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Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 2Kings 5; 6:8- 7:20; 2Kings 8:7-15; 2Kings 13:14-21

Who Is God?

What are our perceptions of God? Is He real or is He a mythical force of the universe? Is He unknowable or personable? Is He mighty or weak? Is He a big “sugar daddy” – ready to grant every request, or is He mean? Is He old and out of touch with reality, or is He eternal, wise, and involved in every aspect of our lives? Does God only care about some people or does He care about all people? How we think of the LORD will determine how we act. Today, we will gain some insight into who God is by looking at what He does.

Today’s Bible reading occurs at the end of Elisha's ministry. Elisha is the prophet of the LORD who succeeded Elijah. His main purpose is to complete the job Elijah started, ridding Israel of Baal worship. He also helps people by ministering to their needs as they feel the effects of war and famine—God’s judgment for Israel’s idolatry. The LORD is merciful and gracious to Israel in sending Elisha to them. Are any of us ministering in bad circumstances? Perhaps we are there, like Elisha, to show wicked people who God is. Let's be a willing servant.

At this time Israel is at war with Aram in Damascus (Syria). Naaman, a commander in Aram’s army is sick with leprosy. Seeing this, a sympathetic young Israelite girl whom the Arameans captured, tells them of a prophet in Israel who can heal him. At once the king of Aram sends Naaman to Israel to be healed. The king of Israel is distraught when he receives a letter from the king of Aram, asking him to cure Naaman of his leprosy. In his grief he tears his royal robes. He thinks the king of Aram is trying to pick a fight.

When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel” (2Kings 5:8, NIV).

Naaman goes to the door of Elisha's house to be healed, but instead of meeting him, Elisha sends a messenger to him with instructions for his healing. After initial resistance, Naaman follows the instructions of Elisha, dipping himself in the Jordan river seven times. His flesh is restored and becomes clean like that of a young boy. Then Naaman and all his attendants return to the man of God. He stands before him and confesses, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel” (2Kings 5:14-15, NIV).

The LORD works through Elisha to show the Arameans that Israel’s God is the true God. By the healing of Naaman, the king of Israel will also recognize there is a true God in Israel. However, he needs to humble himself and seek the LORD ’s help like Naaman. God is merciful and can heal and help whomever He chooses.*

Aram's commander converts to Israel’s God. After being cleansed of his leprosy, he asks Elisha to accept a gift, but the man of God refuses (2Kings 5:15-16). Then Naaman loads two of his mules with dirt from the land of Israel to return to his own land and construct an altar (more).

Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, thinks his master was too easy on Naaman. Gehazi follows him and contrives an excuse to get some reward from the commander. The healed man is happy to give it. After Gehazi returns, he hides the expensive clothing and money, but he cannot hide from Elisha. Elisha knows what he has done and punishes Gehazi and all his descendants with the same leprosy which was on Naaman (2Kings 5:25-27). Why it was wrong for Elisha to accept gifts? In this particular instance we don't know. For some plausible explanations go to the more page.

Have you ever wished you could know what someone else is thinking? Elisha, the prophet of God, tells the king of Israel every battle maneuver of Aram before she makes it. What a military advantage this is. Why does God do this for Israel? It is not because they are righteous. No, God glorifies himself by showing the king of Aram that there is not a word or deed of which He is not aware. Indeed, there is a true God in Israel. King Aram is furious that his plans are constantly being disclosed to the king of Israel. He sends an army of men and chariots to kill God's prophet.

Elisha’s servant is afraid when he sees they are surrounded by Aram's army with no way of escape. Elisha is not afraid, however; he asks God to open the servant’s eyes so he will see the surrounding hills full of horses and chariots of fire (the LORD ’s heavenly army) all around Elisha, protecting them. Again, God shows He is the true God of Israel. Elisha calls on Him to blind the soldiers of Aram, and then he leads them into the heart of the city of Samaria to the king of Israel.

When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”
“Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill men you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master” (2 Kings 6:21-22, NIV).

Why does Elisha not want them killed? They are Israel’s enemies. However, it is enough for Elisha to prove God is more powerful than their armies. If they were killed there would be no testimony of that. Instead, these well-treated prisoners are allowed to return in shame to give their reports. After that, Israel is left alone and enjoys peace for awhile (more).

After the famine, war, and even starvation, the king of Israel finally looks to the LORD. When his patience for waiting on God is totally expired, however, he wants to take it out on His prophet. He wonders: Why is God waiting so long? Why doesn't Elisha help?

The question might well be reversed. Why did the king wait so long to seek the LORD? Perhaps he needed to see that his own man made idols, which are supposed to bring prosperity, were totally useless. Perhaps he needed to be brought to the end of himself and to the brink of total disaster before he perceived his need of God. The LORD had worked many times through Elisha, showing himself to be God, but the king of Israel was not listening. What about us? Will we seek God early or do we have to go through the school of hard knocks? God does care, but He wants us to seek Him.

God does eventually show mercy to Israel and its king. Elisha prophesies that within the next twenty-four hours Israel will have plenty of food. The officer assisting King Joash is incredulous. How can this miracle happen? Israel is under siege by Aram.

The LORD frightens the armies away with battle noises of invading armies. Aram thinks Israel has hired mercenary fighters, so they run. The next day the plunder is discovered by four lepers, and they inform the city guards of their good fortune. After sending out scouts to make sure this is true, the king opens the gates, and the people storm out. They trample over the officer who did not believe Elisha’s prophecy, and Israel takes the plunder left behind.

Sometimes the LORD seems late, but He always provides. God does care, but He wants us to seek Him. We need to humble ourselves and trust Him early. Let's not destroy ourselves and others by our stubborn disobedience. We need to have faith in God, and have faith in the message of His servants. He gives forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...)

Lessons to Live By

regarding who God is

  • If any of us are in unfavorable circumstances, like Elisha, perhaps we are there to show wicked people who God is. Let's be a willing servant.
  • The LORD is merciful and can heal whomever He chooses.
  • There is not a word or deed of which God is not aware.
  • Sometimes the LORD seems late, but He always provides. God does care, but He wants us to seek Him. We need to humble ourselves and trust Him early. Let's not destroy ourselves and others by our stubborn disobedience (more...).
  • Let's have faith in God, and have faith in the message of His servants.

Aside note: One might wonder how the king of Israel felt about God helping the king’s enemies. Perhaps this lesson evoked some jealousy in the king to ask for God’s help.

Focus Verse

1Peter 5:6 (NIV) “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

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A Look Ahead: Beware of the danger of getting cocky and Over-confident! Learn more in our Next Lesson

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