Lucia's Blog: THE DIVIDED KINGDOM - THE PROPHETS ELISHA & OBADIAH
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, April 23, 2015

THE DIVIDED KINGDOM - THE PROPHETS ELISHA & OBADIAH

"And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I am taken from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.  And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.  And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, which parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.  And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof! And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.  He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him."
II Kings 2:9-13


GIANTS OF THE FAITH:  ELISHA (II KINGS 2-13)

Elisha meaning "God saves" was a good prophet of God for fifty years.  He lived during the reigns of Israel's kings:  Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz and Jehoash.  He was accompanied during his ministry by another servant of God named Gehazi as Elisha had accompanied Elijah before.  Elisha lived in Samaria when he was not traveling.

I.   Elijah Is Taken Up To Heaven (II Kings 2:1-18)

When the time arrives for Elijah to ascend to heaven, he presents Elisha three chances to turn away the ministry that he was going to inherit.  In each occasion, Elisha affirms he is not turning away.  When they reach the Jordan River, Elijah parts the waters and the two of them cross on dry land.  II Kings 1:8.  Then Elijah asks Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” Elisha answers, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me." He said, "You have asked a hard thing."  This request made by Elisha reflects the double portion that was given to the firstborn as his inheritance.  It means that Elisha wants to continue the LORD'S work, taking Elijah's place.  This was precisely what the firstborn son was to continue for the father.  Elijah then tells Elisha that his request might be granted if he saw Elijah taken up to heaven.  As they were walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them.  Afterward, Elijah was taken up to heaven by a whirlwind.  II Kings 2:9-14, and although Elisha knew that Elijah was not dead but had ascended to heaven, he still mourned.   Elisha cried out, "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!' And he saw Elijah no more.'"  II Kings 2:12.  Then he took Elijah's mantle (a symbol of his duty as God's prophet) and returned to the Jordan River.  There he parted the waters, crossing over dry land, just as with Elijah's miracle.  Notice that Elijah's many miracles are reflected in many of Elisha's miracles.  Some were even more impressive.  He performed at least 17 miracles in his lifetime.  They would range from supernatural feeding to complete healing.  He was indeed magnificent!

The Bible is filled with many parallels where God uses similar stories to make His point.  In the case of Elijah and Elisha, we find a parallel relationship to John the Baptist and, of course, our Lord and Savior.  You see, Elijah like John the Baptist dedicated a major portion of his time away from the crowds.  They both lived off the land.  They spoke boldly on behalf of God.  Notice that Elijah was fed by ravens in the wilderness.  And so was John the Baptist who also spent a lot of time preaching of repentance and preparing the Way of the Lord.  He ate wild locusts.  Elisha spent more time with Israelites performing life-giving miracles as Jesus did.  The purpose of miracles back then was to declare the glory and greatness of God, leading many to believe in Him.  Let us consider Elisha's miracles.

II.  Elisha's Miracles:


  • II Kings 2:19-22:  Elisha heals the waters of Jericho using salt.
  • II Kings 2:23-25:  Elisha curses a group of boys from Bethel that were mocking him because of his "bald head."  Daring to mock God's prophet was the same as mocking God Himself.  It was an act of profanity and blasphemy.  Notice that he curses the boys in the name of the LORD.  After he curses them, two bears show up, tearing them apart.  There were forty-two of those young men.  What a shocking story!
  • II Kings 3:  The Moabites who were living in modern day Jordan rebelled against the Israelites.  Remember David had defeated them and made them his servants.  He also made them pay a yearly tribute to him, II Samuel 8.  Now they no longer wanted to pay that tribute since the nation of Israel was in decline.  Jehoram (Joram), king of Israel, made an alliance with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and with the king of Edom in order to fight the Moabites.  As they were marching south through Judah in the direction of the Desert of Edom after seven days, they ran out of water and called for Elisha.   This great prophet told them to dig ditches in order for the valley to hold all the water that God was about to send for them and their cattle. The miracle served two purposes:  it watered the armies, and it confused the Moabites.  Not only did the Moabites see the water as blood but they also believed that the blood came from the kings who had fought each other.  Then the Israelites arose to attack the Moabites defeating them all.  Elisha had prophesied victory for the Israelites.
  • II Kings 4:1-7:  A widow begs Elisha for help since she owed so much money.  He tells her to collect empty jars.  Then he miraculously fills them with oil.  This widow had enough oil to pay all of her debts and provide for her family. This story is very similar to that of Elijah's with another widow.
  • II Kings 4:8-37:  Elisha meets a Shunamite woman who gives him food and shelter every time he came to her town in Northern Israel.  This woman had no son, and her husband was old.  In return for her hospitality, Elisha promised her she would have a son.  And she did.  Later, this same boy was very ill and died in his mother's arms.  This was a woman of great faith who believed that Elisha could bring him back to life.  Miraculously Elisha did.
  • II Kings 4:38-41:  Elisha cleanses poisonous food that had accidentally been placed in the stew.
  • II Kings 4:42-46:  Elisha multiples food to feed 100 people with 20 loaves.
  • II Kings 5:  Elisha heals Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram.  He was a leper.  His wife's servant girl tells Naaman that God's great prophet Elisha could heal him.  This servant girl had no reason to tell Naaman how to be cured of his leprosy.  Remember that she was a captive in a foreign land.  Moreover, she was separated from her family and of no importance to anybody.  She is still an Israelite, God's chosen people.  Besides that her faith in her God was evident.  By sending Naaman to see Elisha, she is risking everything.  
Naaman then went to the Aramean king with the news that Elisha, a prophet of God, had the power  to heal him.  The king sends gifts and letters to the king of Israel.  This king fears that Elisha might fail to heal Naaman.  You see, he does not have the same faith that the poor servant girl had.  When word came to Elisha that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king saying, "Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.'  So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, 'Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.'  But Naaman was furious and went away and said, 'Behold, I thought, 'He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.'  Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?'  So he turned and went away in a rage. Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, 'My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you,'‘Wash, and be clean?'  So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean."'  2 Kings 5:8-14.

As an action of gratitude, Naaman tries to give Elisha gifts but he refuses them.  Then Naaman swears allegiance to Jehovah God, taking a load of earth so he can build an altar to God in his homeland.  Finally, he asks forgiveness since he knew he would have to escort his king into the temple of Rimmon (another name for Baal).  He would have to bow down to Rimmon as the king bows.  He wants Elisha to know this and that he would have to do it out of duty to the king, not belief.  Elisha gives him his blessing and Naaman walks out.  Now Gehazi, Elisha's servant could not believe that Elisha had refused the gifts that Naaman offered him. He then pursued Naaman and  told him that his master had reconsidered.    Naaman stops the chariot and came down from it and gladly yielded the gifts that were two talents of silver in two bags with two changes of clothes.  When Elisha confronts Gehazi, he lies.  As a punishment Gehazi is afflicted with the leprosy of Naaman and so were his descendants forever.  He was white as snow as a leper when he left Elisha.  Isn’t it something that this story began with a faithful servant who had no leprosy and ends up as a faithless servant with leprosy?  The harm that greed can cause!
  • II Kings 6:1-7:  Elisha causes an axe-head to swim.
  • II Kings 6:1-23:  When the Aramean army comes to attack Israel and capture Elisha, his servant is afraid.  Elisha prays that God would open the servant's eyes.  Suddenly he is able to see an angelic army with horses and chariots of fire around Elisha.  Elisha then blinds the enemy and escorts them into Samaria.  Elisha did not kill them but rather fed them and let them go home.

Not only did Elisha performed many miracles, but he also predicted or prophesied future events.  Consider them:
  • II Kings 3:24-27:  Elisha prophesies victory for Israel.
  • II Kings 6:8-12:  He reveals the location of the Syrian camp.
  • II Kings 7:  Elisha prophesies the end of the famine caused by the siege.  The prophecy was fulfilled when the Syrian host fled.
  • II Kings 8:1-2 :  Elisha prophesies seven years of famine.
  • II Kings 8:7-15:  He predicted the death of Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria.
  • II Kings 8:13:  Elisha  predicted that Hazael would be the next king of Syria who would do evil to the sons of Israel.  He did!  Hazael threatened the kings of Judah and Israel for 43 years.  He forced king Joash to pay him tribute.  He also wounded king Jehoram in battle. And he seized lands east of the Jordan from king Jehu.
  • II Kins 13:14-19:  Elisha prophesies deliverance from Syria.
  • II Kings 13:20:  Elisha dies and the Moabites invade Israel.
  • II Kings 13:20-21: When Elisha was buried, another dead man was buried in Elisha's grave and when the man touched the bones of Elisha, he was revived.  Isn't it amazing!
  • II Kings 13:23-25:  Jehoash defeats Benhadad, king of Syria and his son Hazael , three times recovering the cities of Israel as prophesied by Elisha. 

III.   Fascinating Fact:  Leprosy:

Leprosy is a skin disorder or disease distinguished by skin sores, nerve atrophy, and progressive debilitation.  The disease numbs the nerves especially in the feet and hands.  That is why the leper has a hard time distinguishing pain when he is injured since he has no feeling at all.  Often the leper is more prone to infection and gangrene.  Indications of leprosy include skin lesions that do not heal after a long period.  There is prolonged numbness of the feet and hands.  If the infections go untreated, there is the danger of developing gangrene and forcing amputations of toes, fingers, feet, legs and arms.  Blindness is caused by infection in the eyes.  This is common.  There was no cure for leprosy back in those days and even today there is no cure.  Although there are treatments that can help alleviate the infection and keep it under control, limiting nerve damage.  A modern leper can live for many years with enough care and caution.

In the Bible "leprosy" covered a wide range of skin diseases.  Anyone who suffered from leprosy was forced out of towns and into leper colonies.  Lepers were required to wear torn clothes, let the hair grow long without caring for it.  They were also required to cover the lower part of their faces and to warn everyone who came near them saying:  "Leper!  "Outcast!  Unclean!"   Leprosy was sometimes considered a curse of God's judgment or punishment, as was the case with Elisha's servant.


A HIGHLIGHT ON SCRIPTURE:  OBADIAH

Obadiah is one of the minor prophets in the Old Testament.  That is not because of his rank in history but because it is a short book.  And although he is called a minor prophet, it does not mean he is less important than the major prophets.  Major is given to the longer books of prophecy such as Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel and Isaiah.  Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament.  It has only one chapter and 21 verses.  The exact date of this prophet is uncertain.  It may date to the reign of king Jehoram of Israel or it may date to the time of Judah's fall when the Babylonians took Jerusalem captive and destroyed the city.

The message of Obadiah was to the Edomites and the Israelites.  He spoke to the Edomites somewhere around 587 B.C.  Do you remember Jacob and Esau?  Esau was the rough hairy brother who sold his birthright for a bowl of lentils.  Edom means "red" and was used to describe red headed Esau, his descendants and the territory they occupied.  They settled in the mountain region and were rough people.  A deep bitterness persisted between the Edomites and the Israelites.  They became long term enemies.  When the Israelites were taken into captivity by the Babylonians, circa 599-588 B.C., the Edomites mocked them during this time of distress.  Then they plundered what was left of Judah.  This made the LORD furious, Ezekiel 25:12-14.
Thus says the Lord God, “Because Edom has acted against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has incurred grievous guilt, and avenged themselves upon them,”  therefore thus says the Lord God, “I will also stretch out My hand against Edom and cut off man and beast from it. And I will lay it waste; from Teman even to Dedan they will fall by the sword. I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel. Therefore, they will act in Edom according to My anger and according to My wrath; thus they will know My vengeance,” declares the Lord God.'"
God spoke to the Edomites through the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Obadiah.  Obadiah wrote the most.  Obadiah preached to them warning them of God's judgment over them; about His vengeance and the destruction to come upon them.  The Edomites were arrogant and did not care to worship the One True God.  Obadiah's words to them were, "Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you are greatly despised.  'The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in the loftiness of your dwelling place, Who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’ Though you build high like the eagle, Though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,' declares the Lord.  'If thieves came to you, If robbers by night— O how you will be ruined!— Would they not steal only until they had enough?  If grape gatherers came to you, Would they not leave some gleanings?  'O how Esau will be ransacked, And his hidden treasures searched out!  'All the men allied with you Will send you forth to the border, And the men at peace with you will deceive you and overpower you.... will I not on that day,” declares the Lord, 'Destroy wise men from Edom and understanding from the mountain of Esau?  Then your mighty men will be dismayed, O Teman, so that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter.'" Obadiah 1:2-9.

The LORD was angry and serious!  In fact, the Edomites were banished from the face of the earth.  They don't exist anymore. This short book ends with these Messianic words, "The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the kingdom will be the Lord’s."  Obadiah 1:21.

In my next studies, I hope to cover the remaining kings of Israel as well as the kings of Judah and their prophets.  We will be also studying Assyrian History.

Luci