Elisha the Prophet
This lesson looks at the life of another Bible prophet – Elisha. The life of Elisha is in the Bible book called 2 Kings.
Who were the prophets?
Elisha the Prophet lived in the land of Israel about 2800 years ago. God’s people, the Israelites, had stopped worshipping the God of their fathers, and instead worshipped statues of wood and stone.
But while this was going on, there were people who remained faithful to God. These were the prophets and the small communities that gathered around them. The prophet Samuel had created these "prophet schools" in Israel about 200 years before. The junior prophets and their families lived together so that they could learn from the master prophet, and they probably had farming lands nearby where they grew their own food. Some of these people must have been very poor, and living together in a community must have been very good for them.
Elisha performed many miracles; in fact, many of his miracles were similar to those done by Jesus Christ many years later.
But what is a miracle? The dictionary tells us:
A miracle is a remarkable and welcome event that seems impossible to explain by the laws of nature and which is therefore assumed to have been done by a supernatural power.
Before the time of Elisha, God had done many miracles for His people. But these miracles were done on a big scale: for example, the plagues in Egypt; the crossing of the Red Sea; the food for the Israelites in the desert; the fire that burned up Elijah’s sacrifice.
However the miracles that God did through Elisha were more "personal". That is, God chose to help the individual people who were faithful to him. This is important to remember. Often, we think that we as common people are not important in God’s grand plan for the world. But that is not so. God does care for individual people like you and me. The kings of Israel did not follow God. Most of the people did not think about God. But there were some who did serve God, and it was these people that God helped and cared for through the work of Elisha the Prophet.
Elisha was chosen to be a prophet by the great prophet Elijah. Elisha left his home and became Elijah’s helper. They were together for a few years, until Elijah died. After Elijah’s death, the people knew that Elisha would be the next great prophet.
Elisha was the head of the small community of prophets (called the "sons of the prophets"), and we read how he helped them by doing miracles (with God’s help). As you read of these miracles, you may be able to see that some were like the miracles of Jesus.
Here are some of the miracles of Elisha:
2Kings 2:19-22. Elisha makes the water sweet
The men of the city of Jericho came to Elisha to tell him that the city’s water supply was very poor. The water was very salty, and it was hard to grow crops. Elisha asked them to bring him a new bowl and put some salt in it. Elisha then took the salt and poured it into the spring from which the water came. God made the water sweet and pleasant again.
2Kings 4:1-7 The Oil that kept flowing
One of the young men at the prophet school died, and left behind his wife and two sons. But the man owed money, and in those times if you died owing money, then your children could be taken away as slaves. What could this poor widow do? She went to Elisha for help. Now what miracle could God do? He could have given the woman ten gold bars that she could sell. But God did not do that. He makes us take part in His work. Elisha asked what she had in her home that was worth something.
All she had was a jar of olive oil for cooking. Elisha told her to collect all the empty jars she could find – borrow them from her friends and gather as many jars and vessels as she could. Then she was to go indoors with her two sons and start pouring the oil into the jars, one by one. The woman must have thought this was a crazy thing to do. But she trusted Elisha and she trusted God. So she gathered lots of jars and started pouring out the oil into each one. As she poured out the oil, more kept appearing, until all
the jars she had were full of oil. It was a miracle. God had made more oil. The widow went back to Elisha. He told her to sell the oil, pay the debt, and there would be enough money left over for her and her sons to live on.
2Kings 5:1 Naaman the Syrian is cured of leprosy
Many of the countries around Israel heard about the miracles of Elisha. At this time, Israel and Syria had an unusual arrangement. Sometimes the countries were at war. Sometimes they were at peace. Naaman was the commander of the army in Syria. But Namaan had a skin disease called leprosy. Leprosy is not as common in the world today, but it is still in parts of Asia and Africa. Naaman had a slave girl who had come from Israel, and she told Namaan he should go and see Elisha the Prophet. He could make Namaan well and cure his leprosy. So Namaan went to Elisha's house. But Elisha did not go out to meet Naaman. Elisha sent a message through his servant that Namaan should wash himself seven times in the Jordan River.
Naaman was upset and angry. Namaan thought he was an important person, and that Elisha should come and do something magical to heal his leprosy. Namaan was about to turn away and go back to Syria, but his servants stopped him and reasoned with him. They said, "If the Prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then when he says to you, 'wash and be clean.'" Naaman knew that his servants were correct, and so he went and washed seven times in the River. When he had done so, his leprosy was gone.
2Kings 6:8 One Man Captures the Syrian Army!
One time, the King of Syria sent his entire army to kill Elisha. When the army arrived at Elisha’s house, he prayed to God to make all the soldiers blind. Then Elisha led all the men to the capital city of Israel, Samaria. There, he asked God to make the soldiers see again. The army was in trouble! The king of Israel wanted to kill all of the men of Syria. But Elisha would not let him. He told the King of Israel to give the Syrian army a good meal, and send them back to their homes in Syria.
Other Miracles of Elisha
What do we learn from the life of Elisha? Elisha lived at a time when only a few people worshipped the God of Israel. There were small groups of people who met together and lived simple lives, and we can see how God cared for them through the work of His prophet.
In fact, this is just like our lives today. There are only small numbers of people who worship God, and they have a prophet working with them: Jesus Christ. Following God and Jesus Christ is an individual thing.
Elisha did many miracles, many almost the same as Jesus did. God cares for His people who worship Him, serve Him and who follow His Son, Jesus Christ.
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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 April 2013