What do you think? Is there such a thing as coincidence? (Most of the folks at Grace said, “No!” Theo coined the phrase “God-incidence” and it stuck for the rest of this message at Grace and beyond the service. )
God spoke through the prophet Isaiah,
(9) Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. (10) I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (11) From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.” Isaiah 46:9-11 (NIV)
God is amazing isn’t He? There really is no coincidence at least as the world defines it! He can cause things to happen half way around the world that brings things to happen just after you’ve prayed about them. Amazing I tell you! I have seen it way too often to chalk it up to coincident but if you must use that word then God is still amazing!
The other day, we were heading through Kelowna for a Costco trip when got this strong feeling that I should stop at Big Box on the way. I could have easily gone there after Costco as K&Z were waiting at Costco to shop with us but you know…I felt I had to stop there now.
Within minutes of being there I ran into Aldon Leoppke, a pastor friend whose wife also suddenly needed something from Big Box so they came there. Funny thing is I had been thinking of them and wondering how they were doing and more so what they were up to these days as I knew his last assignment was coming to an end soon.
Aldon does transitional pastoral ministry. He goes into a church as one Pastor leaves before they hire a new one to help the church through that, sometimes, very difficult transition. His work can take him almost anywhere in Canada, but as of late it has been in both Northern BC and most recently the lower mainland. Yet, here, he & Betty were in Kelowna on that day.
Since we hadn’t connected for quite some time we stood in the parking lot and talked for about ¾ of an hour mostly about what he called a prayer renewal that seems to be spreading throughout our conference. Which is totally cool! But that’s a story for another day.
Was it simply coincidence that I should meet Aldon that day? Or was this one of those divine appointments that God so amazingly arranges.
Frankly that sort of thing happens so often in my life these days that I kind of take it for granted. But God knew I was preparing for this particular message that week so He arranged just a quick example for me to share with you today.
Now just think of it this way for a moment. If I had been reluctant to go and instead carried on with my day, which frankly I mentioned to Lynda earlier that morning that she should go on her own, I would have missed out on visiting with Aldon.
In fact, if we had left a few minutes earlier or later that day we may have missed them. If I had said, I’ll just wait until after Costco and then go to Big Box there too I would have missed this opportunity to reconnect. But somehow listening to and acting on that little urge within got me to the right spot at the right time. God truly is amazing I tell you!
God works out all things for His own purposes in His own timing (cf. Isaiah 46:9-11). With this He shows you that you are not here by accident! You are not just the out working of millions of years of evolution with molecules that have randomly come together. God sets all things in motion with a purpose and meaning way beyond what we see. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps”.
And HE is AMAZING I tell you! We may think we know where we are going. We may even carefully chart our course but the reality is God always has the final word on where our steps take us.
And get this! Sometimes, if we are listening, He’ll even give us the heads up. Of course often we aren’t even aware of what He is up to. We just blissfully wandering into HIStory.
The Bible is actually full of those sort of amazing coincidence but sometimes we just gloss over them and not see God’s grand design in them. Take for example the passage we are going through this morning. I’ve labeled this message “we were just talking about you!” Because another amazing coincident happened in HIStory that shows His Sovereignty.
So if you have your Bible or Bible app with you open it to 2 Kings 8:1-6 and follow along or you can read it off the wall. Just a short message from a short passage this morning. Or is it?
“1 Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the LORD has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.” 2 The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years. 3 At the end of the seven years she came back from the land of the Philistines and went to the king to beg for her house and land. 4 The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, “Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.” 5 Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to beg the king for her house and land. Gehazi said, “This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” 6 The king asked the woman about it, and she told him. Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, “Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.” 2 Kings 8:1-6 (NIV).
Did you catch it? Did you catch the part where the King Joram and Gehazi were chatting about some the amazing things God did through Elisha when one of those amazing things walked through the door that very moment? What an amazing coincidence wouldn’t you say? Was it just amazing timing? But wait, if you only knew what God had to do to set up this very amazing meeting you too would be at minimum scratching your head and wondering how on earth did that just happen.
First you would need to know what background info is spoken about in the first three verses. In verse 1 we read, “Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life…”(1). So when did that happen?
Well if you flip back to chapter 4 verse 8 you would see the beginning of her story in HIStory. Seems, (8) One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat. (9) She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. (10) Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.” 2 Kings 4:8-10 (NIV)
It seems every time Elisha would pass through their town this woman’s hospitality shone brightly and was both noticed and appreciated by the prophet Elisha and whoever happened to be traveling with him.
As you read on in that passage you find that this woman and her husband had done well amassing wealth but had no children to pass their lands and fortunes on to. It didn’t stop them from being very generous with Elisha but it was a gaping hole in their life that they accepted as something permanent. They likely had given up hope of ever having children of their own. But they didn’t let that stop them from showing hospitality.
On one such occasion Elisha was very thankful for them and wanted to show his appreciation. But just how to do it? Should he speak to Kings or generals on their behalf? Should he ask of God to give them more riches…just what could he do to show his appreciation? And then it came to him. Well really it came to Gehazi first but he was more than willing to share with Elisha what he thought could be done.
Gehazi told Elisha, “This woman has no son and her husband is old!” (cf. 14). In other words, no heir and if the old man should kick the bucket soon then she would have a rough time fending for herself as her husband’s land would foreseeably return to his family.
Elisha saw a simply solution and prophesized, “About this time next year you’ll hold a son in your hands” (2 Kings 4:16) And much to their surprise it was a done deal! A year later they were holding their first born son. To say she was elated would be an understatement. Amazed! Grateful to God and the man of God absolutely.
And then it happened again. Oh not another son but what would become another amazing touch from the LORD. As we read on in the same passage a few years later it would seem that her son had a cerebral hemorrhage and he died one afternoon in his mother’s arms.
It was devastating for her to say in the least. But she was not going down without a fight. She got permission from her husband to take a servant and go find Elisha. Which she did.
As Elisha saw her in the distance he sent his servant to find out what or who was the issue. She said all was fine until she got to Elisha. “When she reached the man of God at the mountain, she took hold of his feet. Gehazi came over to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone! She is in bitter distress, but the LORD has hidden it from me and has not told me why.” 2 Kings 4:27 (NIV). You see prophets were just as human as anyone else. Elisha could see the distress but didn’t know the cause until she cried out in grief and agony:
“Did I ask you for a son, my lord?” she said. “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?” 2 Kings 4:28 (NIV)
That was enough for Elisha to hear. It was the son and so he immediately sent Gehazi to take his staff and run. Not walk…run to the boy.
Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand and run. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy’s face.” 2 Kings 4:29 (NIV). But speed and staff weren’t enough. The boy remained dead. And God had designed a greater purpose in that too. Gehazi needed to know for sure that this child was dead, and he even had to go back and report such to Elisha. Otherwise the chat that we started this morning’s message in 2 Kings 8 would not have had the same testimonial power.
Gehazi knew in his heart of hearts that God had done a mighty miracle through Elisha. He knew beyond hearsay, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the boy was absolutely dead but by the grace of God was restored to life by Elisha the vessel of God’s choosing. You can read the rest of that story in chapter 4.
But let’s continue in Chapter 8. (1) Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the LORD has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.” (2) The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years.” 2 Kings 8:1-2 (NIV).
Seven years is a long time! A lot can and did happen in that time. A king was treacherously overthrown by a son whose evil knew no bounds. Joram murdered all his brothers to usurp the throne. The famine that Elisha prophesied because of Israel’s apostasy came to past and so much more.
Most scholars I read put the timing of 2 Kings 8:1-6 as happening after chapter 4 and before the events of chapter 5 rather than after chapter 7. They believe that since Gehazi is mentioned by name with the King that these events had to happen before Gehazi was punished with Naaman’s leprosy in 2 Kings Chapter 5:27. More important than those details though is the fact that the woman and her family did as Elisha told them. They went away for seven years to Philistia.
Being a seaside country the famine was less severe there. And at that point in HIStory the Philistines were not as warring against the people of Israel as they were before or after so she was able to live there without harm.
The scholars also believe that her husband died while she was away and that is why she and not her husband has to approach the king to ask for her husband’s land to be restored to her and to the rightful heir, her son.
You see, it was not a given in those days that the land would be returned, especially to the wife of the deceased owner. And certainly there was no telling which way this ruthless dictator would decide such a case.
But as it so happened, while Gehazi was sharing with King Joram how God worked miracles through Elisha one in particular stood out in his mind. It was one that he himself had witnessed with his own two eyes. So he could speak with greater authority. But the greatest authority would be for the king to hear it from the person actually involved.
And by amazing coincident, as they were talking about the child who was risen from the dead, he and his mom just happened to be walking in to see the king.
Coincidence, right! As if! It took God to orchestrate, all those amazing events, including compelling her to practice hospitality, compelling Elisha to show gratitude, enabling an old man and his barren wife to conceive and birth a son who would prematurely die, but be miraculously raised back to life, and then be sent away for seven years to no fixed address, only to return on the very day, and the very minute that her testimony would produce the greatest favour in the eyes of a king. That’s some amazing coincidence! NOT! A God-incidence!
That is God in action. The same God that directed your steps here this morning and has planned something amazing for your story in HIStory.
And He has already announced for you to hear,” (11) … I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (12) Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you” “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:11-13).
(Several shared of amazing God-incidences that happened this past couple of weeks in their life as we went into prayer and share time.)
Dig deeper into HIStory: 2 Kings 8:1-6 – God-incidence!
- Is there such a thing as a coincidence? Something that just happens at the right time for no particular reason or purpose?
- Have you experienced a coincident? Share that with us.
- Have you ever been told, “we were just talking about you”? How did that make you feel?
- Read 2 Kings 8:1-6 in several versions.
- Why did the woman in today’s passage instantly go away as Elisha told her? See 2 Kings 4:8-37 especially 17-18, 31-35
- Was there actually a seven-year famine? 2 Kings 6:24-30
- What do we know already about Gehazi? (Naaman’s leprosy recipient- 2 Kings 5:19)
- What do we know about King Joram? (2 Kings 8:16-24; 2 Chronicles 21)
- What did the King want Gehazi to tell him about? (2 Kings 8:4-5)
- What amazing coincidence do we find in 2 Kings 8:5-6.
- What does this passage teach us about God’s sovereignty and the leading of the LORD in our everyday life? (See also Psalm 135:6; Isaiah 46:10; Dan. 4:35; Romans 9:19-21; Job 42:2; Eph. 3:20; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 37:23; Isaiah 30:21; Isaiah 58:11; John 16:13; Phil. 2:13)
- Who might you need to reconnect with this week?