Elisha – The Miracle Worker
by John C. Westervelt
Elisha was a young farmer living in the territory of Damascus northeast of the Sea of Galilee. Nine hundred years later, Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, the capital city of this territory.
One day Elisha and eleven hired hands were each plowing with a pair of oxen. Elisha could see a figure in the distance plodding across the freshly-turned earth. Elisha stopped his yoke of oxen and waited for the visitor to close the distance. Elisha soon recognized Elijah, the famous old prophet of Israel. Elijah walked right up and laid his cloak across Elisha’s shoulder. Elijah said, “With the placing of my cloak on you, I transfer to you the responsibility of being God’s prophet in Israel.”
Elisha and Elijah walked south to Gilgal, to Bethel, and on to Jericho. In Bethel and Jericho, the local prophets told Elisha that the Lord was going to take Elijah away. The next stop for these two friends would be the Jordan River.
Arriving at the riverbank, Elijah diverted the waters so he and Elisha could walk across on dry ground. On the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “What may I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me have a double portion of your spirit.”
Elijah responded, “You have asked a difficult thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours – otherwise not.”
As the two men walked along, horses and a chariot of fire suddenly separated them, and Elisha could see Elijah going up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha picked up Elijah’s cloak, which was left behind. Returning to the Jordan, Elisha struck the water with the cloak, and the water parted for his crossing.
Back in Jericho, the city fathers told Elisha that their water was bad. Elisha asked them for a new jar filled with salt. He went out to the spring of water and threw salt into it and said, “The Lord has purified this water.” From that day on the water was pure.
The kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom joined forces to put down the rebelling people of Moab. After a seven-day march, the kings could see they had run out of water. They called on Elisha who told them to dig trenches all across the valley. Elisha then said, “According to the Lord, you shall see no rain nor wind, but the trenches will be filled with water.” And they were.
A woman whose husband had been a local prophet cried out to Elisha, “My husband has died, and his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”
Elisha told the woman to borrow empty jars from all of her neighbors, to pour from her single jar of oil one by one into the empty jars until all were filled, and then to sell the oil to pay off her debts. With faith she did what Elisha told her, and her sons remained free.
A woman from Shunem, twenty miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee, befriended Elisha with a meal in her home. Later on, she added a room on the roof with a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp-stand to give Elisha a place to stay when he passed through Shunem.
When Elisha learned that the woman’s husband was old and that she had no son, he asked the Lord to give her a son. A year later, a boy was born and grew to become a young man. In the field one day the young man complained of a headache. His father had his servant take him to his mother where he died on her lap. She laid her son on Elisha’s bed, and then she rode a donkey in search of Elisha. She found Elisha twenty-five miles away near Mount Carmel. From there Elisha returned with her and went immediately into the bedroom. Placing his body on the dead body, he let the Lord use him to resurrect the woman’s son.
Naaman, a valiant warrior, was captain of the army of the king of Aram, a territory north of Damascus. The Lord looked with favor on Naaman so the army enjoyed success, even though Naaman was a leper.
A little Jewish girl, who had been captured in a skirmish with Israel, waited on Naaman’s wife. The little girl told her mistress that the prophet Elisha, now living in Samaria, could cure Naaman.
Naaman showed up at Elisha’s door with horses and chariots. Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman with these words, “Go and wash in the Jordan River seven times.” Naaman was upset because he expected Elisha to come out, call on the name of the Lord, wave his hands, and instantly cure the leprosy. After listening to the urging of his servants, Naaman did as instructed and was healed. Then he said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.”
Jesus announced His ministry for the first time in the synagogue in Nazareth by reading from the scroll of Isaiah. He went on to say that no prophet is welcome in his hometown. To illustrate this point He said, “And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed – only Naaman the Syrian.” Elisha would be proud to know that Jesus told the crowd about his miracle.
1 Kings 19; 2 Kings 2-5; Luke 4:27
Copyright 2003 by John C. Westervelt
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