Advice for the Truth-Tellers
Day: 32 | Plan: 1-2 Kings
Today's Reading: 2 Kings 8
2 Kings 8:10-11 (NIV) "Elisha answered, 'Go and say to him, "You will certainly recover." Nevertheless, the LORD has revealed to me that he will in fact die.' He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael was embarrassed. Then the man of God began to weep."
Have you ever had something hard to tell someone, but you really, really didn't want to? Hard truth is never easy to tell.
Elisha knew this feeling all too well. I imagine most every Old Testament prophet of God knew that feeling. Noah had to build a boat for a flood the world had never seen. He also had to proclaim God's pending judgment on the wicked people of thatgeneration. Isaiah had to deliver the unwelcome message of repentance to God's chosen people. Daniel had to describe the fall of the current king and subsequent defeat of future nations as God's plan to bring all under the authority of Jesus Christ.
It's hard to talk about sin that separates us from God and the judgment that is coming. Truth is truth, but it has to be handled rightly. That sounds good, right? But what does that look like when we are struggling to be truth-tellers? I think Elisha's example gives us three valuable lessons.
First, Elisha tells the whole truth. He doesn't just tell him what is expected or would please the king. He tells him the whole truth. I can't say for sure, but it seems this prophecy had more to do with Hazael than the king we won't hear about again. The truth-telling has a purpose for the king's servant Hazael, and Elisha is faithful to that end. Because we are called to be ambassadors of God's truth, not our own, we don't get editorial privilege. Truth-tellers need to be desperate to hear Him and committed to say whatever He asks us to say.
Second, Elisha doesn't seem deterred by what the truth might do. It's not clear why he tells Hazael to tell the king he will recover even though Elisha knows he will die. What is the meaning of Elisha's words? Was this meant to reveal the true nature of Hazael's heart? We learned from 1 Kings 19, that God would use Hazael in the Lord's judgment of those who have worshipped Baal and rejected God. It's likely this is thejudgment Elisha sees and causes him to weep. The message Elisha delivers will bring the murder of Ben-Hadad, King of Aram, the establishment of Hazael as King and ultimately the slaughter of countless men, women and children of Israel. Though Elisha cares, he does not let the fear or grief deter him from his assignment. Truth-tellers are responsible for the message, not the outcome.
Third, Elisha isn't disconnected from the truth he communicates. In the midst of the horror, betrayal, apostasy and judgment of 1 and 2 Kings, I love what is tucked in verse 10 and 11 of today's chapter. It's one of the most remarkable and personal glimpses in the heart of one of God's chosen servants. Elisha weeps for the plight of his people and the judgment that is coming.
Godly truth-tellers don't relish the chance to smack people around with the truth. (See lesson number two.) Truth-tellers long to see truth do the work of repentance and reconciliation to God. Our tears may communicate grief or gratitude, but truth-tellers ought to be people of prayer having asked the Holy Spirit to give not just His message, but His heart for those who will hear it.
Messengers of God's truth rarely get to share only good news. Even as ambassadors of the gospel, you and I are called to share the freedom of life in Christ. But that is only good news becauseapart from Jesus, our current situation and future destination are so, so bad. Even with the privilege of sharing the best news possible, I get nervous and afraid. How about you? Let's remember Elisha's example the next time we get that knot in our stomach signaling it's time for some hard truth-telling.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You have called Your people to be ambassadors of the greatest news of all — that we are free from sin and death and alive in Christ. I know that people all around me need to know that truth. Some will welcome it. Some will reject it. Help me focus on what You've asked of me, not what others may think of me. I want to be a faithful truth-teller. In Jesus' name, amen.
In the Old Testament God's chosen messengers were called prophets. The word "prophet" literally... Read More
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