Come Follow Me Insights – 2 Kings 2-7: Elisha: Prophet of God – powered by Happy Scribe
And I’m Tyler.
This is Book of Mormon Central’s Come Follow Me Insights.
Today, 2 Kings, chapters two through seven.
So in this particular lesson, we’re going to pass the baton from Elijah, one of our probably the most famous prophet up north in the kingdom of Israel. He’s going to pass the baton to Elisha. Now, an interesting overlay that is very clear from the scripture writers and the editors through time. There’s a pattern, there’s a theme that’s carrying its way through these two stories and it’s the theme of God’s power manifest in these two individuals. So you notice with last week’s lesson with Elijah, he’s performing miracle after miracle. He’s amazing. He’s seen as this representative of God all alone compared to all these priests and prophets of Baal, and he’s singlehandedly doing all of this amazing work. Well, now he’s ready to be translated and he needs to pass on the baton to the next in line, which is Elisha. So that’s all going to happen here in chapter one and two. Some people would say it depends totally on how you count a miracle. Some would say that Elijah performed eight miracles, others, by their count, he performed ten. By the way I parsed them out, he performed twelve. The actual number doesn’t matter.
He performed a lot of incredible miracles. The significant thing here is when Elisha is going to be given the call to be the next prophet. If you look at chapter two, verse nine, he says, and it came to pass it when they were gone over that Elijah said unto Elisha, ask what I shall do for thee before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. He wants a double portion. So whether you counted as eight miracles for Elijah or ten or twelve, using the same logic of how you came up with that number, you can come up with the double number for Elisha. And it’s kind of fun. So today’s lesson is going to be filled with story after story after story of miracles, many of which are going to foreshadow miracles that Jesus will perform in the New Testament and many of which map backwards onto some miracles that Elijah performed as well. Very similar themes and variations of the same kinds of miracles. But at the end of the day, if we finish this episode and you now recognize and number off, the miracles of Elijah and Elisha probably failed in our effort.
Because the reason we have scriptures, the reason we have prophets isn’t just to hear about other people’s experiences and other people’s miracles. It’s to see the hand of God in their life, to then bring it forward into our own and be able to look for those same kinds of miraculous things, not the same way as they played out in antiquity, but to see God’s goodness, his power, his wisdom, his grace, and all that we’re involved in today.
It’s interesting using these words to see, because the word miracle comes from the word to look or to see, to wonder at. And the idea is that God wants us to look and to see. To see Him, to see his hand in our oliver. Let’s take for example, when Moses was in the wilderness and asked to put up the brass serpent and people were asked to look. It’s a miracle. It’s something you look at.
That’s a really cool insight. I’ve never noticed that before. Isn’t the Spanish word meta to look?
Okay, I’d never made that connection. It’s kind of fun.
Yeah, exactly right. So these prophets are intending to show God’s hand in people’s lives. Now, of course these are grandiose miracles, not because it’s the only kind of miracle God will do. As Tyler was saying, god works miracles in our life all the time and sometimes they’re so Mormon we fail to look and see that God is in our lives. So the point here is to point people to God. In fact, Elisha’s name is interesting. It comes from two words, l, which means God, and Joshua, which we saw a few lessons ago, is in the New Testament, becomes the word Jesus and really just means to save. So Elisha’s name, the lesson here is God saves. And you have to look to God’s salvation. You need to see it. And he wants people to see examples of how God saves. Remember, we’ve talked throughout about the Bible is constructed on covenantal relationship theology that God wants to be our God, he wants us to be his people and he has to invite and entice people in to see Him. And so miracles are a way to identify who the covenant of God is. And here’s what happens to those who are faithful.
They will see more of God in their lives. That’s how it all ties in. Elisha is the one who demonstrates or represents that God saves us. And we can see that salvation as represented through miracles.
Which, by the way, isn’t that fascinating that God even uses this pattern in the first place because from heaven he could perform all the miracles without any individual doing or saying or acting in any particular way. He could just cause things to happen, but he doesn’t. For whatever reason, he has chosen to select what the scriptures sometimes refer to as chosen vessels or prophets, these ministers with a divine mandate to go and preach the gospel and to do these powerful things for the benefit of all mankind. So as we move forward into these stories today, let’s not ever get too far removed from our modern day and what a blessing and what a privilege it is that the Lord has not seen fit to say, okay, you’re not going to get profits anymore. Thank Heaven that in the dispensation of the fullness of time we have 15 men on the earth whom we sustain as prophets seers and revelators, through whom the Lord is still doing his work. Except for now it’s no longer localized like it was back then. Now the work that he’s doing through profit, sears and revelators today is globalized and we get to live on the earth at this time, in the fullness of times.
What a privilege. Hopefully it encourages all of us to sing a little more vigorously, we think the OG for a prophet to guide us in these latter days. So let’s jump into the stories. Chapter two is this passing of the baton. And Elijah is going to perform what I consider to be his final two miracles. So it depends on how you classify the miracles. The second to last one is in verse eight when he goes with Elisha. And they’ve left 50 men that are sons of the prophets who are viewing this whole thing from afar off they’re near Jericho. He’s going to cross the Jordan River to the other side, heading eastward. In verse eight, Elijah took his mantle and wrapped it together, and he smoked the waters, and they were divided, hither and whitmer, so that they too went over on dry ground. So Elijah and Elisha are now walking through the Jordan River on dry ground. And that’s when Elisha makes the request. He says, look, if I’m going to be the next prophet after you, I only want to do that if you give me a double portion of your spirit.
In the ancient world, ancient Israelite world, the oldest son in a family would inherit a double portion of the family estate. And the intention was one portion for him to maintain his family, another portion to carry on the legacy of his father and his mother. So here it’s not a physical double portion. He’s asking for the spiritual inheritance of this mantle of prophet, of leading people to see that God will save us.
You would think that Elisha had seen some of the iniquity and the wickedness among the people of the Israelites as well as the Kingdom of Judah. And thinking I saw that it didn’t have a huge effect on what’s happened in the past. So give me a double portion perhaps might be a play. So Elijah tells him, I can’t promise that. But I’ll tell you this, if you see me when I’m taken up, then your wish, so to speak, will be granted. But if not, then there’s no promise. It’s not going to happen. So, verse eleven, you get the chariot of fire and horses of fire who come down and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And you’ll notice that verse twelve starts with saying, and Elisha saw it. And he cried, my father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horseman thereof. And he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces.
Which is a sign of distress and mourning. Lyisha has this beloved mentor and friend who is now gone. How many of us have felt that way when somebody who’s had a deep positive impact in our lives is no longer accessible to us? So in the ancient world, ancient Israelite world, you would rip your clothes as a sign of distress and mourning. We see this in the Book of Mormon. Captain Moroni tears his clothes when he sees that the knee fights have been falling behind in war because of their lack of faithfulness to God. And so again, it’s a sign that he’s in distress.
So for him, even though Elijah was translated, for Elisha, it’s as good as a death. So it’s this morning, this loss of Elijah like Taylor is talking about. So now stop and think about that for a minute. Why would God translate certain profits rather than just have them die? You’ve seen some other people translated. You’ve seen Enoch, you’ve seen Moses. Based on our restoration, scripture tells us that he was translated. And now you’ve got Elijah. Isn’t it fascinating that Moses and Elijah are two who are going to appear on the Mount of Transfiguration to the Lord Jesus Christ and to Peter, James and John, and they are going to pass on keys. Makes you think that there’s probably something to do with their physical body in this process of being a key holder who needs to help open up certain parts of dispensations of the Gospel down the road. And that would be pre resurrection for them. So hence the need for a translation to take place with Elijah. Now, you’ll notice that Elisha, having seen him, he’s pretty excited initially, it’s this, Oh, no, I’m on my own now, but I did get to see him.
And so he sees the mantle fall down. Verse 13. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him. And he went back and stood by the bank of Jordan. He wraps the mantle, strikes the river Jordan. And his first miracle is performed right there in verse 14. And all of those sons of the prophets, they saw that. That’s to them an indication of, oh, there is still a prophet in Israel even though Elijah is gone. And so the spirit of Elijah is resting on him. And they all see that.
So it’s interesting that Elijah’s name is a variant from the name of Joshua. Joshua too, also walked through the Jordan River from east to west, as Elijah is now doing, entering into the Promised Land. So this is a symbol that you have a new Joshua on the scene. Remember, the word Joshua means salvation. So salvation is coming into the Promised Land in the form of this prophet. So it’s a reenactment of Moses leading the Israelites to salvation through the Red Sea and Joshua bringing people to the Jordan. All these things keep reappearing in the Scriptures. In fact, Jesus parts the Jordan with his body when he gets baptized and he brings salvation as he puts his body or mantle into the water. So there’s all these things that are all tied in with the Scriptures. I just love how the scriptures are structured this way.
Wonderful. Now his second miracle, if you go down to verse 19, tells us about the men of the city complaining because the water is not and the ground is barren. And the one source of water they have, it’s not good, they can’t use the water.
When they say it’s bitter, it usually means that the water has a high level of salt in it. Now, if you’ve ever tried to drink salt water, you know how immediately you want that out of your mouth. And it’s interesting how he goes to solve the problem.
So he asks them to get a new cruise, fill it with some salt and bring it to him. And then he takes that and he dumps it into the water. And isn’t it fascinating how Jesus uses the analogy of salt in the Sermon on the Mount when he tells the people, ye are the salt of the earth? How much salt does it take to savor an entire pot of soup or to bring out the flavor in any dish that you’re eating? And I love that fact that it doesn’t take very much of what you have to make a really big difference to unlock all kinds of amazing things and turn that which was bitter into that which can become sweet or savory in a good way down the road. So now you get to miracle number three. This third one is fascinating because it causes a lot of problems for a lot of people over a lot of years as it comes to us in the King James version right here. And he went up from fence unto Bethel, and as he was going up, by the way, there came forth little children out of the city and mocked him and said unto him, go up, thou bald head.
Go up, thou bald head. Now he’s going to turn and he’s going to curse those little children. And then two she bears come out of the wood and tear 42 children of them. And this causes a lot of problems saying, why would you curse little children? They’re just they’re having fun at your expense. Ignore them and keep walking. There are a variety of ways to look at the text. Here the word. This is an opportunity for you to go to a resource that we’ve talked about before, but it’s kind of helpful when you have a troubling section like this Biblehub.com will give you 24, 25. I don’t remember a couple dozen English translations of the same verse. So you can compare what we have in the King James version with the way other English Bibles have translated because many of them come from different manuscript families of the Greek or in this case, the Hebrew texts, and they don’t always translate it exactly the same. So if you look in Bible hub, you’ll see that many times it gets translated as youths or young men or lads, teenagers. Teenagers not as children.
And these could be 18 year old teenagers who probably should know better. And even the word mocking is not just like making fun of, but really being spiritually and being spiritually disrespectful and extremely irreverent. And we also should point out that the inspired writers of the Bible left a lot unsaid because often they tell these stories and their audience knows exactly the context of why the story was preserved and what it all means. My writers don’t always stop and say, oh, by the way, for future readers long in the future, let’s explain why mocking a profit and why the story of these teenagers getting mauled. Here’s the context of why this matters and what the intention of the story is all about. So we should all just be a little forgiving at times that the Scriptures don’t always give us everything that we might want to understand what’s going on in the story.
So some of you may be wondering why the phrase, go up thou bald head. Go up thou bald head hair is highly significant in that cultural context for a variety of reasons. You’ll remember Samson, one of those powerful judges of Israel? He had this prohibition of cutting his hair. And when his hair did get cut, he lost his strength and his power. Ironically, Elijah was very hairy. We know that from back in Two Kings chapter one, verse eight, when it gives us his description. He was a hairy man and with a girdle of leather about his loins. So he’s got all this hair. And apparently Elisha lacks hair. So the Hebrew word here for hair is shahar. And it’s the same route for this concept of strength and power and this capacity. And it’s connected to the mind, to the head. And so you can picture Elijah with all of this strength flowing from him, and then his replacement doesn’t have much hair, so they’re mocking him. Go up, thou bald head. They’re not just mocking his lack of hair, they’re mocking his lack of power.
He’s going up to Beth l, which means house of God, the temple. So they’re also making fun of him as he’s on this pilgrimage to God’s house, to the temple. We also have a promise for all of us that not one hair will be unaccounted for in the resurrection. Now, someone like me, I take a lot of comfort in that. So it’s very interesting that these cultural things are going on again. The Bible writers don’t pause and say, oh, by the way, in our culture, hair is a sign of power and strength and virility. And a lack of hair would suggest weakness or that you’re going towards death. I mean, consider this dead people eventually lose all their hair. And these young men, these teenagers, seem to be saying, we have no respect for God’s anointed, and we do not believe that God has power expressed through the prophet to bring salvation. Again, his name means God saves. And so the way I see this text is that these individuals are rejecting the salvation of God, which, by the.
Way, just to bring one more lesson potentially out of this story. Don’t you find it beautiful, the fact that God uses a variety of people to do his work? Because it’s not Elijah who was performing those miracles back in First Kings, and it’s not Elisha who is the source of these miracles in Second Kings. It’s the Lord God of Israel working through instruments. You would never go to an art museum, for instance, or we would never look at a painting like this and say, wow, that painting is amazing. I wonder how it created itself. Nobody would do that. You don’t look at a sculpture and say, wow, I wonder how that sculpture came to be all by itself. There was an artist who used instruments in his hand to create that sculpture, or paint brushes and paints and instruments to be able to create these works of art. But we don’t put the focus on the instruments. We put the focus on the artist. And in this case, the artist is the Lord God of Israel, who’s working through Elijah in First Kings. And then he picks up a different instrument that maybe doesn’t have as much hair as the other instrument did.
It’s shaped different. Its propensities are slightly modified from what he’s had before. But the master artist knows how to shape and how to mold and how to create beautiful works of art with a variety of instruments. And to me, that is so empowering, because I’d no longer have to compare myself to any other person in this world to say, I’m not as good as her and I’m not as good as them, and I’ll never be like Him. It’s okay, because as long as I make myself available to the Lord as an instrument in his hands, he’s the one who will shape me. He’s the one who will give me experiences that I need to be able to get my life into a place where he can use me as an instrument in his hands to do his work according to his will, according to his time, which is what we see playing out on the page here. So as we go from profit to profit to profit, let’s celebrate their differences. Let’s celebrate that it’s not a one size fits all, because that gives hope for us, that the Lord can use us as instruments in his hands, in our part of the vineyard that we’re living in today as well.
Now let’s go to chapter three for Miracle, what I classify as miracle number four. And to make sense of this miracle we need to do a very quick satellite overview here. So here’s Jerusalem. There’s the Dead Sea. You have the Edomites down here. You have the Moabites right here. You have Syria up here, slightly to the north. You have these two kingdoms, kingdom of Israel right here, and the Kingdom of Judah right here.
And you have the Ammonites, in fact.
And the Ammonites are up here.
If you’re familiar with the country of Jordan today, the capital city is called Aman, and it’s based on this ancient travel group that has lived there for many years.
So to set the stage here, chapter three. This is one of those times, and it happens occasionally where different kingdoms will the kings will get together and form an alliance and say, hey, let’s go and fight against this other kingdom. And you get about every combination and theme and variation of that through the biblical history. In this particular chapter three, you get Jehoraham, who’s the king of Israel, with Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, they actually combine they make an alliance. They don’t combine their kingdoms. They just combine their armies together with the king of Edom to say, let’s go and fight the king of Moab, because Moab hasn’t been paying its tribute to the king of Israel, and it’s kind of a thorn in the side to eat them and Judah. So they join together and say, let’s go get them, but we’re going to do it secretly. So they bring their armies on this week long journey down through Edom to come and camp against Moab, where Moab would least expect the attack to come from. So you get three against the one. The only problem is you’ve got all these men. It looks good, but those men need food and they need water, and they’ve run dry and they’re in trouble.
So Elisha makes this prophecy and gives them some direction. In verse 16, he tells them, make this valley full of ditches. Now, by the way, if you’re these men camped out here, you are so thirsty, you’ve run out of water. And this prophet comes to you and says, oh, you want water? Go and dig a whole bunch of ditches in this valley. That’s going to make me even more thirsty. And why would I want to dig in the dirt? It’s not going to do anything right. I love the fact that the scriptures, of all the things that they teach us that are wonderful, one of the beautiful truth for me is, look, I have agency. I have a choice. I can either listen to the profits, or I can reject the profits, and I’m free to do either one or a variation somewhere in the middle where I take some of what they say, but not all. In this case. I love the fact that they actually listened and they went and they dug these ditches. And then verse 20 says, it came to pass in the morning when the meat offering was offered. But behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.
So water flows and fills these ditches, and they have plenty of water. And the miracle doesn’t end there. When the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they gathered all that we’re able to put on armor and upward and stood in the border. But they rose up early in the morning and what did they see? The sun shone upon the water, and the mobites saw that the water on the other side looked as red as blood. So the sun would be rising over here in the east. So you’ve got this army camped somewhere to the east of them, and they’re looking towards this rising sun, and they look at the valley and it looks like blood. And they think, Oh, these three kingdoms have now fought against each other, and now it’s filled this valley with blood. Let’s go, and we’ll continue to fight them. So they come and attack. But now the Israelites, the Judahites and the Edomites all rise up and beat down that Moabite army.
So, as a point of interest, archaeologists found back in the 1860s, I believe, a stone that was set up in Moab, anciently, from the king, who was actually part of Live during this time. And he actually talks about how his people had been conquered. He called it oppressed, right, because he didn’t like the Israelites, and he talked about how his people had to pay taxes to Israel. And so we have this second witness to this experience. The Bible has been passed down over generations, edited and curated. And then archaeologists found the meshastone, or the mesh Astella where we actually get a bit of this story and the mobile perspective of what they thought was going on their lives and the way they narrated it is that they had been unfaithful to their gods and that’s why they were enslaved to the Israelite god. It’s kind of interesting how these ancient cultures worked.
So let’s pick up the next miracle in chapter four. Here you have a widow woman with two sons whose husband, before his death, they’ve incurred some debt and she hasn’t been able to pay it off. So the debt collectors have come and they say, well, you don’t have money, so we’re going to take your two sons and sell them into bondage of slavery to pay off your debt. Well, she clearly doesn’t want that. And so she asks Elisha what she should do, and he asks her what they have in their household, and they say, Just a pot of oil. So he says, we’ll go borrow as many vessels as you possibly can from all your neighbors. So her two sons go and collect all these vessels, all these empty pots, and she’s like, Why in the world would I do this? Once again, you’re going to see this repeat pattern. Sometimes when the Savior asks people to do things, or when the prophets ask things of people, it doesn’t always make perfect sense from an earthly perspective. You’re saying this is silly, but if you trust the Lord, do what he’s asked you to do, either directly or through the prophets, good things usually end up happening in the Scriptures.
And in this case, he tells her, hey, take your pot of oil and start filling those other vessels. So she does, and it’s a multiplication of oil, and all the other vessels get full. And he says, Go sell all that oil, pay off your debt, and you’re good. Pretty amazing miracle that harkens forward to Jesus’capacity to multiply things like turning water to wine or bread and fishes to feed the multitude that we’ll get a repeat of here in a minute.
I like the symbolism here, because wine and olive oil are both very powerful symbols of the atonement of Jesus Christ, that there is plenty and to spare. There’s more than enough to cover all your debts and to satisfy all your needs and wants. It is endless. And that’s one of the lessons I take away from this miracle.
Love the connection to an infinite atonement that you can’t subtract from that and have it be less. The Lord is an abundant Lord when it comes to his power and his miracles. So this next miracle involves a shuna might woman and her husband, who is old. They are childless. They have been very kind to Elisha and Gehazi, his servant, and they provided a chamber for him to stay when he’s in the area. And because they’ve been so kind to Him, he asks Ghazi, what can we do for this family? And after a little dialogue there, he finds out they have no children. So next miracle, he tells her verse 16 about this season. According to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son. At first she didn’t believe it, but that child is born, and it’s a beautiful miracle. Then the next miracle is that child has grown, but now he’s died. So she goes to Elisha at Carmel to ask him for help, and Elisha sends a staff back with Ghazi to touch him. It didn’t have any effect on him. So then Elisha goes, and in verse 32 through 35, he raises that child from the dead.
So again, a very similar miracle to one that Elijah had performed as well as we have three accounts in the New Testament of Jesus before his own resurrection raising people from the dead, not resurrecting them, but raising them from the dead, as is the case here, connecting.
This back to Jesus. If you look at the New Testament, we have four Gospels dedicated to the life of Jesus, and here’s Jesus living for 33 years. And we really don’t have a lot about the totality of his life. What we do have was preserved and written to convince people that Jesus saves. And many of the stories that we have preserved of Jesus were written for a New Testament Israelite audience. For them to hear, Jesus is like Elisha, like Elijah, god saves. We have a prophet who once again is on the earth who will lead us to salvation. So many things could have been said about Jesus, but the New Testament writers chose to preserve specific stories that the ancient listeners would immediately connect to, stories that they were familiar with of their ancient prophetic heroes that had also saved them.
That’s wonderful. So they’re seeing Joshua, they’re seeing Moses, they’re seeing Abraham, Elijah and Elisha playing out in their own day and strengthening their trust in Christ because of that. Now let’s go to the next miracle. Verse 39 through 41. You get this group of the prophets sitting together, eating. They’ve got this big pot of pottage, and one went out to gather herbs and he found a wild vine and he found these gourds and he put them into the pot. But now the men started tasting it and they cried out, oh, thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof.
Yeah, poison is gourd. Somebody didn’t know how to collect vegetables properly and picked out poison instead.
And then verse 41, but he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot and he said, pour out for the people that they may eat and there was no harm in the pot.
I use this with my kids when I cook. They go right back to it’s like you have put poison in here. Just trust, we’ll pray over it and God will heal it.
This is why we offer a blessing on the food to make sure that this scenario doesn’t play out the wrong way. Don’t you love the fact that God’s prophets are able to take a situation that would otherwise lead to death or to pain and suffering and sorrow, and they add things to that situation to bring life? They become this instrument in the hands of the Lord to bring life, to create life, to sustain life, to build people up. If you follow God’s prophets and if you follow the commandments of God, it’s only going to make you more capable. In fact, one of the amazing things about commandments is some people, and whether they come directly from the prophets today or from commandments, out of the Scriptures, from days of old, many people see them as these binding agency removing restrictions. The reality is, whenever profit adds something to your life, whether it be in the Scriptures or in the modern day, it’s intended to make you more free. It isn’t intended to bind you down. In fact, Elder Detach. Christopherson had a beautiful article in The Enzyme years ago called Moral Agency where he shared this insight that if you want more freedom, if you want more ability to use your agency, then the formula is learn as many of God’s laws and God’s commandments as you possibly can and keep them, live them.
That gives you more and more and more freedom. So I see that playing out in these scenarios as you watch people interacting with these profits in antiquity. If you just trust what they’re giving, it actually frees you up. It actually gives you more capacity to live and to make choices and have liberty. Now we go to the next one. In verse 42 through 44. There came a man from Bell Shalita and brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, 20 loaves of barley and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people that they may eat. So can you picture this 20 barley loaves? And when you think loaves of bread, don’t think like Wonder Bread or are big, huge loaves in a big pan that you go to the store and buy today. Think probably more like a large dinner roll size.
Or even a roll or even a piece of pita bread.
Exactly. So he brings these 20 loaves of bardi and full ears of corn. And verse 43 says, what should I set this before in 100 men? And he said again, yeah, basically, give the people that they may eat, for thus saith the Lord, they shall eat and shall leave.
They should leave their meaning there will.
Be leftovers you’re going to have leftovers here. And he’s looking at this small offering and looking at the big group saying, this is impossible. And he’s like, Just put it out there. And you’re all making the connection, we would assume, with that great story in Matthew 14. And also included it’s actually one of the few events in the life of Christ that’s outside of the final week of his life that is included in every one of the gospel writers accounts. So what Taylor was saying before is they’re trying to signal how Jesus is divine and harkening back to some of these miracles, especially Matthew and John. But you get Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, who all recorded the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 and the miracle right after that, the walking on the water. It’s one of the very short listed events that’s included in all four gospels. It’s that significant. Well, the feeding of the 5000. Harris clearly. Back to right here, chapter four, verse 42 through 44, this miracle that Elisha performed. But Jesus is going to do a little bigger miracle than Elisha.
Again, the symbolism here is God’s love, his mercy, his atonement is far beyond our comprehension of calculating. There is more than enough we can fully consume each one of us, everything we need from the atonement of Jesus Christ. And there’s still plenty of leftover. Jesus can multiply all that we need for salvation. Remember, Elisha’s name means God saves. Jesus name literally means salvation. And these miracles are little examples to express the larger reality that God saves. Really powerful.
So this next miracle has to be one of the most famous of all of Elisha. We go to the kingdom of Syria and the captain of the Syrian Guard, one of the leaders of the army, his name is Naaman. Traditionally, in English, we pronounce his name Naman, and it means pleasant, but it’s.
Pleasant to look upon. And yet he has a skin disease that creates the opposite. He’s got leprosy. We’re not exactly sure what it means, but he would have been physically and visually unpleasant to look upon. And so there’s this contrast going on with his name that even though he is called pleasant, he’s dealing with this very unpleasant reality that only God can save. Now, there’s a lesson here for all of us. We’re all pleasant people in the sense that we are all children of God and yet we have fallen nature. We all have some form of spiritual leprosy that impacts our pleasantness. And God can heal us, particularly if we listen to the prophets, even if they ask us to do things that don’t seem particularly spectacular or that we.
Didn’T expect at all. So Naoman happens to have a handmaid who has been taken out of the kingdom of Israel as a captive from a previous battle, who is a handmade for his wife. She sees the struggle that Naman’s going through and she says to her, to Naman’s wife, would to God that Naman were down in Israel because there’s a man there, a prophet who could heal him of his leprosy. Speaking of Elisha, so the King of Syria sends a letter to the King of Israel and says, I’ll give you all of this as a reward if you’ll heal my servant here. This captain of the guard, Naming, of his leprosy, king of Israel gets pretty upset about that, by the way. And Elisha knows what’s going on, so he comes and he says, send him to me. I’ll take care of him. So you can picture this big parade of important people from Syria laden with all of these gifts to be granted in exchange for the healing.
And from a political standpoint, the King of Israel is not super happy about essentially having a general come into his land for medical treatment, because what’s going to happen when the generals there with half his army? Is this an invasion? Is this an invasion under the pretext of medical help? And it’s interesting how Naman responds to what happens with Elisha. The political intrigue is just an interesting perspective here.
Beautiful. Now listen to this. Verse nine. So Naming came with his horses and with his chariot and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And you can picture the drumroll, the anticipation of this big healing event, this call down of power from heaven to heal the leprosy. Verse ten. And Elisha send a messenger unto him saying go and wash in Jordan seven times and thy flesh shall come again to thee and thou shalt be clean. So Gahazi comes out and says, Yeah, go wash in Jordan. And it’s this anti climatic feeling for naming. He’s saying, what are you talking about? And he actually gets angry. Verse eleven, namon was Roth and went away. And he said, Behold, I thought he will surely come out to me and stand and call in the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place and recover the leper. And can you picture him looking at the Jordan River flowing there? And by the way, the Jordan isn’t a mighty Oliver. It’s not wide, it’s not quick running. It’s pretty muddy and dirty coming down from Syria.
The headwaters of the Jordan are actually just a little bit north of here. He may have already crossed the Jordan. He may have already got himself wet getting to this spot. So like, why would I go do that again? I’ve already gotten myself wet in the Jordan once getting here.
So he’s sitting here looking at this dirty river. And his response in verse twelve is, are not Abana and farpar rivers of Damascus? Damascus, capital of Syria, up here, north, are they not better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. He’s saying, I am not going to humiliate myself by going down into this dirty river. He sees this as beyond a joke. This is a mockery to him and he’s angry. He’s now going away. Thank heaven for some unnamed individuals in this story book of verse 13. And his servants came near and spake unto him and said, my Father, if the Prophet had bid thee to do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? How much rather than when he david it to thee, wash and be clean? The servants are saying, look, what do you have to lose? You might go into this dirty Jordan river seven times. At the end of the day, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But if he had asked you to do some huge thing, you would have done it.
This is a really simple thing that the prophet has asked you to do. Go try it.
I love this part of the story because many of us throughout our lives have some position of responsibility where we have to make decisions on behalf of others. Good leaders are willing to listen to the wise counsel of those with whom they serve. And I love their humility because they call him my father, which in the ancient Israelite world, somebody who was a generation older than you or in a station above you, you would categorize them as a father or a mother. And so they’re being very differential, recognizing that naming is in this position of power and authority. And I also love that naming comes to His Jesus. He humbles Himself.
It’s amazing to watch. By the way, verse 14, it’s so short, it’s only about five or six lines, but there’s so much contained in this one short verse. It says, Then went he down and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God, and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. What we don’t know, it doesn’t tell us. Is this a healing by degrees? Does he go down into the water the first time and come out and look at the leprosy and see that it’s one 7th less and gets out of the water and then goes back in, and now it’s another 7th less? Or does he go into the water, dip himself one time and come out and looks no different and goes in a second time and comes back out, unlocks no different? We don’t know. It doesn’t tell us. But it would be fascinating to me if that second option were the case, because you can imagine that moment as he’s standing on the shore after having dipped six times in the river, looking at the leprosy, thinking nothing happened, but I’m going to trust the profit, I’m going to do it one more time.
And you can picture that moment if that’s the scenario that played out as he comes up out of the water that 7th time. And now that beautiful realization of there is a God in Israel who spoke through his prophet, and that which was dirty is now clean. And do you see the beautiful symbolism of being in Jordan, dipped in Jordan? The symbolism of Jesus going to the Jordan River to be baptized, not that he was dirty and needed to be cleaned or cleansed, but this beautiful symbolism of baptism, which is the death of the old creature and the rebirth and the newness of life of this spiritually.
Reborn creature not being born again like a little child.
Exactly. So the symbolism here of Naman’s miracle plays out with you and me today every time we go to the sacrament table and we make that covenant with the Lord again through the ordinance of the sacrament, the only ordinance that we repeat for ourselves in life. It’s the same thing. It’s that capacity to be cleansed of our leprosy today. And leprosy looks different on me than it does on you, than it does on Taylor, but it’s still leprosy and it still makes us not pleasant, as he was talking about the name of naming, what it means. So the next miracle comes because Naman comes back to Elisha to offer him this reward for having heal him. But I love the fact that Elisha is not in this for money or for gain. He’s not performing the miracles for the Lord so that he can glut himself on the riches of the world. So he turns it down, and Naman David okay. And starts heading away, heading home. Well, Gahazi the servant runs after him and tells him lies to him and says, oh, two sons of the prophets just arrived, and we could use two changes of clothing and some silver to help them out.
So Naman gives him all kinds of stuff and they go back and he loads the goods and hides them away in the tower, it says. And then he comes into Elisha and Elisha asks him where he’s been, and Gahazi lied to him again. My servant went, no, whitmer, I didn’t go anywhere. Why are you asking me? And then he tells him, Yeah, I know what you did, and Naman’s leprosy is now going to be on you as a reward. So this particular miracle is one of being able to discern the truth from the lies, from the errors, and then extending that leprosy onto Gajazi. And you would think, Wow, that’s a tough punishment. Brothers and sisters, the leprosy, the skin deep condition that Gagazi just received is nothing compared to the heart deep problem that Ghazi manifested in verse 23 23. His lying, his deception, his lusting after the silver, that’s way worse than the leprosy in his skin that he’s going to get. And so it is with us. Sometimes these outward consequences are just outward shows of inward struggles that we really ought to be working on, humbling ourselves and turning the Lord and asking him to change our heart.
Now we get to the next miracles here chapter six, verse five through seven. You get this man who was cutting down a tree and the axe head fell into the water, and he’s devastated because he had borrowed this axe. So he goes to Elisha, and Elisha asks, Where did it go? He throws a stick in and the axe head floats and the man is able to get it one of those miracles that seems very insignificant, but once again, it’s showing God’s power over the natural laws of the earth, over the elements that we would where things aren’t working the way we are used to them working because of this divine show of power. Now you get what is probably my favorite personally of all of the miracles performed by Elisha. This sequence of events starting in verse eight, the King of Syria warred against Israel and took counsel with his servants, saying, in such and such a place shall be my camp. Now remember, it was just the chapter before where the captain of the Syrian Guard naming came down to get healed. Now he’s back. Now the King of Syria brings this battle against Israel.
We don’t have the time stamp here, so we don’t know how many years or months have passed since Naman’s experience. But the King of Syria says, okay, we’re going to camp in such and such a place, and then we’re going to make our attack. And they wake up in the morning, only to find that the army of Israel is perfectly positioned to stop them. So he retreats and secretly sets up another camp and says, we’re going to attack from here, wakes up in the morning to find that Israel is perfectly positioned to defend. And then he goes to a different place, only to find out that Israel is once again ready to defend. And you’ll notice that it says at the bottom of verse ten that this didn’t happen once or twice, it happened multiple times. And the king of Syria at this time, he might be a little slow in his mind. He takes a little while to catch on to things here, but after multiple failures, he finally realizes something at dawn’s on him. And so in verse eleven he says therefore the heart of the king of Syria was so troubled for this thing, and he called his servants and said unto them, will he not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?
Let me translate that into 21st century English. Who’s the spy? Which one of you is selling our secrets to the king of Israel? Because this is impossible for him to be perfectly positioned every single time. Impossible. Who is it who’s given our secrets away? Notice verse twelve and one of his servants, David? None, my lord, o king, but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel. telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bed chamber. There is you have no secrets to this man, this prophet. He knows everything. We don’t know who the sermon is. I guess a possibility is it could be Naman himself, or somebody who was associated with naming and who had even been to Elisha’s house. At least the stories would have spread that they’re aware of Elisha’s existence and they’re telling the king about this. And so I mentioned that the king might be a little slow. Look at verse 13. So the king said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. Wait, you were just told that this prophet knows everything you say, even when you’re in your bed chamber.
So now you’re going to command, go and find out where this guy is, spy it out so we can go and secretly surround his city and capture him. Maybe he’s not connecting all the dots here. So they said, well, he’s in Dolphin, so you can picture this scenario. He sent horses and chariots and a great host, and they came by night and compassed the city about. So can you picture this experience as you have this city and then you have the Syrian army in Christ and horses encompassing the city roundabout by night, the sun comes up in the morning, the servant who comes out we don’t get a name for the servant in chapter six. So notice, as the story picks up the next morning, verse 15. When the servant of the man of God was risen early and gone forth, behold and host compassed the city both with horses and chariots, and his servant David unto him, alas, my master, how shall we do so you can picture this kid coming out, wiping the sleep from his eyes, yawning, stretching. And we’ve got problems because the entire city is surrounded by these enemy horses and chariots, probably withdrawn swords, waiting for the command to go in and attack.
And he calls for Elisha to come out. Now, can you picture Elisha coming out and throwing his hands in the air, shaking his knees together and shouting in a loud voice, in fear? That image just doesn’t cross our mind, because what you get instead is he comes out and he says, fear not. And yet this young servant is looking at the army saying, how can I not fear? We’re totally surrounded. There’s no escape. Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. I’m going to be so bold as to say that if you forget everything that you read in this particular section of scriptures this week or that we’ve talked about, don’t forget this phrase they that be with us are more than they that be with them. Can you picture the confused look on the servant’s face? What are you talking about? Our city is small, dolphin isn’t a big metropolis. And this whole village is surrounded because the young man is focused horizontally, not vertically. He’s not looking up. Notice verse 17. Elisha prayed and said, lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.
And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man and he saw and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire. Round about Elisha. Keep in mind Elisha has already seen a chariot of fire with a flaming horse. With Elijah’s departure, now he sees the mountain of the Lord, the whole sky filled with these. And then he sees the Syrian army down below and he’s not afraid. Have you noticed that our prophets today, they don’t stand at the pulpit of General Conference and instill fear in the people? They instill confidence in the Lord faith in Christ. Yeah, there are bad things happening. Yes, the enemy seems to be combined and very numerous, but they never transmit a spirit of fear or of deep anxiety for the future. There’s always this steady, quiet confidence that comes because seers of the Lord can see more than just the opposition and more than just the negative influences of the world. They can see the spiritual backup that we have at our back end call to help us. They that be with us are more than they would be with them.
It’s interesting you use the word see her, because what you have symbolized in this text is a servant who didn’t see, but then his eyes are opened and he sees God’s power. And then the enemy is blinded. This is what God does. He provides light to his people and darkness to those who choose not to follow Him.
So you can picture in my mind, this event is amazing because you’ve got these people in these chariots with probably swords ready to go. They’re waiting for the command, go get him. And then they have no idea what is above them. They have no idea why this man isn’t just scared out of his mind and they have no idea why a command is given. And all of a sudden they can’t see because those flaming horses and chariots have come down and these people are now smitten with blindness. And Elisha comes out and says, yeah, the person you’re looking for, he’s not here, but I’ll lead you to him. And so you can picture this army, this line of blind people going through the wilderness down to the capital city of Israel, the Kingdom of Israel, as he’s leading this entire enemy army right into the capital city. And then another miracle. He removes the blindness when he’s got them in front of the King of Israel, at which point the King of Israel is just giddy, shall I smite them? Shall I smite them? Can I kill them now? And Elisha says, no, you’re not going to kill them.
You’re going to give them bread and water, have them make an oath and send them home. Send them off in peace. There are always countless ways that you can apply these stories and liken them to our lives today. One thing to consider is when the enemy forces come, if you’ll listen to the Lord, he’ll help you defend yourself. And occasionally when it feels like you’re totally surrounded, like there is zero escape, like you have nowhere else to turn, then perhaps you’re spending too much time looking at your problems and not enough time looking at the solution, because the solution is always going to be up. It’s going to be raising your sites, looking to God to then live. And when you look to the solution, all of a sudden those problems that seem so overwhelming, that seem so debilitating and constricting, all of a sudden you realize that you have power at your fingertips, that the Lord has offered you in this covenant connection with Him that you can use to now deal with this opposing force or these opposing trials and tribulations and oppositions in your life. So again, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, perhaps spend a little more time looking upward, pleading with the Lord to open your eyes, to see that they that be with you are more than they would be with them.
This next chapter has what is probably one of the more significant miracles. But in my mind, it’s kind of one of the funniest stories in the entire Bible, because what you have is Syria came yet again. We keep having this Syria problem, right? And they come to Israel and they’ve besieged Israel, and there’s major inflation. So since we’re not able to get the goods that we need, the cost has gone up and up. So chapter seven opens with verse one that says, then Elisha said, hear ye the word of the Lord. But again, it’s coming out of Elisha’s mouth. Hear ye the word of the Lord. I’m just an instrument. These aren’t my words. It’s not hearing the words of Elisha. Thus saith the Lord, tomorrow about this time shall we measure a fine flower be sold for a shekel and two measures of barley for a sheckle in the gate of Samaria. And people are sitting there thinking, how is that possible? We’re in this major crisis because of this siege that’s been going on.
There’s a famine. And then one of the leaders says, this is just impossible. I don’t agree with this at all. Verse two. Then a Lord on whose hand the king lien, answered the man of God and said, behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? So he doesn’t trust that God will open the windows of heaven. And Elijah said, behold, thou shalt see with thine own eyes, but shall not eat thereof.
So that man gets a prophecy on him to say, yeah, you’re going to see this prophecy come to pass, but you’re not going to get to eat. So now he’s made two what would seem like completely unreasonable prophecies in verse one and two. And then you get the story of these four lepers.
It’s interesting. They’re like, we’re going to die anyway in this famine. Let’s just go out to the Syrian camp and let’s just turn ourselves into them. Either they’ll kill us or we’ll die back at town. But if the Syrians don’t kill us, we’ll get to eat with them.
So they go out to the camp and the camps deserted. Their tents are there, the food is there, prepared. In some cases, the riches are all there. But the Syrians are gone. Why? Because verse six, the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host. And they said one to another, lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to come upon us wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight and left their tents and their horses and their asses, and even the camp as it was, and fled for their life. So they’re gone. They’ve headed home, leaving all of their camp there. And these four lepers go in, find all of these riches and all of this food, and they eat, and they take a horde of riches and hide it and come back and get more. And then they finally say, you know what? We’re not doing a good thing here. We should let the people know that there’s no more struggle. So verse ten says, they came and called onto the porter of the city and they told them, saying, we came to the camp of the Syrians.
And behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but horses tied and acetate in the enos as they were. So then the king arose in the night. Verse twelve and he David unto his servants, I will now show you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we be hungry. And so he thinks they’ve laid this trap to wait for us to come out of the city, come into their camp, and then they’re going to come out of hiding and kill us. That’s his thinking. But one of his servants said, well, let’s just take some five of the horses that remain and we’re going to go out so that we’ll be able to at least get away if it is a trap and they head out. Notice verse 15 when they went out after the month of Jordan and all the way was full of garments and vessels which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. And the messengers returned and told the king, saying they really have gone, the camp is ours. And so the people went out and spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flowers sold for a sheckle, and two measures of bardi for a shackle, according to the word of the Lord.
Notice it wasn’t according to the word of Elisha, it’s according to the word of the Lord. Elisha wasn’t speaking for Elisha. He was on the Lord’s errand. And it came to pass, but he had made a second prophecy about that servant of the king who resisted his.
First prophecy in verse 17. And the king appointed the Lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate. This is where people go in and out, and the people trode upon him in the gate. And he died as a man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him. And so again there’s like this crush of people, there’s been a famine, everyone’s rushing out to get food and resources, and this guy gets trampled to death. There’s a couple of interesting things. First of all, we have these lepers. Lepers were not people who were easily and readily welcomed into society and they end up being these heroes. All of us at some point in our lives. Maybe you’re in this situation right now, you might feel a bit ostracized from society in some way, and yet you can play an important role to help the rest of society to thrive and survive. God can help you find that. I also love that throughout these stories we’ve seen today, that you have leaders who don’t always know what to do. You have these political leaders who don’t always know what to do.
And you have these servants, people who are serving the political leaders who are providing wise counsel and encouragement and alternate perspectives. There’s wisdom in counsel.
So Elisha is going to perform a few more miracles down to the end of his life. But based on the way you count up Elijah’s miracles, it’s fascinating to me that by many accounts, he’s going to end up one short of a double portion of Elijah’s miracles, and he dies and they bury him. And then many chapters later, in chapters 13, it says verse 20, elisha died and they buried him, and the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. So now we have a Moabite army coming to fight. And it came to pass as they were burying a man, that behold, they spied a band of men and they cast the man into the sepulcher of Elisha. And when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood up on his feet. I think Elisha’s last miracle that completes the double portion, if you want to really keep track and get technical, is performed after he’s dead. It’s this dead man touching his bones and reviving and coming out. Now you hear that story and you think, wow, that’s a fun story.
Yeah, it is. But it’s also a significant story when you feel dead spiritually. If you’ll come in contact with the remains of even prophets who oliver long ago and who are dead in a metaphorical way, there’s this beautiful connection to reading scriptures. And it’s as if you’re coming and you’re touching the bones of dead prophets in a symbolic way, and it can actually revive the spirit, revive the soul. So whether you’re surrounded by an enemy or whether you feel spiritually dead or like you’re dying, the clear message from these stories in first and Second Kings is follow the prophet, don’t go astray. Follow the prophet. He knows the way. And we leave that with you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Know that you are loved and spread light and goodness.