2 Kings 3-7; we have all probably heard the song “These are the days of Elijah” on Christian radio; but this blog will reflect on the days of Elisha, the successor to Elijah. Elisha followed Elijah around to various places including Bethel and Jordan before being taken up in a whirlwind and as we all know the Chariots of fire. Elijah was a renown prophet, famous for being caught away by the Spirit just when people thought they had captured him. Elisha followed Elijah in a very strange exchange from one prophet to another. While reading the story it seemed as if Elijah could care less about Elisha. We know that Elijah has a second person like unto him – John the Baptist, who was prophesied in Malachi 4. Elijah tells Elisha only if he is present and catches the mantle/coat of Elijah as he is taken up will he receive his request of getting a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. As the story goes, Elisha does catch the mantle and is ushered in as the prophet heir-apparent during this very volatile time in Judah/Israel history.
What follows in our reading is miracle after miracle from the hands of Elisha. I wondered why we don’t celebrate miracles more often? Could it be that we are not looking for them? Or worse yet we really don’t believe that God still does miracles; so we don’t “pray through” for them? In our current skeptical and charlatan days where people fake miracles to draw a crowd or to take advantage of naïve desperate people in their malady’s; few see healings as miracles.
Faith healers have given a bad testimony to the work of the Lord Jesus and the faith expressed by praying saints. In our day of science and modern medicine, and I guess we could include the ever-increasing “essential oils” movement – people attribute healings or cures “other than God.” Jesus spoke truth to people, but they clamored inside packed houses and even tore roofs off houses to get a chance at being healed. Jesus told his skeptics that “if they didn’t believe His words, believe the works that He did” as testimony that He was the Son of God, doing the work of God.
In the stories recounted for us in our readings this week, they are desperate situations; yet they are not without similar stories in the Old and New Testament elsewhere. The Widow’s oil miracle in 2 Kings 4- resonates with Jesus feeding of the 5,000 and the miracle with Elijah and the widow of Zarephath oil and meal being replenished. Even the story of the Shunamite woman becoming pregnant reminds us of Hannah and Samuel and Elizabeth and John the Baptist. Elisha continues miracles with the Shunamite woman when her son dies and is brought back to life. Three people were raised from the dead by Jesus, and Paul revived a boy who fell out of the balcony while he was preaching. Elisha and the healing of the leper Naaman by dipping in the river Jordan, speaks of the mud and blind man Jesus heals. Over and over in the scripture we have story after story of how people were healed or delivered from a crisis by the work and word of God.
The greatest work of miracles is the salvation of people by the “faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior’s work at Calvary.” Can a leopard’s spots be changed? Yes, a thousand times yes. Can a sinner’s past sins and reprobate mind be transformed – absolutely. Now I know that God doesn’t heal everyone, in the bible and in our day. What determines if a person gets healed or not? Not up to me – I have no answer for that – way above my pay grade. Yet I cringe at pastors and other believers who condemn people because healing didn’t occur. The indictment for those not healed is explained away by “you just didn’t have enough faith.” Nothing could be more asinine that to tell someone who in their despair. DO I believe miracles happen today? Yes, sure do, but I think the miracles are missed because we can explain them away. Does a miracle have to be something that is only explainable by God’s doing – probably. But doesn’t God work in the world we live?
Elisha was used to show forth the glory of God through countless miracles – even the floating axe head that was borrowed. The vision/miracle in 2 Kings 6 with the King of Aram coming against Israel, and the fearful servant asks “what shall we do?” Elisha says “Oh Lord I pray open his eyes that he may see!” Opening the eyes of the servant – he saw the Mighty army of God – I challenge all of us to open our eyes and see that our salvation draweth nigh!