[The following article is an edited transcription of our audio teaching, The Example of Elisha by John Schoenheit.]
This month I am teaching on the power of examples. You and I both know that it is so helpful in life to have an example. It is helpful in our life and our walk with God if we see that other people are doing what we want to do. By God’s mercy and grace we want to be an example for others as well.
This teaching is on The Example of Elisha. Elisha was an example to Jesus Christ and an example to us. Jesus Christ in many ways followed Elisha’s example, and then Jesus Christ himself became an example to us. In the Elisha-Jesus example, in that relationship, we see how we too need and can be an example for others. We also learn how Jesus Christ would study the Word and immerse himself into it, which is a lesson that we all need to learn. We all need to spend time in Scripture, just letting God speak to us through the written Word, letting God teach us and show us things that can help us in our walk before Him. That certainly was the case with Jesus Christ and Elisha.
At the risk of being a little technical as we start this teaching, I am going to talk about the names of Elisha, Elijah, and Jesus because a relationship is here that was not lost on Jesus Christ, and it should not be lost on us.
Let’s start out with Elijah.
Elijah was the prophet who anointed Elisha; he called him into the ministry and placed his mantle over him. Elijah means “my God is Yah.” Yah is the shortened form of Yahweh, so Elijah [Eliyah] is “my God is Yahweh.” Let me tell you how that works. In Hebrew, the word “El” is one of the names for God. Most people that have studied Christianity are aware that Elohim is one of the names for God. When you take the word/noun “El” and you want to make it “my God,” which is possessive, you put an “i” at the end. This of course is how you do it in English, but it’s not pronounced like an “i” in Hebrew. It is pronounced as a long-e sound, so El is God; Eloi is “my God.” Remember what Jesus Christ said when he was on the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani”? This is “my God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Eloi is “my God,” and Yah is the shortened form of Yahweh. The name of Elijah, which we call him, in Hebrew is “my God is Yahweh.” Who followed Elijah? It was Elisha. Now with Elisha, we have Eli, which is “my God” and then Sha, which relates to savior or salvation, so Elisha was “my El,” “my God is the savior” or “my God is salvation.”
Interestingly enough the name Jesus in Hebrew is Yahoshuah. You and I usually hear the shortened form of that, which is Yahshua, but his full name is Yahoshuah. What does Yahoshuah mean? It means “Yahweh is salvation.” We have Elisha, “my God is salvation,” and Jesus’, “Yahweh is salvation.” It is just another name for God. The parallel between Elisha and Yahoshuah (Jesus) is that they both were related to God being salvation, and interestingly enough, they both followed Elijah. Elijah of course placed the mantel over Elisha, but we also know that in the case of Jesus, he was immediately preceded by a man the prophets called Elijah.
Malachi 4:5 and 6
(5) “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.
(6) And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
It was understood in the Hebrew culture that Elijah would come before the Messiah (Matt. 17:10). The disciples recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, so now they were confused.
“Wait a minute, the prophet said that before the Messiah, Elijah would come, so where is Elijah?”
(10) The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”
(11) Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.
(12) But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.”
(13) Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
The Elisha of the Old Testament was immediately preceded by Elijah, and Yahoshuah (Jesus) was immediately preceded by Elijah. Elisha was such an example to Jesus Christ. Elisha was never a king. He never built any cities. He never conquered any enemy armies. Elisha never wrote any books; he never defined his greatness by the things that mankind usually says makes a person great. Elisha showed up in the Old Testament and defined his greatness by his relationship with and his obedience to God. What an example to Jesus Christ, who also did not run around being the king of any country, building any cities, he did not conquer enemy armies, or write any books. Jesus Christ also, like “God his savior” before him—like Elisha before him, defined his greatness by his relationship with and his obedience to God. I think that in itself is a wonderful example for us and for Jesus Christ.
Let us look at some of the records of Elisha. 1 Kings 19:19 is where Elijah passed his mantel to Elisha and brought him into the ministry. By the time that we get to 2 Kings 2:9, God is going to replace Elijah with Elisha. Elijah is now older and has a younger and powerful prophet who is up and coming, so God is going to graciously replace Elijah with Elisha. God is going to do this by carrying Elijah away physically. Scripture will say that a whirlwind took Elijah into heaven, which does not mean the heaven where God lived.
If you get our book, Is There Death After Life? and look up the record, the word heaven is also used as the “air.” As when Scripture talks about the birds of heaven. What God did was to simply pick Elijah up by a whirlwind and move him to another place where he could live out his life and the ministry could transfer graciously to God’s disciple Elisha.
At this point, we are going to start looking at the records of Elisha and how he worked in his ministry. I want to tell you that it is a challenge to encapsulate the life and ministry of a man in this short teaching. We have at least 16 miracles that Elisha did, and to do them all justice would probably take a 16-hour seminar. That is not my point here. What I want to do here is instead of expounding on all the details of the different miracles, I want to just get right to the chewy caramel center of the things that Jesus Christ would have looked at. You and I also need to learn from these examples. What are some of the chewy caramel centers? What are some of the things which we can grab hold of and say, “Wow, this is worth learning from and holding on to?” That is what I want to do here. I would like to give a vignette (clear, short description) of Elisha and some of the great things that he did that we can follow. If I can do that with these next few miracles, then I will have accomplished what I wanted to do in this particular teaching.
2 Kings 2:9
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
That is an amazing and powerful request because Elijah was a very powerful prophet; however, Elisha understood a principle in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, before the Day of Pentecost, God poured out His gift of holy spirit by measure. Elisha is saying that he wanted twice as much as Elijah had. Of course, it is God who gives spirit not Elijah. That request would have to go before the throne of God.
2 Kings 2:10
“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours– otherwise not.”
Wait a minute, who gives holy spirit in the first place? God gives it. Why is it harder for God to give more spirit than less spirit? It is not, and that is the point here. More spirit or less spirit, the giving of the double portion is not difficult. What is difficult, is living up to what you have. Look how it pushed Elijah to the edge of the envelope to live to the limits of the spirit that God had given to him, and Elisha steps up and says, “I want twice as much spirit as you have.” Elijah looked at him and said, “You are asking for a difficult thing.” It would be difficult because it was difficult to live up to the fullness of the spirit, and Elisha did it.
Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ had spirit without measure.
For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.
Do you think that Jesus knew it? Absolutely he knew it. Do you think that he knew what it meant? Absolutely, he knew what it meant. Jesus Christ knew that if Elijah could walk to the edge of the envelop with the spirit that he had and if Elisha could ask for twice as much and push the envelop and push himself to walk in the fullness of the power that he had, then Jesus Christ could receive the spirit without measure and discipline himself to walk in the fullness of the spirit that he had. We are also filled with holy spirit without measure.
We have a responsibility before God to push the edge of that envelop and to walk in the fullness of the spirit and the spiritual power that God gave to us. We absolutely do, and we absolutely can. Let’s follow the examples of Elisha and our Yahoshuah and walk in the fullness of the power of the spirit that God has given us.
I love the fact that Elisha had to ask for a double measure. He knew what it would demand of him, but he asked for it anyway. What a great example for Jesus Christ.
2 Kings 2:12
Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.
“He took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart” was a symbol of grief because we gain comfort from having someone over us, to be our mentor in the Word, to guide us, or hold us up.
2 Kings 2:13 and 14
(13) He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.
(14) Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked.
If you were reading from the Hebrew, it would be, “Where now is Yahweh, the Elohim of Eliyah.” The back and forth between God and Yahweh just in that simple sentence is so powerful. When you read this, you can practically feel the power of God coming off the page because where is the God of Elijah? He is in your life. He is in your breath. He is behind you; God is so for us.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Elisha had such faith and such focus.
2 Kings 2:14
Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water; it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
Jesus Christ comes 800 years later, and he walks to the Sea of Galilee. It is nighttime, and his disciples were in a boat and in trouble. Jesus wants to help his disciples. He is not going to split the water like Moses did and have the boat sink to the bottom of the sea. That is not going to be much help, but he understands that he has authority over the water if God gives him that revelation. He asks his heavenly Father, and then walks across the water to get to his disciples. What would Jesus have learned from this example? He learned that water is not an obstacle to the will of God. What can you and I learn? We can learn the same kind of thing.
Let’s continue in our study of some of the examples of Elisha and how he lived. Elisha is traveling around, and he is with the prophets and gets to the city of Jericho.
2 Kings 2:18-20
(18) When they returned to Elisha, who was staying in Jericho, he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?”
(19) The men of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.”
(20) “Bring me a new bowl,” he said, “and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him.
By the way, the spring in Jericho is still there, and it is still producing fresh water.
2 Kings 2:21
Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the LORD [Yahweh] says:
By the way, the word LORD when it is in capital letters is Yahweh, the proper name of God. I do not like translating Yahweh as LORD because you are taking God’s one and only proper name and translating it as a title. I do not think that God wants us to do that. He uses Yahweh over 6000 times in the Old Testament, and the name has a uniqueness and greatness of understanding that is brought back into the text when we realize that this is not a title here but God’s proper name.
2 Kings 2:21 and 22
(21) …”This is what the LORD [Yahweh] says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.'”
(22) And the water has remained wholesome to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.
Elisha walking by the spirit says, “Well, bring me a new bowl and put salt in it.” He throws the salt in the spring, and the spring is healed. You and I both know that throwing a bowl full of salt into a spring does not heal water. What is going on here? What is going on here is the power of example. When you ask God for something, His answer may not make sense; go with it anyway. Jesus Christ learned this lesson: Do not ask God for something, and when He gives you a solution, you say, “I am not going to do that. It does not make any sense.” What is the point of the example here? The point is that Jesus Christ had to know and had to learn that new things were going to come from his Father that were not going to make a lot of sense. For example, let us take the healing of the man born blind.
John 9:6 and 7
(6) Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.
(7) “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam”
You and I know that when we read the Four Gospels that Jesus Christ healed a lot of blind men. This is the only place where he told a blind man specifically where to go and wash. Because of the emphasis on ritual purity around Jerusalem, pools of water were literally everywhere. This man did not need to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash, but the revelation from God to Jesus was to make mud and tell him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. Does it make sense? No, not to us; however Jesus Christ followed it, and guess what happened? The man was totally healed. That kind of behavior was modeled for Jesus 800 years before in the life and ministry of Elisha the prophet.
Times may occur when we do not understand what God is asking us to do. If you are clear on the fact that it was revelation from God, then get about doing it!
2 Kings 2:23-25
(23) From there [Jericho] Elisha went up to Bethel [a religious center in Israel]. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!” they said. “Go on up, you baldhead!”
(24) He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD [Yahweh]. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.
(25) And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.
This is a pretty interesting record. What does it tell us? What it tells us is that you have the right to protect yourself. If you are walking with God in faith, which revelation has to be there for this, God will protect you. Let me ask you a question. Do you think Jesus Christ was afraid of what others would do to him? Absolutely not, Jesus Christ learned this lesson.
Before we go into the lesson of Jesus Christ, let us take this apart a little bit because I know this record could be a little disturbing. One of the first things that I want you to notice is that it says the two bears mauled 42 of the youth. In other words, these bears mauled 42 young men, but that was not all the young men that were there. A lot is in this record between the lines. You have this man of God, who like many men of God and many societies—like the persecuted church today, was not revered by the common street person. The prophets had to deal with animosity toward them. Jezebel, for example, killed the prophets of Yahweh. Elisha, himself, came close to being killed by authorities on several occasions. Elisha is walking along the road, and you can tell that he is the man of God. Just like in many towns, ancient and modern, young men get together, and the crowd starts getting bigger. Do you know what happens in these types of situations? The crowds become deadly because what one man would never do on his own he will do when he is in a crowd (gang). Here is a group of young restless, no-morals youth, ready to cause a lot of trouble. One guy starts yelling, and then they all will start yelling. Next, one guy starts shoving, and then they all start shoving. One guy throws a kick, and then they all start kicking. One guy throws a stone, and then the next thing you know you have problems. You know how gangs work. Elisha is here with a whole group of these young people. They are not yelling from 300-400 yards away. They are getting in his face and yelling at him. He calls a curse on them and out comes these bears that maul 42 of them. Does maul mean that they die? Some of them I am sure did die.
What did Jesus Christ learn from this lesson? One thing he learned was that he did not have to be the victim. He was the Messiah. When they were going to crucify him, and the disciples were saying, “Oh, we can get out of this,” Peter grabbed a sword and was going to defend himself. Did Jesus say, “Yes, yes, more swords. We need to defend ourselves”? No, he did not. He said, “No guys, we do not need to do this. This is my destiny. If I really needed out of here, I would just ask God for 12 legions of angels, and we would be out of here.” What did Jesus Christ learn from this? He learned that he could defend himself with the power of God.
Chapter three of 2 Kings is another powerful record about Elisha.
2 Kings 3:1-3
(1) Joram son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned twelve years.
(2) He did evil in the eyes of the LORD [Yahweh], but not as his father and mother had done. He got rid of the sacred stone of Baal that his father had made.
(3) Nevertheless he clung to the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them.
What is important to recognize here is that the king of Israel, Joram, did evil in the eyes of Yahweh. Now, Joram wants to go to war with Moab, so he teams up with the king of Judah and with the Edomites. What happens is that they get into the deserts, south of Judah, and run out of water. Now, they are in real trouble. What do you do with three armies in the desert with no water? They call out for help, and the help is going to come from Elisha.
2 Kings 3:13
Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What do we have to do with each other?
Remember, the king of Israel did evil in the eyes of Yahweh, and Elisha knew it. He was politically astute.
2 Kings 3:13
Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.”
Remember that the prophets of Baal and various other prophets said Jezebel was his mother and Ahab was his father.
2 Kings 3:13 and 14
(13) Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.” “No,” the king of Israel answered, “because it was the LORD [Yahweh] who called us three kings together to hand us over to Moab.”
(14) Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you or even notice you.”
This is amazing. Elisha is summoned into the presence of the king and he said to the king, “Do you know what? If it was not for Jehoshaphat, who follows Yahweh, I would not even notice that you were here.” That is gutsy, but it really is true.
2 Kings 3:15
“But now bring me a harpist.”
Why does he do that? I don’t know about you but I don’t like confrontation. I have to force myself to confront. What about when you are confronting the king? What about when you are confronting somebody who has the power to say, “Guards carry him off to jail,” or “Guards, off with his head.” This shook him up. It got him un-peaceful in his heart, so he knew that he had to become peaceful before God. He says this to control his environment, and he begins to calm down.
2 Kings 3:15-19
(15) While the harpist was playing, the hand of the LORD came upon Elisha
(16) and he said, “This is what the LORD says: Make this valley full of ditches.
(17) For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink.
(18) This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also hand Moab over to you.
(19) You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones.”
That was quite an amazing miracle. What started it? Elisha standing for that which he believed and confronting the king of Israel even though it shook him up a little bit. Instead of allowing himself to stay rattled, he took control of the situation and said, “Bring me a harpist.” He started to calm down so that he could clearly hear the voice of Yahweh.
Can you remember anything in the life of Jesus that something like this occurred? Absolutely, times occurred in Jesus Christ’s life where he had to get centered and get by himself.
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
Another example is John 8:6. This is the situation of the woman who was caught in adultery, and the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought Jesus this woman. They made her stand up in front of everybody and then they confronted Jesus. This was not a calm situation. These are the scribes and Pharisees who are the ruling class in Jerusalem. They have dragged this woman in who is crying. People are in the crowd that are shouting, and demanding Jesus to tell them what he would do. Would he obey Moses or not? They are yelling and screaming at Jesus.
John 8:6 and 7a
(6) They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.
(7) When they kept on questioning him,
What is going on here? Jesus is just calming down. Some people teach that he wrote the names of the scribes or Pharisees on the sand or he wrote this or that, but there is no evidence for any of that. He just squatted down and doodled. I do not know about you, but a lot of times when I am on an intense phone call, I will doodle. I just unconsciously pick up a pen and start messing around and making patterns. Jesus is being pressured, the woman is crying, the people are yelling, but he had burned that example of Elisha into his head, so he just squatted down and doodled around in the sand. He calms down and stands up and speaks the Word of God straight from heaven.
he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
He received this by revelation and it just defused the whole situation and saved that woman’s life. That is exactly what happened in the situation with Elisha. You have these three armies; the army of Edom, the army of Israel, which has a bunch of pagans in it, and the army of Judah that followed Jehoshaphat (they were good men). They did not deserve to die of thirst in the desert, and Elisha knew it. He confronted the king of Israel, and was shook up about it. Elisha said, “Bring me a harpist.” They played music, and he calmed down and got a Word from the LORD and commanded a miracle. A miracle did happen and it saved the lives of all those men.
Wow, what a great example for Jesus. What a great example for us. After the Israelites fought with Moab, Elisha is here and a woman is crying out to him.
2 Kings 4:1
The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the LORD [Yahweh]. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”
This is part of the culture and tells us a lot. This man was a prophet. This man had spirit upon him. He was a spiritually powerful man in the Old Testament, but yet, he was in debt. That tells us so much does it not? Many people say that if your heart is right with God, then your life is all straightened out. I have lived enough in ministry to know that not everybody who loves and walks with God has every facet of their life straight. It does not happen. We are human beings. We have a sin nature that contends with our spirit nature, and sometimes we give in to the sinful nature. We have old man habits, and we make mistakes. This man had spirit upon him. In this particular case, he had some debt, and now his wife is unable to pay the debt when he died. The creditor was coming to take his two sons as slaves, which was allowed in the Mosaic Law. The woman is now without a husband and needs her sons because they are her sustenance and support. She came to Elisha and said, “I want some help.” I love verse two.
2 Kings 4:2
Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you?
You need to get this right. It is not, “How can I help you? You have mucked everything up.” It is not that at all. So much compassion was pouring out of Elisha’s voice. Elisha loved that man. He loved that woman and her family. He loved the people of God. It was like, “How can I help you? What can I do here for you?” Elisha reaches out to God. “God give me something to help this woman.”
2 Kings 4:2
Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
That came out of his spirit and his compassion to help. That was not a guess.
2 Kings 4:2-7
(2) “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a little oil.”
(3) Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few.
(4) Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
(5) She left him and afterward shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring.
(6) When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.
(7) She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
The obvious lesson here is that what you have is not a limit to God. If you have a little bit of food or a little bit of something that you need, that is not a limit to God. He can make more food or make more oil. To me, the great lesson here is the compassion that you must have to be successful over the long haul in ministry work. You might be blessed by God to do a miracle or healing without compassion, but if you want to have a long and successful ministry, you have to develop a compassion for God’s people. You need compassion because out of that compassion, that great love, that burning desire to help people, will come your faith to reach out and keep reaching out until you get something from God with which you can help people.
You see this over and over again in the ministry of Jesus Christ. I will give you one example from the gospel of Mark.
Mark 1:40 and 41
(40) A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
(41) Filled with compassion,
That compassion just flooded into his body and into his mind and into his life and filled him up.
Mark 1:41 and 42
(41) Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”
(42) Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
Wow, such power that flowed out of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, flowing out of his compassion, which drove his faith. If you and I want great faith, we have got to reach into the depth of our understanding of life and be compassionate.
2 Kings 4 is another great record of Elisha and a Shunammite woman. By revelation and perhaps a miracle (it does not specifically say in the text), the woman is blessed with a son according to the revelation that Elisha is given. Her child is about 5 years old when he dies. The Shunammite woman finds Elisha and requests him to raise her son from the dead.
2 Kings 4:28
“Did I ask you for a son, my lord?” she said. “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”
Elisha at this point gets revelation and speaks to his servant.
2 Kings 4:29-31
(29) Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand and run. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy’s face.”
(30) But the child’s mother said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So he got up and followed her.
(31) Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the boy’s face, but there was no sound or response. So Gehazi went back to meet Elisha and told him, “The boy has not awakened.”
What a phenomenal lesson. The revelation was for healing. All Elisha did was lay the staff on the boys face. Come on, that is weird. How are we going to get this dead child to come back to life? “Oh, I am going to put a stick on his head. That will raise him.” You and I know it will never work; I have lots of sticks. They do not raise people from the dead. Everybody who knows me knows that one of my hobbies is collecting sticks and staffs when I am out in the woods, but none of them have ever raised anybody from the dead. Elisha did that by revelation, and it did not work because the woman had no faith in it. What a beautiful and powerful lesson to learn. It is not good enough for you to have faith. The one with whom you are working has to have faith, and you must work with them to get faith.
Jesus learned this lesson and learned it well. When you read the Four Gospels, you can see how he interacts with people such as the Canaanite woman whose daughter was demonized (Matt. 15:22). Jesus did things like the healing of the Centurion’s servant in Matthew 8:5. He had ministered to Gentiles but there was something about this Canaanite woman’s faith that was just not there. She was asking for a handout, and so what does Jesus Christ say to her, “No, I am not going to heal your daughter. I am only sent to the children of the house of Israel.” Something happened inside her. Her faith rose up and crystallized, and she said, “Lord, you know the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” Christ said, “Great is your faith. Your daughter is delivered,” and she was.
(22) A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”
(23) Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
(24) He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
(25) The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
(26) He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
(27) “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
(28) Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Jesus did not heal her daughter because he was not going to heal a Gentile. He learned that you have to work with people’s faith. You and I need to learn the same example.
2 Kings 4:32–34
(32) When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch.
(33) He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the LORD.
(34) Then he got on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands.
Again, he can only do this by revelation.
2 Kings 4:34
As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy’s body grew warm.
It is like a partial healing. You have this dead body and it is cold. The boy had been dead for hours. Elisha obeys the revelation to lay on the boy’s body. His body gets warm but that is not enough; being warm and being alive are two different things.
2 Kings 4:35
Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out upon him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.
Sometimes we think that we are walking in faith and obeying revelation, when it just does not quite come together or the results are just not there. We are thinking, “Wow God, I do not get this. I am walking by the spirit and I know you gave me revelation.” I cannot explain this. I just know that it happens. Sometimes you get revelation and you walk out on it, and you do not get the total package that you think you have been promised. Elisha also did not get it here. However, he did not just get up and say, “Well, I am sorry lady. The best I can do is make your kid warm.” No, he got up, walked back and forth and gave himself a talk. He worked with his mind and his faith. He took a risk and got back on that child, and the child sneezed and woke-up.
Do we see anything that is even close to this in the life of Jesus Christ? Absolutely we do. In Mark 8:22, Jesus Christ is healing a blind man. This, by the way, is the only record like this in the records of Jesus Christ healing someone. Usually, when Jesus Christ laid his hands on somebody or spoke a miracle, it absolutely happened. Not in this record.
(22) They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.
(23) He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
(24) He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Hey, I know what that is like. I wear glasses. When I take my glasses off, that is exactly the way people look. They look all fuzzy and way out there. They look like trees walking around. That is what was happening here with Jesus. It was like the boy’s body only became warm. The healing was close, but it was not there. What did Jesus Christ do? Did he say, “Well, find yourself an eye doctor.” No, they did not have eye doctors back then.
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
Did Jesus have an example for that? Absolutely he did in what happened in the life of Elisha. The healing was almost there but not quite crystallized. He knew the revelation that he got, and he went right back into ministering healing.
This has got to be you and me too. You bet! If you get revelation from God, do not give up on that revelation. You keep pushing away and get your faith out there until that revelation comes to pass. Somebody who is half seeing or just warm is not good enough. We want the full will of God for people to come to pass in people’s lives. We need to keep pushing for results.
2 Kings 4:38 is another record of Elisha doing something by revelation that does not make sense. There is a lot in this record.
2 Kings 4:38-40
(38) Elisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region. While the company of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these men.”
(39) One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine. He gathered some of its gourds and filled the fold of his cloak. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were.
(40) The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it.
This tells us something about the prophets that Elisha was discipling. These men started to eat the stew, and they said, “oh man of God, there is death in the pot!” How did they know that? They knew it by revelation. You and I both know that we have eaten things that have tasted absolutely horrible. We have eaten things that have practically gagged us but were very good for us. I can remember trying to give vegetables to my son. You would think that he would scream and say, “Death is in that pot, Dad.” I would say, “No son, this is really good for you. You need to eat it.” On the other side of the coin, many things taste good that will kill you. Like people who pick mushrooms and do not pay attention to what they are doing. They often end up dead or sick because a lot of things that do not taste bad can be very harmful. How did the prophets know that death was in the pot? They knew it by revelation. God told them, “Do not eat that; it will kill you.”
2 Kings 4:41
Elisha said, “Get some flour.” He put it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot.
I guess it is possible that a chemical can be neutralized by flour. I have never heard of one. This was revelation to Elisha and he obeyed it, whether it made sense or not. Elisha modeled that, and so did Jesus Christ.
2 Kings 4:42-44
(42) A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain [a loaf of bread in those days is like a pancake. He is showing up with 20 pancakes], along with some heads of new grain [this is a couple handfuls of grain]. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.
(43) “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked. But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the LORD says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.'”
(44) Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the LORD.
You and I both know what happened with Jesus when he needed food to feed the multitudes. He was away from the towns ministering with over 4000 hungry people, and in another record there were over 5000 hungry people. Again, like when the widow’s oil was multiplied, this was a need for food, so the food was multiplied.
In 2 Kings 5 is the record of Naaman, the Asyrian, and he has leprosy. Elisha is going to heal Naaman of his leprosy. Obviously, a lesson is here for us that Jesus also saw: disease is not an impediment to God. God is the great healer of diseases. There is another lesson here. Look at how Elisha related to Naaman according to the revelation he received. I think that this is a very powerful lesson for us to learn. It certainly was for Jesus Christ.
2 Kings 5:1
Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram.
Syria at this time was the most powerful nation on earth. This would be like being the top commander over the entire army. Naaman was an incredibly powerful man. He came to Elisha to be healed of his leprosy.
2 Kings 5:9
So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.
This was not like two chariots and three horses. This is the top general of the most powerful army on the face of the earth. They are traveling 70-80 miles through enemy territory, down through Israel. You know that the king of Syria is not going to have his general exposed like that. A powerful protection force of chariots and horsemen and perhaps runners would be there. They came both to protect Naaman and to bring a very large offering to the king of Israel because to the Syrians, Naaman’s health is worth that. Naaman shows up with this huge entourage of people of all ranks in front of Elisha’s house.
2 Kings 5:9 and 10
(9) So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.
(10) Elisha sent a messenger to say to him,
Remember, the houses in the Middle East were tiny. When you go to Israel and look at the archeological excavations, you will see this. It may be the size of two of your bedrooms or maybe just your living room and dining room. How far has Elisha got to walk to see Naaman? Maybe 20 feet. But the revelation was to just sit where you are.
2 Kings 5:10 and 11
(10) Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
(11) But Naaman went away angry
According to the culture, he should have been. The culture would demand that Elisha come out and bow before him and this huge dialogue would occur and a lot of formality; instead, a messenger was sent.
2 Kings 5:11 and 12
(11) But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.
(12) Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
Elisha just sat in his house because the Word of Yahweh was, “send a messenger and tell Naaman what to do.” That was exactly what he did. Elisha did not sprint out and say, “Wait, I am sorry, we can redo this.” No, you just give people the revelation you receive, and let them deal with it. God is God; He knows the hearts of all men. He is not wrong. He knows what is happening. You just obey the revelation and let people deal with it. Sometimes we so want people to obey God that we try to make Christ not a stumbling stone. Scripture says, “Jesus Christ is a rock of offences and a stone of stumbling.”
1 Corinthians 1:23
but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
1 Peter 2:8
and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message– which is also what they were destined for.
As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
You and I are not going to change that. You and I are not going to break Scripture. If somebody says, “Do you believe that you have to be saved through Jesus Christ?” The answer would be, “Yes!” The next question would be, “Isn’t that narrow-minded?” The answer to that would be, “It is only narrow-minded, if it is not true.” I only put gasoline in my gas tank, and I do not think that it is narrow-minded to do so. I do not put orange juice, or water in my gas tank. I only put gasoline in my tank, and it is not narrow-minded. It also goes for the fact that you are only saved through Jesus Christ, and that is not narrow-minded; it is true, and we have to stand on it. Somebody might come up and go off in a rage; let them, for we have got to speak the truth in love and stand on it.
Did Jesus Christ learn this lesson? You bet he did. In John 6, he is talking to his disciples about his life.
John 6:53, 60, and 66
(53) Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
(60) On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
(66) From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
You see, Jesus Christ taught the truth, and what was the result? People left and did not want to follow him. Did he chase after them saying, “No wait, I am sorry. I will say it nicer.” No, he did not. He just taught the truth and let people deal with it.
Other examples can be found in the life of Elisha, and we could do so much more with his life than I have just done. I want to look at just two more examples.
In 2 Kings 6:18, an army has surrounded Elisha.
2 Kings 6:18
As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
This is not physical blindness with which they were stricken. It is not that they could not see. Scripture has two usages of blindness. One usage is where a man is actually blind, he physically cannot see. The other is mental blindness where you cannot put two thoughts together. That is the situation here.
Jesus Christ had a time in his life where the people of Nazareth grabbed him and were going to throw him over a cliff. At that time, all of a sudden, they were smitten with blindness. They just could not figure out who Jesus Christ was and why they were there. Jesus Christ was able to walk right through their midst and walk away. You see, Jesus Christ continued to follow the example of Elisha.
Let’s look at one more example. This is very powerful. It is the last miracle associated with Elisha in Scripture.
2 Kings 13:20
Elisha died and was buried.
Now, Elisha is dead and buried and in the ground.
2 Kings 13:20 and 21
(20) Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring.
(21) Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.
That is the end of the record. Elisha was a powerful man of God in his life and even in his death others were healed. This lesson could not have been lost on Jesus Christ—that he was going to be powerful in his life, that he was going to follow Elisha’s example, that he was going to follow the revelation of his God, that he was going to listen to the voice of his God and his Father, and he was going to walk with great power, but even in his death, he was going to give life to others.
Jesus Christ will give life to those who are dead. He died so that you and I could live. Now we have a message to take to the world. We have examples to follow. Our primary example is that of Jesus Christ. We have a message that no matter how dead you are in trespasses and sin, no matter how doomed to die that you are, everlasting life is available by way of the death of Jesus Christ. He died for all of us, and in his death, we have life. If we will obey Romans 10:9 and10, you and I will have everlasting life.
Romans 10:9 and 10
(9) That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead; you will be saved.
(10) For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
It is the fullness of the spirit of God that makes us powerful. We have great examples by which to live. We have the voice of our God and our Lord Jesus Christ to follow, and we have a Savior who will give life and a new body to those who are dead. We have things to do for the people in the world around us.
May God bless us as we go about doing them.