2 KINGS 4:1 – 6:33 and JOHN 9:1–41
2 Kings 4
The ministry of Elisha is featured in this chapter. It begins with a widow who just lost her husband. She had two sons and no means of bringing in income. There were creditors looking to take her two sons as bondmen for the debt owed. In the Word of God we see a great amount of attention that is given to widows. The Apostle Paul gave strong exhortation on this subject as to how they were to be looked after. The Lord also has great concern and care for orphans. This woman’s husband was a known prophet; one who feared God. Elisha is drawn to her and asks as to what should be done? He then asks her as to what she has in her possession.
The focus here was not on the need but what she had. Jesus, when faced with looking to feed the thousands did not focus on the need but rather what was on hand (A few loaves and fishes). He gave thanks for what was in hand only to see a multiplication of loaves and fishes to feed the entire multitude (John 6:11). Too often we look at the great need while not taking stock of what we have and giving thanks. The widow told Elisha that she had just a little bit of oil. The instruction was for her and her sons to gather as many vessels as possible. Please note that the multiplication of oil had not yet taken place. There was an act of obedience required which was to gather as many vessels as they could lay hold of. After the vessels were collected they were to close the door and pour out the little oil she had into the other vessels. The oil kept flowing as long as there were empty vessels to receive them (vs 6).
This is one of the notable characteristics of the miracles that Elisha brought forth. In another event the king of Israel was instructed by Elisha to smite the arrows upon the ground. He only did it three times which meant that they would only have victory against Syria on three occasions. The number of victories they were to have was dependent on the number of times the arrows were smitten on the ground. The widow and her sons had as much oil as they had vessels that were collected. Perhaps, this is a truth concerning the double portion anointing we need to consider more carefully. The two miracles referred to above came forth by obedience. The magnitude of the miracle was determined by how hard they worked in gathering vessels or how many times they smote the arrow. In chapter three we saw Elisha informing the 3 kings of Edom, Israel and Judah to dig ditches. The miracle did not come and it would not have helped them if they did not follow through in this act of obedience (2 Kings 3:16-23).
Elisha’s reputation becomes known and a certain husband and wife prepared a place of lodging for him. It was a noble gesture in giving him a room, bed, desk and candle to make use of. On one of his trips he felt prompted to ask the woman, who was a Shunamite, what he could do for her. The kindness she extended to Elisha is now being remembered. The woman was content and sought no special favours. What she really wanted (to have a child) was outside the realm of possibility so it was never brought up. Elisha came to know that she had no child and proclaimed that by a certain time she would give birth to a son (vs 16). The son was born and began to grow only to meet an unfortunate accident where he died. This woman had great faith as she quickly made her way to Elisha. The child was dead and yet she could say “It shall be well” as she went seeking after the prophet. The double portion anointing will now express the reality of resurrection life. She met the messenger of the prophet and again stated that “all was well”.
Elisha immediately took note that she had not told everything. He also acknowledges that the Lord has hid this matter from him as well. He heads straightway towards the woman’s home, sending his servant Gehazi before him. His servant was not able to bring life to the son. Elisha came into the room of the deceased boy, shut the door and literally breathed life back into him. We need to give good heed to the miracles of Elisha and their uniqueness because they seem to paint a particular pattern for what it may be like in these last days. He represents the double-portion anointing. The miracles he performed often had a corresponding act of obedience connected to them. The woman with no son took initiative with her husband to provide a room, bed, table and candle. They sought no reward even when given the opportunity. The Lord provided an impossible miracle. This impossible miracle of having a son in old age provided a foundation of faith for her to believe in resurrection life.
The blessings and glory of the last days are going to exceed what was seen before. These passages should stir our hearts to believe for greater things. In a time of famine the Lord can more than meet the need. We need to pray to dig ditches as instructed by the Lord; to gather vessels and capacities to allow for the outpouring for an abundance of oil and to believe for the impossible. The qualities seen in the widow and barren woman must also be observed due to how it draws the attention of the Lord. The Lord does save His very best for the last (John 2:10).
2 Kings 5
The ministry of Elisha continues as he becomes informed concerning the leprosy that was upon Naaman who was captain of the host of Syria. He was a mighty man and revered among the people for the recent victories gained. There was a little captive maid of Israel who was a servant to Naaman’s wife. This maid knew of the ministry of Elisha and mentioned that it is unfortunate that Naaman could not benefit from his ministry. Naaman immediately had a letter drawn for the King of Israel coupled with riches as a gift for the purpose of contacting Elisha. The King of Israel rent his clothes; he was perplexed that such a thing of healing leprosy would ever be asked of him. He saw this as a potential act of war. Elisha came to know of this and immediately put forth word to have Naaman come to him so that Naaman would know that there is indeed a prophet in Israel.
The methods of Elisha are not normal as he sends a messenger outside his home to meet Naaman. He instructs the messenger to tell Naaman that he needs to go and wash in the Jordan seven times. Here we have another miracle about to be performed but it requires an act of obedience. Naaman was quite put off by this, in fact he says that all he needs to do is to pronounce healing and it would be done (vs 10).
This miracle required a dipping in the murky waters of Jordan a total of 7 times. When the city of Jericho fell to Joshua it required the people to walk around the city 7 times on the last day. The number 7 speaks of completeness and leprosy speaks of sin. Perhaps there is a message in this miracle that goes beyond the healing of a Syrian king. The crossing of the Jordan under Joshua required circumcision; it was a circumcision of heart. It signified the Lord’s ability to get to the root of where all sin originates. There is something very unique about the miracles seen in Elisha; the double portion blessing and anointing is meant for the last day church. Jesus said greater things ye shall do because he was to go to the Father. These greater things are achieved through the Holy Spirit.
Joh 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Naaman eventually dipped seven times in the Jordan and he was healed and made clean. His flesh is described to be like that of a child. Naaman offered Elisha a reward but he would not take it. Gehazi, the servant of Elisha sought to take advantage of the offering that was made so he followed after Naaman. He received from Naaman a blessing and was soon confronted by Elisha. Gehazi could not even acknowledge his transgression but Elisha knew in the spirit what he had done. This is always a concern and danger when God is moving. There is the tendency to enrich oneself as was seen with Achan after the victory at Jericho (Josh 7). We see something similar with Ananias and Saphira in the New Testament (Acts 5). The judgement for this covetous act was for Gehazi to be bound with the leprosy that was upon Naaman.
There needs to be a desperate cry for a pure and upright heart. It is one of the requirements for dwelling upon Mt. Zion (Psa 24:4). Gehazi, the servant of Elisha had a heart that gravitated towards covetousness and this heart took advantage of an open opportunity. What would have we done? Are we sure that we may not have tried to leverage opportunities to our advantage? The miracle of dipping 7 times in the Jordan speaks to completeness and circumcision. This is one of the fruits that we can glean from this particular miracle as seen in Elisha.
2 Kings 6
Elisha and the prophets that were gathered with him decided to make a move towards Jericho since the place where they were at was no longer suitable. They decided to cut wood to make a place where they could dwell. One of the men lost his iron axe head as he was cutting down a tree. This caused him distress due to not being able to pay for this loss in addition to not being able to further engage in the work. Elisha came to him and asked as to where the axe head fell in (vs 6). Elisha then took a stick and threw it into the water and it came to the surface. The man then put in his hand and took it. Is there any particular meaning that can be taken from this event? Where else do we see an event where a stick was thrown into the water?
Exo 15:25 And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,
The above took place at the waters of Marah. The tree was the remedy for bitterness. It is a picture of the Cross and its ability to get to the root of bitterness. The remedy in being able to retrieve the axe head was the throwing in of a stick. The stick here can also be a picture of the Cross as it brings to the surface that which lurked underneath. John the Baptist had a ministry that focused on repentance. He made the following declaration to those who gathered to be baptized of him:
Mat 3:10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
This miracle may also be a sign that points to the message of the cross. When we embrace the Cross we are allowing the Lord to flesh out the inward sin within us. The Cross brings sin to the surface so that we can make the choice to allow the Lord to extract it from our being. This is what Paul struggled with in Romans 6 and 7. The message of the Cross is clearly stated in Rom 6:6, 11. The nature of sin then comes very much alive in chapter 7. Paul sees two members working within his inner life. We see the law of sin and God’s Law. The tree thrown into the water has the connotation of sin being brought to the surface. It is not enough to have the sin surface; the axe must be laid to its root. There has to be a willingness to take the axe head out of the water so that it be used to go to the root. A double portion anointing must among other things consist of the message of the Cross.
The king of Syria now seeks to war against Israel. It is not clear how long this would have been after the healing of the Syrian general Naaman. Elisha sought out the King of Israel (Jehoram) and informed him of the battle plan of the Syrians on two occasions (vs 10). The king was distressed and suspected that there was a traitor in their midst. One of the king’s servant informed that it was Elisha who was hearing the words of the king within a perceived secret place. This servant was well acquainted with the reputation of Elisha, he could have been privy to the matter of Naaman. The king wanted to find out where he was so that he could capture him. They brought a huge army to the city and surrounded them (vs 14). In the natural it looked absolutely hopeless.
The next morning the servant of Elisha saw the intimidating presence of the Syrian army all around them. He cried out, “What shall we do?” This would be our response as well. The next miracle about to take place is one where the eyes of the servant will be opened up to see the big picture. What he saw were the armies of heaven encompassing the Syrians. Elisha prayed, open his eyes. This will be an essential in the last days; the ability to see heaven’s alignment with the battles upon earth. This alignment will assume that a people are in the will of God. It is a picture of where we are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers (Eph 6:12). The double portion anointing will be one that gives the church authority and power over spiritual forces. It is when heaven aligns with the prayers of the saints on earth (Math 6:10). Elisha prayed that the Syrians would be smitten with blindness. God honoured his word and they were made blinded so that they could not discern where they were going. Elisha was then able to take them to Samaria before praying that the eyes of the Syrians be opened (vs 20).
The king of Syria and his men were treated well and yet still persisted in attacking Samaria afterwards. There was a strong famine and it was causing great destruction in the land. People were resorting to eating their own (vs 28-29). The King of Israel, sought to blame Elisha for this due to his perceived ability to have the famine removed which he did not do. It is amazing to see how quickly old loyalties are forgotten. In this chapter we have seen the supernatural power of God at work. We have also seen the message of the Cross and its benefits displayed with the surfacing of the axe head. There are very strong messages and implications in the miracles of Elisha; each of them pointing towards the day of the 2nd coming of Christ.
It appears that chapter 9 is a continuation of chapter 8. Jesus was passing by after the scribes and Pharisees were looking to stone Him. He comes across a man who was blind from birth prompting a question from His disciples as to who was guilty of sin; the blind man or his parents. They reasoned that his condition was to be attributed to someone’s having sinned. It is true that a physical constraint can be the result of directly related sin nonetheless it must be understood we are all under sin from the beginning and we suffer from its consequences.
Say for instance that we focus on the parents having done some sort of sin which resulted in their son’s blindness; we can then immune ourselves or become blind to sin in our own lives. This is what I feel Jesus is seeking to address. The Apostle Paul makes clear that “all have sinned” (Rom 3:23). Jesus remarked that neither his parents nor this man had sinned that resulted in his blindness. He then puts emphasis on Himself as being the light of the world. He knew His time on earth was drawing to a close and needed to finish the work that His Father had given Him to do. Jesus showed compassion on this man and healed him (vs 6-7). The method of healing was unique (similar to what was seen in Elisha’s day) in that he had to go to a pool in Siloam to be washed. This is the place referred to in Isa 8:6. It is located outside Zion and its meaning is “sent”. It was an aqueduct where water flowed forth. It can have a reference to in the following psalm.
Psa 46:4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
It speaks of Zion. The opening of this man’s sight can speak more of a natural vision being restored. It speaks of a spiritual vision that sees a bigger picture. Abraham saw something that Lot could not see. A city whose founder and maker was God (Heb 11:10). This miracle was a profound blessing to the man whose sight was restored but like Elisha’s miracles it has a bigger meaning. The fact that he was sent to Siloam speaks to me of the Lord’s intent in directing us to the truths of Zion. In Peter’s last epistle he exhorts us to add 7 different “graces” to the foundation of faith in our life.
These “graces” are added by faith as we learn to walk in obedience to God. These steps bring us into greater wholeness and cleansing from sin. We can liken these steps as steps toward Siloam. Notice what Peter says after his exhortation concerning these 8 steps.
2Pe 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2Pe 1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
This pool of Siloam also was a place that the Jews would congregate at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. There are many lessons that can be gleaned from this encounter that Jesus had with the blind man.
This man’s healing of blindness became a point of contention among the Pharisee’s. Here again we see another Sabbath day miracle which really goes against the grain of the Pharisees. They could in no wise celebrate a miracle of healing but would rather take issue with a Sabbath violation. These Pharisees challenged his parents and the man who was healed. They were not denying the healing but they were seeking to indict the man who performed the miracle (vs 24). The man gave an answer that the Pharisees did not want to hear. The man was frustrated in constantly seeking to answer these men. He said if I tell you the account again would you then become His disciple? Their response is significant. They said you can be His disciple we are disciples of Moses (vs 28). This man became bold and began to preach to the Pharisees which was more than they could take. They cast him out of their presence, which could have been at the temple. This man was supposedly an uneducated beggar but he gave a bold declaration of Christ. Jesus came upon this man soon after he was cast out (vs 35). The Lord revealed Himself as to who he was and this man believed. He then makes this powerful statement:
Joh 9:39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
The healing of this blind man carries several insightful truths. Jesus is the light of the world but is unseen by those supposed religious people who have it all together. Those who see, or who think they see are in reality blind to the truth. It is not just having our eyes being opened to salvation that matters it is having our eyes opened to see something greater. The ability to see what Abraham saw; the ability to see afar off as a result in growing in the 8 steps that Peters speaks of; the ability for the Lord to lead us to Siloam, to Zion so that we can be partakers of that city where the rivers make glad the people of God (Psa 46:4).