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How can we explain a letter coming from Elijah to king Jehoram of Judah in 2 Chronicles 21.12-15, seeing that Elijah had been taken up to heaven previously?

This has been a difficulty to not a few and some, to overcome the seeming problem, have all too quickly concluded that Elijah must have been still living on earth at the time of the sending of the letter. This view, however, is against the chronological order of events in Scripture, for Elijah had been in heaven in all probability for several years. Some, to try and make sense of how such a letter from the prophet could be sent, have been driven to the idea that it came from Elisha who may have still been living.

Neither of these attempts to reconcile the incident is really feasible. Is it not better simply to understand that it was rather a prophecy revealed to the prophet by God which anticipated the character of King Jehoram and announced his punishment? It is even possible that this revelation may have been written down by Elijah and left in the hands of someone to deliver at the right time. This makes very remarkable the content of the letter. It is a true prophecy.

This is the only time that we read of Elijah writing. The letter from the great prophet was one of warning, in the whole spirit of Elijah’s life, to a rebellious and apostate king. This prophecy may well have been the last act of the prophet’s ministry. Elijah, a prophet of Israel, with this letter appears working beyond his boundaries to a king of Judah. Sadly the king did not learn from the examples set before him (v.12) and refused to listen to the threatening of the prophet. It was clearly the word of God to Jehoram, but he neglected it. It was really a big opportunity for the king to receive this letter from such a great prophet, and yet he did not repent.

How do we as believers respond to the Word of God? Perhaps, like Jehoram, we neglect it or do not pay heed to it. If this is the case then we can only experience loss, like this king of Judah.

John J Stubbs

Can you explain the verse, "But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth" (1 Tim 5.6)? In what way is she dead?

In 1 Timothy Paul has much to say about widows of whom there were apparently many in his day. Widowhood in Paul’s time was attended with many difficulties not now existent in our so-called "welfare state" which makes certain provisions for such. Sadly, it is to be feared that present day conditions have engendered in the minds of some younger people an unhealthy disregard for their parents and senior relatives, the assumption being that the state has relieved them of such moral obligations.

Verses 3-8 of 1 Timothy 5 are concerned with the responsibility of supporting widows in the assembly. Indeed these verses form a distinct sub-section of the chapter, a connecting particle, "But" (v.4), "Now" (v.5), "But" (v.6), "And" (v.7), and "But" (v.8), joining sentence to sentence.

This section of the chapter deals with 1) "Widows Indeed" (v.3); 2) "Widows with Dependants" (v.4) - this verse shows that we have a responsibility to those who gave to, and for, us in earlier days; 3) "A Definition of a Widow Indeed" (v.5) – she is seen to be desolate, left alone; 4) "Instructions Regarding Support of Parents" (vv.7-8). Verse 6 is perhaps best considered as a parenthesis; it anticipates the type of widow who has no claim upon the assembly for financial support.

In contrast to the widow indeed of v.5 who "trusteth in God", who has her hope in God in an attitude of continuing dependence, and enjoys fellowship with God, who "continueth in supplications and prayers night and day", making known her needs to God, having a consistent exercise under all circumstances and at all times, the widow of v.6 lives in pleasure – she lives self-indulgently. The verse goes on to say that she "is dead while she liveth". Whilst she is very much alive in the flesh, indeed she lives sensually for self- gratification, she clearly has no interest in the things of God and is "dead" spiritually; there is no evidence of spiritual life whatsoever.

It is sad to think that such a woman should have been numbered among the company of believers.

David E West


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