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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sunday Snippets: But for the Grace of God, There Go I

2 Kings 8:10-13 And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the LORD hath shewed me that he shall surely die. And he settled his countenance stedfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept. And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child. And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The LORD hath shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria."

A bit of a longer passage today, but this is a very interesting and sad story, with a serious application to our lives. The background is, the king sent this servant, named Hazael, to ask Elisha if he would recover from a sickness. Elisha told the servant that the king would surely die. After he delivered this news, Elisha the man of God began to weep as he looked on the servant, Hazael. His heart broke as he contemplated the future, showed him by God. He told Hazael that he would become a heartlessly cruel man, doing violence and evil throughout Syria. As Elisha described these horrors, Hazael was shocked and offended by the mere suggestion that he would ever do such a thing. The words, "Is thy servant a dog...?" shows just how disgusted he was by the picture Elisha had painted; in Israel it was the deepest of insults to call someone a dog. Hazael thought that he would never, ever sink so low as to commit such great sin. Let's look at what happened in the next passage.

2 Kings 8:14-15 "So he departed from Elisha, and came to his master; who said to him, What said Elisha to thee? And he answered, He told me that thou shouldest surely recover. And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick cloth, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead."

First mistake: when Hazael returned to the king, he told him that he would recover from his sickness, even though Elisha had expressly told him otherwise. Then, the very next day, Hazael must have decided the king was taking too long to die, and he suffocated him! What?? He had just been adamantly protesting the idea that he could do such things! Hazael then went on to do exactly what Elisha had predicted, becoming an evil and cruel ruler.

I heard a message on this passage years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. Do you know what Hazael's problem was? He looked at certain sins, and said "I am above that. I could never do such a thing." How many times do we do this? Do we hear a story about some pastor's child that jumped off the deep end, maybe running off with a boyfriend or getting deeply involved in drugs or we hear stories like this and gasp, "I could never do that!!!" No. I'm sorry. You could, and you would if you got the chance and the temptation. We all would. We are not above ANYTHING. I am not above anything. There is no sin that I could not fall into, without the overwhelming love and grace of God that prevents me. Without Him, I am nothing. So when I look at someone else's sin with disgust, and the attitude that I am better than they...what am I thinking?? 

My immediate response when I hear a story such as the examples above should be these two things:
1. Pray for the person who has fallen. Pray that their eyes would be opened and their hearts softened to repent and return to The Lord.
2. Pray that God in His mercy would keep me from falling into the same sin, realizing that it is 100% possible without His help. 

We must look to The Lord and Him alone for strength to resist temptation of all kinds. "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to presentyou faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." (Jude 24-25)

Have a blessed week!

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