Bible Character: ELISHA

Lesson: MINISTRY

The Story of Elisha is found in the book of II Kings. It is probably familiar to you, or at least parts of it. As is my custom, I don’t’ need to take your time going over the story – that can be found in the Bible.

The name Elisha means “my God saves” — and we’ll see why this is interesting here in just a minute. Although quite different, Elisha followed in Elijah’s footsteps. This consisted of his performance of miracles, which answered a wide variety of needs in every level of society. He had a reputation for sympathizing with the poor and the oppressed. Elisha’s activities and miracles as a prophet were often focused on those who were abused by officials in positions of power.

One of Elisha’s “community service” miracles was his purification of an unhealthy spring near Jericho. After learning that the spring was bad, Elisha threw a bowl of salt into it, making it pure.

In another miracle, Elisha helped the widow of one of the sons of the prophets. To help her pay off creditors who intended to take the widow’s two sons, Elisha multiplied the amount of oil in one jar to fill all available containers. This brought in enough money to pay off the debts and provided a surplus on which the widow and her sons could live.

Elisha became a friend of a wealthy family in Shunem. The Shunammite woman displayed hospitality toward the prophet by regularly feeding him and building a room onto her home where he could lodge. Elisha repaid the childless couple by promising them a son. Later, when tragedy struck the child, Elisha raised him from the dead. When Elisha learned that a famine would strike Israel, he warned the family to flee the land. When the family returned seven years later, the king restored their property because of their relationship with Elisha.

Elisha also advised kings and performed miracles for them. He helped Jehoram, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. He also helped the king of Edom defeat Mesha, king of Moab.

Elisha ministered to all people, regardless of their nationalities. He cured Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, of leprosy, but he also advised the king of Israel of the plans of their Assyrian enemies. Even the bones of the dead Elisha had miraculous powers. When a corpse was hidden in Elisha’s tomb, it came back to life as it touched the prophet’s bones.

Regardless of what the miracle was, it was usually to help someone. Here is a quick list of the miracles he performed:

  • Divides Jordan     2 Kin. 2:14
  • Purifies water     2 Kin. 2:19–22
  • Increases widow’s oil     2 Kin. 4:1–7
  • Raises Shunammite’s son     2 Kin. 4:18–37
  • Neutralizes poison     2 Kin. 4:38–41
  • Multiplies bread     2 Kin. 4:42–44
  • Heals Naaman the leper     2 Kin. 5:1–19
  • Inflicts Gehazi with leprosy     2 Kin. 5:26, 27
  • Causes iron to float     2 Kin. 6:6
  • Reveals secret counsels     2 Kin. 6:8–12
  • Opens servant’s eyes     2 Kin. 6:13–17
  • Strikes Syrian army with blindness     2 Kin. 6:18–23

Similarly, Jesus’s whole life was about ministry. It was about meeting people’s needs and helping them in some way. And let’s not forget what a miracle is – it’s something impossible by physical means. In others words, it is crazy exciting when it happens!

So the big question – why did Jesus perform miracles?

God came to earth as Jesus and sat and talked to common people, meeting their needs, healing their sick, and just being with them. Think about it, God loves us that much that he will give the time of day to us poor little humans.

By helping them with their needs He was trying to show them that He indeed had all the power in the world, power from the true God no one else had. His miracles were meant to show the people that anyone who had the power to do these things also had the power to forgive their sins. The problem was that many of the people focused on the miracles themselves and not on the One behind them, Jesus Christ.

Practical Application:

  • Conduct yourself in a way each day that people will notice respect, godliness, and righteousness just by observing you. You may be the only Bible they have ever read and the only “Christ” they have ever met.
  • Do something nice for someone. When they thank you, say praise the Lord. Don’t point at yourself and say “yay that’s me.” Instead, exemplify Jesus Christ, his love, and his salvation.Let’s make people say about us, “Hey, he acts like Jesus!”

Let’s make people say about us, “Hey, he acts like Jesus!”

Philippians 2: 4-11

“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Did that encourage you?

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