XLIX MIRACLES OF ELISHA
From II Kings 2:1 through 8:15, we are given an extensive history
of the ministry of Elisha as it related to the northern kingdom of Israel.
Chapter 2 records how Elijah was taken up by a whirlwind as he was
guarded by the flaming chariots. As Elisha was leaving the scene of
Elijah’s miraculous ascension into heaven, his earlier request for a double portion of the Spirit was granted, as evidenced when Elijah’s mantle fell to the earth for him. He smote the Jordan river with the mantle as he had just seen Elijah do. The river parted and Elisha crossed over to the other side. When fifty prophets who had been watching at Jericho saw this miracle, they said, “The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. “They came to meet him, and “bowed themselves to the ground before him” (vs. 15) As Elisha traveled up toward Bethel, he was followed by a large group of youths who taunted him, saying, “Go up, thou bald head” (vs.23), evidently mocking the ascension of Elijah and daring him to do the same. Elisha turned and cursed them in the name of the Lord. Immediately, two she bears emerged from the woods and wounded forty-two of them.
Jehoram Rules in Israel Chapter 3 begins the narrative of Jehoram as he ascended the throne of the northern kingdom, following the death of his brother Ahaziah. According to the pronouncement of the Lord through Elijah, Jehoram: wrought evil in the sight of the Lord; but not like his father, and like his mother; for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the
son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not there from.
Unfortunately for himself and his people, he returned to the calf
worship invented by Jeroboam 1, the founder of the northern kingdom. The end of chapter 3 records the defeat of the Moabites, as
predicted through Elisha. The text describes how the king of Moab
sacrificed his oldest son, who was to reign after him, offering him up
on the wall of his city as a burnt offering. From that time on, the
Moabites hated the Israelites intensely. Verse 27 says, “there was great indignation against Israel.
Elisha and the Shunamite Chapter 4 once again centers on the miracles of Elisha. Evidently, he had established a regular circuit for his ministry as Samuel had once done, and one of the towns he frequently passed through was Samuel.
There a “great” or wealthy women made a practice of offering him the
traditional eastern hospitality. After a time, she and her husband built
“a prophet’s chamber” on the roof of their house where Elisha could turn in and rest anytime he chose to do so. Desiring to honor her for her thoughtfulness, he learned that she was childless and promised her that at the equivalent time in the following year she would have a son. The prophecy was fulfilled and a son was born as Elisha predicted.
When the boy was old enough to follow his father to the fields,
he was stricken one day with an illness that brought on unbearable
pain in his head. In a short time he was dead. His mother immediately
sought out Elisha who was residing on Mount Carmel. Hearing the
news, he sent his servant Gehazi ahead of him with his staff with orders to lay it across the face of the cud. Gehazi did so, but according to verse 31, “there was neither voice, nor hearing. “ He returned to meet Elisha and reported, “The child is not awaked.”
Is it possible that we misunderstand this portion of Scripture? Many
believe that the child was to be resurrected when Elisha’s staff was laid across his face. I personally do not believe this was the case. Because of the climate and extreme temperatures in that part of the world, it was impossible to let a corpse stay above the ground for very long. Elisha would require more time to arrive on the scene than would his right hand man, Gehazi. My explanation of this Scripture is that Gehazi ran ahead and placed Elisha’s staff on the child’s face as a symbol of authority so that no one would move the body to bury it. Elisha realized that when he arrived the child must be in a place where he could get to him easily, not buried. That is not to say that he could not have called the child forth as the Lord Jesus did to Lazarus (John 11), but the Scripture seems to indicate that the staff was placed there as a symbol of authority rather than as an instrument for resurrection.
The balance of II Kings 4 contains two additional miracles of
Elisha; the poisoned pot which was made pure, and the bread which
was multiplied to feed a hundred men. This was most certainly a miracle that anticipated the two similar ones wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ when he fed the multitudes on two separate occasions.
Elisha and the Leper Chapter 5 is the story of the healing of Naaman, the captain of the army of the king of Syria. Naaman was a leper, a disease for which there was no known cure. He heard from an Israelite slave girl, working in his house, that there was a prophet in Samaria who could cure him of his leprosy. Naaman went to the king of Syria who sent an official letter to the king of Israel, along with ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of garments. He wrote: “Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have sent therewith Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy” (vs. 6).
Jehoram was beside himself with fear and frustration. He tore his
clothes and cried out, “Am I god, to kill and to make alive, that this man
doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? ... see how he seeketh a
quarrel against me” (vs. 7). He could only imagine that the king of Syria
was paying him in advance to perform an impossible service because he needed an excuse to make war on Israel. Elisha, having heard about the incident, sent word to Jehoram, asking, “ Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
When Naaman, with his pompous retinue of horses, chariots, and
servants, stopped before Elisha’s door, the prophet did not even give
him a personal welcome. Instead, he sent Its servant outside with the
message, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (vs. 10).
Naaman was furious at this lack of Elisha’s deference for his exalted
position. He raved, “Behold I thought, He will surely come out to me,
and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place. “ Naaman wanted a big spectacular extravaganza, not a simple instruction. Naaman continued raving, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?” Naaman wanted God’s healing, but he wanted to choose the place and method. When Elisha did not comply, he left in a rage.
However, his servants demonstrated more wisdom than he did.
Cautiously, they approached him and suggested: “If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” Reluctantly, Naaman obeyed and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan. When he came up the seventh time, his skin was soft like a little child. I imagine that he turned cartwheels as he came up out of the water.
With the leprosy gone, he returned and stood before the prophet’s
door. This time he confessed, “Now I know that there is no God in all the
earth, but in Israel.” He wanted to give Elisha the great wealth he had
brought with him, but the prophet refused despite Naaman’s insistence. As soon as Naaman left, a revealing scenario of greed and covetousness occurred. Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, decided to run after the chariots and ask for some of Naaman’s treasure. Perhaps he rationalized that he deserved it since Elisha did not take it. Naaman stopped his chariot, and Gehazi, claiming to speak for his master, asked for two changes of clothes and a talent of silver for “two young men of the sons of the prophets” who had just arrived at Elisha’s home. Naaman was still so overjoyed that he took two changes of clothes and two talents of silver and sent them back by two of his servants. Gehazi hid the clothes and silver in his house and sent the servants back to Namaan.
When Gehazi returned to Elisha, he was asked: “Where have you
been, Gehazi?” Adding a he to his recent deception, the servant replied, “Thy servant went no whither. “ Then, with a broken heart, Elisha confronted Him with the truth. “Went not my heart with thee ... ?” Gehazi was so foolish. We will see in the next chapter that Elisha had the gift of knowing what was going on elsewhere, even in the bedrooms of enemy kings. Elisha had looked with spiritual eyes and saw Gehazi, consumed with lust and greed, chasing Naaman’s chariot. He would never get to enjoy the things he had taken, because the leprosy of Naaman would be on him for the rest of his life.
Elisha and the Syrians Chapter 6 begins with the miracle of the floating axe head which provided a demonstration of God’s sovereignty in the physical universe. Once again the king of Syria began to wage war against Israel. As Commander-in-Chief of his armed forces, he detailed the battle plan against Israel to Its generals and commanders; ordering them to set up camps and lay siege to the city in specific places. Elisha sent word to Jehoram regarding each strategic location, as the Syrian king determined and commanded it. The king of Israel would then send word to his troops to stay away from the designated place. Verse 10 says that in this way he saved himself “not once or twice, “ meaning that Elisha helped many times.
The king of Syria became enraged, believing there must be a military
leak some-where: A traitor in his inner circle of officers who was sending information about his battle plans to the king of Israel. But, one of his officers advised him, explaining: “Elisha the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.” “Go. . . and fetch him, “ the king commanded. What followed was the invasion by huge portions of the Syrian army against the city of Samaria. Elisha then miraculously delivered the city from the invasion by the Syrians.
The remainder of chapter 6, beginning in verse 24, is the account
of an additional siege by the Syrians under King Ben-hadad. We are
allowed to see firsthand the experiences of the inhabitants inside the
city of Samaria in their determination to wait out the invading army
lurking outside the wall. Evidently, they had not prepared for a long
siege because, verse 25 says, they were eating donkey’s heads and dove’s dung. The situation was desperate. Finally, as Jehoram, the king of Israel, was passing by, walking on the wall, a woman cried out for help. “If the Lord do not help thee, “he replied, “whence shall I help thee? out of the barn floor, or out of the winepress?” The king confirmed the desperate situation by saying: “I have no grain or wine with which to help you.”
The woman answered that she and her companion had eaten her son
yesterday and were to eat the other woman’s child that day, but the woman had hidden him. When he heard this tragic story, the king rent his clothes and blamed Elisha for the situation. Perhaps from his perspective, that was logical because in the previous invasion described in this chapter, it was Elisha who allowed all the Syrians to return to their land unharmed after he had miraculously caused them to be captured by the king’s soldiers. But Elisha knew the king’s intentions and he turned to those in the house with him and said, “See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head?” (vs. 32).
Chapter 7 begins with Elisha promising deliverance for the city, saying that the very next day there would be an abundance of flour, so much that it would sell for only a shekel per measure. Two measures of barley would sell for one shekel. Compared to 6:25, when donkeys’ heads and doves’ dung were selling for exorbitant amounts, we can see what abundance there would be by contrast. When the royal officer of the court, Jehoram’s right hand man, heard it, he scoffed at the prophet. Elisha’s response was, “ You will see it, but you will not benefit from it.”
The balance of the chapter describes how the Lord caused the Syrian
army to hear the sound of chariots and horses so that they
believed that the king of Israel was coming out against them with hired mercenaries from the Hittites and the Egyptians. As a result, they panicked and fled. In their haste, they left behind all of their military provisions.
When the people of Samaria heard of it, they crowded through the city gates to loot the deserted Syrian camp. In the stampede at the gate, the royal officer that had rebuked Elisha for his prophecy was trampled to death under the feet of the mob rushing to get out of the city and take the supplies left by the Syrian army.
L FALL OF THE HOUSE OF AHAB
We have now reached an era in the history of the two kingdoms
when they are friendly because of political and personal ties. This
resulted in a situation which had tragic results in the south and came
perilously close to extinguishing the fine of David.
Jehoram Becomes King In II Kings 8:16 we read, “In the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign. “ The wording here suggests an overlap (co-regency) by Jehoshaphat and Jehoram in Judah. When Jehoram had secured the throne in the south, he did a heinous thing in the sight of God. To learn about it we must turn to II Chronicles 21:4, which says, “Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers also of the princes of Israel. “ This ungodly king was in the messianic fine of David. He was the son of the good king Jehoshaphat, but to secure his position he killed all of his brothers and close relatives.
Not only did Jehoram commit this heinous crime, but II Kings
8:18 adds: “He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house
of Ahab. “ Officially, Baalism had now come to Judah. Why? Verse 18
has the answer: “for the daughter of Ahab was his wife: and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. “ His wife was Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and
Jezebel. Now, she was the Queen in Judah.
Think with me for a moment about our continuing saga of Satan’s
attempt to prevent the promise of Genesis 3:15 from coming to pass.
Satan is subtle and very, very patient. To put into the southern kingdom, a person powerful enough to prevent the seed line of David from continuing, he began two generations earlier with Omri, king of Israel, by inducing him to arrange a marriage between Jezebel and his son Ahab. Ahab and Jezebel had several children, among whom was Athaliah. Next, unfortunately, Jehoshaphat brought Athaliah into
Judah by arranging her marriage to his son Jehoram as part of a political alliance with Israel.
Athaliah waited patiently while her husband was co-regent with
his father. Immediately after the death of Jehoshaphat, she must have begun urging him to do something quickly before his brothers took away his throne. In response, Jehoram murdered all six of his brothers and everyone else who might cause a threat to his position as king. Athaliah had now cemented not only her husband’s position in Judah, but also her own as queen.
Jehoram When we studied the life of Elisha in II Kings 2:1-8:15,
following warned the miraculous ascension to heaven by Elijah, we
noticed an overlap between Jehoram’s reign in Judah and the ministry of these prophets. In II Chronicles 21:12ff, we learn that prior to Elijah’s ascension, God used him to rebuke Jehoram.
And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying,
Thus saith the Lord God of David thy father, Because thou
hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the
ways of Asa king of Judah, But hast walked in the way of the
kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of
Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of
Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father’s house, which
were better than thyself. Behold, with a great plague will the Lord
smite thy People, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods:
And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until
thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.
Here again, in the fife of Jehoram, was the promised chastisement made to David in II Samuel 7. Second Chronicles 21:19 continues:
And it came to pass, that in the Process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning of his fathers.
Ahaziah Becomes King Second Chronicles 22:1 records: “The inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah his youngest son king in his stead. . . . So Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah reigned. “ Then, continuing in verses 2 and 3, “Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem.”
His background The passage then continues with important background information: His mother’s name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri [or granddaughter, as we know was the case]. He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his
counsellor to do wickedly. Wherefore he did evil in the
sight of the Lord like the house of Ahab: for they were
his counselors after the death of his father to his destruction.
He walked also after their counsel, and went with Jehoram
the son of Ahab king of Israel to war against Hazael king
of Syria at Ramoth-gilead. and the Syrians smote Joram.
And he returned to be healed in Jezreel because of the wounds
which were given him at Ramah.
The two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, now had relatives on the
respective thrones. Joram, the son of Ahab, was king in Israel. His sister, Athaliah, was queen mother in Judah, and his nephew, Ahaziah, son of Athaliah, was king in Judah. Uncle and nephew then joined together to go to battle against their common enemy, Syria. Joram was wounded and went to Jezreel to recover. Shortly after that, Ahaziah decided to pay him a visit and traveled north to see Wm. At that point the narrative changes focus.
Jehu’s Coup It was now time for God to act. Do you remember how He had instructed Elijah when he was on Mount Horeb to anoint Jehu king of Israel? That instruction had been passed to Elisha. In fulfillment, Elisha sent one of the sons of the prophets to Ramath-gilead to find Jehu and speak to him alone, saying, “I have anointed thee king over Israel, “ after pouring the anointing oil on his head. Then the young man was instructed to leave and run Eke the wind, not waiting around to see what happened.
Jehu’s anointing Second Kings 9:4ff describes how he carried out Elisha’s command. After anointing Jehu, he went on to give him
instructions from the Lord and the reasons for them.
Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I have anointed thee king
over the people of the Lord, even over Israel. And thou shalt
smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the
blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the
servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel. For the whole
house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab
[every male heir]... and I will make the house of Ahab like
the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house
of Baasha the son of Ahijah: and the dogs shall eat Jezebel
in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her.
When he had said this, he opened the door and fled.
When questioned by his companions, Jehu repeated the young
prophet’s communication. Immediately, the men removed their clothes to make a “red carpet” for Jehu. They blew a trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king. “ He was anointed and appointed to be God’s man for the spiritual revolution in the north. It was no wonder his men were pleased. They had served him well and with him as king, their positions in the kingdom were automatically elevated.
Jehu’s take-over But there was one problem. Joram was king of the northern kingdom. Jehu’s actions were tantamount to treason. It
was to be a military coup. But, it was a God-ordained military
coup because the man on the throne was not a God-ordained king.
The time had come to fulfill the prophecy made by Elijah to Ahab in
Jehu mobilized his forces and began to drive his chariots toward
Jezreel where the king of Israel was recuperating and enjoying a visit
by his nephew, the king of Judah.
The man in the watchtower of Jezreel saw the approaching chariots
and reported them to the king who ordered him to send out a horse-man to inquire whether it was a friend or foe who was coming. If it
were an enemy, the gates of the city would be closed.
Jehu replied to the messenger’s question by suggesting, in effect,
that if he wanted to save Ws own neck he had better join up. The man then fell in with Jehu’s company. A second messenger received the same advice. By this time, the watchman recognized that by the way he drove his chariot, it must be Jehu coming.
At that point, there was no reason for Joram to distrust any of his
valiant captains. He and Ahaziah, each in his own chariot, went out to
meet Jehu where he was waiting by the vineyard of Naboth. As they
approached, Joram called out, “Is it peace, Jehu? “And he answered, What Peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel
and her witchcrafts are so many?” In so many words, he was pronouncing Joram’s death sentence and the king recognized it as such. Turning to flee, he shouted to his nephew, “There is treachery, 0 Ahaziah. “ About that time, Jehu shot an arrow into the king’s back, through his heart, and he crumpled in his chariot. Turning to an officer, Jehu commanded, “Take up and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
When he turned and saw Ahaziah, the king of Judah, beginning
to flee, he decided to clean up the whole wicked family. He pursued
Ahaziah and shot him also. Ahaziah fell dead and his servants carried
him in his chariot back to Jerusalem for burial in the tombs of the kings.
Death of Jezebel Leaving Naboth’s vineyard, Jehu headed toward the city of Jezreel. Jezebel already heard what had happened. When Jehu arrived in his chariot, she screamed through the window at him: “Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?” That was a reference to the slaying of Elah by Zimri some years earlier. Zimri, you recall, lasted only seven days as king. Looking up toward the window, Jehu called out, “Who is on my side?” Several officials looked down. They knew their lives depended on the side which they chose. “Throw her down,” Jehu commanded them.
They picked up the aged Jezebel, who had painted her eyes and adorned her head before going to the window, and threw her down to the street below. When she landed in a broken heap, they ran over her with the chariots. As they did, her blood was sprinkled on the wall and on the horses as they trampled her underfoot.
Jehu entered the city as the conquering monarch. He ate and
drank, then said, “Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king’s daughter” (9:34). But those who went could find nothing except her skull, her feet, and the palms of her hands. Dogs had eaten the rest of her body. When they returned and told Jehu, he said, “This is the word of the Lord which he spake by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel.” Elijah’s prophecy to Ahab which was made years before in Naboth’s vineyard was completely fulfilled.
I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself
like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not:
yea, I sought him, but he could not be found ... the transgressors
shall be destroyed together. the end of the wicked shall be cut
off. (Psalm 37.35-38)