What does it say?
Naaman, powerful military officer of Syria, is a leper. He comes to Israel seeking healing (2Ki 5), and Elisha demonstrates God’s great power in healing Naaman. Elisha’s servant Gehazi yields to greed and becomes leprous in the place of Naaman.
At war with Syria, God uses Elisha to supernaturally provide the intelligence necessary for Israel to defeat Syria (2Ki 6). Later, Syria attacks again and holds Samaria under siege until the food supply runs out and provokes desperate conditions. Elisha announces that God will deliver them and is mocked by one of the king’s chief officials (2Ki 7). God vindicates Elisha’s prophecy by supernaturally causing the entire Syrian army to flee and four desperately hungry lepers stumble across the abandoned Syrian camp.
Elisha again ministers to the Shunamite woman (2Ki 8) that has returned from waiting out the famine in Philistia. The king restores her lost lands when he hears of what Elisha had done for her previously in 2 Kings 4. King Ben-hadad of Syria sends for Elisha to learn if he would recover from an illness. The messenger, Hazael, that comes for Elisha later assassinates Ben-hadad and takes the throne himself. The remainder of chapter 8 describes king Jehoram’s evil reign over Judah. Upon his death, his son Ahzaziah takes his place. Remember that there was also a king Ahaziah of Israel.
What does it mean?
Leprosy is a picture of sin in the Bible and Naaman’s story is a remarkable word picture of salvation in many ways. The ministries of both Elijah and Elisha present many parallels to the ministry of Jesus Christ to come. Seeing these parallels is indeed fascinating, but the purpose of our current missional/chronological reading is to trace God’s mission from beginning to end. During a time of great apostasy among God’s people, they are under constant attack from the nations rather than being God’s light to the nations. Yet even in the darkest of times God has his faithful witnesses like Elijah and Elisha that manifest his great power to all, whether they believe or not. The darker the night the greater is the contrast between light and darkness. This is what our focus should be.
How will I respond?
There is no greater miraculous display of God’s power than the transformation of a human life with faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Do others see God’s power in me? How? Why or why not? What step can I take today for my life to be more transparent to allow God’s power to be more visible in me?