Sunday, November 01, 2009

Who is this man Elisha? Part 5

This was the prophet the little girl sent Naaman to. Had she heard all these stories? Had she been there? The story of Naaman follows in 2 Kings 5 (NIV).

I think last time we read this story we were looking at the child. If you reread Naaman's story see what this story tells you about Elisha.

2 Kings 6:1-7 NIV)

Moving on. Elisha's company of prophets come to him and tell him their meeting place is too small. They say, " 2 Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to live." I'm not sure what the significance of each man having a pole is but there is probably something cultural/historical and interesting to be found there. Apparently they gained numbers during Elisha's time. When the others suggest they expand, it seems Elisha seems more than open to the suggestion. Elisha says, " Go ahead." Apparently Elisha was not planning on going with them. It almost looks like they beg him to come but I might be reading too much into it. Anyway, Elisha gives in and goes, too. He could've said, "No, this wasn't what I was planning on doing today..."

They go off to the Jordan. They begin to cut down some trees. "5 As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. 'Oh, my lord,' he cried out, 'it was borrowed!'

6 The man of God asked, "Where did it fall?" When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. 7 "Lift it out," he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it."

This was a miracle but the way I see it there's some special kindness here. One of the guys borrows someone's ax, the head is loose, falls off and sinks to the bottom of water where by all rights it should have stayed. Luckily no one got hurt. The guy would probably have to replace it and they could've gotten into whether the axhead was loose to begin with and who's to blame yada yada yada. Elisha didn't have to retrieve the axhead. But he did with God's help. He's a man of God in the office of prophet but it seems to me he is using what God gave him to meet needs and extend kindness without the usual "Thus sayeth the Lord" and he does it ALOT!

The king of Aram gets upset thinking there is a spy in their midst. But there isn't. One of his officers tells him, 12 "None of us, my lord the king . . . but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom."

The scriptures continue

13 "'Go, find out where he is,' the king ordered, 'so I can send men and capture him.' The report came back: 'He is in Dothan.' 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city." Elisha is a wanted man and the king of Aram sends a whole army to capture one prophet, lol!

Back to scripture: 15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked. [I wonder if this is the same servant. I wonder why sometimes the servant is named and sometimes, not.]

16 "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." [Elisha sees what no one else sees and, it appears, he's not afraid or worried.]

17 And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. [Another kindness? Why not just expect the servant to take his word for it? "Have faith! Believe!" I'm not mocking, I just think it's interesting that he asked God to open the servant's eyes so he could see what the prophet saw. He was just a servant, after all. Irrelevant but it also makes me wonder if Elisha was once an imaginative child.]

18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, "Strike these people with blindness."

God did it. Again, God did what Elisha asked. To save himself? All the glory is God's in this story so maybe it doesn't really matter. It's just interesting.

19 Elisha told them, "This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for." And he led them to Samaria.

This is sort of funny. Apparently they didn't know who they were looking for or that they'd found him. It's kind of fun when you're reading scripture and you discover that God has a sense of humor. I love it!

20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, "LORD, open the eyes of these men so they can see." Then the LORD opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.

21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, "Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?"

22 "Do not kill them," he answered. "Would you kill men you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master." 23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel's territory." [Elisha keeps feeding people!!]

I'm sure you can make many more observations than these. The whole idea of seeing and not seeing, too. But considering what could have happened, this is a pretty amazing story and it tells you lots more about this man and abit of foreshadowing of Christ Jesus. Considering that the army had come to capture Elisha and the king was willing to protect him with another army. . . Considering that Elisha was originally commissioned to kill the ones that were left after the king and the other prophet were done it seems this might have been a God-given opportunity for that but what does Elisha do? He just feeds them! Just give them something to eat and send them on their way. Wait. Who's providing all this food, anyway? The king of Israel is feeding his enemies? Oh! It's a pretty amazing story.

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