Wash and be Cleansed

*image originated here

2 Kings 1 – 5

Each of today’s stories deals with washing out the old and dark times in the lives of God’s people and the world. Ahaziah is the evil king we read about at the end of 1 Kings. The way sinned was so important that it is explained right here for us. King Ahaziah sent to Ekron to their god Baal-Zebub for advice when Moab rebels against Israel. God sends Elijah to ask him why he would send away to another country’s god for advice when the true God is in Israel. Therefore the sickness has weakened Ahaziah to not leave his bed will kill him. This is first sent through the messengers going through Ekron and then through Elijah himself after the King sends 3 times for him a Captain and 50 men. The first two groups have fire called down upon them from heaven, but the third begs for his life and that of his men, so God sends Elijah with them.

After this Elijah’s time is at an end it is time to pass on God’s work to Elijah. Through the countryside, Elijah travels and at each place tells Elisha to turn back. Elisha will not leave him even though he knows it is Elijah’s time to go. Elijah’s asks his friend what he can do for him before he leaves. Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, Elijah tells him he will have it if he sees Elijah go.

Elijah is taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire in a whirlwind, Elisha sees this and Elijah’s spirit passes to him. Along the way to where this happened, Elijah had parted the Jordan by slapping it with his cloak and Elisha follows his example. Men who had been watching beg to go out and search for Elijah, but Elisha knows they will not find him. They search for 3 days but he is nowhere to be found, Elisha reminds them that he told them not to go.

In the town that he finds himself, the water is bad bringing death instead of life and making the ground unproductive. By the power of God Elisha heals the water.

Yet he is not respected in all Israel, some youths come out to mock him and they are cursed. A bear mauls 42 of them as Elisha makes his way to Mount Carmel in Samaria.

As we know Moab has revolted so the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom gather together to go to war. Again King Jehoshaphat recommends they inquire of the LORD before they go down to battle. Elisha is brought to them, he would not even speak to the kings if were not for Jehoshaphat because of all the evil they have committed. For his sake Moab will be overthrown completely, their cities torn down, their fields ruined, and their well stopped up. However, in the desert when the kings, their men, and their animals have no water left the Lord provides water and victory.

A widow of one of the prophets comes to Elisha, her husband was a great man of God but his debts will now cause his sons to be sold into slavery. Elisha asks the woman what she has in the house. Only a little oil but nothing else. So he tells her to gather all the jars she can from her neighbors and fill them with oil, she then can sell the oil to pay the debts and live on what is left over.

In Shunem a woman and her husband provide for Elisha when he passes their way. They even set up a room in their home for his private use. For their generosity, Elisha blesses the woman with a son. She begs him not to get up her hopes if this blessing is to be taken away. Nonetheless, she has her son. When he is a little older he becomes sick and dies in his mother’s arms. She goes to Elisha and reminds him of what she asked, not for a son but that he wouldn’t get up her hopes if the child was going to be taken from her. Just as Elijah did for the widow, Elisha raises the child back to life.

In Gilgal, there is famine so Elisha sends his servant to make stew for the prophets Elisha is meeting with there. Some unknown fruit is also added to the pot. When the men try to eat it they cannot and they cry out to Elisha that there is death in the pot. Elisha tells them to add flour and reserve the soup. The food is again safe to eat.

In another place, Elisha feeds a hundred men with only 20 loaves of bread and there is left over.

Finally, the commander of the army of the king of Aram has leprosy. One of his servants is a girl from Israel. She tells her master and mistress of the prophet in Israel and how he could heal this commander named, Naaman, from leprosy. Namaan travels to Israel, to the king with a letter asking to be healed. The king is upset by this because he cannot heal Namaan, but Elisha sends word to the king for Naaman to be brought to him so Namaan will see the power of God. To be healed Naaman is told he must bathe 7 times in the Jordan river. At first, he is upset by this but the men with him advised him that if he had been asked to do a great thing to be healed wouldn’t he do it? How much more so then should he go wash and be cleansed? Namaan then does as he was instructed and is healed. He offers a great reward to Elisha, but Elisha won’t accept. Naaman asks only then that God will go with him since he knows the only true God is in Israel. Elisha’s servant gets greedy and goes after Naaman for a reward, he receives is but for his deceit he is cursed with Naaman’s leprosy.

Do you see the pattern? Each of these people is plagued by pain, sickness, famine, bad water or food and for each healing is brought. Elijah is taken to heaven away from the overwhelming tasks and responsibilities he had on Earth and Elisha is given twice his spirit to endure. If God’s healing has come again to Israel, only by thier faith and obedience to follow what he asks no matter how silly it must sound like Naaman’s baths, then their land will be healed and God’s blessings will come. Where disaster has been great things are coming!

 

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