In this section, we're learning about the many amazing miracles and stories about the prophet Elisha. I always thought of Elisha as being Elijah's "little brother"; but I see that I was wrong. I think many of the things that Elisha has done have exceeded Elijah. And Elisha is the archetype more like Jesus. His works are meant to accomplish very different things than Elijah. It's very interesting!
Naaman the Leper
The Captain in the King of Aram's military had leprosy and this man's wife have a maidservant kidnapped from Israel who told him of a prophet in Samaria who could heal him.
The King of Aram sent the man with a bunch of money and a letter to the King of Israel asking for healing.
The King of Israel torn his clothes in grief, knowing he couldn't heal anyone and that this had the making of the beginning of war.
Elisha heard about it and called for the man to come to him for healing so that they would know that there is a prophet in Israel.
As a side note I feel so horrible for the little girl kidnapped from Israel; but you have to wonder if it was "for such a time as this". How else would this man have heard of Elisha? We cannot see how God is working all things for good for eternity. That's easy for me to say, it wasn't me or my daughter being held captive as a slave to this woman; but we cannot see the front of the tapestry. Only the messy back with crazy strings everywhere.
Back to the story...Elisha did understand the idea of the tapestry and knew that if this man was healed, God would be glorified through a real prophet showing God's hand of healing something known to be incurable.
So Naaman, the military captain with leprosy, marches up to Elisha's house with horses and chariots and such and Elisha sends out a messenger with what Naaman needs to do to be healed--dip 7 times in the Jordan. This did not go over well with Naaman. He felt totally disrespected that Elisha did not come personally, that Elisha didn't put on a show-making this moment spectacular, and Elisha sent him, specifically, to the Jordan-Israel's little ole' river.
In a rage this man turned and left. He took a pass on being healed from leprosy because of his pride and prejudices.
How many times have I done this. Passed on God miraculous blessings because I wanted things to seem a certain way? Even now, just this week, I am scheduling a surgery on my wrist; but I turn 50 at the end of the month and I'm trying to figure out how to squeeze in some super fun celebration before the surgery. And I know that if I tried to force it, it wouldn't be like whatever expectation I have set in my head. I call it the Valentine's Day syndrome. You think it's going to be so special and make you feel a certain way and wipe away your tears and insecurities- and then you remember... it's just a day on the calendar. Not that Valentine's Days can't be special. My husband proposed on Valentine's Day. But that was unexpected. And a rare kind of thing.
Naaman thought he was entitled to some sort of pomp and circumstance show. When really, he was coming with the worse sort of need. I thought I was entitled to some celebration because my next birthday was a round number or something...when really, I need this wrist healed.
We can get things so mixed around in our heads. We think we're the authors of our story and we're just not. Jesus alone is the author and finisher of our faith Jehovah Elohim if Jehovah alone. Our God is one. He is the creator and it's His story to tell. When we forget that we can lose out on what He has for us.
Blessedly for Naaman, his servants were wiser than he. They reminded him that if Elisha had demanded some great fete from him to earn his healing, he would have done it; why not do this simple thing. He did and was healed.
Naaman's eyes were open and he understood that it was Elisha's God alone who could have done that. Then he tried to pay Elisha and Elisha wouldn't take it.
God cannot be bought. He has nothing you can offer. He isn't impressed with you or your title. There's nothing about us apart from Him that is good. And yet we want there to be. Even if we aren't the Captain of the King's Army, it seems like many of us want to have inherent value apart from God. Why me? we ask when bad things happen. Why not you? Are you so special in some way that you are exempt? Are you telling the world you're a pretty pretty princess and nothing bad is allowed to happen to you? I struggle with this frequently and have to remind myself that everything good about me is endowed by my Creator.
Wanting my own value apart from Him is a form of rebellion. Trying to free myself from His will and His way. Eve fell for this lie. So did Cain. And most of in every generation since. It's a choice to keep coming back and submitting to the one who made you.
Fortunately for Naaman, he submitted and was healed.
Gehazi the Unexpected Thief
That should have been the end of the story; but Elisha's servant, Gehazi was overcome by greed. If Elisha didn't want the money, then maybe he could grab some of it for himself. So he followed Naaman and claimed that Elisha decided he did want some money and clothes. Naaman gave it to him.
Of course Elisha knew. This made it appear that Elisha took money for God's healing, especially since Gehazi used Elisha's name in his lie. So Elisha pronounced that this man would take Naaman's leprosy and pass it through all his descendants.
God and the Gentiles
People brought to Elisha their needs. That's the same view of people we should have in our own ministries- meet people in their needs.
Naaman was a gentile. A military leader of an enemy. An unclean leper. And his wife used slave labor of a little girl kidnapped from Israel. A surprise choice for someone Elisha would volunteer to heal.
Wiersbe sates that Elijah is named 29 times in the New Testament; but Elisha only once. That surprises me, considering the parallels between Jesus and Elisha... That one time is Luke 4:27
This incident occurred immediately following his temptation by satan in the desert. Afterward, Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. He spoke and read at several synagogues and was well praised until he returned home to Nazareth. He read from Isaiah, predicted that they wanted to see miracles, but knew that no prophet is received in his home town. So then he points out two stories from the Old Testament- Elijah saving the widow (who believed in God, but was a gentile); and the healing of Naaman (the only leper healed by Elisha, even though he was the enemy, a gentile, and didn't believe in God until after his healing.)
This enraged the people and they tried to run Him off of a cliff for it.
They wanted to see their hometown boy put on a show and perform miracles for them; instead they found a man claiming to have the Spirit of the Lord for the poor and downtrodden, and apparently, the gentiles.
Instead of considering the scriptures and realizing that God has been reaching out to gentiles for thousands of years, they decided to try and kill the Messenger.
I wonder what the equivalent for me is? Who do I perceive as too far away from God to be saved. The beggars on street corners holding up signs? Abortionists? Radicals trying to undermine my country?
I don't like them so I perceive that God does not love them. They are His creation. He wants to ring them home and it's not my place to wish them otherwise. His message is for everyone.
Naaman was a proud man. He may have come to feel entitled to the healing. He proudly took an entourage, accompanied by a letter from his king, went into an enemy nation, to their king, and basically assumed that the king would command the prophet to heal Naaman. In exchange, he proudly brought a pile of money and fine garments to pay for his healing, because that's how prophets and kings worked- for money, as far as he knew.
But God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. So nothing went according to Naaman's plan (Been there.) Mostly because it wasn't really Naaman's to have a plan. He received nothing from the king. He received no welcome or ceremony from the prophet. He received no encounter with the prophet. He was instructed to dip 7 times in a very muddy, dirty river when he had pristine rivers at home he could dip in.
His pride bought him nothing but frustration and anger. (Been there.)
But when he listening to the reasoning of his servant, humbled himself, and obeyed God's prophet...he was healed. Skin like a child's.
And he saw Whose plan he was under. And he believed. Saved by faith. He took dirt back, just so he could worship the soil of the one true God in a land that served another god. He took the message with him.
Wiersbe points out what an indictment this was to the King of Israel and the people of Israel. They had this prophet among them all of the time, seeing and hearing of God's great works through him...and still they worshipped other gods.