Image: Forsythia, North Garden, Virginia, March 2020
Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 13.
“And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him: for the saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Israel oppressed them. (And the LORD gave Israel a saviour….) (2 Kings 13:4-5a).
2 Kings 13 describes, in part the reign of King Jehoahaz over Israel. Spiritually speaking Jehoahaz was a disaster: “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD…” (v. 2). Furthermore, “The anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel” and delivered them into the hands of the Syrians” (v. 3).
Then we read something amazing. The historian records that the ungodly Jehoahaz “besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him” (v. 4a). That is an astounding verse as related to the theology of prayer. We know from Scripture that God hears the prayers of the godly: “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16a). But this verse teaches us that he even hears the prayers of sinful and ungodly men! That ought to give all of us hope. It gives me hope in prayer.
Notice in v.4b the reason given as to why the LORD was pleased to open his ear to the prayer of wicked Jehoahaz: “for he saw the oppression of Israel…”
This is a picture of the compassion of the LORD toward his people. Just as a parent cannot bear to see his child suffering, so the LORD cannot bear to see his people suffering. He is moved with compassion on them.
This strikes a Biblical chord. When the Israelites were in bondage in Israel, the LORD spoke to Moses in the burning bush, saying, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows” (Exod 3:7).
Consider also the book of Judges where time and again the Israelites fell into their hands of their enemies, they cried out, and the LORD heard and raised up a Judge to deliver them.
I am reminded of the description of Christ himself when the saw the multitudes who came out to him: “he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd” (Matt 9:36).
Friends, this is good news. The Lord is not indifferent to the cries of his people!
What comes next is mysterious and told with precious little detail. It begins, “And the LORD gave Israel a saviour… (v. 5).” It sounds like Judges. We are not told the name or the details of this savior at this particular point in Israel’s history, but it points us forward to the ultimate Savior who was sent to deliver his people from oppression: the LORD Jesus Christ.
The sum: The Lord hears the prayers of sinners; the Lord sees their oppression; the Lord sends a Savior.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
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