Now that we’ve planned the sermon on 2 Kings 2:1-25, we can begin writing it.
1. Gather supportive material for each point or move of the outline.
I. The Continuing Presence of God’s Word
A. God removes one agent of his word.
Retell the narrative in verses 1-12, including explanation and illustration:
- Describe the journey of Elijah and Elisha from Gilgal to Bethel to Jericho, including the interactions of Elijah and Elisha and the interactions of Elisha with the sons of the prophets. Note possible locations of Gilgal.
- Describe the miraculous crossing of the Jordan, Elijah’s question as to what he can do for Elisha, and Elisha’s request for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Note parallels with Moses and Joshua.
- Describe Elijah’s departure and Elisha’s grief. Explain how the horses and chariots of fire relate to the LORD as warrior. Explain the meaning of Elisha’s words: “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” He means that Elijah is the chariots of Israel and its horsemen.
- Illustration: Losing Elijah was like losing a brilliant general in wartime.
Explain: God has likewise removed other agents of his word in the history of salvation. Long before Elijah lived, he removed Moses. In New Testament times he removed John the Baptist, and then Jesus in the ascension. Now he has removed the apostles.
B. God equips another agent of his word.
Retell the narrative in verses 13-18, including explanation and illustration:
- Describe how Elisha uses Elijah’s cloak and calls on the LORD, the God of Elijah to cross the Jordan.
- Describe how the sons of the prophets recognize that the spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha and honor Elisha as the new bearer of the word of the LORD.
- Illustration: One runner passing the torch to another. (Only here the Lord takes the torch of his Spirit-inspired word from Elijah and hands it to Elisha.)
- Describe the request of the sons of the prophets to search for Elijah. Explain possible reasons for these requests (perhaps they think he is alive, or that his body remains and needs burial).
- Describe Elisha’s responses to their request and the outcome of the search, which shows Elisha’s spiritual insight.
Explain: God equips Elisha with the spirit that was on Elijah, just as earlier in the Bible, God equips Joshua with the spirit that rested on Moses. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit works in John the Baptist. But when Jesus is baptized by John, the Spirit comes down on Jesus in the form of a dove. After Jesus ascends to heaven, he receives the Holy Spirit from God the Father and pours the Spirit out on his apostles, equipping them to be his witnesses.
Explain: Today God no longer has agents of his word like prophets or apostles. But his word continues to be with us because we have the inspired writings of the apostles and prophets in our Bibles. And he equips preachers with spiritual gifts for proclaiming his word. So even today, there is a continuing presence of God’s word.
II. The Continuing Power of God’s Word
Explain: The incidents in verses 19-25 show that Elisha brings God’s word of blessing and judgment, just as Elijah did.
A. God shows that his word has power to heal.
Retell the narrative in verses 19-22, including explanation and illustration:
- Explain that Elisha is retracing the journey that he and Elijah made.
- Explain that recently, during Ahab’s reign, Hiel of Bethel has rebuilt Jericho. Before that the site was under a curse.
- Describe the problem with the water and the land. Explain the alternate translation: “The water is bad and the land causes miscarriages.” The problem may not be so much with the productivity of the ground as with the productivity of the people.
- Describe Elisha’s action and word to heal the water.
Explain: This healing demonstrates that Elisha has the spirit of Elijah and speaks God’s word. It points forward to the healing that Jesus will do during his earthly ministry. Jesus’ miracles were signs of the saving rule of God that began to come through him. Then Jesus died for our sins and rose to bring about that saving rule.
Explain: Today we have the word of God in Scripture. Even today, when that word is preached, it has the power to heal and to give life. Sometimes God gives miraculous physical healing. But the primary power of the word of the gospel is to bring people from spiritual death to spiritual life. John 5:24-25. Ultimately, we will be raised from the dead. The whole creation will be healed of its pollution and degradation, and be gloriously restored. Romans 8:20-21.
B. God shows that his word has power to harm.
Retell the narrative in verses 23-25, including explanation and illustration:
- Describe how Elisha goes to Bethel, continuing to reverse the journey he made with Elijah.
- Describe his encounter with the jeering boys and how he curses them, resulting in their being mauled by the she-bears. Note the likely age of the boys.
- Mention Elisha’s journey to Carmel and then Samaria.
Explain: By mocking Elisha, the agent of God’s word, these boys are mocking the LORD. Their attitude toward Elisha and the LORD may reflect their parents’ attitude and this may be a judgment on their parents as well as on them. Note that this fulfills the covenant curse in Leviticus 26:21-22.
Explain: Elisha’s powerful word of judgment again shows that Elisha has the spirit of Elijah and speaks God’s word. In the New Testament, Jesus doesn’t curse people, but he curses a fig tree that bears no fruit. That’s a symbol for the judgment that will fall on Jerusalem because of their mockery and rejection of him as the Messiah.
Explain: Later, in the book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira lie about what they’re giving to God and are judged. Paul too, in 2 Corinthians 2 says this about his ministry: “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?”
Explain: God’s word does have power to harm as well as to heal. If you reject it and mock it, you are in danger. In the final judgment, the power of the word to harm will be demonstrated. As Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 1, Christ will “punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
Summarize: So God continues to provide Spirit-equipped agents who bring his word, which has power to bless and to judge, to heal and to harm.
2. Write the sermon introduction.
The Bible emphasizes that our God is a talking God. Because the almighty God is behind the words he speaks, his words have tremendous power and authority.
Sometimes God talks to people directly. More often he uses people as his spokespersons. It’s something like the way the White House Press Secretary speaks for the administration and the President of the United States. So people serve as the agents of God’s word. When the agents of God’s word die, what happens to the word?
Here in 2 Kings 2 you can see an example of how God provides for the continuation of his word. And as you think about how God’s word continues here in 2 Kings, that can help you think about how his word continues even today.
3. Write the body of the sermon.
The body of the sermon can be written using the supportive materials above, or others that fit the circumstances in which your congregation members are living.
4. Write the sermon conclusion.
So what is your response to the continuing presence and power of God’s word? By giving us the Bible and gifted preachers God has made sure that his word continues in our generation. And as that word is preached, he announces his message of grace. He tells you the good news that if you trust in his Son, you can experience healing and eternal life. So make sure you welcome this message and listen attentively to it. Make sure you believe it and obey it. Beware of mocking the word or those who bring it. Believe it and receive God’s gift of life.
As Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” It is like a surgeon’s knife that can save or kill.
Or you could say that God’s word is like a power line. If you grab it the wrong way, it’s dangerous. It can kill you. But when you’re rightly connected to it, it has great power to bring life and light. Trust in God’s word in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through it receive forgiveness, healing and life.
Then hear the word, read it, study it, apply it so that it may continue to renew and bless your life.