Read 2 Kings 2v13-18 Elijah had gone; but Elisha shows that his trust wasn’t in a man but in God. He says in verse 14, “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” On striking the water Elisha saw God releasing his power in a repeat of the miracle earlier (v8). This double miracle was witnessed by the prophets on both occasions. Elisha had no doubt that Elijah had been transported to Heaven and he was proved right.
Q. Is our faith and trust in God or in our leaders?
Read 2 Kings 2v19-22 Verse 18 informs us that the spring was in Jericho. “The land is unproductive” – the word used for land is referring to the people of the land – probably having miscarriages. The small amount of salt couldn’t purify that amount of water. It was a symbol of God’s healing and wholeness and the change that can result as the touch of God’s hand. Already Elisha is revealing God’s power and blessing. Read 2 Kings 2v23-25 A gang of teenagers jeered Elijah – probably reflecting the attitude of their parents towards God’s prophets. As we saw with Elijah and Micaiah, God sees when his people are persecuted and defends them. Justice under Old Testament Law was different to the idea in the New Testament of “turning the other cheek”, which is what Jesus did.
Q. Why do you think that is? This study notes provide the core content of a bible study. While the core message of the study has been captured for you to read, written text can not fully express the sense of anointing upon the discussion of the word or the joy of corporate fellowship. We encourage you to pray before you begin reading that the Lord would open your heart and mind to be receptive and responsive to God’s message contained within this study. There may be times when you find it difficult to reconcile God’s truth to your own opinion or worldview, God’s truth is eternal, it does not change, our understanding of the truth does change as we allow God to work in our hearts and minds.
Read 2 Kings 3v1-11 Ahab’s first son, Ahaziah, had died so his second son Joram became king (ch.1v17&18). Although he’d got rid of the Baal stone, he still allowed anyone to be a priest in the Temple (Jeroboam’s sin). Mesha, King of Moab (to the east of the Jordan) had reneged on an agreement to provide the Israelites with countless lambs and wool. So Judah and Israel – Joram and Jehoshaphat – agreed to attack Moab from the south of the Jordan via the desert of Edom (Edom’s king joining them en route). When they ran out of water it was godly Jehoshaphat who suggested asking the prophet.
Q. Do people think of asking us to pray when there is a need? Read 2 Kings 3v11b-19 Elisha was found. He was disparaging of Joram and Israel but, because he respected Jehoshaphat he agreed to seek the Lord; and he sat and listened to music as a way of entering into God’s presence. As he was doing so God gave him a message: dig ditches, you will have water, the Moabites will be handed over to you and you must put a stop to their productivity. In others words the Moabites would experience the opposite of what the Israelites had experienced.
Q. Do we have a special way that helps us to hear from the Lord? Read 2 Kings 3v20-27 They woke up the next morning to find water – a miracle in the desert. And God used the miracle to deceive the Moabites – they thought the water was blood from a battle between the three invading kings so that they were surprised when they were attacked. The Israelites were victorious in battle. In desperation the Moabite king sacrificed his own son on the city wall, but to no avail.
Q. The Israelites weren’t much better than the Moabites. Why did God help them? If God helped the people that Jehoshaphat and Elisha cared about, will he also hear and answer our prayers? Read 2 Kings 4v1-7: This miracle always reminds us of the similar one which Elijah experienced (see 1 Kings 17v14). Both miracles are amazing in themselves, but can also be viewed as parables. By comparing the two we get an insight into God’s wonderful provision for us, materially and spiritually. Elijah Flour and oil Limitless supply For Elijah and the woman of Zarephath only Lasted 3 years through the drought The oil represented the Holy Spirit As long as we are thirsty God will keep filling us, enabling us to bless others. Q. Are we thirsty?
Elisha Oil in jars Abundant supply (all the jars) For the woman to sell & share, to provide an income Lasted till the jars ran out The oil represented the Holy Spirit As long as we give out what God has given us, he will keep us “topped up” with the Holy Spirit Q. Do we need replenishing?
Read 2 Kings 4v8-16: Shunam was about 10 miles south of Lake Chinnereth (Chinnereth = Galilee). Elisha felt so blessed to have this accommodation at his disposal. The Shunammite woman had had no children, but she didn’t sit around feeling sorry for herself. She was working for the Lord by ministering to his servant. Concerned, Elisha prophesied she would have a son.
Q. If we can’t have something, should we dwell on it or busy ourselves with another? Read 2 Kings 4v17-26: The prophesied child grew – big enough to help his dad but not too big to sit on his mum’s lap; but he died. Especially notice here the mother’s faith: v.s23 and 26 – “It’s all right”,
Q. Even when everything is going wrong, do we have enough faith to believe that it is all right? Read 2 Kings 4v27-37: To the woman, Elisha is God’s representative, so she takes hold of his feet (a humbled position), in distress – her only hope is in God. Elisha instructs Gehazi to go ahead and “lay his staff on the boys face”. Note the negativity in Gehazi’s words.
The staff was a “symbol” of authority. Elisha therefore took authority in God’s name, over the life of the boy. Carmel was 20 miles away from Shenam. It is possible Elisha and the woman did not return ‘til very late or even the next day. Therefore the boy was cold, but as Elisha warmed him he revived – back from the dead! The woman’s response wasn’t to worship her son, but to worship God humbly, at Elisha’s feet.
Q. Is our faith more like Elisha’s, the woman’s or Gehazi’s? Read 2 Kings 4v38-41: There was a famine. Elisha’s faith was both proactive and reactive. And here we see him reacting to a dangerous situation – poisonous food (it probably had a bitter taste, characteristic of something wrong). As with the miracle of water purification (ch.2v19-22) Elisha uses what he has – flour – a symbol of provision. The food became edible and safe in this, his seventh recorded miracle. Read 2 Kings 4v42-44: More provision during the famine: here we have an O.T version of Jesus’ N.T. miracle (John 6v5-13). There were 20 loaves of barley bread. They were significant because the ‘firstfruits’ were normally offered to God in the Temple. In this situation Elisha was the Lord’s representative. Notice once again Gehazi’s negative attitude. Barley loaves were eaten by the poor. The roasted ears of wheat were probably a delicacy. The loaves were more like inch thick rolls. In John 6 we see the probability that one person would eat 5 rolls. Therefore 20 would only feed 4 people. But Elisha prophesied that the hundred would eat and have some left – which is what happened. When we give of our substance to the Lord he will always use it to his glory. Read 2 Kings 5v1-3 This is one of the longer stories in the Bible. It is interesting to compare the two masters – Naaman and Elisha, and the two servants – the young girl and Gehazi. Naaman was undoubtedly a great man and highly respected by the king (whereas Elisha was a great man, usually disregarded by the King of Israel). BUT, Naaman had leprosy – a skin disease. The young girl had been taken away from her home but it hadn’t affected her unquestioning faith (unlike Gehazi who often doubted), “The prophet will heal my master”.
Q. How often, in difficult times, do we miss an opportunity to witness? Read 2 Kings 5v4-7 Letters between kings – even ones on medical matters – were not uncommon. They could have been written on clay, papyrus or pottery slates (the latter most likely at this date). It was also the custom to take gifts. Naaman took the equivalent of half-a-ton of silver and gold!! But the Israelite King saw it as a provocation and feared attack (tore his robes).
Read 2 Kings 5v8-12 Once again Elisha takes authority in the situation. He will bring about Naaman’s healing and the cost will be humility and faith, not silver and gold. He was not expecting to be told to wash in the muddy river – and went away in a rage.
Q. How should we come before God? Leprosy would cover the description for any number of infectious diseases and there is detailed information and advice about them in Leviticus chapters 13 and 14. The descriptions refer to all kinds of skin complaints ranging from spots and boils; scaly sore, itchy skin; ringworm and fungal infections; eczema and leprosy which ate away at the flesh. Regulations to prevent the spread of disease included precise, careful washing procedures, quarantine and then clearance from a priest who would make the sacrifice required for physical and spiritual healing. Many facets of the process were to be repeated 7 times. Read 2 Kings 5v13-18 Once again it is a servant who gives good counsel to Naaman. Naaman’s obedience brings his complete healing, and a recognition from Naaman that his healing is from God, whom he will now worship. Interestingly he asks for forgiveness in advance for when he knows he will have to bow to another god with his master, the King (v18). Elijah will accept no money – healing, or God’s favour, cannot be bought. Read 2 Kings 5v19-27 Gehazi (a bit like Judas?) showed his true colours. He was guilty of lies, deception, fraud and greed. But Elisha “saw” him in a spiritual sense and discerned Gehazi’s true nature. Naaman’s leprosy may have been an infectious type – we don’t know – but we do know that Gehazi was struck down with it as a result of his time spent with Naaman.
Q. Under the New Covenant do we still suffer as a result of wrong choices we make? Read 2 Kings 6v1-7 The place was too small – not a bad problem to have! Notice the prophets didn’t ask Elisha what he was going to do about it. They were ALL part of the answer. They all went and got ‘stuck in’ cutting down trees, and at least one of them had to borrow an axe. Not having an axe didn’t stop him from working initially, but losing it in the river did! It was then that God stepped in and defied the laws of gravity by making the axe float. God provided in order that they could provide for themselves.
Q. Is it right to ask God to solve our problems when we can do it ourselves? If we are determined to put God first and to do his work, he will honour that by providing for us materially, physically and spiritually.
Read 2 Kings 6v8-14 The Syrian King’s right hand man had just been healed from leprosy (see previous chapter) but Syria/Aram was still at war with Israel. But the plans of the Aramite king were being thwarted, because Elisha was warning the King of Israel of the whereabouts of the Aramean army (v10). In fact Elisha had an insight into every aspect of the enemy king’s life (v12)! So the Aramite king sent a strong force to surround the city. Elisha was in danger...
Q. Elisha could ‘see’ what God could see. How would it affect our lives if we could see as God’s sees? Read 2 Kings 6v15-17 Elisha’s servant could only see the problem, the vast number of enemy soldiers. And Elisha states a fact that doesn’t seem feasible, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them”. And when the Lord opened the servant’s eyes he saw the Army of the Lord (angelic warrior host) on the hillside, far outnumbering the enemy. Imagine his surprise! If only we could see things as they really are! But the promise to us is the same. “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4v4) Read 2 Kings 6v18-20 In contrast, Elisha prays for the enemy army’s eyes to be blinded, or perhaps blinkered. It seemed to be a selective blindness. They could see to follow but they did not “see” where they were going! And so Elisha led them to the Israelite capital of Samaria where their eyes were opened. Imagine their surprise!
Q. How can we have our eyes opened to God’s truth? Read 2 Kings 6v21-23 The surprising ‘twist’ at the end of this story is that the Syrians were not killed. They were fed well (a feast) and sent on their way, and the episode served to disarm them because we read that they stopped the incursions. In effect, Elisha had ‘killed them with kindness’. And aren’t we told to do the same in Romans 12v20? God was working to increase the faith of Elisha’s prophets, but he was also working in the hearts of individuals in Syria, too. There is nothing to difficult for our God. If only we could see things as God sees them! Read 2 Kings 6v24-29 Samaria, capital of Israel, had been surrounded by the Syrian (Aram) army and the food had run out; so that people were paying exorbitant amounts of silver (in shekels) for anything they might be able to eat. It appears that at least one person had resorted to cannibalism. On outward appearances there was nothing the Israelites could do. They were finished.
Read 2 Kings 6v30-33 The King of Israel was wearing sackcloth, a sign of humility and repentance, but he was not truly repentant. He blamed and wanted to murder Elisha, God’s representative; and therefore blamed God (v.31). Was it because he hadn’t been allowed to kill the Arameans at an earlier date? (See verses 22&23) However, Elisha discerned the King’s murderous intent (v.32) and consequently, was wary of him.
Q. When we are cross about something do we look for people to blame? Are we really blaming God; is this a good attitude? Read 2 Kings 7v1&2 The prophecy: By this time tomorrow flour and barley will be sold for next to nothing. The prophecy seemed ridiculous in the face of fact. Once again Elisha was able to see through God’s eyes and not according to the circumstances. The King of Israel’s officer showed utter disdain for the word of the Lord – not a wise step, as will be seen later!
Q. What is our attitude towards a prophetic word given during a service? Read 2 Kings 7v3-7 God had shut (ch.6v18) and opened (ch.6v17) people’s eyes. Now he caused them to hear noise that wasn’t there! He often answers prayers in the way we least think possible. He also often uses the least likely people (e.g. lepers) to bring about the answer. Read 2 Kings 7v8-12 By the time the lepers reached the camp no-one was there! The lepers “stocked up” on food and clothes and then realized they must share the good news; but the King thought it was a trap. So soon had he forgotten Elisha’s prophecy. Read 2 Kings 7v13-16 Five men were sent to investigate and when they realized the Syrian army had fled, the Israelites went to the camp and plundered it. God had provided in an amazing way. The Syrian army had deserted their post, the siege was over and there was an abundant supply of food. Elisha’s prophecy of verse 1 came true! The King’s officer was put in charge of the food; he saw all the food, but got none of it because he was trampled to death.
Q. Once again, how seriously do we take the prophetic word when it is spoken in church? Are we guilty of saying we won’t accept the word because we don’t like the person giving it? The accounts of the next few chapters are tying up loose ends, as it were.
Read 2 Kings 8v1&2 Meanwhile, while there was famine and war ... the Lord, through Elisha, had made provision for the Shunammite woman, whose son had been raised from the dead (as we read in chapter 4v32-36). God was with Israel but he was very much with the individual, too. Read 2 Kings 8v3-6 A coincidence – or a ‘God’-incidence? The king just happens to be talking about the woman and her son when they walk through the door! This was most likely the only time in her life she would enter the king’s presence and she probably went in trepidation; but God had gone before her and prepared the king so that he was sympathetic to her case. Her land was returned to her – plus interest! Our God is able to provide more abundantly than we can ever ask or think (see Ephesians 3v20&21).
Q. What might God be doing ‘meanwhile’ in our lives and circumstances? Can you think of an incidence where God has prepared the way and supplied your need – plus interest? Read 2 Kings 8v7-10 Elisha, God’s prophet, was in the right place at the right time. The Syrian king, Ben Hadad, was ill and wanted to know if he would recover. God revealed two things to Elisha: the king would recover from his sickness and the king would die. As with some of Elisha’s other words of knowledge it didn’t immediately seem feasible (e.g. chapter 6v25 & chapter 7v1). Apart from tongues and interpretation, Elisha stands out in the Old Testament as one who has been endowed mightily with the ‘gifts’ of the Spirit, as seen in 1 Corinthians 12v8-10.
Q. Do we still have ‘Elishas’ today? Read 2 Kings 8v11-15 God revealed to Elisha just what Hazael was capable of – murder and mass destruction. We could wonder if Elisha was wise to tell Hazael he would become king, because he went ahead and took matters into his own hands. However, at the same time, it was God revealing to Hazael that He sees and knows what is going on. Hazael murdered Ben Hadad in cold blood and ultimately began a destruction of Israel. (See chapter 10v22-33)
Q. Do we remember that God sees all? How would we feel if he revealed some of our shortcomings to others in the church? Verses 16-29 are not about Elisha or Israel but contain background information concerning the reigns of the kings in Judah (the Southern kingdom), so they are worth reading through for historical context. Verse 29 shows how Hazael was also a problem to Judah as well as to Israel.
Read 2 Kings 9v1-13: God was going to use Jehu, a military commander, to remove Baal worship from Israel and also to bring the house of Ahab to an end. Interestingly Jehu is the only king of the Northern kingdom to be anointed – possibly because he was the only one to be sympathetic to the worship of God.
2 Kings chapters 9&10 should be read in the context of an earlier prophecy
1 Kings 21v21&23: (Prophecy from Elijah to Ahab) Because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, I am going to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel. And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel and eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country. Read 2 Kings 9v14-29: This is all about the Lords vengeance on Ahab’s house beginning with Joram (King of Israel) and Ahaziah (King of Judah, related to Ahab by marriage) – they were together fighting the Arameans. Jehu, the newly anointed King of Israel, shot an arrow at Joram (Ahab and Jezebel’s son) and he died. Joram was left on the plot at Naboth’s vineyard as prophesied.
Q. Ahab and his descendants perpetuated evil in Israel. Do we sometimes need to take drastic action to remove the wrong and sinful things from our own lives? Read 2 Kings 9v30-37: Jezebel was equally, if not more so, as guilty as Ahab. It was she who had had the Lord’s prophets killed (1 Kings 18v4). Jezebel does not escape God’s judgment. Although Jehu was doing God’s will, he was very callous. His horses trampled Jezebel to death, and he afterwards went in and ate and drank, leaving the dogs to devour what was left of Jezebel’s body – further fulfilling the prophecy.
Q. Why do you think God chose Jehu for this task? Read 2 Kings 10v1-11: Jehu sent out two letters. In the first letter Jehu challenged the guardians of Ahab’s children to select an heir (V.3-5). In the second letter (v.6) Jehu got the guardians to kill the princes themselves, but he took responsibility (v.9). The number 70 may have been the exact number of princes or it may have been a number which represented a dynasty. Either way, the purpose of the exercise was to make certain that no male heirs were remaining; and also to make sure there would be no reprisals.
Q. Keeping the analogy of purifying Israel by removing Ahab’s sin completely – Do we need to examine ourselves, and to make sure that we stay pure? Read 2 Kings 10v12-17: Jehu didn’t stop until every vestige of Ahab’s rule had been wiped out. Even the more distant relatives were killed (v.14&17). And Jehu didn’t stop there ... Read 2 Kings 10v18-36: Jehu, using deception (v.19) destroyed Baal worship, the Temple and sacred stones/pillars and all of the prophets of Baal (easily distinguishable because they were all in robes v.22). Despite his own shortcomings Jehu was rewarded with a long reign. Final footnote: Read 2 Kings 13v14-21: Jehu’s grandson, Jehoash, was with Elisha, who was sick and dying. He realized what the loss would mean to Israel. Elisha gave him a test of faith, but he was only partly successful. Amazingly God still worked a miracle through Elisha when he was in the grave! Notably, Elijah’s and Elisha’s ministries were greater when they were under persecution from Ahab and the followers of Baal.
Q. Why is it that the church grows more when experiencing times of persecution?