Entry Eighty-Six: Elisha's Impact

Submitted by johnlo on Tue, 2008-06-10 18:04

ENTRY EIGHTY-SIX – JUNE 11, 2008

 

86-THE DIVIDED KINGDOM - PART VI (aka  “Elisha’s Impact”) - II Kings 5-10; II Chronicles 21-22

 

This entry, which is for two days of reading, covers ELISHA’S Spiritual Vision, NAAMAN’S Obedient Faith, JEHU’S Radical Zeal and JEZEBEL’S Inevitable Downfall.

 

  • We noted at the end of the previous entry that God had promised the wicked king Jehoram that he would be struck with a disease of the bowels, which would culminate with his body expelling the bowels, as well as his death. YUK!! Well, in this entry, it happens. Wow. Don’t mess around with God!

 

  • The story of Elisha thwarting the plans of the king of Aram is quite humourous. Every time the king decided that his army would move to such and such a place in his war against Israel, God would tell the prophet, Elisha, who then would inform the king of Israel, who would move his army accordingly. How frustrating! The king of Aram naturally assumed that there was a traitor in his midst, but soon discovered that it was the fault of the powerful prophet. Of course, he had NO IDEA WHO he was messing with!

 

  • The king of Aram decided to capture Elisha, ridding himself of the problem. He surrounded the hills with his entire army (didn’t he realize Elisha would know they were there just like he had known about all the other moves???). Elisha’s servant, who wasn’t known for his spirituality, said, “What shall we do? We are surrounded!”

 

  • I love the calm and trusting answer of the mighty man of God, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Now that is what I call “the peace that passes all understanding” (Phil 4: 7)!  What kept Elisha from freaking out?  He totally trusted God! He had always trusted God – why stop now? The size of the problem isn’t the issue – the size of our faith is the issue! And what did Elisha pray? For his servant to be more spiritual!! “O Lord, open his eyes so that he may see.”  This is what we need to pray, first for ourselves, and then for our friends, spouses, etc, who need to see things from a more spiritual point of view! (See II Corinthians 5:16).  Imagine how the servant must have felt when he saw the horses and chariots of Israel surrounding the enemy! Elisha had seen them before – when his teacher was carried away! (This took place in Dothan, which we saw when we were driving through Israel several years ago. It was amazing to picture what Elisha saw.) Then, as if to highlight the unspirituality of the Aramean king, Elisha asked the Lord to strike the opposing army with blindness and he led the confused soldiers straight into Israel’s capital city! In a beautiful show of mercy, Elisha told the king of Israel to let them go after giving them food, and the Arameans stopped raiding the towns of Israel for a long while. We must let this passage challenge our faith, and pray the “Open Our Eyes” prayer every morning before we leave home!

 

  • In the chronological bible, the next bit is about Gehazi telling the king of Israel anecdotes about Elisha, including the one about the Shunammite woman. God worked it out so that the woman got her property back. Trust and obey for there’s no other way…

 

  • The next segment is the story of Naaman.  This story becomes our story whenever we try to tell God how to do his job. (I want to wash in the CLEAN river!) Lucky for Naaman, he had loving servants who were willing to speak up to him and help him get over his stubborn arrogance. And Naaman was humble enough to listen to them. When he did things God’s way, he was healed - not just halfway but even better than before. Lessons for us? No matter how powerful or rich or smart or whatever we are, we have a disease, called sin, and we will die from it! Unless we go to the true God for healing, we have no chance. Once we know his will, we must obey it. Half measures don’t work; picking and choosing doesn’t work either. It’s all or nothing. Either Jesus is LORD OF ALL or he is not Lord AT ALL. Naaman submitted and came out a new man, filled with gratitude. This is the attitude of all who have been washed and healed from their sin – they want to give back whatever they can. Obedience brings healing because it is a sign of trust and faith, which in turn produces gratitude. Let us be just as obedient, humble and grateful.

 

  • The end of Naaman’s story doesn’t turn out too well for Elisha’s servant – he succumbed to temptation and chased after material things in a deceitful way. When we trick and manipulate and deceive to get what we THINK we deserve, God always finds out and the end result is sadness and disaster. In Gehazi’s case, he was struck with leprosy. We do not always get such a physical reminder, but sometimes our sins do catch up with us physically, and when they do, we should be grateful that we are given one more chance to repent before we die! 
  • Another insight re this story – Elisha was trained as a prophet while he was the servant of Elijah. He became just like his master. Gehazi was supposed to get trained by his master, Elisha, but he didn’t become just like him. He couldn’t help the Shunammite woman’s son, he couldn’t see the armies of God until Elisha prayed for him although Elisha had seen them when Elijah was about to be taken, and, worst of all, he totally lacked integrity.

 

  • Apparently all the good will stored up since the Dothan incident was gone, and the new king of Aram was on the attack again, this time laying siege to Samaria. One of the saddest stories of this time in the history of Israel happens here, when a woman gives her baby up for cannibalism. What a devastating situation! How wicked the people had become, that they were willing to eat their own children. Having never been in those circumstances, I cannot be too harsh, but I know millions of people have lived through starvation or not lived and starved to death without even thinking of eating their children. Truly Israel had su nk to a new low.

 

  • Interestingly, while the king of Israel was understandably sad/angry/frustrated, etc, over the incident, instead of crying out to God for help, he blamed God and Elisha and swore to kill Elisha that day for “causing” everything.  Elisha allowed the king to find him, and prophesied that the famine would end immediately. (Of course, they didn’t believe him!)
  • The story that unfolds next is both humourous and touching. Some lepers who are about to die of starvation figure (rightly) that since they are about to die anyway, they have nothing to lose, so they go to the enemy camp to beg for food. However, they are shocked to find the camp deserted and more food than they can imagine. After having eaten their fill, they felt guilty cause they knew they had done nothing to deserve the blessing and that their fellow countrymen were wasting away. So, they returned to Samaria to tell everyone about the booty! James Lloyd, one of the leaders back in the early days of the London church, used to say that evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find food. <smile> There are certainly many parallels here!

 

  • Back in Jerusalem, Jehoram’s bowels finally gave out and he died! <I know I keep mentioning it, but it is just SO weird!!>  He was succeeded by his one remaining son, Ahaziah, who was also evil. Oh well…

 

  • Meanwhile, Elisha spoke with Hazael, a servant of the king of Aram. He prophesied about betrayal, and sure enough, it all came true.

 

  • Elisha had Jehu anointed king over Israel. Jehu was God’s avenger. He would go on to remove the “baddies”, including all of the remaining house of Ahab. You have to read this passage with your imagination in high gear – it could easily be a seen from “Lord of the Rings”. Jezebel was still trying to win men over with her looks, even when they were coming to kill her. It is reminiscent of the Hollywood actresses who do not age so gracefully and have plastic surgery and still wear loads of make-up trying to keep what they must inevitably lose. Jezebel “painted her eyes” but it didn’t keep her from getting thrown out of her window by her servants to be trampled by horses and devoured by dogs. Gross!! That was her reward for abusing her power on this earth. Jehu went on to have all 70 descendants of Ahab slain, and he made sure everyone knew it was at the word of the Lord as spoken through Elijah.  He got rid of the wicked king of Judah also.

 

  • The entry ends with Jehu’s most famous quote: “Come and see my zeal for the Lord.”  I have to admit, I got tears in my eyes reading this. As a woman of almost 45, it is easy to “be lacking in zeal”, even though we are commanded by Paul in Romans 12 to NEVER be lacking in zeal. Jehu is an upward call to me – not the violence, of course, but the way he obeyed God and did what was a difficult and dirty job with zeal for the Lord. May I grow old with this attitude. Amen.