Day 2 2 Kings 5 ... A Worthy Replacement

Who could replace a mighty prophet like Elijah? When the time came to choose a successor, Elijah settled on his most faithful companion, a farmer named Elisha. The two had similar names but distinctive styles. Elijah was a loner, and often a fugitive, and preached a stern message of judgment. In contrast, Elisha lived among common people, and stressed life, hope and Godâs grace.

Elisha lived a colorful life: He led a school of prophets, served as a military spy, advised kings, and even anointed revolutionaries. Easily recognizable with his bald head and wooden walking staff, he became a famous figure in Israel, especially as reports of his miracles spread. Elisha had asked for a double portion of Elijahâs spirit, and the Bible pointedly records about twice as many miracles performed by Elisha. Many of these miracles prefigure the miracles Jesus himself would later perform; they show God caring for the needs of poor and outcast people.

During Elishaâs lifetime Israel was reeling - internally from the corruption of King Ahabâs reign, and externally from attacks by the neighboring state of Aram (the area known today as Syria). Sometimes Elisha used his special powers to assist Israelâs army. But in this chapter he is seen offering assistance to a high-ranking enemy general. Naamanâs pilgrimage shows how far Elishaâs fame had spread. A pagan king was willing to seek help from Godâs prophet in order to get a generalâs health restored.

Elishaâs brusque treatment of generals and kings contrasts sharply with the tenderness he showed toward the poor and oppressed. The bizarre procedure he prescribed, along with his refusal to take payment, offended Naaman. Elisha, however, was making it clear that healing came not through magical powers or a shamanâs secret technique, but through God - and God required obedience and humility even of five-star generals with piles of gold.

Jesus referred to this story at the beginning of his ministry (Luke 4:27). He made the same point as Elisha: Donât try to "box in" God. He is to be obeyed, on his own terms, not manipulated.

Point to Ponder: One writer has defined the Christian life as "living by God's surprises." Has God ever surprised you?