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man looking up June 24 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 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 the 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 God will determine how we act. Today, we will gain some insight into who God is by looking at what he does.

Today’s lesson is the last Bible study covering Elisha's ministry. Elisha was a prophet of the LORD who succeeded Elijah. His main purpose was to complete the job Elijah had started of ridding Israel of Baal worship. He also helped people by ministering to their needs as they felt the effects of war and famine - God’s judgment for Israel’s idolatry. The LORD was merciful and gracious to Israel in sending Elisha to them. Are you ministering in bad circumstances? Perhaps you are there, like Elisha, to show wicked people who God is. Be a willing servant.

Israel was at war with Aram in Damascus (Syria). Naaman, a commander in Aram’s army was sick with leprosy. Seeing this, a sympathetic young Israelite girl whom the Arameans captured, told them that there was a prophet in Israel who could heal him. At once the king of Aram sent Naaman to Israel to be healed. The king of Israel was distraught to get a letter from the king of Aram, asking him to cure Naaman of his leprosy, thinking he was 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 went to the door of Elisha's house to be healed. Elisha sent a messenger to him with instructions for his healing. After initial resistance, Naaman went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel,” (2Kings 5:14-15, NIV).

God worked through Elisha to show the Arameans that Israel’s God was the true God. By the healing of Naaman, the king of Israel would also recognize there was a true God in Israel. However, he needed to humble himself and seek God’s help like Naaman. One might wonder how the king of Israel felt about God helping the king’s enemies. Perhaps this lesson would evoke some jealousy in the king to ask for God’s help. God is merciful and can heal and help whomever he chooses.

Aram's commander converted to Israel’s God. After being cleansed of his leprosy he asked Elisha to accept a gift, but the man of God refused (2Kings 5:15-16) Then Naaman wanted to carry dirt back to his own land to construct an altar (more).

Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, thought his master was too easy on Naaman. Gehazi followed after him and used an excuse to get some reward from the commander. The healed man was only too happy to give it. After Gehazi came back, he hid the expensive clothing and money, but he could not hide from Elisha. Elisha knew what he had done and punished Gehazi and all his descendants with the same leprosy that had been on Naaman (2Kings 5:25-27). Many people may wonder why it was wrong to accept gifts. In this particular instance we don't know. For some plausible explanations go to more page.

Have you ever wished you could know what someone else is thinking? Elisha, the prophet of God, told the king of Israel every battle maneuver of Aram before they made it. What a military advantage that was. Why did God do that for Israel? It was certainly not because they were righteous. No, God glorified himself by showing the king of Aram that there is not a word or deed of which he is not aware. Indeed, there was a true God in Israel. King Aram was furious that his plans were constantly being disclosed to the king of Israel, so he sent an army of men and chariots to kill Elisha.

Elisha’s servant was afraid when he saw they were surrounded with no way of escape. Elisha was not afraid, however; he asked God to open the servant’s eyes so that he would see the surrounding hills full of horses and chariots of fire (God’s heavenly army) all around Elisha, protecting them. Again, God showed that he was the true God of Israel. Elisha called on God to blind the soldiers of Aram, and then he led 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 did Elisha not want them killed? They were Israel’s enemies. However, it was enough for Elisha to prove that God was more powerful than their armies. If they were killed there would be no testimony of that. Instead, they were well-treated prisoners who were allowed to return in shame. After that they were left alone and enjoyed peace for awhile (more).

After the famine, war, and even starvation, the king of Israel finally looked to the LORD. When his patience for waiting on God was totally expired, he wanted to take it out on God’s prophet. He probably wondered: Why was God waiting so long? Why didn’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 were 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 saw his need of God. God 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 did eventually show mercy to Israel and its king. Elisha prophesied that within the next twenty-four hours Israel would have plenty of food. The officer assisting King Joash was incredulous. How was this miracle to be? Israel was under siege by Aram. God scared the armies away with battle noises of invading armies. Aram thought Israel had hired mercenary fighters, so they ran. The next day the plunder was discovered by four lepers, and they informed the city guards of their good fortune. After sending out scouts to make sure this was true, the king opened the gates, and the people stormed out. They trampled over the officer who did not believe Elisha’s prophecy, and Israel took the plunder left behind. Sometimes God seems late, but he always provides. God does care, but he wants us to seek him. Humble yourself and trust him early; do not destroy yourself and others by your stubborn disobedience. 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 you are in unfavorable circumstances, like Elisha, perhaps you are there to show wicked people who God is. Be a willing servant.
  • God is merciful and can heal whomever he chooses.
  • There is not a word or deed of which God is not aware.
  • Sometimes God seems late, but he always provides. God does care, but he wants us to seek him. Humble yourself and trust him early; do not destroy yourself and others by your stubborn disobedience (more...).
  • Have faith in God, and have faith in the message of his servants.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

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

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