It was with patience and determination that the Hebrew Children marched around the walls of Jericho seven times before it fell. It wasn’t until Naaman obeyed the Prophet Elisha and resolutely dipped himself into the Jordan River seven times that he was healed of his leprosy. And in this passage, it was a persistent and tenacious Prophet Elijah that prayed seven times before the rain came and ended the drought. The number seven doesn’t matter here as much as the idea of not giving up! For all these examples show that perseverance pays off in the end, and that God rewards the single-minded.
This story of Elisha is a foreshadowing of Jesus feeding the 5,000 – ( the only story, other than the Resurrection, that is found in all 4 Gospels). So it must have made quite an impact on the Disciples to witness a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish being multiplied into a huge meal for thousands. Comparing both stories, we see doubt and skepticism on the part of the faithful…people who had observed many miracles, but couldn’t fathom this one. We also see confidence and full trust in God that He would bless over and above. In both cases, there wasn’t just enough, there was plenty to go around…there wasn’t the bare minimum, there was excess to spare. For God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask, (Ephesians 3:20) and He desires to lavish His blessings on us…to the point of overflowing.
Naaman was Commander of the Army for the King of Aram. He was a great man, a valiant soldier, and highly regarded by all…but he had leprosy. He was told that the Prophet Elisha could heal him, so he traveled to have an audience…but Elisha didn’t even talk to him in person, but rather sent out a messenger with simple instructions…”go dunk yourself seven times in the Jordan River.” No wonder Naaman went away angry and offended! His pride and arrogance got the better of him as he raged on about Elisha to his servants…that is until one very wise servant was able to talk some sense into him. “It really doesn’t matter how you get healed as long as you’re healed, right?” Naaman then had to make the decision to swallow his pride, humble himself, and obey Elisha’s directions…and he was healed.
This story is about the Company of Prophets and Elisha. Their meeting place had become too small, so they were in the process of building themselves something larger. As they were cutting down trees, an axe head flew off and landed in the Jordan River, sinking immediately. The distraught prophet cried out to Elisha, who threw a stick into the water where the axe head had sunk , causing the iron to float. This can only remind us that nothing is impossible with God…if He can make a hunk of iron float like a leaf…He can work a miracle in our lives today.
A desperate, grieving widow of a fellow prophet came to Elisha beseeching him to help her before the creditors took her two boys away to satisfy her debts. But instead of offering help, Elisha turned the question back on her. What do you have in your house…what do you have within yourself? The Lord has already placed within us everything we’ll ever need to be victorious over any situation. Elisha wanted the widow to realize the wealth and power she already possessed.
God had directed Elijah to call Elisha to succeed him as Prophet. Rather than vacillate on whether he had truly been called, Elisha boldly made sure he couldn’t fall back to his comfortable old life. So many times when God calls us, we want to hedge our bets, giving ourselves a way back to what is easy and familiar if what God calls us to do becomes too difficult. When we hang onto the past and what’s safe and predictable, God can’t use us to our fullest capabilities.