Tuesday, July 17, 2012

“A King Acts on a Widow's Behalf” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday July 22, 2012

Purpose: To acknowledge that justice involves protecting those who cannot defend themselves

Scripture Text: 2 Kings 8:1-6

2 Kings 8:1-6 (NRSV)
(1) Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, "Get up and go with your household, and settle wherever you can; for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will come on the land for seven years." (2) So the woman got up and did according to the word of the man of God; she went with her household and settled in the land of the Philistines seven years. (3) At the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she set out to appeal to the king for her house and her land. (4) Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, "Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done." (5) While he was telling the king how Elisha had restored a dead person to life, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. Gehazi said, "My lord king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life." (6) When the king questioned the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, "Restore all that was hers, together with all the revenue of the fields from the day that she left the land until now."

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

There is an old saying amongst old time Christians that says, “The more I pray the more coincidence happen.” (Often called a “holy coincidence”) Today's lesson follows this same thought.

Some of you may have read recently of the man who had a car stolen 42 years ago; never giving up on finding this 1967 Austin-Healy, he recently saw a 1967 Austin-Healy listed on Ebay with a serial number that matched the one on the title he had held onto for all of those years. No mention is made of the man's faith or prayers, but certainly it was an amazing coincidence that he saw the ad and that he had held out hope all those years. He notified the police where the original theft had taken place, they reopened the case and he recovered this prize car that was lost for 42 years.

The back story on Elisha and the Shunammite goes back to 2 Kings 4:8-37 and should be read to better understand our text. Out of appreciation for her hospitality the prophet Elisha rewards her with a son because her husband was old and they had no children. Later, that same son becomes ill in the field with his father and dies. The woman seeks Elisha's help and eventually life is restored to her dead son.

Now, some years later Elisha warns the woman of an upcoming famine and suggests that she go to another land with her entire household, until the famine passes.

The rest of our text is a series of those “holy coincidence.” When the woman returns she finds her land occupied by squatters so she decides to appeal to the king. It just so happens that Elisha's former servant, now a leper and the king are talking about Elisha's works. (You could talk to lepers but you could not dwell with them) Amazingly as the king (probably Jehoram, the son of Elisha's worst enemies, King Ahab and Jezebel) and Gehazi are sharing how Elisha had raised the Shunammite woman son from the dead. All of a sudden all four characters have come together, the Shunammite woman, her son, Gehazi, (Elisha's former servant) and the king. Yet another “holy coincidence.”

The king has a chance to question the Shunammite woman about the facts relayed by Gehazi. Because of his admiration for Elisha for helping his kingdom and the city of Samaria out during a siege some years earlier, the king seems to take special interest in the plight of this woman and her son. (See 2 Kings 6 & 7 for this story)

Although Elisha is not present in person when all of this happens, his presence is felt throughout this entire story. The king responds by restoring the woman’s property and also any profits derived during that time by the squatters. Even if she only received a portion of grain that would give her seed for the coming year that would be quite a nice start for her recovery.

The king not only restores her property, he also appoints an advocate to make sure his orders are carried out. What a nice coincidence that all of this happens for an obedient servant that built a bedroom on her rooftop for one of God's prophets, just out of the goodness of her heart.

Today we each have our own advocate working for us in the person of Jesus Christ. We should not be surprised when “holy coincidence” happens.

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