toddler pushing play mower June 23 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 2Kings 4; 2Kings 6:1-7; 2Kings 8:1-6

Be a Servant

The home is the ideal place for teaching family members to serve. Those who do not serve in the home may not be motivated to serve elsewhere. That is why parents are wise to assign their children chores and to lead them into doing projects for others without pay so that they might learn to help others in need.

The prophet Elisha was a servant and had learned to be a hard worker at home. He was plowing a field with twelve pairs of yoked oxen when Elijah the prophet of Israel met him. Elisha had done well for himself. When Elijah put his cloak upon Elisha, it signified the passing of the power and authority of his prophetic office. This was well understood by Elisha because he kissed his father and mother goodbye, slaughtered the oxen and burned up his equipment to host a farewell party (1Kings 19:19-21, The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.529). He gave up his wealth and family to serve God. Would you be willing to do that?

For a time, Elisha served beside his mentor and would not leave his side. In the June 19 Bible study, we saw the day finally came when Elijah was taken from him. Elisha had come to know him well and was grieved. Elijah told him to ask one request of him before he was taken away, and Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit. Then he saw Elijah carried away up to heaven in a whirlwind (2Kings 2:11). According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.540, Elisha was asking for the rights of the firstborn, but he was not asking for property, power, or position; Elisha was asking for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit to fall on him, that is, the spiritual commitment and fervency that Elijah possessed. He especially needed courage and tenacity to complete the mission of removing Baal worship in Israel and Judah (1Kings 19:17). He would also face kings from Israel and Judah who were hostile to God. Do you need courage and tenacity for completing a difficult mission from God? Ask God, and he will supply what you need (James 1:5-6; Philippians 4:19).

Most of the miracles that God did through Elisha were used for the service of others. Both the nations of Judah and Israel were going through some tough times. The Arameans from the north invaded Israel and Judah, and Edom was a threat from the south. There was also a famine in the land. Elisha used God’s gifts to help people. Do we do that, or do we just use them for self-advancement or not at all?

Elisha cared for the needs of widows. A wife of one of the prophets was left a widow with her two sons. She was in desperate straits because she was in debt and the creditor threatened to make slaves of her boys to pay it. Elisha instructed her to get as many jars as she could, and God filled them with oil. She sold the oil to provide their needs.

Elisha helped a barren woman. She was a wealthy Shunnamite woman, who was kind to him and gave him a place to stay. However, she was barren and her husband was old. Seemingly, she had no hope of having children. When the prophet announced that next year she would have a son, she told the prophet not to get her hopes up. However, the next year she did indeed have a son. Tragedy befell the boy one day. He had a severe headache (maybe a stroke) while he was in the fields with his dad. The boy died and his mom was very distraught. She sought Elisha. Elisha came back with her, raised the boy back to life and gave him back to his mother.

During a famine Elisha help to feed the company of the prophets. Different vegetables were gathered to put into a stew and wild gourds were accidentally added. These poisoned the stew and made it inedible. Elisha put a little flour in it and the stew was made palatable. Though there was nothing magical about the substance added, God did a miracle.

Also during the famine, Elisha, under the power of God, multiplied twenty small loaves of barley bread to feed 100 prophets of God. This miracle reminds us of how Jesus would later feed masses of people (5,000 at one time + women and children.) with just five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:16-21). Elisha’s miracle was small compared to the miracle of Jesus but a miracle just the same. God can even use your small gifts for His glory.

During the seven year famine, Elisha cared for the Shunnamite woman and her family. He advised them to go away from Israel until the famine was over. When she came back, although her land could have been seized by others, God moved the heart of King Joram to return the land to her and her family.

Once again Elisha helped the company of the prophets. They were trying to fell some trees to build a new meeting place by the Jordan river when an axe head flew off a handle and into the water. Alas, it was borrowed; what could they do? Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water. Miraculously, the iron axe head floated to the surface of the water so that it could be retrieved. It was a miracle but also another way Elisha was called upon to be a servant.

Are you a servant? I don’t mean a slave, but do you use what talents and abilities you have been given to help people? Your labor of love will not be forgotten. Hebrews 6:10 says, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (NIV)

Lessons to live by:

  • Do you know Jesus? He was the ultimate servant, sacrificing his life for you when he was crucified. He offers you forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...)
  • Learning to serve starts at home.
  • Would you be willing to give up your wealth and family to serve God? (this does not imply abandoning your family and responsibilities that he has given you)
  • Do you need courage and tenacity for completing a difficult mission of God? Ask him and he will supply what you need.
  • Use what talents and abilities you have been given to help people. Your labor of love will not be forgotten.
  • God can even use your small gifts for His glory.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” (NIV)

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