Bible Order: Job 1–5
Chronological Order: Chronicles 1, 1 Kings 3-4, Psalms 72
New Testament Only: John 8:39–59
Get a load of all the miracles Elisha performs in today’s reading. I saw a little blurb about the miracles of Elijah compared with the miracles of Elisha. You may remember that as Elijah was preparing to be taken up to heaven Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Interestingly enough the Bible records seven miracles of Elijah and thirteen miracles of Elisha. Elisha was granted his request but he almost had a double portion of miracles to boot. The book “Every Miracle in the Bible” states that the major miracles performed by Elijah were miracles of judgment while the miracles of Elisha were focused on life.
I’m not sure I can go along with that. The argument that the mauling of the youths that taunted Elisha by bears is focused on life rather than judgment seems a bit tenuous. The idea here is that this was a moment of calling a lost nation back to God through a powerful demonstration of the peril of ridiculing Him. But if this curse is designed to call people back to life in God, wouldn’t all curses or judgments also be calls to life? In fact I believe all of these stories of curses and punishments dished out by God are exactly that, a call to the lost to return to the one true and holy God.
At any rate, here are the miracles of Elisha:
1. Elisha divides the Jordan’s waters.
2. Elisha heals a spring’s waters.
3. Elisha curses jeering young men with a bear attack.
4. Elisha provides water for a thirsty army.
5. Elisha multiplies a widow’s oil.
6. Elisha promises a pregnancy.
7. Elisha raises the widow’s son.
8. Elisha makes poisoned food harmless.
9. Elisha multiplies loaves of bread.
10. Elisha heals Namaan the leper.
11. Elisha curses Gehazi with leprosy.
12. Elisha makes an ax head float.
13. Elisha blinds and gives sight.
This list of miracles reminds me of both Moses and Jesus. Moses also divided water and made water appear for a thirsty multitude. A number of individuals who jeered Moses also met a grizzly end (sorry for the pun). Jesus multiplied loaves and fishes just as Elisha did with loaves and oil. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead just as Elisha raised the widow’s son. I realize this is a stretch but the floating ax head could be compared to Jesus walking on the water but you’ll probably laugh at me for suggesting it so forget I said anything about that one. Finally, many view the Old Testament appearances of the Lord to human beings on Earth as the “pre-incarnate Christ”. Thus, in continuing our analogy, the Lord promising Abraham a son would compare with Elisha promising the woman a son.
I imagine we could do some more work here and pair each of Elisha’s miracles with those of Moses or Jesus but I’d like to move on to discussing Naaman’s leprosy. Naaman is a pretty successful guy. The Bible says he was a great man in high favor of the king of Syria, a pretty powerful force at this time. In fact, Naaman was the commander of Syria’s powerful army. Even the little girl who was dragged from her home to be a slave to Naaman seemed to like him as she wished he would go to see Elisha to be heal of his leprosy. He sounds like a pretty nice guy with a lot going for him; well except for the leprosy.
Do you know lost people who are “good people”? They are always doing good things for others and are as nice as can be? As nice as they may be by man’s standard, before a holy God they are lepers. They are stinking, rotting, malformed, contagious, sinners. That’s Naaman. That’s the lost. With all that is going in Naaman’s favor he is a very prideful man. God doesn’t like pride.
Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV
“There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.”
What is number one on the Proverbs list of things God hates? Haughty eyes. Other translations render this as a “proud look”. No matter how you say it, we are talking about pride here and it is listed first. The whole process of Naaman being cleansed is a process of shoring him of his pride. Let me tell you something friends you cannot come to God on your terms. You cannot come with a prideful heart. A sinner can only come before a holy God on his knees.
Naaman expected to be met by Elisha not his servant. He expected a great religious ritual but was told to go take jump in the lake; I mean river. If Naaman was going to be saved from leprosy, if he was going to be cleansed, he was going to have to humble himself. I don’t know if modern medicine has cure for leprosy but back then man could not heal that disease. Only God could cure leprosy. It’s why it was one of the miracles Moses performed before Pharaoh. It symbolizes here the same thing it did in Moses’ day as well as Jesus’ day; sin. Only God can cure humanity of sin.
Like Naaman, so many believe in religious ritual as a way to be saved. They look to “holy men” to heal them of any number of ailments. My friends only Jesus Christ can heal what is sick and hurting in this lost and dying world and anyone who wants to be cured can have the cure if they will only humble themselves before Christ, accept His sacrifice for their sin, turn their back on their dead selves and be reborn in newness of life. Now there’s a miracle!
Have a blessed day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
(Originally posted 4/25/10)