Bible Readings for October 27th
2 Kings 8 | 1 Timothy 5 | Daniel 12 | Psalm 119:49–72
The story of reclaiming the Shunammite woman’s land in 2 Kings 8 seems, at first, to be a rather strange addition to the storyline of the reigns of kings in Israel, Syria, and Judah through the rest of the chapter, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Intriguingly, what we have here in 2 Kings 8 is yet another story of Israelites who depart from the Promised Land because of a difficult situation.
We read the first story back in Genesis 12, where Abram and Sarai sinfully depart from the Promised Land during a famine, even though Yahweh had specifically instructed them to dwell in the Promised Land (Gen. 12:1). Yahweh made Abram rich in Egypt despite his disobedience (Gen. 12:16), including giving him an Egyptian female servant whom Abram named Hagar. But, through Hagar, Abram had a son named Ishmael, a perpetual source of contention for God’s people.
Then, in the book of Ruth, a family leaves Bethlehem for Moab because of another famine with neither an explicit command to stay nor to go. While they are there, most of the family dies, leaving only a widow named Naomi and her Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth. Through Ruth, Naomi eventually gains not only wealth through her kinsman redeemer, Boaz, but also a child (Ruth 4:17). This child, however, is not excluded from God’s promises like Ishmael—rather, the child is Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David.
And now, we see a woman who sojourns in the land of the Philistines at the explicit command of Elisha, the prophet of God, because of a famine (2 Kgs. 8:1). Again, a son and wealth are at the center of the story, as the woman regains her wealth when Gehazi points out that Elisha had raised this woman’s son from the dead (2 Kgs. 8:5–6). So, why are we given this story here, and why should the story be told in this way, to resemble the two previous stories?
First, this story reminds us that even as Israel and Judah sink deeper into sin under wicked kings like Joram, king of Israel, and Jehoram, king of Judah, God is still working in the same ways that he had worked at critical times in Israel’s history. Second, and more importantly, this story foreshadows the manner in which God’s own Son Jesus would enter the world. Jesus went down into Egypt at the command of an angel of the Lord after he had received wealth from the wise men (Matt. 2:11) in order to escape danger—not from a famine, but from King Herod, who executed all boys age three and under (Matt. 2:13–15).
Even when times seem darkest, these four stories stand together as a witness of God’s assurance to us that he will continue to provide for his people.
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Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.