Double Minded

They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices.  Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols.  To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.   - 2 Kings 17:40-41 (NIV)

Who says the Old Testament of our bibles isn't relevant today? If I hadn't put the bible verse references after the quote above any one of us might have thought that this was being spoken about our own families, churches, or cities.  I was overcome with emotion as I did my bible reading this morning through a few chapters of 2 Kings.  I read about king after evil king who led the nation of Israel.  And then I read again about how a longsuffering, loving but righteous God originally delivered His people...His people...out of Egypt to be set apart from the rest of the world to show off His glory. (2 Kings 17:36-39)  Despite the blessings God provided them, despite the promise of protection and prosperity God made them, the people would not listen.  How does this make you feel?  It makes me sad for God, who gave and gave and waited and waited, all to see the people still do as they pleased.    It makes me sad that things got so bad that God finally had no choice but to let the nation of Israel fall captive to the Assyrians. (2 Kings 17:23).

Read the verse at the top again in the context of our culture today.  I believe that today even though we worship God, we still serve other idols.   We are double-minded, dual-focused. Is it any wonder that most of us practice a weak form of Christianity not really knowing what we believe and why we believe it?  In our personal lives we spend more time focusing on ourselves than on learning about who God is and what we can do to serve Him better. 

It is no wonder that we are misguided in our focus as our churches - not all, but an increasing number of them - have also become models for being "double-minded".   Some of them are not practicing what the bible says to preach.  Does your church preach from the whole bible or just the parts of it that relate to felt needs of the people walking through the doors on Sunday morning?  When was the last time you heard a sermon out of 2 Kings? out of Romans 1, touching on some of the tougher issues of life?  The bible says that we are  to live our lives to please God and not other people, so why are we doing "church" with an emphasis on giving the "people" what they want?

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  (James 1:8)

Double mindedness is a danger, isn't it? Trying to please someone else other than God will always get us into trouble.  Trying to have both our way and God's way will too.  The Israelites lost their nation because of their ways.  What are we losing because of ours?

Suspicious Minds

Through what kind of "lens" do you see?  Naturally, we all view the world around us through the lens of our own individual perspectives.  If we came from broken homes, our view of the family might be tainted.  If all we've known is a mediocre marriage, we may not think too highly of the arrangement.  If we have been stabbed in the back or manipulated by someone close to us either at work or in our personal lives, we may have a low opinion of people in general.  Unless we make the effort to see all sides of a situation, we tend to get stuck in the rut of always seeing things the way we "want" to see things rather than how they actually are in in reality.

Biblical characters are no different.  They are flawed just like us.  The stories are in the old testament are filled with intrigue, suspense and drama.  We find some "drama" in 2 Kings 5:1-7.  Some real, some not so real.  Let's dig in. 

The Disease, & The Dispatch & the "Deception"

In our passage, we see Naaman, commander of the king of Aram's army, valiant though he was, suffering from leprosy.   People were shunned in that day because of leprosy so this was a serious matter.  However, there was hope for a cure to be found thanks to a young servant girl taken captive from Israel.  This young girl knew things of the true God, the one of Israel and His power to save through men like the prophets.  She knew of Elisha and of his storied miracles.  The girl passed on this information to Naaman's wife, who then told Naaman, who then told the King, who then dispatched a letter to the king of Israel asking for his help.  This reminds me of an old hair care product commercial: "And they told two friends, and so on, and so on and so on...  :)  Isn't God's power contagious? 

But the letter wasn't initially received as planned for...

As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, "Am I God?  Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy?  See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!" (2 Kings 5:7 NIV)

You will either have to stay "tuned" to see how the story turns out or read the rest of 2 Kings 5 for yourselves, because I don't want this post to be too long.   However, I do want to look at a few application principles before closing.  After all, we aren't just reading our bibles for the stories and the knowledge are we?  What "fun" would the bible be if it didn't make us think?


1. Focus on God. I thought it was interesting that the power of God was remembered in pagan Syria (Aram) through a kidnapped Israeli servant girl.  She passed on her faith to Naaman & the others and they acted on this faith.  On the contrary, in the land of Israel where God should have been on the king's heart and mind, the king, upon receiving the letter referenced above, did not even think about the wonderful prophet Elisha who lived in his city.  How are we Christians like the Israelite king?  How often are we blinded to God's presence because our focus is on the wrong things?

2.  Perspective is everything.  As I mentioned in the introduction, we all naturally view life through the lens of our own personal experience unless we change our view by focusing on the things of God and His kingdom, renewing our minds with His word.  Why do you think the king of Israel thought that the Aram king was up to something with his innocent letter?   I think he might have been so focused on worldly things like power and prestige that he failed to see the blessings of God all around him.  What has your focus been on lately?

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. -  Colossians 3:2

Is there no God in Israel?

But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, "Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?' - 2 Kings 1:3

Glory, every knee falls down before Thee... we sing glory to Your name.... Oh, I'm still singing the song I posted about in my last post.  Sorry.  :)  Seriously, the song is still running through my mind.  Back to the task at hand.

I got caught up in reading some of the bible stories this morning as I finished up 1 Kings and moved on to 2 Kings.  I noticed something interesting in the 2 Kings 1, as I've posted a rather unusual verse to head up this post.  Unusual in the fact that I wonder if I've ever read it before, ever?  Can anyone else relate?  2 Kings 1 was an interesting chapter to me.  King Ahaziah, Ahab's son and successor had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in his house in Samaria, had gotten hurt and was wondering if he was going to recover.  I can just hear him exclaiming "I've fallen, and I can't get up!"  :)  Ahaziah was just like his daddy - not being close to God, if at all - and he decided that he needed to send messengers to inquire of the local god as to whether or not he was going to recover or die.  Funny thing how God works things out.  The messengers ran into our prophet Elijah who in short, tells the messengers to pass on the ugly truth to Ahaziah. 

This was an interesting passage to me.   Elijah's message regarding Ahaziah's fate was the least of this story in my opinion.  Rather, I believe the whole story is placed in our bibles to cause us to ask ourselves "Whose answers do we seek?"  Work with me a minute.  Did you know that the phrase "Is it because there is no God in Israel?" comes up three times in this chapter?  (See 2 Kings 1:3, 6, 16).  God told Elijah to ask the messengers why they were seeking another god's advice rather than His.   If I was God in all of His power and glory and majesty, I would be wondering the same thing of my people. 

This passage caused me to think about how many times I seek others' advice or opinions rather than consulting God first.   Are we really that different as a culture than Ahaziah was in his time?  We call and ask our friends for advice before we pray to God for guidance.  We spend more time reading books about the bible than we do reading the bible.  And do we even need to mention how much time we spend watching TV rather than investing our time in eternal things?  I'm not saying all of these things are bad and should be eliminated in their entirety, but do you see my point?   If God would send a messenger to each of us personally, I wonder what He would ask us.

We have access to the words and wisdom of the God of the universe at our fingertips.  We really don't have an excuse for not tapping into it.  I read an very insightful post that Vicki wrote regarding whether or not we have an increasing desire for reading God's Word.  Stop by and take a look.  I guarantee you it will make you think further.