"Yes, I Know; Be Still"
2 Kings 2-9
God selected Elisha as Elijah's successor (1 Kings 19:16). When Elijah was taken up to heaven, Elisha took up his mantle and began his ministry. He was given a double portion of Elijah's spirit, making him a mighty worker of miracles. Due to the large number events from his ministry recorded in 2 Kings chapters 1-13, this lesson discusses only a few. The principle enemy of Israel during this time was Syria.
The Beginning Of Elisha's Ministry (2 Kings 2:1-18)
Elijah, Elisha, and the sons of the prophets knew that Elijah's ministry was at an end (1 Kings 2:3-9). Elisha, as Elijah's successor and wary of his task, asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit; this was conditionally granted (2:10). After the two prophets were separated by horses and chariots of fire, Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind (1 Kings 2:11).
As Elijah departed, his mantle fell, and Elisha used it to cross the Jordan miraculously. He was thereby accepted by the sons of the prophets as Elijah's successor (2:14,15).
There come times when the appropriate response to something that troubles us is to "be still." The other faithful prophets knew the end was nearing for Elijah. They asked Elisha if he was aware of what was going to happen-that Elijah would be taken that very day. Elisha is about to lose his mentor, friend and teacher. Will he be able to endure? "Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?" And he answered, "Yes, I know; be still." (2 Kings 2:5).
Yes... be still. His life is a mission which will not be deterred even with the departure of his friend and comrade. No loss ought to be allowed to thwart the life's mission of a man or woman of God (Psalm 46:1-7; Colossians 3:1-4). God rewards His people on earth and in heaven. Elijah's departure was not defeat, but victory! Though his departure was unique, Elijah was heading toward the same eternal victory that all God's faithful look forward to (Colossians 3:24). We must remember that in times of trouble and loss, and be able to say by faith, "Yes. Be still."
The Shunammite Woman (2 Kings 4:8-37)
The Shunammite woman, a devout and prominent lady, provided food and lodging for Elisha on his frequent trips by Shunem, a city of Issachar. (2 Kings 4:8,9). When she refused Elisha's offer of worldly recognition, he informed her that her reward would be a son. Though she doubted as Sarah also had, the prophecy was fulfilled (2 Kings 4:16). When the son subsequently died, her great faith led her to travel the 25 miles to Mt. Carmel, bringing Elisha to heal her son (4:22-25).
God's people show their devoutness and faith by their works. It is easy to claim devotion, but it is an empty claim apart from deeds. This faithful lady proved her devotion to God by assisting God's prophet when few would. Your and my devotion to God is measured in the same way; by what we do (James 1:25; 2:17,18; Hebrews 6:9,10). And great faith brings great rewards. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
Naaman The Leper (2 Kings 5:1-19)
Perhaps the most well known event in Elisha's life had to do with Naaman, captain of the Syrian army, who was leprous. Due to the faith of an Israelite slave girl, Namaan went to Israel to be healed, but mistakenly presented himself before the king of Israel. The king took this to be a pretext for war and was greatly distressed. He knew he could not help Namaan.
Elisha, hearing of the King's distress, sent for Naaman so that "he would know that there is a prophet in Israel." Naaman was furious when Elisha did not personally cure him but instead sent his servant, Gehazi, to tell Naaman to wash in the "dirty" Jordan River. Being well advised by his servants, Naaman repented and did as he had been instructed. He was healed and believed in God (2 Kings 5:14,15).
The lesson from this event is so obvious. In fact, there are several. It says much about the need for unflinching faith in God. It speaks to us about the need to obey God's commandments. God's word must be followed faithfully if one is to receive God's blessings, then and now (Acts 2:38).
The Anointing of Hazael And Jehu (1 Kgs. 19:15-17; 2 Kgs. 8:7-15; 2 Kgs. 9:1-13)
Ben-hadad, king of Syria, sent his servant Hazael to inquire of Elisha if he would recover from a sickness. Elisha replied that he would recover, but would certainly die. Hazael was ashamed when Elisha looked at him (2 Kings 8:11).
Elisha told Hazael that he would be king over Syria, and would do much harm to Israel. Hazael murdered Ben-hadad. Archaeology has discovered an inscription by Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria, in which he states that Hazael, son of nobody, seized the throne of Syria. This confirms the Biblical account of history, as many other such discoveries have also done.
Jehu, a captain in Israel's army, was anointed by Elisha as king of Israel (2 Kings 9:1-13). He was responsible for the deaths of Joram, Ahaziah, Jezebel, and all of Ahab's household, fulfilling the prophecies of Elijah.
God punishes the unrighteous, one way or the other, sooner or later, Ben-hadad would pay for his wickedness. This is true for everyone. Some may leave this world without paying for their crimes, but everything will be set right (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Evil Ahab's house was doomed because of his and Jezebel's wickedness. Everything that had been prophesied about its demise, including incidentals were fulfilled. God's prophetic word is true. All of it, without fail (Isaiah 46:9,10).
A final thought: Naaman thought there was a better way to do it. If he must dip in a river to be cleansed of his leprosy, then a better way to do it would be to use a river back home in Syria. "Wouldn't it be better...?" No, it wouldn't. Naaman's preference would not cleanse him of his leprosy. It would not be better. Likewise, our preferences will not cleanse us of sin. But God will, when we are willing to do as Namaan did, and put away our preferences, and submit to God. His way is always best. It gets the job done. That is what faith is all about.
And when difficult times come and we suffer loss, let us all respond with the same faith and courage that Elisha did. Will I maintain my faith and commitment even in the face of adversity? If the heat of opposition rises and trials escalate, will I continue to grasp onto my integrity? Am I aware of the difficulties ahead?
"Yes, I know; be still."
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 15.6; June 2008