II Kin. 2:1-4:44
Many years earlier, Enoch, a faithful man of God had been taken up into heaven without dying a physical death. Elijah, also a mighty prophet of God had been informed that his departure from earth would be similar. Apparently, his departure had also been revealed to Elisha and other prophets. Elijah’s work on earth had been completed.
Elisha refused to allow Elijah to travel without his accompanying him on his journey. Upon reaching the Jordan River, Elijah took his mantle and struck the water. God divided the river as He had done for Moses and the Israelites long ago and he and Elisha crossed to the other side on dry ground.
When the time came for Elijah to depart, a chariot of fire with horses of fire came down from heaven and a whirlwind took him away. Elisha had witnessed a great miracle as his friend and mentor had been taken to his glorious reward. However, he was also very sorrowful and he tore his clothes in mourning. Elijah’s mantle of authority had fallen upon Elisha as he was taken up. Taking the mantle with him, he struck the Jordan River as Elijah had done earlier and returned to Jericho upon dry land.
We are faced in the Scriptures with many evidences of the power of God and the saving power of the blood of Christ. However, we are like the apostle, Thomas who wanted to feel the scars and nail prints on the risen Christ before we will believe. The people of Jericho knew of the departure of Elijah, but they thought that he had possibly been dropped on top of a high mountain in the region. Upon their insistence, Elisha allowed them to search for the departed prophet until they were convinced after three days that he, indeed had gone directly into heaven.
Elisha was soon called upon for help. Jericho is possibly the oldest city on earth, but there was a dire problem. It being about 840 feet below sea level, its water was bad and the land was barren. He threw salt into the water and God sweetened it. The land began to flourish.
God does not look kindly upon blasphemy. A group of roguish young men were casting insults toward Elisha. When one blasphemes a man of God, he is also blaspheming God. They were mauled by bears because of their evil deed. Following those events, the prophet returned to Samaria.
Because Ahaziah, the son of Ahab had no son to succeed him, his brother Jehoram had become king of Israel during Jehoshaphat’s eighteenth year as Judah’s king. He discontinued some of the evil practices of Ahab and Jezebel, but did not completely destroy all of the gods from the land. There continued the marriage alliance between the kings of Judah and Israel due to the marriage of Judah’s King Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram and Israel’s King Jehoram’s sister, Athaliah.
The Moabite king had been compelled to pay a tribute of lambs and wool to the Israelite king. Mesha, the king of Moab rebelled after Jehoram became king of Israel and refused to pay the tribute. That called for corrective action with Jehoram calling his ally, Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom to help him in battle against Moab.
After seven days of travel, they were without water. The three kings went to Elisha to seek God’s help. Because of the faithfulness of Jehoshaphat, they were instructed to fill the valley with ditches and that God would deliver the Moabites into their hand. God filled the ditches with water without rain. That not only supplied their needs, but also through the eyes of the Moabites it looked like blood. They surmised that Israel’s army had fought against themselves and that they could then easily take the spoil that remained. WRONG ASSUMPTION! With God’s help, they were easily defeated. Desperate men sometimes do desperate things. The king of Moab took his oldest son—his supposed successor and offered him as a burnt offering to try to appease his god.
Women had very little economic security outside of marriage. A widow with children was especially economically vulnerable. One such widow with two sons was faced with her creditor taking her sons as slaves to pay her debt. At the command of Elisha, she took a jar of oil, her only possession and poured it into borrowed vessels. God replenished the oil until they were all full. She then sold the oil and paid her debts and lived on the remaining money. The widow’s miracle depended upon her faith AND obedience.
During Elisha’s travels, a woman of Shunem had been especially kind by furnishing him and his servant a place to stay. However, her husband was old and she had no son. In order to repay her for her kindness and to show God’s power, Elisha told her that in about a year, she would have a son.
Years later, the son died. The Shunammite woman’s faith led her to seek Elisha, who had given her the son through God. She felt that he could bring him back to her. With God’s power, Elisha was able to restore the son back to his mother.
Elisha continued to show God’s power when he added meal to a pot of stew that had been accidently contaminated with a poisonous gourd. The people were able to eat the food with no harmful effects. He also fed a group of one hundred men with twenty loaves and some barley.