Synopsis 2 Kings 7:10-16 8/16/2019
The four lepers of Samaria had discovered that the Aramean camp was empty. The Aramean soldiers had heard something that sounded like an army of horses and chariots approaching. Thinking they had been outflanked by a foreign army allied with Israel, they abandoned their siege. As a result, the entire Aramean army had suddenly panicked and taken flight.
The lepers had plundered the camp. But before the night was over, they reported to the king of Israel what had happened. The king of Israel received this news with caution, thinking that it might be a trap. But his forces reconnoitered the area and discovered that the Arameans had indeed fled.
And so, the Israelites left the city en masse and plundered the camp. As a result, grain prices immediately returned to their historical averages. All of this was just as Elisha had predicted in his prophecy.
God Bigger than Israelite Imagination
Although the king of Israel couldn’t imagine it, God was still capable of bringing an extraordinary victory. In this way, the lesson was repeated: God was not limited by what the current generation of Israelites thought was possible.
God Bigger Than My Imagination
It’s really like this. My prayers seem to go unheeded. And life doesn’t seem to be working out the way I imagined – the way that I expected. So, the temptation is to think that it will never go the way I hoped.
Accordingly, I find myself beginning to wonder whether or not God is really capable of answering my prayers at all.
Of course, for anyone who has made the effort to track “prayers” and “answers to prayers” in a journal, it comes as no surprise that God always works His will in ways that I could never imagine.
Still, in the absence of the active effort to chronicle and remember, my tendency is to forget and doubt.
“Therefore, I will always remind you of these things, even though you already know them and are established in the truth you have.” 2 Peter 1:12
Synopsis 2 Kings 7:2-9 8/15/2019
The city of Samaria remained under siege by the Aramean army. The famine was so severe that people were in danger of starving.
There were four lepers who were staying outside the walls of the city. They were especially desperate. Believing death was a certainty if they did nothing, they decided to approach the Aramean army and beg for something to eat.
But when they approached the enemy camp, they found that all the Aramean soldiers had disappeared. Something had caused them to abandon their camp. As a result, the four lepers immediately began plundering the camp. Starving, they ate their fill of food. And they also hid many valuables in the surrounding area as they could.
After they had plundered through several tents, their consciences were convicted. They knew that the people of their city were starving, desperate and anxious. So, they decided to inform the king that the siege was broken.
Desperation and Action
The lepers of Samaria were in an especially precarious position. They could never easily enter to the city because the disease made them pariahs. But they could not escape the siege because they had no way to break through the Aramean lines that surrounded the city.
So, in their desperation, they sought a desperate and unlikely outcome. They threw themselves of the mercy from their enemies. But, it was doing just this that they discovered their enemies were no longer present.
And this discovery created the strange possibility of personal gain. In one of the most curious of all scriptural reversals, the four lepers of Samaria were momentarily the richest people in the kingdom. They had an unlimited feast. And, they had unlimited access to the most precious valuables and goods anyone could imagine.
Poverty and Action
Poverty makes people desperate. Someone who is starving will do anything necessary to find food. Survival is an ingrained quality of human life.
So, perhaps the challenge for me is to recognize my utter poverty. The food I put into my body makes me feel temporarily satisfied. And the material goods that fill my house, and my life, make me feel temporarily satisfied. But if I lack what matters in God’s economy, the sense of satisfaction is elusive and ever fleeting.
The riches of God are faith, hope and love. When I feel my lack of these in the same way that I feel my stomach when it’s empty – that’s when I’ll know true poverty. And that’s when I’ll start looking for a real solution.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:3
Synopsis 2Kings 6:8-17 8/12/2019
The prophet Elisha experienced extraordinary power. For example, he was able to discern the military plans of the king of Aram. And he shared this information with the king of Israel.
The king of Aram was so frustrated that he suspected one of his generals of treacherously giving away their battle plans to Israel. But the generals were aware of Elisha’s special powers. And so, they reported to their king that he was the source.
So, the king of Aram made a plan to capture Elisha. The Aramean army surrounded Elisha’s house in the night. Upon seeing the Aramean forces, Elisha servant panicked. But Elisha consoled him by praying to God that the servant would be able to see the heavenly forces arrayed to protect them.
Accordingly, God opened the servant’s eyes. And he could see that the Aramean army was surrounded by a heavenly host of angels prepared for battle.
Elisha and the Unseen
Elisha had this extraordinary ability to see things as they truly were. His servant, however, did not.
His servant understood that Elisha had faith in God. And he obviously recognized that Elisha had remarkable power over the circumstances in his life.
But the servant didn’t actually see what Elisha saw on an ordinary basis. And except that Elisha prayed for him, the servant could not see the reality of God and His angels working in the affairs of men.
Walking Among the Unseen
I think most people would say that they wouldn’t choose to be blind. At least in my own case, if there is something to see, I typically want to see it. In other words, if it were up to me, I would choose to see what is normally unseen.
For example, if I had an x-ray image taken of some distressed part of my body, I would choose to look at it. I would want to know what was really going on. I would incorporate that which is normally unseen into my total understanding. The x-ray image would clarify and contribute to understanding my felt experience.
In a similar way, the mass brings us face-to-face with the deepest realities of existence. Through my participation in the true presence and the communion of saints, I have a visceral experience. And this clarifies and contributes to understanding my intuitive experience of what must certainly be.
“For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” Eph 6:12
Synopsis 2Kings 5:24-6:7 8/9/2019
Gehazi was frustrated. Elisha had provided a cure for Naaman’s leprosy, even though Naaman was not even an Israelite. And Naaman had come to the prophet fully expecting to pay for his healing, but Elisha had required no payment.
So, Gehazi ran after Naaman. When he caught up to him, he told him that Elisha now required money and cloths. And Naaman gladly gave more than what was requested. Then, Gehazi deposited these things in his own house.
After this, he returned to Elisha. But Elisha already knew what happened. So, the leprosy came upon the servant, Gehazi.
At another point in Elisha’s time, the guild prophets were living with him. There were so many prophets living together that they asked Elisha’s permission to build a larger building for their home. He agreed. And so they all went to the Jordan to prepare wood for the new structure.
As they were working, the iron head of an axe came loose and fell in the river. There was a lament, because iron was expensive. And so, Elisha was asked to help find it. So, Elisha cut off a stick and threw it in the water. Somehow, this caused the iron axe head to come to the surface where it was retrieved.
Greed and Gehazi’s Leprosy
Gehazi was overcome with greed. So, the leprosy that had afflicted Naaman ended up coming upon him.
It’s a curious paradox. But because of his own greed and envy, the cleansing and conversion of a gentile became the source of disease for Gehazi.
Jesus said that the angels rejoice more over the repentance of one sinner than over ninety-nine who have not sinned. And in the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus further described how the older brother could not rejoice over his younger sibling’s repentance and restoration.
It is Gehazi’s paradox all over again. His brother’s healing brought to the surface a certain greed and bitterness that he probably didn’t even realize existed. He resented the celebration. But what he more deeply resented was that he had never been celebrated. He felt “taken for granted”.
Like so, I admit it. Sometimes I feel the “injustice” done to the older brother. I feel like my efforts to do what is right and good have too often gone unrecognized and underappreciated.
And that’s the revealing of my own impurity. In my moment of greed and envy, the salvation that I truly want for every other human being paradoxically becomes the source of my own temptation.
So, Reminder to Self: The call is to love. The promise is heaven. Not fame. Not appreciation. Only life with Jesus forever.
“Then he said to the crowd, ‘Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.’” Luke 12:15
Synopsis 2Kings 5:17-23 8/8/2019
Naaman was healed from his leprosy. And so, he returned to express his thanks and appreciation to Elisha.
This time Elisha came out to greet him. And although Elisha refused to accept any payment for the healing, Naaman professed his intention to no longer serve any god, except the God of Israel. After this, Naaman began his return home.
However, Elisha’s servant was disappointed. The servant’s name was Gehazi. And Gehazi felt that Elisha should have accepted some form of payment in exchange for Naaman’s healing. So, unbeknownst to Elisha, Gehazi pursued Naaman.
When he caught up to Aramean general, Gehazi lied. He falsely reported that Elisha had changed his mind and now requested a payment. Naaman gladly agreed. In fact, he gave twice what Gehazi had requested as payment.
Naaman’s healing from leprosy resulted in his conversion. As a result, he committed to worshipping the one, true God of Israel. But it wasn’t just his healing from leprosy that caused his conversion.
When Naaman arrived at his house, Elisha understood with whom he was dealing. He recognized that Naaman was both powerful and wealthy. And so, he refused to come to him on the basis of his power and wealth. Instead, he offered him healing in an unexpected way. He sent a message conveyed by a lowly servant. He gave specific instructions. It was offered as a “take it or leave it” opportunity.
Because he was offered neither deference nor honor, Naaman was offended. So much so, that he contemplated sabotaging his own healing. However, he was eventually persuaded to overcome his feelings of offense. And so, he finally washed. And he was healed.
But he wasn’t healed because he could pay. And he wasn’t healed because he was powerful. And he wasn’t healed because of anything he could do.
Accordingly, he returned to Elisha. And in great humility, he did the only thing he could do. He expressed his gratitude – just like any other man. In nothing but the full dignity of the human person, he stood before God – just like any other man.
And in that moment of God-realization, Elisha was finally free to receive Naaman in fellowship.
Though I lack both power and wealth, I am amazed at how easily I feel Naaman’s pride.
So, all praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who has saved me despite all my wretchedness.
“But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit,” Titus 3:4-5
Synopsis 2 Kings 5:9-16 8/7/2019
Naaman was angry. Elisha had prescribed a cure for his leprosy. But the cure seemed ridiculous and unlikely to work. And his pride was injured. The prophet hadn’t even honored him by coming to meet him face-to-face.
So, he complained bitterly. He was so offended he determined to not even accept the prescription. But his servants prevailed on him to at least give it a try. So, against his own reasoning, he followed the recommendation of this servants. He did what was required. He washed in the muddy waters of the Jordan seven times.
And he was healed.
He returned to offer some compensation to Elisha. But Elisha would have none of his money or fine clothing. Instead, he sent him away. Together they rejoiced in the healing power of the God of Israel – the God of all Creation.
Naaman wasn’t healed because of who he was. Neither was he healed because of the money he could afford to pay. Instead, he was healed entirely and completely as a result of the grace of the God of Israel.
The truth is I am like Naaman. I want to control this.
It’s my pride that wants to lay claim to the victory – to the healing.
But, as is always the case, if something truly good, then it started with God and was effected by through the power of God. And Him alone.
And this is why we say – “All Glory to God”. Forever.
“Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Mark 5:36
Synopsis 2 Kings 4:36-44 8/5/2019
There was a famine in the land of Israel. At one-point during this time, Elisha hosted the guild prophets at Gilgal. So, he directed his servant to make a pot of vegetable stew.
However, someone who was helping to prepare the stew inadvertently added wild, poisonous gourds. Upon being served, the guild prophets recognized immediately that there was something wrong. So, they complained to Elisha that the stew was deadly. But Elisha simply added some meal to the stew and it was made good to eat.
On another occasion, Elisha was brought twenty barley loaves and some fresh (unroasted) grain as an offering. He happened to have one hundred guests to feed when it arrived. So, he told his servant to put the food out before the people.
Despite it not being enough by any normal standard to feed so many people, there was enough for everyone to eat and still have some left over.
Elisha Multiplying Loaves
The stew wasn’t good for feeding the prophets. And there wasn’t enough bread to serve the masses. And yet, somehow with God, it was enough.
You Give Them Something To Eat
Like the prophet’s servant, it’s easy to think that what I have to offer isn’t life-giving. Or similarly, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the belief that what I have isn’t enough to be helpful to other people.
But the truth is that our gifts are enough. What you have been given, is perfectly positioned to be just what’s necessary for someone else to experience the fullness of life.
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;” 1 Cor 12:4
Synopsis 2 Kings 4:26-35 8/2/2019
The Shunamite woman and her husband built a friendship with the prophet Elisha. Because of their generosity to him, he prayed for her to have a son. And so, the woman bore a son. And the child was healthy and grew naturally.
However, the child died after unspecified head pain. And so, the woman laid him in the room that they had built for the prophet. And then she rode a donkey a full days’ journey from her home in Shunem to Mt Carmel.
When she arrived there, she prevailed upon Elisha to come and heal the child. So, he went to her home. And there, he prayed over the child. And like Elijah had done in a similar situation, he actually spread himself over the child. After repeating this twice, the child’s life was restored.
The Shunamite’s Faith
The child had died in his mother’s lap. Yet she did not accept the finality of this death. Instead, she went out a day’s journey and then returned with the prophet. Even though her son was multiple days dead, she was still sure Elisha could heal him.
There is a temptation to think that I am beyond the power of redemption. My moral failures and general inadequacies tempt me to believe that God couldn’t really love something as ugly and imperfect as I am.
And yet, it is believing just this that changes everything.
“Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,” John 11:25
Synopsis 2 Kings 4:14-25 8/1/2019
Just like his mentor Elijah, the prophet Elisha lived on Mount Carmel. However, he travelled about the kingdom of Israel ministering to the people.
In the village of Shunem, there was a wealthy woman who prevailed upon the prophet to accept her family’s hospitality whenever he was nearby. She and her husband went so far as to build and furnish a second story room on their roof where the prophet could spend the night.
Elisha was impressed with her kindness. She had been generous to him and his servant. And yet, she had no obvious needs. Elisha had no way to bless her for her generosity. His servant observed that the woman had no son – and therefore no security should her husband die.
So, Elisha prophesied that she would give birth to a son. And so, the following year she conceived and bore a son. And the child grew up healthy.
But then, one day the child fell ill while in the fields with his father. He was taken back to the woman where he died as she held him. She immediately placed the child on the bed of the prophet, mounted a donkey and rode to the prophet for help.
Shunamite Calls for Help
With her mouth, she never asked the prophet for any particular blessing, including a son. But through her actions she showed that she was willing to accept whatever God brought into her life. And so, she loved the child that Elisha had prophesied that God intended to bring into her life.
As a result of her faith in receiving the child, she had the faith to recognize that the child came from God for God’s purpose. And so, prayer and intercession for the child needed to be directed back to God. She rode to the prophet to gain intercession with God.
Call on God in the Day of Distress
Trusting God means trusting God always. But in the moment of affliction, it’s rarely easy.
And, it seems, that my trust will always be challenged by the unexpected and distressing things that happen in life.
But it’s precisely in those moments that God is most proximate. And it is in those moments where learn the value of trusting God no matter what outcome.
“Then call on me on the day of distress; I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.” Psalm 50:15
Synopsis 2 Kings 4:33-13 7/31/2019
The wife of a guild prophet approached Elisha. She was recently widowed. And her husband left her in debt. So, her husband’s creditors came to take her children and sell them into slavery. So, she appealed to Elisha to help her.
The prophet asked her what resources she had. And she reported that she had only a single jug of oil. So, he instructed her to borrow as many jars and containers as possible. Once she had collected as many as possible, he instructed her to fill them from the jar she had.
She did as instructed. And she filled jar after jar until all the jars she had borrowed were filled. Then the oil ran out. She returned to Elisha and reported what had happened. He instructed her to go to the market and sell the oil. From this, there was enough money to settle all her husband’s debts and provide a living for her and her children.
God Provides Oil
The woman was faithful to the instructions of the prophet. She borrowed as many containers as she could. And then, God used what resources she had on hand to provide an extraordinary blessing.
But what if she hadn’t been faithful. What if she was too embarrassed to ask for help. What if she had only borrowed two or three containers. She would have regretted not attending more faithfully to the instructions she had heard. And this would have most likely been her dying regret.
The woman’s success was dependent on her action. She believed Elisha and so her actions followed – she collected a lot of jars.
It is the same for you and me. We, each of us, have some gift. And maybe in its present form it seems meager and insufficient. But God is in the habit of meeting faithful effort to accomplish His purposes in the earth.
He takes what you or I can do, and through our faithful use of his gifts, He makes the extraordinary.
“Abraham named that place Yahweh-yireh; hence people today say, “On the mountain the LORD will provide.” Gen 22:14