Saturday, March 05, 2011

What's Right vs. What's Wrong

2 Kings 3-25

After Elijah, Elisha becomes the next prophet.  There are some stories about what Elisha did as prophet, some of which are very similar to the stories of Elijah, which makes me wonder if these really were two separate prophets, or if the stories somehow got confused over time.  (For examples, compare 2 Kings 4:1-7 with 1 Kings 17:8-16, and 2 Kings 4:8-37 with 1 Kings 17:17-24.)

Much of 2 Kings is about the kings of both Israel and Judah.  It tells the story of the fall of each.  Israel falls first.  All of its kings are described as having done "what was evil in the sight of the Lord," which was to worship (or to tolerate the worship) of the wrong gods.  Judah fell later.  Most of its kings were just as bad, but there are a few who are described differently, as having done "what was right in the sight of the Lord," and walking in the way of David, which meant honoring the proper Lord, and even destroying the worship sites for other religions.

One of the last of these kings, Josiah, ordered the cleaning and refurbishing of the house of the Lord, and the workers then found the book of the law, which apparently had been lost for some time (2 Kings 22:3-10).  The king was upset because he realized, upon hearing it, that for generations they had not been following this law -- no wonder the Lord was upset with them!  (See 2 Kings 22:13-20.)  He vowed to try to do better.  But, despite all that he did, it was too little to late.  After he died, later kings returned to doing "what was evil in the sight of the Lord," and finally Judah was conquered too.

I think this is a story of a people turning their attention too much to earthly powers and earthly ways, forgetting their holy heritage and their holy call, which weakened them and caused them then to be conquered and to lose what they had.  Perhaps Josiah's response was not enough because he went on a rampage in an attempt to destroy what was bad, but in that maybe forgot to recover and highlight what was good about the ways that they should be following.

I find this interesting, because today we see many people railing against what they think is wrong -- but, strangely enough, that does not seem to help.  Rather than eradicating all badness, such an approach just stirs up more fear and hatred.  Maybe we would do better to focus our vision on what is right and good, and live that into reality.  That is what gives us true spiritual strength.