In the ministry of these two prophets the word of the LORD performs signs and wonders. Chapter one for example shows Elijah calling down fire from heaven in the classic account of Yahweh against the prophets of Baal. As a result of king Ahaziah’s idolatry, Elijah twice prophesied his death (1:1-18). In this instance, nothing the king attempted even imploring the LORD would stay the swiftness of God’s word through the prophet for he, “died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken”(1:17).
Chapter two recounts Elisha asking for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit to come onto him (2:9) and in response after Elijah is taken up by a whirlwind (2:11) the prophet’s spirit comes upon Elisha where he parts the Jordan’s water (2:14), purifies bad water (2:21), he curses mocking youths and two female nears tear-up forty-two of them (2:24)
Chapter three Elisha is called upon by Jehoshaphat to inquire of the LORD for direction before going into battle against Moab. The prophet oddly calls for a minstrel and when he played the hand of the LORD came upon Elisha so that he spoke and delivered the battle strategy for Israel and assuring success (3:14-27).
In chapter four there’s the account of the widows oil which Elisha multiplied so she could care for her household and thus pay off her debts (4:1-7); then there’s the barren prominent Shunammite woman who gives birth to a son (4:8-17). This son eventually dies but Elisha raises him from the dead (4:28-37). Again, the text reveals Elisha healing the poisonous stew so that the hungry may eat and live during a famine (4:38-44).
In chapter five Elisha heals Naaman’s leprosy and Gehazi’s leprosy is brought upon by his greed. Especially moving to me is Elisha’s word to his servant Gehazi before the leprosy manifested:
“Did not my heart go with you, when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Is it a time to receive money and to receive clothes and olive groves and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants?” (5:26)
These rhetorical questions demonstrate something very moving and grave—be careful not to use God’s gifts as a means to dishonest gain, for freely we have receive and freely we are to give. How different is Elisha’s attitude toward money compared to many American televangelists? I wonder how many today would receive leprosy for their shameless pedaling of God’s word for gain. Is not the LORD our portion in this life and did he not always promise to care for us?
Paul said it well that godliness with contentment is great gain! Gehazi’s can be mine also, that’s why I need the LORD to keep me from such scandalous transgression.
Back to the prophet’s exploits. Of the many things that stand out to me is the certainty of God’s word that can be trusted. While this very word was vilified and spurned in the Garden of Eden by our first parents, and continues to be denigrated unto this day, it nevertheless remains God’s faithful word of power which in its due time, always comes to pass. How weighty God’s eternal word is that brings both life and death to creatures.