May 12

 

 

2 Kings 4-5

 

The Divided Kingdom-Israel & Judah (various Kings), cont’d.     2 Kings 1-17

 

2 Kings 4:1-7-The widow of a prophet tells Elisha that the creditor is taking her two children.  He asks what she has and she brings a jar of oil.  He tells her to go borrow as many large containers as she can.  She began to pour the oil out of the jar...and it filled every container until there were no more.

2 Kings 4:8-37-A woman in Shunem (seven miles east of Megiddo) provides a permanent place for Elisha to stay when he is traveling through the area.  Elisha asks what he can do for her and she says she has no son...so he prophesies that she will have one.  She does so...but when the boy is older he dies.  Elisha and Gehazi (his assistant) are at Mt. Carmel.  She goes to Elisha and tells him what has happened.  Initially, Elisha sends Gehazi with his staff to their home…telling him to touch the boy with it.  But nothing happens.  Why did this happen?  Perhaps people had begun to associate magical power with his staff and mantel and Elisha was demonstrating that this was not true.  Elisha travels to her home and brings the boy back to life.

2 Kings 4:38-44-Elisha returns to Gilgal and there is a famine.  He tells the prophets to make a stew.  They do so, but someone has mistakenly put poison gourds (cucumbers) in it.  They discover it…but now their food is lost.  However, Elisha makes it safe to eat.  Then, he gives a small amount of bread to 100 soldiers...and they all ate and had food leftover.

2 Kings 5:1-27-Naaman, captain of the army of Aram (Syria) has leprosy.  He hears that there is a prophet in Israel that could heal him, so he comes to Elisha.  Elisha told him to bathe (dip) 7 times in the Jordan River.  At first, Naaman is offended.  He had thought that Elisha would make a big scene out of his healing…and draw attention to it.  After all, he was a well-known person.  On top of that, Elisha told him to simply dip in the Jordan.  He responds to his servants that the rivers in Aram were much grander than the Jordan.  If he is going to dip in a river…at least let it be a substantial body of water, not just a small river like the Jordan.  He left in a huff.  However, his servants pled with him to do as Elisha had said.  He agreed and when he did so, he was healed.  Now, with a much more humble spirit, he thanks Elisha and offers to pay him for his services.  Elisha refused to take any gift from him.  Naaman has come to a startling conclusion, “I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel”.  In other words, he now realizes that the only true God is the God of Israel.  But that puts him in a difficult situation.  The king that he serves still believes in his own god and Naaman knows that when he returns he will be required to accompany the king when he goes into the temple of his god to worship him.  So, he requests of Elisha that he be allowed to carry some dirt home from Israel as a reminder of the God of Israel.  It was a common belief in that day that gods were limited to the territory of the people that worshipped them.  Naaman thought that if he carried some of the dirt, the territory of Israel back with him…he would also be carrying the God of Israel back with him.  In this way, he could worship the God is Israel in Aram.  Elisha assured him that God understood his situation and would take it into consideration.

Elisha had been unwilling to receive payment for his services to Naaman.  But this did not sound fair to his servant Gehazi.  So, when Naaman left, Gehazi followed him.  He lied to him, telling him that Elisha had changed his mind.  When he returned, Elisha confronted him about it.  He lied again, saying he had not gone anywhere.  Elisha told him that because of his attempted deception the leprosy of Naaman would now be in him and his family, forever.

 

Prayer: Lord, Elisha refused to allow either his staff, or Naaman to be the center of attention.  He intentionally ministered in a manner that specifically brought attention, and worship, to You.  It seems that people are tantalized by the spectacular, the miraculous.  They are more interested in the effect, than the affect…the results, than the cause.  Maybe that is because they don’t have to relate, or deal, with the results.  Once the show is over…it is over.  Just applaud and move on to the next miracle.  But, if they are brought face-to-face with You…then they have to make a decision about You and how they are going to relate to You.  You don’t just go away.  Please help me to always direct people to You…not to myself, not to other people, not to anything…but to You, and You, alone.

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