Monday, February 25, 2008

2 Kings 4

What is this passage all about?
This chapter records four miracles of Elisha the man of God; two are similar to miracles of Elijah and several prefigure miracles of Christ.

What can I learn from it?
This chapter, together with the end of chapter 2, produces confirmation that Elisha inherited Elijah's powerful prophetic spirit. Elisha provided for the prophet's widow through a miraculous multiplication of her oil, in order that her needs were supplied. Then, when a woman provided hospitality for Elisha, he repaid her kindness with the blessing of a child. The child, however, died suddenly and the woman sought out Elisha at Mt Carmel and brought him back to her house where he prayed to the LORD and the boy was brought back to life. Both of these miracles are very similar to those of Elijah's early prophetic ministry during the drought which he proclaimed over Israel. The second is also similar to some of Jesus' miracles, in particular Jairus's daughter (Matt 9:18-19,23-25; Mark 5:22-24,35-43; Luke 8:41-42,49-56), who was thought to be dead but of whom Jesus said, "The girl is not dead but asleep." Also the raising of the widow's son (Luke 7:11-17) and the raising of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha (John 11:1-44). All four of the gospel accounts contain at least one recount of Jesus raising someone else to life. Of course, it was by Jesus' own power - the power of God - that He was raised to life three days after his death on the cross. Each of the earlier raisings by Elijah, Elisha, and Jesus himself therefore prefigure and lead up to the raising of Jesus from death to life, by which conquering of death we all may have access to eternal life.
The third miracle recounted in this chapter is that of Elisha making some poisonous stew edible for a company of men.
Elisha also miraculously fed a large number of people in the fourth miracle. Elisha ordered that 100 men (possibly more people, the account uses the non-specific "people" although their number is 100 men) be fed from 20 loaves of barley bread and some new grain still on the head. This miracle provides the second half of the replica of Elijah's provision during the drought for his hostess and her son through the unending supply of oil and flour. It also prefigures Jesus' feeding of the 5000 (recorded in all four gospels - Matt 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15) and of the 4000 (Matt 15:29-38; Mark 8:1-13).

How does this help me worship God?
God is powerful and He doesn't always do things according to the usual, every-day processes. He has the power of life, and is able to give life to the dead, but frankly it's a miracle that each time He allows a sperm to fertilize an ova and create a new life that way, even if it is done in some self-congratulatory scientist's petri dish. Life is precious, and it is a gift from God, to be enjoyed, and to bring Him thanks, praise and glory. So to is the provision of our needs, such as food, shelter and love. God is the source of all comfort.

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