Recall that God’s judgment on Ahab is that he will be allowed to remain king of Israel until his death, but when he dies, God will utterly destroy the house of Ahab, leaving no male heir.
In Chapter 2, Elijah blesses Elisha as his successor. As his first act after Elijah’s departure, Elisha cleanses the water of Jericho for the people. He also curses some young hooligans who mock him. Note that when a true prophet of God curses in the name of God, it is a good idea not to be involved – 42 young ruffians are instantly attacked by two female bears and torn to pieces.
Before going to Chapter 3, a clarification is necessary: we now have two kings named Jehoram, one over Judah and one over Israel! This story is about Jehoram the son of Ahab, the evil king of Israel, not Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, the god-fearing king of Judah.
Also remember that: 1) Moab exists only because Joshua failed to obey God’s command to annihilate them from the Promised Land; but 2) Israel itself has sold itself to foreign gods, and only Judah remains in good stead with God. Last week we learned that God has priorities, and his top one is to oppose all idolaters of fake gods. God’s never-ending love will rescue Israel if they will simply repent! So God is not beyond using his most disobedient children to accomplish his top priorities.
In Chapter 3, the king of Moab rebels against the evil king of Israel, Jehoram. In God’s eyes, this is evil rebelling against evil. But one side (Moab) is a mortal enemy of God, while the other is a wayward, sinful chosen child of God, subject to God’s never-ending love.
Israel’s unity with God is underscored when the disobedient Jehoram asks the good king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, if he will join his blood brothers to put down Moab’s rebellion.
Jehoshaphat does not hesitate:
“I will go…I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses” (3:7b).
Be honest. Do we as blood brothers and sisters in Jesus respond to each other like Jehoshaphat, putting aside our differences for God’s priority of perfect unity in the face of persecution and cultural mocking?
The two kings of Israel and Judah cannot agree on much. The king of Israel declares, without ever inquiring of God, that all is lost when the joint army runs out of water and that God has condemned them into the hands of the enemy Moab. But the king of Judah, who has faithfully relied on the prophets of God, first Elijah and now Elisha, does not accept that they are doomed without first inquiring of God through the prophet.
The result is a very strong blessing from God and assurance of victory, which is then carried out by the joint army, thus obeying the original commandment of God to Joshua to completely destroy Moab.
When the trapped king of Moab sacrifices his son as a burnt offering to Baal, Israel repents in horror, realizing that their idolatry to Baal could have led to similar abominations before God, and they flee homeward in agony, despite their victory.
One important quality of perfect unity is total, absolute loyalty to the family of God, warts and all, when evil comes calling – there is always the chance of repentance by a straying family member in response to loyalty.