13 He (Elisha) also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 2 Kings 2:13 NKJV
The prophet Elisha followed after the ways of Elijah, “in his spirit”. As the new spokesperson and representative for God, he duplicated many of Elijah’s miracles – parting the Jordan River as God had done when Israel entered the Promised Land, multiplying a widow’s oil for her to sell when she was in serious financial distress, and raising a woman’s beloved son from the dead.
Elisha also did miracles that Elijah did not do, including feeding a hungry crowd of a hundred from twenty small loaves of barley bread, with leftovers, and even healing Naaman the Syrian from his leprosy. Both types of miracles pointed towards those done by the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Leprosy had been a severe hardship for many of the people of Israel since Moses’ time. He had even left special instructions for anyone healed of leprosy to go and show themselves to the priest for examination and purification (Leviticus 13 – 15). The only problem was, as far as we know, no one before Naaman had ever been cured of leprosy.
Jesus used the examples of both Naaman and Elisha and Elijah and the widow to confront unbelief in His own hometown of Nazareth. When He did so, rather than be convicted of a lack of faith in their hearts, they tried to kill Him by throwing Him over a rocky cliff. But Jesus walked away right through their midst. (These cliffs can still be seen today.)
25 But I (Jesus) tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; 26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”
28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath… Luke 4:25-28 NKJV
Jesus was not shy about telling people divine truth, especially about their unbelief. He knew that His time to suffer and die had not yet come and would only happen when it was the Father’s will. Jesus would then voluntarily lay down His life as a substitutionary sin sacrifice for His believers. With His death and resurrection, Jesus’ believers are able to share in that sacrifice to receive the gift of a new and eternal life.
Elisha was a great miracle-working prophet in his own time. And his reputation spread beyond the borders of Israel.
1 Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper. 2 Kings 5:1 NKJV
Syria was an enemy of the apostate Northern Kingdom of Israel, but the Lord had mercy on their army commander. A young servant girl who had been captured from Israel was a woman of great faith. She was serving Naaman’s wife, and in her kindness, she encouraged Naaman to seek out Israel’s prophet, Elisha, for healing. Naaman agreed, and at first, offered great wealth to the king of Israel for this cure. Not a man of faith, the king panicked, and thought that Naaman was trying to start a war. But Elisha intervened, and sent a messenger to go tell Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan to receive his healing.
Naaman was outraged at what he considered to be an insult. He was not expecting a simple, long distance miracle – he wanted the prophet Elisha to come to him and do the expected healing rituals. But again, Naaman’s servants saved the day by encouraging him to go ahead and do exactly as the prophet had instructed. Naaman finally did so, and experienced a complete deliverance from his leprosy, with his skin now restored like that of a small boy.
Elisha’s healing of Naaman’s leprosy would become a testimony for people of faith, helping them to recognize Jesus Christ as the true Messiah. Jesus healed many lepers, some at a distance, and others by Him reaching out to touch their diseased skin. God the Father used the miracles of Elisha and Elijah as a demonstration for His people, helping them overcome unbelief in the prophets’ time, and later to testify to Jesus as His Son.
Christ is still doing miracles today, but often they are done quietly and in the background. Often only the recipients and their families realize that it was God’s hand that delivered them through a health crisis or from other trials and calamities. Many public miracles have also been reported, often by those on the mission field. Friends of mine who were on a short-term mission trip saw a blind boy receive his sight through the power of prayer. These miracles are given as a testimony of God’s power and love, and to certify Jesus Christ as the True Messiah.
Have you or a close friend ever experienced or witnessed a miracle of God in their lives?
Thank God that He loves us and is watching over us in care today.
Lord, open our eyes so that we may see You at work around us, doing miracles small and great to help us and to show us your deep love. Thank You for the many times you have delivered, protected, and healed us from illness or trial. Seal us with Your Holy Spirit for Your service. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.