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Bible: What Does 2 Kings 5-6 Teach Us About Miracles?
Elisha and Naaman
Humble Yourself, Naaman!
Syria's great general Naaman, a man afflicted with leprosy, captures a little Jewess who lovingly informs him about Elisha: a prophet in Israel who can heal him of his disease (vv. 1-3).
When the king of Syria hears about this miracle man of God, he sends Naaman with a letter (and a hefty payment) to the king of Israel, asking him to heal his man (vv. 4-6).
The latter, however, misconstrues the letter’s intent, and thinks Syria's monarch is picking a fight with him (v. 7).
Stepping into the controversy in the nick of time, Elisha convinces the king of his willingness to meet with Naaman, so that the latter might come to know that Yahweh is the only true God (v. 8).
When the general arrives at Elisha's home, the prophet does not meet him with honor and heal him with some great display of power as Naaman had expected; instead, he sends a servant to tell the mighty Syrian to wash in the Jordan River seven times (vv. 9-11).
[Note how the prophet assumes authority over a pagan king, or at least, tests Naaman to see if he would humble himself].
Offended by Elisha's simple remedy, Naaman allows his anger to turn him away; fortunately, for his sake, his wise servants persuade him to swallow his pride and do what the prophet had said (vv. 12-13).
Naaman’s obedience brings blessing: clear, clean flesh (v. 14).
Afterwards, Naaman confesses his belief in Israel's God as the only true God, and then offers Elisha payment for his services (v. 15).
The prophet, however, steadfastly refuses these shekels (v. 16).
Accepting this decision as final, the Syrian shows Elisha the reality of his conversion by requesting that the prophet give him enough earth to construct a proper altar, so that he might worship Yahweh as his only God (v. 17; cf. Ex. 20:24).
In addition, he asks pardon for those times that he must help his pagan master worship Rimmon in the Syrian temple (v. 18).
Elisha honors these petitions, and Naaman departs (v. 19).
The Price of Greed
Discontent with receiving no remuneration for his master's (and his) time and effort, Gehazi pursues Naaman's chariot in order to acquire some money and clothes from him (vv. 20-22).
[Not only does Elisha’s servant fabricate a story about the arrival of some needy sons of the prophets, but he also implicates his master, lying about receiving a command from him to obtain the goods from Naaman].
Naaman gives Gehazi twice as much money as he asked for, and even sends some servants to help him carry everything back to his home (vv. 23-24).
Later, when Elisha confronts Gehazi about his recent whereabouts, hoping that this hint would be enough for him to confess his greed, the servant instead lies again (v. 25).
Elisha lived by this principle: the man of God does not receive monetary payment for what God's power has done through him (v. 26).
What are the wages of Gehazi's greed? Naaman's leprosy will remain upon him and his descendants forever (v. 27).
The Jordan River
An Amazing Miracle
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A Floating Axe-Head
2 Kings 6
Elisha performs still another miracle, this one to prevent possible embarrassment for one of the sons of the prophets.
While cutting down a tree to help his brothers build a more spacious dormitory for themselves (vv. 1-2, 4), one of the young preachers loses his axe head by dropping it into the Jordan (v. 5).
Having gone with them to oversee the project, Elisha responds to the fellow's cry for help by throwing a stick near where the iron fell in (v. 6).
The axe head rises to the surface and floats, enabling the young man to retrieve it (v. 7).
[One cannot explain this incident naturalistically; sticks never raise axe heads from water!]
Miracles: Real or Fabricated?
Do you believe these miracles by Elisha actually occurred?
"More With Us Than With Them"
The historian relates one more account of Elisha's special ability as a man of God.
Constantly frustrated in his efforts to defeat Israel, the king of Syria complains of espionage to his servants (vv. 8-11).
They inform him that his plans have failed not because of any betrayal, but because the prophet knows what he will do before he does anything, and passes on that information to the king of Israel (v. 12).
Syria, therefore, attempts to capture the prophet at Dothan, sending a great army to surround that city (vv. 13-14).
While Elisha's servant stands before him petrified because of the sheer number of soldiers arrayed against them, the prophet, privileged to witness a vision, calmly informs him that those on their side far exceed those fighting for the opposition (vv. 15-16).
When God, through the prophet's prayer, finally enables the servant to see even as Elisha does, he observes the mountain full of Heaven's military (v. 17).
While Syria's forces advance, the man of God prays that the LORD strike them with blindness.
As one might expect, the judgment occurs according to Elisha's word (v. 18).
After leading some of Syria’s blinded commanders to Samaria, the prophet asks God to restore their sight (vv. 19-20).
Elisha then rescues them from the bloodthirsty desires of the king of Israel (v. 21), advising him to show them kindness and send them back to their king (vv. 22-23a).
As the result of this favor, Syrian raiders no longer bother Israel (v. 23b).
A Horrible Event in Samaria
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Famine and Cannibalism
But Elisha’s act of mercy does not go unpunished; Ben-Hadad's army besieges Samaria during a terrible famine (vv. 24-25).
The historian recounts a horrible story of cannibalism which occurs at this evil time.
One day the king of Samaria encounters a woman seeking his help.
Responding sarcastically, he asks her what her problem is (vv. 26-28a).
She tells him that she and another woman had agreed to eat each other's sons on separate days; however, after they boiled her son on the first day, the other woman hid her son on the next (vv. 28b-29).
The king tears his clothes in grief and seeks out a scapegoat to kill, namely Elisha (vv. 30-31).
Knowing that the king would seek to take his life, the prophet sits calmly with certain elders and tells an attendant (?) to close the door against the messenger sent to kill him (v. 32).
Elisha then decides to act (v. 33).
© 2013 glynch1