16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:16–17, NKJV)
The Syrian army had surrounded Dothan, a town in central Manasseh of the northern kingdom of Israel. The prophet Elisha was there, and had been thwarting the Syrian battle plans (2 Kgs. 6:8-13). Now, thinking to seize the prophet, king Benhadad dispatched his horses, chariots, and army. Things looked bleak. Elisha’s servant was terrified, but Elisha’s faith and God’s answer to prayer assured his servant in time of distress. The unseen forces of Jehovah were present, and He would win the day (2 Kgs. 6:18-23). Dear Christian, as you face the adversary’s efforts to distract, discourage, and defeat you, remember Elisha’s words as they echo through the ages, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Open your eyes of faith and see the army of God. We are more than conquerors through Christ, who lovingly gave Himself for us, and who ever lives to intercede for us (Rom. 8:34-39). Faithfully withstand the enemy in the evil day, clothed with the armor of God and strong in the power of His might (Eph. 6:10-13, 14-18).
12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: 16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:12–16, NKJV)
The whole world was in darkness when the Son of God arrived on the scene (Jno. 1:4-5, 9). Here, by dwelling in Capernaum, Jesus was fulfilling Israel’s prophetic anticipation of liberty and light (Isa. 9:1-2). Numerous invaders had pillaged and oppressed the Galilean region throughout Israel’s history (Syria, 1 Kgs. 15:20; Assyria, 2 Kgs. 15:29). Now, the first to be crushed by oppression and death would be the first to see the Messiah’s light of truth. The promised kingdom was near, so Jesus called the Galileans to repent (Matt. 4:17, 23). His kingdom has now come (Mk. 9:1). All who come to His light and follow Him are transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and into His kingdom of marvelous light (Jno. 8:12; 12:35-36; Col. 1:13; 1 Pet. 2:9-10). Jesus is shining for you. Escape sin’s darkness and death. Follow Jesus, the light of the world, and have eternal life (Jno. 8:12).
“He was thirty-two years old when he became king. He reigned in Jerusalem eight years and, to no one’s sorrow, departed. However they buried him in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.” (2 Chronicles 21:20, NKJV)
Thus is the summation of the life of a particularly wicked man, Jehoram, king of Judah. He was a murderer who killed his brothers after the death of their father, king Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 21:1-4). He was an idolater, having married the daughter of king Ahab (Athaliah), he led Judah astray into pagan worship (2 Chron. 21:6, 11; 22:2). During Jehoram’s reign, Edom and other nations revolted and plundered Judah (2 Chron. 21:8-10, 16-17). Jehoram suffered an ignominious death following a two-year, incurable disease (2 Chron. 21:12-19). Everyone, it seems, was glad to see him go. No achievements of his reign were recognized. No state funeral was held in his honor, for nothing about him was honorable (v. 19). No one grieved his death. What a tragic legacy! And, the worst of it is Jehoram died condemned in his sins. What sort of legacy will you leave when you die? Let it be a life well lived for Christ and others. Let it be a life faith, holiness, service, and devotion to the gospel of Christ. Let it be a legacy of righteousness that will speak long after your departure (Heb. 11:4). Be a Christian, faithful and true to Christ, and it will be so.
9 Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” (Ecclesiastes 9:9–10, NKJV)
Solomon gives counsel concerning how to live life (“under the sun”) to the fullest. In his conclusion he tells us by fearing God and keeping His commandments we fulfill our primary purpose of life (Eccl. 12:13-14). Within this context, the counsel he gives in today’s passage will help us live a contented life without regret. First, live joyfully (v. 9). Marriage is given by God as a joyful arrangement of man and woman. Surely, we should learn to rejoice together in it (Phil. 4:4-6; 1 Pet. 3:7). Secondly, be thankful for “your portion in life” (v. 9). Don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, count the blessings you have from God’s hand (1 Thess. 5:18; Eph. 1:3). Thirdly, do your work diligently (v. 10). Accept the tasks of life and meet them with dedication, not complaint (Rom. 12:11). Fourthly, live with the knowledge you are going to die (v. 10). Death comes to us all. Accept that and prepare for the judgment that follows (Heb. 9:27). How one chooses to prepare for death will mean the difference between a life filled with regret, or a life headed toward the eternal reward (2 Tim. 4:7-8; Rev. 21:4).
11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11–12, NKJV)
When compared to human expectations, God does the unexpected. The great victory against the false prophets at Mt. Carmel manifested His power and genuineness as the only God (1 Kings 18). But now, queen Jezebel is hunting for Elijah to kill him. We find him at Horeb, the mountain of God (Sinai). Before arriving, Elijah had prayed for death, thinking things were hopeless (they weren’t, 1 Kgs. 19:4, 15-17). He thought he was the only faithful one left (he wasn’t, 1 Kgs. 19:18). In the midst of his doubt and despair, God did the unexpected. He revealed Himself in a “still small voice.” The point is not for us to wait for such a voice before we act, any more than we should wait for a strong wind, an earthquake, or fire from heaven. We will find the Lord where He told us to look – in His word. He manifests Himself to those who love Him by keeping His commands (Jno. 14:21). Let us trust and obey the word of God instead of expecting God to do things according to our expectations (Lk. 6:46; Jno. 6:68; 8:31-32).
Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13, NKJV)
Jesus had told His apostles to expect the hatred of the world (John 15:19). The world loves its own, and hates the light that exposes its sins (Jno. 3:19-20). This comes as no surprise. Jesus is the light of the world; therefore, the world hates Him (and His Father) most of all (Jno. 15:18, 23-25). When we become Christians, we leave the dark world of sin to live as “children of light” and to walk in the light of truth (Eph. 5:8; 1 Jno. 1:6-7). Therefore, the world hates us, too. Note the irony. Jesus was not hated because He was a great sinner (“Which of you convicts Me of sin?,” Jno. 8:46; 1 Pet. 2:22). He was hated “without a cause” (Jno. 15:25). When people in the religious error and moral corruption of the world hate you for following Jesus and His truth, accept your cross and bear it for His sake (Lk. 9:23). Do not marvel. Their hatred is par for the course. Do not be distracted by the world from practicing righteousness and loving one another (1 Jno. 3:10-15).
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18–19, NKJV)
Jesus said His apostles would be detested by those who detested Him. The reason? The world is opposed to Jesus and His truth. His apostles would be hated for teaching and living His truth. The world also hates Christians who continue “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). In fact, the world remakes Jesus into their image, and says He affirms their sins. They will hate you for following His truth instead of their distortions of it. One example is the claim Jesus approves homosexuality and same-sex marriage. He does not (Matt. 15:19; 19:4-6; Jude 7). LGBTQ and their supporters say, “God is love,” and that we are unloving unless we accept their definition of love. But, the Son of God said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (Jno. 14:23, 15, 21). His word says homosexuality is “against nature” and the product of sinful lust (Rom. 1:26-27). (So, who loves Jesus?) His word says homosexuality is “unrighteous” conduct. His word says not to be deceived that those who practice it will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11). They don’t. (So, who loves Jesus?) The gospel does not discriminate against LGBTQ souls, it identifies their sin just as it does the rest of us (Rom. 3:23). Get ready. You will be hated when you teach and practice what Jesus and His apostles did on this subject. The reason? You are not of the world, and they are (Jno. 15:19).