2 Kings 11:1-4,9-18,20; Psalm 131(132):11-14,17-18; Matthew 6:19-23
1 Kings 21:1 to 2 Kings 11:20
Each day this week the book of Kings has been used for the first reading. Rather than reflect on this daily, it is wiser to read the whole section again in one sitting, and consider it as one historical narrative. Like Chronicles, the book of Kings is an historical record, more so than the proverbs, psalms and prophets which have more to do with developing our relationship with our God. Nevertheless the historical books are not there simply to give a verifiable history of the early development of Israel's faith with God, but as has been said elsewhere, "Those who do not learn the lessons of History are condemned to repeat it" (widely reported to have been first said by the American philosopher George Santayana.)
What might we learn?
Ahab covets Naboth's vineyard and Jezebel has him killed: a story of desire to have what belongs to others, leading to murder of the other. We can probably readily think of very recent invasions of other people's territory (Russia - Ukraine) which is driven by the desire to own what others have. How could this have been prevented? A more open and sharing relationship between Europe and Russia perhaps?
The punishment of Ahab and Jezebel foretold: When confronted by what they had done, Ahab shows repentance and begs for forgiveness. Most modern politicians do stick to their earlier public statements and policies - it is rare to see repentance when things have gone badly and repentance when it comes is often seen as humiliation (and our tendency is to mock those who repent). Can we remember the 'humour' surrounding Nick Clegg for his 'Im sorry' speech? Or the mis-trust around Tony Blair who was never forgiven for mis-leading the house of commons over weapons of mass destruction? Or the present turmoil in the conservative party? Perhaps we as a people need to show genuine forgiveness when public figures are in the wrong - then they might be more willing to repent earlier and sort out problems faster?
Elijah is taken up to heaven: This section of Kings is rich in typology - writings that reflect other events in our journey with God. The red sea is parted, so is the river Jordan, Elijah ascends, so does Jesus, and so on. These details fasten the old testament to the new, like staples holding two different materials firmly together, and we are assured of the significance of the rest of the material through these more obvious links.
The spirit of Elijah fills Elisha: The principal of handing on the gifts, powers and meaning from King to King is expounded here - the same leads to ou understanding of the 'Apostolic succession' - that our Kingship (we are baptised Priest, Prophet and King) is handed down to each of us directly from the Apostles - and to them from Christ himself.
Saved from the massacre, the true king is anointed by the high priest: A nation split into the 'ruling class' and the ordinary people - eventually leads to rebellion, and the people re-instate the kingly line (having symbolically taken up the arms of King David that were in the museum part of the temple). We often see a political leadership that looses the common touch and takes the country away from what people really desire. Within the people, the truth lies and always will re-emerge to establish a just and equitable leadership.