Grow Deep - Heroes Edition Week 2
Week 2 – July 1-7
The Prophet Elisha
“‘Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?’ An officer of the king of Israel answered, ‘Elisha son of Shaphat is here …’” 2 Kings 3:11
The study of Holy Scripture continues to fascinate me. God’s Word is a record of the unfolding story of God and His people. Indeed, I think it is the best of all true love stories: that of God in His loving, redeeming relationship with His often foolish, wayward and disobedient people. Over and over we see God send messengers, be they angels or human prophets, to remind His people of His love for them and to warn them not to stray from the covenant He made with them. Elisha, Elijah’s prophetic successor in ancient Israel, is one of four prophets whom God sent to His people in the northern kingdom (Israel) after its division from the southern kingdom (Judah). His activities span and slightly overlap the years between Elijah and Jonah and coincide with the reigns of Omri, Ahab, Joram, Jehu and Jehoash, all kings who in varying degrees were unfaithful to the covenant established between God and His people. Despite the unfaithfulness of these rulers and the people whom they governed, God continued to reach out His hand of compassion and healing through the work of this faithful man of God. In Elisha we see a type or foreshadowing of Jesus as God reaches out to Gentiles as well as Israel, in anticipation of our own inclusion in the covenant.
As we read the passages suggested for each day this week, may we consider them through the lens of the Holy Spirit, drinking in the life of Elisha who points us to Jesus, our merciful Rescuer, Redeemer and most faithful Friend.
Sunday, July 1
Read: 2 Kings 2:15-22
Elijah hands over the cloak of prophetic authority to Elisha and is carried away in a chariot of fire as witnessed by the company of prophets from Jericho. We also see the miraculous healing of the bad water and unproductive land in Jericho, the result of its inhabitants’ spiritual unfaithfulness. In spite of their disobedience the Lord reached out to the people of Jericho through His servant Elisha just as Jesus Himself continually reaches out to us in love, mercy and forgiveness.
Reflect: How does this picture of God’s unfailing desire for a restored relationship with you help you to repent of your sin and accept the forgiveness and healing He has for you?
For the Family: Why should the men have trusted Elisha? Think about what Elisha did to make the water pure. Who does this remind us of?
Monday, July 2
Read: 2 Kings 4:1-7
Imagine yourself a widow with two sons, left destitute and unable to pay your debts. The threat of losing your sons hangs over your head. Widows were among the most vulnerable in ancient society having no rights to inherit a husband’s property and no legal protection if their sons were not adults and were unable to provide for them. Elisha’s miraculous intervention on her behalf enables her to pay her debts and save her sons from slavery. What relief and unimaginable gratitude must have been her response!
Reflect: What are your thoughts as you consider that through Jesus we are rescued from eternal separation from our Heavenly Father? Can we ever be thankful enough?
For the Family: Why do you think Elisha decided to help the widow with her problem? We know God always provides what we need. What did Elisha teach the widow and her sons?
Tuesday, July 3
Read: 2 Kings 4:8-37
A wealthy, barren Gentile woman recognized something unique in Elisha and honors the God he serves. She offers him hospitality surpassing that offered him by his own people. His promise to her of a son is fulfilled, and when that son falls ill and dies, he is raised from the dead when she asks Elisha to intervene. Again, what unimaginable joy and relief!
Reflect: Sometimes we wait for long periods of time for a promise to be fulfilled. When it is, and hope is restored or we are rescued, how do we respond in gratitude to our gracious Lord?
For the Family: When reading this story, how is Elisha like Jesus? Why do you think the woman trusted him?
Wednesday, July 4
Read: 2 Kings 5:1-18
Naaman, afflicted with a dreaded disease, at first scoffed at the instructions given by Elisha that eventually led to the Lord’s healing. Naaman was a Gentile, commander of the army of a people who were often hostile to Israel. Yet, God healed him.
Reflect: How are you knowingly or unknowingly hostile to our Heavenly Father? How does He bless you in spite of your hostility?
For the Family: Why was it so hard for Naaman to believe that washing in the Jordan River would cure his leprosy? Namaan offered Elisha money after being cured. Why wouldn’t Elisha accept it?
Thursday, July 5
Read: 2 Kings 6:1-23
An overwhelming enemy force surrounded the army of Israel; they were about to sink under their fear. They were unable to see the heavenly hosts protecting them until Elisha prayed that God would allow them to see. In response to his prayer, God blinded the enemy’s army, stopping their attack in its tracks. The Aramean army had every expectation of being killed as prisoners of war, but Elisha counseled the king to have mercy on them, even feeding them at a banquet before sending them back to their own king.
Reflect: Do you allow yourself to sink under the weight of your fears? How does keeping your eyes on Jesus and His unfailing love and mercy keep you afloat? How does the wonder and truth of His merciful rescue motivate you to give thanks for it?
For the Family: Why wasn’t Elisha afraid of the army of Aram? Why was Israel spared? What can we learn about how God wants us to treat those who might be our enemies? Can you think of something God tells us in His Word about praying for our enemies?
Friday, July 6
Read: 2 Kings 8:1-6
When God decreed a famine in Israel as punishment for sin, He saved the God-fearing Gentile woman and her family through Elisha’s counsel to flee. When she and her family returned, Elisha’s servant intervened with the king to allow her to reclaim her home, her land and her income. Again, she is rescued, this time from starvation and financial ruin. What a marvelous illustration of God’s continual work on our behalf!
Reflect: In our lost condition apart from God we, too, are threatened with eternal starvation and ruin. As you ponder this reality, how do you show your gratitude to Him for rescuing you?
For the Family: The woman in this story listened to Elisha and followed his instructions. Why did Elisha warn her? What made her different from the other people of that land? Why did the king restore her property and money to her?
Saturday, July 7
Read: 2 Kings 13:14-25
A man is restored to life simply through contact with Elisha’s grave and the armies of Israel defeat one of their many enemies. Even in death, miracles are associated with this prophet of God. In life and death, Elisha’s rescuing activities point us to Him Whose life and death rescues us completely from an eternity apart from God.
Reflect: Atonement for sin by death is a powerful theme throughout the Old Testament. This truth is ultimately demonstrated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of all the prophecies and promises of God. How does this help you face the trials, grief and anxieties in your life?
For the Family:
Elisha’s words were true even after he died, and his body still had power. How is Elisha’s body like Jesus’ body? What does this story tell us about God’s promises to those who are faithful?