Grace Words

A Daily Bible Reader's Blog

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Tuesday, June 19. 2 Kings 1 – 3

    While never a major military power, Moab was  Israel’s pesky neighbor.  She is the oppressor nation in Judges 3, but is overcome by Ehud.  By the days of Joram, she is oppressed and heavily taxed by the king of Israel.  Finally, her king says “enough is enough” and he rebells. We know about the rebellion from the Bible, but also through the account of Mesha on a stone tablet discovered in 1868 (and now in the Louvre Museum in Paris and pictured below).   Joram creates an alliance of three nations: his own, Judah (led by Jehoshaphat), and the nation of Edom.  He marches his army south, picks up the army of Judah, then through Edom picking up their army.   It is a military fiasco.  They run out of water before they ever strike a blow.

    But God gives them water and they score a huge victory over Moab.

    The Moabites, however, do not easily surrender.  Mesha takes refuge in Kir Hareseth and Joram’s coalition besieges the town.  In a final act of desperation, Mesha sacrificed his son on the wall of the city in view of everyone below.

    It’s what happens next that is so strange.  A great fury breaks out and Israel returns home, having failed to defeat Mesha.

    What an unexpected turn-around!

    It’s a very difficult story to interpret but probably the whole affair is a judgment against Israel.  In fact, twice in the story Joram wonders whether God has gathered the kings together just to have them defeated as a unit (3:10,13).  The answer is, “yes.”  Blinded by success, deaf to God’s way, the Lord leads wicked Joram and his cohorts to the near the top of victory’s ladder, then knocks the ladder down.

    In all things, the Lord will have His way.