Friday, July 20, 2012

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 22, 2012

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RESTORATIVE JUSTICE
(GOD’s justice reverses wrongdoing)
(2Kings 8:1-6)

2 Kings Chapter 4, verses 8-36, relates the story of a wealthy woman and her family (husband and miracle child) who befriended the prophet Elisha and his personal servant Gehazi, while they were doing missionary work in the town of Shunem. The woman had invited Elisha to dine with her and her husband while on one of their missions, and subsequently, she set up a permanent room on their roof for him to stay in, whenever he came to town.
One day when Elisha had returned to Shunem he sent his servant Gehazi to inquire of the woman what they could do for her in return for her continued hospitality and kindness. The woman declined to accept anything, saying that, “her family already takes good care of her”.
Later Elisha asked Gehazi “What did he think that they could do for the woman? He suggested that “the couple has no son, and her husband was an older man”. And so Elisha told Gehazi to call her back in. When she returned Elisha told her that, “This time next year you will be holding a son in your arms”. The lady protested in disbelief, but sure enough, she soon became pregnant and eventually bore a son, just as Elisha had told her. The son took sick, however, when he was a little older and died. Elisha, then, miraculously restored the child back to physical life, and returned him to his mother.
Here in 2 Kings 8:1-6, we meet up once again with this Shunemite woman and this time she is being warned by Elisha of a coming famine that will be brought upon Israel by GOD because of the apostasy in the land, and, that this famine would grip the nation for seven years. The woman’s husband had now died, and so, she had taken up the role as head of their household. The woman was obedient to the man of GOD, and she left her home and went to live in the land of the Philistines for next seven years.
This story serves to demonstrate the LORD’s ongoing care of this faithful woman who had cared for HIS servant Elisha with love and hospitality over the years. Here the Shunemite woman is being sent away for her own protection against the famine, and when she returns, GOD has already molded circumstances in her favor.
We see, for instance, in verses 4-5, which must have been before Gehazi is cursed by Elisha with leprosy because of his greed (2 Kings 5:20-27), that Gehazi is telling King Joram, an unGODly king, about the wonderful things that she had done for he and Elisha. King Joram is impressed by the story of Elisha raising the Shunemite woman’s son from the dead, and just as he is hearing this account, the Shunemite woman walks in to see the king, hoping to convince him to restore her land back to her, which had obviously been taken over by someone else in her absence.
After the king heard about her dilemma, he gladly ordered that her land be restored back to her, and, in addition, he also ordered that she be given back in value, an amount that would cover anything that the land had produced since she had been gone.
The perfect timing, or, divine providence of GOD, is clearly evident here in this passage. GOD, has clearly preserved the Shunemite woman by, first, removing her from the famine in her homeland, and then later, by restoring her back to financial security. And so, “GOD’s restorative justice” prevails once again, as it always does for those who believe.
The continuing story of the life of the Shunemite woman is strangely juxtapositioned here between accounts that relate to international affairs, probably because, her experience of having to leave her homeland foreshadows that of the nation of Israel, who would soon be exiled from the “Promised Land”, and then, later, be restored back in GOD’s own time. The kindness that the Shunemite woman showed towards the man of GOD, Elisha, years earlier, was returned by GOD, two, maybe threefold, and we see in this lovely story, GOD’s restorative justice at work in the life of a faithful believer.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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