Friday Morning Manna
June 12, 2020
Elisha’s Three Successive Different Prayers of Faith
(Based on: 2 Kings 6: 8-33; as told in Prophets and Kings, ch.21)
Before Elijah, only the second man after Enoch (the seventh of the godly patriarchs from Adam), was translated, God hand-picked Elisha to succeed, continue and expand on Elijah’s prophetic and reformation ministry. Elisha’s father was an affluent yet God-fearing farmer whose household were among “the seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal during the time of well-nigh universal apostasy of Israel during the reign of king Ahab and queen Jezebel, his wicked and cruel heathen wife. See 1 Kings 19: 1-10, 11-20.
To underscore our focus today on faith versus fear, we cite the examples of two faith giants, Moses and Elijah, compared and contrasted to Christ’s temptations, who at their weakest moments, which were few were few and far in between yet momentous, allowed their faith to be temporarily overcome by fear. They yielded to the temptation to fear. Anytime and every time we yield t0 any temptation we sin against God. The following is quoted from Prophets and Kings:
“It is at the time of greatest weakness that Satan assails the soul with the fiercest temptations. It was thus that he hoped to prevail over the Son of God for by this policy he had gained many victories over man. When the will-power weakened and faith failed, then those who had stood long and valiantly for the right, yielded to temptation. Moses, wearied with forty years of wandering and unbelief [of the people he was leading], lost for a moment his hold on Infinite Power. He failed just on the borders of the promised land.” [We are now just at the borders of antitypical heavenly Canaan!] “So with Elijah. He who had maintained his trust in Jehovah during the years of drought and famine; he who had stood undaunted before Ahab; he who throughout the trying day on Carmel had stood before the whole nation of Israel the sole witness to the true God, in a moment of weariness allowed the fear of death to overcome his faith in God.
And so it is today. When we are encompassed with doubt, perplexed by circumstances, afflicted by poverty or distress, Satan seeks to shake our confidence in Jehovah. It is then that he arrays before us our mistakes, and tempts us to distrust God, to question His love. He hopes to discourage the soul, and break our hold on God.” -Ellen. G. White, Prophets & Kings, pp. 173, 174.
ELISHA means “God is salvation.” He is also known as the prophet of peace. The following is quoted from the SDA Bible Dictionary (words in brackets and notes mine]:
Elisha “succeeded Elijah, as pastor/prophet as God’s special envoy to the northern kingdom of Israel. His ministry spanned the reigns of Jehoram (Joram), Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Jehoash of the northern kingdom, and thus lasted from at least 852 BC to about 798 BC, a period of more than fifty years. He supervised the “schools of the prophets” founded two centuries earlier by Samuel—and thus made what was his greatest single contribution to the spiritual life of the nation. “Elisha lived close to the people he served, and loved social life. Unlike the life of Elijah, who appeared in the stage of sacred history for but a few striking events, Elisha’s life is recorded as a steady ministry during which he constantly ministered to the needs of his fellow men as individuals, as well as to the spiritual life of the nation as a whole.
Although for a time there seems to have been an encouraging response on the part of the nation to his leadership as pastor/prophet, the reforms he set in motion were short-lived and did not prevent the complete dissolution of the northern kingdom some seventy-five years after his death. “The life narrative of the pastor/prophet Elisha seems, almost, to be one of an uninterrupted succession of miracles, some consisting essentially of supernatural information, and others of supernatural control over men and the forces of nature. In an era of apostasy and Baal [Sun-day] worship, these miracles provided a continuing witness to the Lord as the true God as to Elisha as His messenger. Elisha is distinguished in the annals of sacred history as the greatest miracle-working prophet of all time, next to Jesus Christ.” (End quote from the SDA Bible Dictionary).
Two very strange things that happened to Elijah, the miracle-working prophet: (1) the cause of his death: fatal illness in his old age (2 Kings 13: 14-20) and (2) after his death: a dead man, who was hurriedly being lowered into Elisha’s grave (because of Moabite-Syrian raiders were approaching), instantly resurrected upon touching Elisha’s bones! See 2 Kings 13: 21.
“Called to the prophetic office while Ahab was still reigning, Elisha had lived to see many changes taking place in the kingdom of Israel. Judgment upon judgment had fallen upon the Israelites during the reign of Hazael the Syrian [who God appointed as the “scourge of Israel” in apostasy]. The stern measures of reform instituted by Jehu had resulted in the slaying of all the house[hold] of Ahab. In continued war with Syrians, Jehoahaz, Jehu’s successor, had lost some of the cities lying east of the Jordan. For a time it had seemed as it the Syrians might gains control of the entire kingdom.
“But the reformation begun by Elijah and carried forward by Elisha had led many to inquire after God. The altars of Baal [the sun god] were being forsaken, and slowly but surely God’s purpose was being fulfilled in the lives of those who chose to serve Him with all their hearts [not the whole nation!]. “It was because of His love for erring Israel [as a nation], that God permitted the Syrians to scourge them [God in control].
It was because of His compassion for those whose moral power was weak, that He raised up Jehu, to slay wicked Jezebel and all the household of Ahab. Once more, through a merciful providence, the priests of Baal [sun god] and Asthoreth [moon god] were set aside, and their heathen altars [places of worship] were thrown down. “God in His wisdom foresaw [hence, in control] that if temptation was removed, some would forsake heathenism, and turn their faces heavenward; and this is why He permitted calamity after calamity to befall them. His judgments were tempered with mercy; and when His purpose was accomplished, He turned the tide in favor of those who had learned to inquire after Him [not for the rest of the nation].
“While influences for good and for evil were striving for the ascendancy, and Satan was doing all his power to complete the ruin he had wrought during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel, Elisha continued to bear his testimony. He met with opposition, yet none could gainsay his words. Throughout the kingdom he was honored and venerated. Many came to him for counsel. While Jezebel was still living, Joram, the king of Israel, sought his advice; and once, when in Damascus, he was visited by messengers from Benhadad, king of Syria, who desired to learn whether a sickness then upon him would result in death. To all, the prophet bore faithful witness in a time when, on every hand, truth was being perverted, and the great majority of the people were in open rebellion against Heaven. [encouragement for faithful messengers!] “And God never forsook His chosen messenger. [Even if he died of a strange illness!].
On one occasion, during a Syrian invasion, the king of Syria sought to destroy Elisha because of his activity of apprising of the plans of the enemy. The Syrian king had taken counsel with his servants, saying, ‘”My camp will be in such and such a place.’ 2 Kings 6: 8. This plan was revealed by the Lord to Elisha, who ‘sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are coming down there. Then the king of Israel sent someone to the place of which the man of God told him. Thus he warned him of, and he was watchful there, not just once or twice.” vs 9, 10.
“’Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was greatly troubled by this thing; and he called his servants and said unto them, Will ye not show me which of us is for the king of Israel? And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet who is Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” vs 11, 12. “Determined to make way with the prophet, the Syrian king commanded, ‘Go and see where he is, that I may send and get him,’ And it was told him, and it was told him, saying, Surely he is in Dothan.’ Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city.” vs 13, 14. “And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army surrounding the city with horses and chariots.” In terror, Elisha’s servant sought him with the tidings, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ “Do not fear,’ was the answer of the prophet; ‘for those who are with us are more than those that are with them.’ v 16. “And then, that the servant might know this for himself………..
First Prayer (to open the eyes of his terror-stricken servant)
“Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” v 17. “Between the servant of God and the hosts of armed foeman was an encircling band of heavenly angels. They had come down in mighty power, not to destroy, not to exact homage, but to encamp round about and minister to the Lord’s weak and helpless ones.’ [Ps. 34:7]. “When the people of God are brought into strait places [such as this covid-19 crisis], and apparently there is no escape for them, the Lord alone must be their dependence.” [Remember this!]
Second Prayer (to blind the eyes of the enemy!)
“As the company of Syrians soldiers boldly advanced, ignorant of the unseen hosts of heaven, “Elijah prayed to the Lord, and said, Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.’ And He struck them with blindness, according to the word of Elisha.” Verse 18. “Now Elisha said unto them [the blinded Syrian army], ‘This is not the way, nor is this the city. Follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek. But he led them to Samaria [capital of Israel then!].’ verse 19.
Third Prayer (to open eyes of the blinded Syrian army):
“And it came to pass, when they had come to Samaria, that Elijah said (prayed), ‘Lord, open the eyes of this men, that they may see.’ And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and there they were, inside Samaria! [trapped!]. verse 20. “Now when the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, ‘My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?’ verse 21. “And he answered, ‘You shall not kill them. Would you kill those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set food and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” v 22. “Then he prepared a great feast for them, and after they ate and drank, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the hands of the Syrian raiders came no more into the land of Israel.” v 23.
In a terrible time of crisis, Elisha prayed. But he did not pray like many have been doing since this Covid crisis struck. Many are praying because of fear. They hardly prayed before when life was pleasant and prosperous. In desperation they are pleading that G0d will stop the corona virus and restore normalcy. But Elisha’s prayers of faith started with asking God to first to open the eyes of his own servant! What an irony! The servant of the prophet who had witnessed all the miracles performed by his master!—and yet still blind? That is, “Wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17)?
As we have been learning throughout our studies on God’s dealings in the past with His people, the peoples of the nations, and the world itself, God is calmly fulfilling His purposes through the different great crises that He allows, and therefore, is in full control. It is man in rebellion against God’s law who is not in God’s control. As prophesied by the prophets of old and the apostles, sad history will repeat itself. Just like apostate Israel in Elijah and Elisha’s time, modern spiritual Israel is the one who is out of control. They are not fully yielded “in heart, mind, soul and strength” to God!
Elisha “saw by faith” and “walked by faith.” He did ask God, as many doubting Thomases still do, “to see is to believe.” Only when it was necessary, God also opened His servant’s physical sight. But what he saw merely affirmed and confirmed what he already knew and saw by the faith.
Are we like Elisha the prophet’s servant? Or like God’s faithful prophet servant?
(To be continued next week, God willing)