Sunday, June 26, 2011


The Bible tells us of many miracles performed through many different people. We should remember that the miracle is God’s power in action. That is why it is a supernatural event that cannot be explained in natural terms.

Although an individual performed the miracle from the human view point, it is God’s power on display through his chosen servant that brings the miracle about. This is the case with Elisha. He performed miracles, but he was the conduit for God’s power to accomplish God’s purposes.


One of the prophets died, leaving a wife and two children. He also left debts. Prophets did not make much money. The widow was so poor, the only thing she had was a jar of oil. The creditor knew the widow could not pay the debt with her husband gone, so he came to collect the children in payment. They would work for him as slaves.

The widow came to Elisha for help. Normally, the kinsman redeemer would be responsible for the widow and the debt, but there may have been none. Elisha stepped into that role. He directed her to fill all the jars she could get with oil. God multiplied the oil so she could sell it and pay the debts.

This miracle reminds us Elijah’s miracle that provided oil and flour for the widow of Zarephath as recorded in 1 Kings 17:8-16. The ability to multiply food clearly belongs only to God. Therefore, when Jesus fed the 5,000 in Matthew 14:13-21, he testified that he was God’s anointed one.


A wealthy woman extended great hospitality to Elisha. She acknowledged him as a holy man of God (9). She fed him when he came through her village. Then she built him a room on the roof so he had a place to stay.

Elisha had good manners. In return for her great hospitality, he offered to do something for her. (11-13). Elisha was connected. He offered to speak to the king or the commander of the army for her provision or protection. However, she did not need these things. She was wealthy and needed no provision. She lived among her own people, so she needed no protection.

Notice that, in contrast to the widow, this woman did not ask for anything. Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, informed him that she had no son and was not likely to get one from her old husband. It was important in those days to have a son to keep the property allotment in the family, carry on the family lineage and provide for the needs of the family. Barrenness was considered a sign of God’s disfavor.

Elijah decreed that she would have a son. God would give her a son. The Bible repeatedly shows this as God’s favor on a woman. It is a continuing theme in the Bible from Sarah, to Hannah all the way to Elizabeth, who bore John the Baptist.

This son would have been cherished, having been born when there was no hope of a child. So, when he fell ill and died it was devastating.

Note that Elisha was not omniscient, he did not know everything. Only God is omniscient. He hid this matter from Elisha until the woman came to tell him. (27)

Since the woman saw Elisha as the one who gave her the child, she went to Elisha for help when she lost the child. Elisha in fact raised the child from death and restored him to life. Only through God’s power could this be done and it testified to Elisha’s standing a prophet.

We are again reminded of Elijah. He raised the son of the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17:17-24. He even stretched himself out on the boy (21) as Elisha did (34). The widow declared “now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth”. His use of the Lord’s miraculous power testified to his appointment as the one who spoke for God.

Jesus also raised people from the dead. He raised Lazarus in John 11 and it caused many to believe in him. It also caused the Pharisees and chief priests to plot to kill him and Lazarus.

2 KINGS 4:38-41

When you do not have enough to eat, you make stew. It is just a bunch of stuff boiled in water. We used to have stew once every week. It contained all the leftovers we had from the week’s previous meals.

Famine in the land was a sign of God’s punishment. Deuteronomy 28:22). We know that Israel continued to worship the golden calves.

Here one of the prophets poisoned the stew with a vine. The vine and its gourds looked similar to the edible vines and gourds. But they were poisonous. Similarly the worship of the golden calves was meant to approximate the worship of the LORD, but was not the proper worship the LORD decreed.

Elisha purified the pot. The flour was just a visible sign of God working to remove the poison. God’s power worked through Elisha and God protected his prophets through him.

2 KINGS 4:41-44

A man brought bread and grain to help feed the prophets. He brought only enough for 20, but God through Elisha multiplied it to feed 100. This again foreshadows Jesus feeding the 5,000. Those who knew their scriptures well at the time of Christ would recognize God’s working in Jesus in a similar way to his working through Elisha.

God provides for his people. The Puritans called it his providence. The Westminister Shorter Catechism said ”God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerfully preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.” It encompassed both the provision of physical needs and the direction of their lives.

That is what God sought to do with Israel. If they would obey him, he would provide for them, guide them and protect them. He provided for them with manna in the desert and a land full of milk and honey to live in. He guided them through the desert with Moses, then a succession of prophets and judges in the promised land. Unfortunately, they rejected his kingship and chose to follow human kings.

God continues this work in the church. He provides for the church through spiritual gifts and offices, he guides us through the Holy Spirit and his Word and he protects us by preserving us for eternal life.

Both of these paths began with an act of redemption. God redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt. God redeemed the church from slavery to sin. Then he called both to follow him, obey him and bring glory to his name.

Romans 8:28-30 says:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Verses 1-3 are a summary of Jehoram’s reign in Israel. The writer tells us 3 things:
1. he was evil, though not as evil as his father and mother;
2. he put away Baal worship; but
3. he continued the false worship of Jeroboam with the golden calves.

Verses 4-10 tell the story of Moab’s rebellion and Jehoram’s attempt to stop it. Moab had been under the dominion of Israel since King David defeated and subjugated it. Moab paid tribute to Israel in sheep. Moab decided Israel had become weak and rebelled. It probably quit paying tribute when Ahab died, hence the reference in 2 Kings 1:1. Ahaziah injured himself and was unable to do anything about it. But Jehoram decided to quell the rebellion by force.

Notice that Jehoram did not seek God in this decision. He just forged ahead, just as Ahab would have done.

Jehoram had two problems, though. Moab lay south of Israel and the approach from the North was more difficult than the approach from the south west. The Mesha Steele, or Moabite Stone, stated that the northern part of the country was under the control of Moab’s army. So, Jehoram sought an alliance with Judah. An alliance would allow him safe passage through Judah and Edom since Edom was under Judah’s domain, an easier attack route from the south west and additional troops from Judah. Therefore he sought Jehoshaphat’s help.

Although Jehoshaphat’s father, Asa, would not make a treaty with Israel, Jehoshaphat would. He did it before. It almost cost him his life. But here he does it again.

Jehoram’s plan turned out to be a bad one and his leadership worse. They got lost and ran in circles for 7days in the Desert of Edom. They had no water. Both the men and horses began to fail. It reminds me of Proverbs 14:12, which says “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (ESV)

Rather than take responsibility, Jehoram blamed it on God (10). He said God called the kings to be defeated by Moab.

There is no evidence that God called them to do this. Jehoram certainly did not consult God, but neither did Jehoshaphat, even though he was a godly king.

This is typical sinful human failure. We want our own will. We will take credit when we succeed rather than glorify God, but blame him when we fail.

Verses 11-12 show Jehoshaphat realizing it is time to consult the LORD. He asked if there was a prophet around. He learned they were not far from Elisha’s home. “Poured water on the hands of Elijah” means he was Elijah’s servant and disciple. Jehoshaphat acknowledged that God’s word was with Elisha, that he was God’s prophet. Remember he sought the LORD through the prophet Micaiah about the battle against the Syrians in 1 Kings 22:7.

It shows Jehoshaphat’s humility that he went to Elisha rather than summon Elisha to himself. Jehoram likely went along to keep Jehoshaphat happy, since Jehoram would have viewed Elisha as an enemy, as his family viewed Elijah.

Verses 13-14 Elisha’s Disdain for Jerhoram

Elisha also viewed the house of Omri and Ahab’s family in particular as enemies of the LORD. In verse 13, he says he wanted nothing to do with them. He told him to go seek Baal. But Jehoram continued to invoke the name of the LORD over the venture.

Elisha only sought the LORD on their behalf because he had regard for Jehoshaphat.

Verses 15-19 The LORD’s Word

The LORD gave Elisha a word: the LORD would deliver water supernaturally, and he would give them victory over Moab. He also accomplished this supernaturally. He instructed them to ruin the land as they went, sewing it with stones. This time they would use God’s battle plan, not Jehoram’s.

Verses 20-27 The LORD Kept His Word

The next morning, water began to flow in the trenches. God abundantly provided: the land was full of water. The water was not from rain. When the Moabiltes saw the water, they thought it was blood from infighting between Israel and Judah. Moab’s arm swept down to finish them off and were struck down. They followed the Lord’s instructions.

The king of Moab first tried to break through the lines of Edom, but could not. He then retreated to a walled city and sacrificed his oldest son on the wall. This was a sacrifice to Chemosh, their god. This was to appease Chemosh, figuring he was mad at them and made them suffer defeat. It provoked great fury in the troops. It is interesting that even the cultures that rebelled against the LORD retained the idea of the sacrifice of one to save the many.

When Jehoshaphat and Jehoram saw this, and the determination of Moab, they retreated. They had accomplished their task of bringing Moab under control. They did not, however, follow the LORD’s instructions fully, as he told them to attack every fortified city (19).

We again see God accomplish many things with one set of actions. Here he:

1. exposed man’s weakness by letting the kings fail in their own plan;
2. manifested his own power and sovereignty by providing water to save them and victory over the enemy;
3. he demonstrated again that Elisha was a prophet embued with power from God; and
4. he punished the pagan Moabites for their unbelief and rebellion against himself; and
5. he preserved the line of Judah and its kings that would bring forth the Messiah.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Doctor Death is Dead.