-GOD'S PROPHET OF FAITH-
Elisha was a model leader and a true servant who followed God. His belief and commitment to God and His Covenant was sincere and many miracles resulted in his ministry. His life was surrounded by supernatural events brought about by The Hand of God.
Elisha means 'God is my Salvation', 'my God saves'.
God had directed Elijah, an elder prophet of Israel to anoint Elisha to be his prophetical successor who was to aid the people and the royalty of the nation. He was an early Hebrew prophet who faithfully presented The Word of God.
Elisha belonged to the tribe of Issachar in the Northern Kingdom and came from the farming town of Abel Meholah, beyond the Jordan River and had a peaceful farming occupation. In the field were twelve pair of yoked oxen. The number of oxen indicated the wealth of Elisha's family. Elisha himself was driving the twelfth pair and was ploughing in a field when Elijah threw his coat across his shoulders, designating him as his successor. The coat was the most important article of clothing a person could own. It was used for protection against the weather, as a bed, chair and carrying pack. The cloak was also used for pledges and debts. The covering was only a symbol as an instrument for the power of God.
The newly appointed prophet killed his oxen and used the wood from his plough to build a fire to cook the meat, which he shared with the other ploughmen as a farewell feast. Only on special occasions working oxen used for ploughing were killed for meat. By burning his wealthy farming tools, it meant he had no intention of returning to his profession, his past occupation had ended. Elisha acknowledged and fareweeled his parents and left to catch up to Elijah.
Already a person who obeyed God's Word, Elisha was prepared by Elijah for his mission and he remained with Elijah until his mentor was bodily taken to heaven. Elisha's wish for a double portion of Elijah's anointing was not for a superior ministry, but that God's power might continue through him. Only God could grant such a request, for only God knew Elisha's motive and his attitude of heart. Elisha's desire was to be equipped as Elijah's successor to carry on the renewing work. Once his master was gone, Elisha began his ministry endowed with the double portion of Elijah's anointing.
When Elisha struck the Jordan River with Elijah's cloak, God confirmed His new prophet's appointment, the water parted and throughout his ministry God's authority validated him as His prophet. Elisha's prophetic ministry helped sustain the believing remnant of God's people.
Elisha's appointment was mainly for working in Israel, the Northern Kingdom. He was to enjoy his role as trusted advisor and it was known that much tension existed between some Kings and the prophet, however he was welcomed by all levels of society. He sympathised with the oppressed. His activities were often focused on those who abused positions of power. His life consisted of earnest prayer.
Elisha had a different image from his predecessor, he chose to work within the established system. Elisha established his home was at Mt Carmel as well as at Samaria, the capital city of the Northern Kingdom. He was head of the official prophetic order in Israel. The purpose of Elisha's ministry was to restore respect for God, especially His Word. The prophet revealed God's judgement on sin but also His mercy and His faithfulness to His people.
Elisha was peace-loving, compassionate and had an amenable character. It was essential for Elisha to assert dominance before the priests and Kings of Israel. Elisha used the Word of God to bring life to those who were obedient and death to the disobedient. He was known as God's prophet with spiritual power, swift in action yet having deep sympathy.
The wonders that surround Elisha are the most vivid aspects of his life and Elisha's miracles were done in the Name of God.
The supernatural outcome of affairs in Elisha's life are recorded more than anyone else in The Old Testament. These mighty miracles that God controlled were not only the armies of nations but events in everyday living.
Elisha did not seek monetary gain for proclaiming the Word of God. Elisha was God's official representative and was highly regarded for his prophetic power and miraculous power that came from God.
Elisha's ministry was true to the Old Testament Covenant regarding blessings for those who came to God and cursings for those who turned away from His promises.
Elisha had become a model for the prophets and was president of the prophet schools. The main Prophet schools were located in Gilgal, Jericho and Bethel. Trainees matured under the guidance of those already in service to God. He was well liked as a teacher. The young prophets of Jericho greeted Elisha respectfully and knew that the Spirit of Elijah from God now rested upon Elisha.
Water Made Productive Jericho was under the curse of Joshua and Elisha set about doing a work of grace. The City of Jericho was located in beautiful natural surroundings but the water was bad causing death and miscarriages of the unborn, both of human and flocks, as well as making the surrounding land unproductive. The sins of the Covenant Curses were inflicted throughout the North. In spite of disobedience, God still reached out to the people. Elisha requested a bowl be brought to him filled with salt and he emptied the contents into the City well. The water was purified. God had healed the polluted water as spoken and stated through Elisha. The salt symbolised the covenant faithfulness of God. The new bowl symbolised the cleansing work that God would miraculously do.
The man of faith condemned the unrighteous. Elisha left Jericho and walked along the road to Bethel. Youths mocked him at Bethel, an idolatrous centre, showing disdain, a haughty contempt and scorn for God's prophet. Elisha cursed them and two female bears came out of the woods and killed forty-two of them. The young men were from Bethel, were showing disrespect for God and His power. Elisha for the first time alone faced idolaters and was confident in commanding divine covenant wrath. God did not tolerate the abuse of His prophet. To ridicule Elisha, God's chosen prophet, was to ridicule God Himself.
Prophecy of God's Will The Northern Israel King and the King of Judah together planned to fight the rebellious King of Moab. Elisha was sent for to reveal the Will of God concerning the matter. The harp was played and God's message came to Elisha. Music often accompanied prophecy throughout the Old Testament. God caused the dry valley to be filled with water without wind or rain and because of this event Moab was conquered, the fortified cities and the land was ruined with stones. The Moabite King thought the water was blood, caused by reflection for the combination of the sun's rays and red sandstone gave the terrain a reddish colour confused his judgement.
God multiplied little into much. The widowed mother of one of Elisha's seminary students had owed money and the creditor was demanding payment by taking the student and his brother as slaves. Creditors were not to take advantage of the poor during their times of extreme need. This caused the widow who depended upon her sons for income, extra added distress upon her financial strain.
Elisha had her sons collect pots and pans. She poured her olive oil into them as Elisha had instructed. The surplus of oil stopped running only when they ran out of containers. The oil was then sold to pay the debt as well as there was enough income for her to live off for the rest of her life.
The miracle of the widow's oil was not intended for public sensation but to privately demonstrate God's grace and mercy to the widow. Through Elisha God not only met the widow's immediate need but long range ones as well.
God overrides the issues of life's circumstances.
Shunemite's son brought back to life Elisha and his servant often went to Shunem, situated near the plain of Jezreel in the tribal territory of Issacar. There a prominent woman of the city always invited them for meals. She and her husband eventually built a room for him to stay in whenever he came. Elisha's quarters were built on the roof and was reached by him from the outside. As well as being a guest he had his privacy. Elisha's servant was a person in a period of training, it was a position of great opportunity.
However the woman was barren. Elisha told her she would have a son, which was fulfilled. Years later the lad moaned in pain and died. Elisha had gone to Mt. Carmel, but the woman put her son on the holy man's bed, saddled a donkey and sought after God's prophet. She knew the impossible could be accomplished from God through Elisha, as she had already experienced. Elisha sought God who alone can grant life and demonstrate the supernatural life itself is in the hands of God.
Elisha returned with her. He shut the door and prayed, he lay upon the child's body and the boy's life was returned to him because of the prayers and faith. When Elisha learned that a famine would strike Israel he warned the 'well to do' family to flee from the area.
Elisha's servant told the King of Israel about the Shunamite's son who was brought back to life. She and her husband had moved to Philistine territory after being told by Elisha about the coming famine. After the famine ended she returned to Israel and asked the King for the return of her property. The King who had heard all about her from Elisha's servant, had all her property restored to her plus any profit from any harvested crops during her absence. Her land had become occupied because of its abandonment. The woman's approach to the King was divinely timed.
The King asked Elisha's servant to continue to tell more events that Elisha had been involved in through God's power.
Elisha removed poison from stew. Elisha was teaching young prophets at Gilgal and stew was made for the group. Mistakenly wild poisonous gourds were picked along with vegetables and put together in a cooking kettle. After the men began to eat they became ill. Elisha immediately threw meal (edible ground grain) into the container, the stew was no longer poisonous. God had provided for those faithful to His covenant.
Food multiplied Elisha was given a sack of fresh corn and 20 loaves of barley bread as a tithe to him and his ministering prophets. Elisha told the one hundred surprised men to go ahead and eat for God had told him there would be enough with some left over. The bread was increased according to God's Word.
Naaman, the leper is healed. Naaman was Commander-in-Chief of the Syrian King's army who had led his troops to many glorious victories. He was a great hero. Among the band of captives from Israel was a girl who had been given to Naaman's wife as a maid. When her mistress' husband Naaman became ill, she told him of Elisha the prophet and his healing anointing from God. The King of Syrian sent his general to Israel and when Elisha heard, he summoned the King of Israel to send Naaman to him.
Naaman arrived at Elisha's home with horses, chariots and much wealth. Elisha was not impressed and sent a messenger to tell Naaman to go and wash in the Jordan River seven times and he would be healed. Insulted, the heroic military general refused, but his officers calmed him and encouraged him to obey Elisha's order. After bathing seven times in the Jordan River, his flesh became healthy and he openly acknowledged God as Creator and no other.
Elisha's servant however secretly sought after and accepted some of the riches from Naaman, this caused him and his descendants to be covered with an ongoing skin disease.
Naaman was used to getting respect, but had to humble himself. Obedience to God begins with humility. His pride could not accept the simplicity of his cure.
God's purposes are accomplished any way He chooses.
Washing in the muddy water of the Jordan demonstrated there was no natural connection between the ritual and the healing, but was a supernatural act of God. It proved to Naaman he had to put his personal trust in God alone. Naaman was healed solely by God's grace and not by any power of Elisha. Naaman no longer worshipped any other as Supreme deity, only the One True God.
Axe head floats The meeting place for the company of prophets was too small. Elisha was president of the prophets school and the seminary students decided to build a larger log dormitory by the Jordan River. During the cutting down of the trees, one student was chopping logs with a borrowed axe and its axe head fell into the river. Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the river and the axe head rose to the surface and floated.
In a time when most tools were made of bronze and iron, an axe-head was a treasure. An iron axe- head was an expensive tool and the borrower faced the prospect of working as a bond-servant to work off the value.
Elisha's enemies trapped Many times Elisha was used of God to achieve military victories over other nations by Israel. Neighbouring countries envied Israel and Judah for they held some of the most fertile land and strategic trade and military positions and constantly these nations attempted to seize the land.
The prophet was told by God of the Syrian King's strategic plans of invasion continually and eventually it was recognised the reports were given by prophecy from God's prophet. Elisha constantly frustrated the Syrian Kings in their attempts to control Israel. The army set out to capture Elisha.
One of Elisha's servants was afraid of the larger Syrian army, so the prophet prayed to God that He might open the spiritual eyes of the young man. Elisha was very aware of God's surrounding and protective power. The young man through spiritual eyes saw horses and chariots of fire everywhere upon the mountain. Elisha's servant was no longer afraid when he saw God's mighty army of angels.
As the Syrian army advanced to capture Elisha, the prophet of faith prayed for God to blind the foreigners to the reality of Elisha's identity. The soldiers eyes were closed to earthly reality. In this way Elisha himself led the army to Samaria without them recognising the prophet. The Syrian forces were trapped inside the fortress capital City. The captors became captives but were allowed to go free after Elisha said they were to be refreshed with a satisfying meal.
Famine in Samaria Later the King of Syria besieged Samaria which caused famine in the fortified city. The King wanted to kill Elisha for the severe conditions. The elders of the City sat with Elisha, for his holiness was recognised by all the wise.
Elisha's prophecy that the siege would be over the next day, reminded the people from the City of Samaria that deliverance from God's enemies was a gift of God's grace and rejection of His Word provoked divine judgement.
The King of Israel blamed God and threatened to kill His prophet who had told them the famine was over, but God had tricked the attacking nation into fleeing away by thinking the Egyptian army had come to help the Israelites. God caused them to hear sounds of horses approaching; a fulfilment of Elisha's prediction. The aggressive soldiers had panicked and fled from what they thought was danger.
Elisha also predicted the death of the King of Syria and the horrible things his son as king would do to the people of Israel.
On his death bed Elisha predicted that Israel's victory over Syrian would not be complete. Elisha died a normal death.
The life-giving power of God that Elisha represented was still being demonstrated after his death. After Elisha's death and burial, some marauding bandits raided Israel in springtime and the local men hastily buried their friend. They threw the body into Elisha's tomb and as soon as the body touched Elisha's bones, the dead man was revived, he jumped to his feet.
There were many, many encounters with the needy and Elisha. He recognised that God both personal and powerful was there amongst people in everyday life. Elisha ministered to all people regardless of their nationalities and his ministry spread over 50 years and had a major impact on the people of Israel as well as Judah, Syrian and Moab.
Elisha lived to the age of more than 80 years. His ministry was of greater significance than the military might of Israel the Northern Kingdom. He was a man of integrity and was equally willing to help the destitute as well as those with influence. Through Elisha God was able to demonstrate His concern for His faithful people. He finished the work of Elijah, the system of Baal worship was destroyed, the anointing of two kings and the final ruin of Ahab and Jezebel.
Elisha brought the covenant blessing to the faithful among the people of Israel. His ministry was filled with miracles that relieved private needs as well as state needs. His prophetic insight and wisdom made him a valuable advisor. The trustworthiness of God's Word was confirmed throughout Elisha's ministry. His actions and life demonstrated his strength of belief in God.
Elisha's' service suggested the ministry to come of Jesus Christ, God's Only Begotten Son. God.
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