold numbers of people. Men, women, and children had starved under his sieges, kings had been killed in his battles. But when sickness came upon him, Ben-Hadad was so worried he sent 40 camel-loads of gifts to Elisha not as payment to be healed but as payment for the knowledge of whether or not he would survive the illness. On that note, Elisha had good news. Ben-Hadad would recover. The results of the test? The disease was not fatal! The bad news was Ben-Hadad was focused on the wrong thing. He should have been concerned for his soul and his spiritual health more than his physical health which will one day abandon us all. Ben-Hadad was going to die anyway and in a way he seemed to have least expected — his long-time servant Hazael would smother him in his own bed!
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The Lord is Not Slack

Throughout church history each generation of believers expected the Lord to return in their generation. All the signs of the times looked just like the time when the Lord promised to return and so they watched and labored just as God called them to (Matthew 25:1-13). We too must look for the appearing of our Savior from heaven with a shout and the voice of the archangel. Either in our generation (we should pray that Christ would come today) or in a future generation, the Lord will return.

Then he set his countenance in a stare until he was ashamed; and the man of God wept. And Hazael said, “Why is my lord weeping?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: Their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child.”So Hazael said, “But what is your servant—a dog, that he should do this gross thing?” And Elisha answered, “The Lord has shown me that you will become king over Syria.”
II Kings 8:11-13 NKJV
Much happens over twenty years! A generation is generally considered about twenty years. Between the end of World War 1 and the beginning of World War 2 twenty years elapsed. I started my first regular job twenty years ago. Twenty years later, twenty years does not seem to be so long a time but how much happens in twenty years – terrorist attacks, wars, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, pandemics, regime changes, marriages, births, and deaths.
Twenty years prior to Elisha’s journey to Damascus, Elijah was on Mt. Sinai communing with the Lord about Israel’s sin. When the Lord spoke with Elijah he told him to anoint three people: Hazael king of Syria; Jehu King of Israel; and Elisha to be a prophet in Elijah’s place. During Elijah’s lifetime, only one of those tasks took place – Elijah left Mt. Sinai and anointed Elisha as a prophet. The instructions concerning Hazael and Jehu did not take place until well into Elisha’s ministry about twenty years later.
Elisha’s journey to Damascus was not the random wandering of an unwanted prophet but rather the carrying out of the mission and instruction the Lord had given to Elisha’s predecessor in the ministry many years prior.
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