2 Kings 5-6
Chapter 5: Naaman Washes in the Jordan River
Naaman was the commander of the army of the king of Syria and was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master. Through the Lord he had given him victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of courage, but he was also a leper.
Naaman is sent to see the king of Israel to be cured of his disease and the king of Israel says; “…Am I god, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of leprosy?” (2 Kings 5:7). So Elisha hears about how the king reacted and tells Naaman to go to wash in the river Jordan seven times and then Naaman shall be clean. However, Naaman was outraged, of bathing in the Jordan River (because of its filthiness) and huffed off in a rage. But his servants told him that if a prophet of God had told him something, he better do it. So Naaman did as Elisha had told him and he became clean again.
Naaman goes to Elisha to thank him and tells him that he knows now that Elisha is a prophet of God. Naaman offers him a “blessing” or essentially cash for his help. Elisha responds; “…I will receive none….” (2 Kings 2:16) and he refused to take the money. One thing that we can learn here is that the things of God cannot be purchased. The LDS Church (or as more commonly known to the world as “Mormons”) do not have a paid clergy. Everyone that works in the local church are all volunteers. The tithing in the church is used to pay for buildings, supplies etc… but not to pay someone’s salary. This is important. We can also learn that people are not use the power to heal to make money.
A servant to Elisha, Gehazi however believed that Elisha deserved something. So Gehazi catches up to Naaman as he is leaving and Naaman turns around and stops his chariot and asks him if everything is well and right there Gehazi basically asks Naaman for money and Naaman gives him 2 talents of silver and a change of clothes. Well when Gehazi comes back, he hides the money from Elisha (because he knew it was wrong) and later is asked by Elisha where he went. Gehazi responds that he hadn’t been anywhere. So Elisha asks him if his heart was with him, and if it was time to receive all of those worldly things, because with them will come the wrath and curse of God. Elisha tells him that he shall receive the leprosy that Naaman had, and Gehazi left Elisha’s presence as white as snow… having contracted Leprosy.
We can learn a lot from this story… greed will get us nowhere. Is it wrong to have money? No. Naaman had a lot of it… he was super rich, famous, and powerful. But he wasn’t cursed, he was cured. But it is when we gain our money through unlawful or un-ethical ways that we are bad. God does not like greed and we will be punished if we live a life of greed.
Chapter 6: Floating Axe
The sons of the prophets tell Elisha that the place where they currently reside is getting a little cramped and that they want to build a new place. So they ask Elisha if it is ok to build a new place. He agrees and they go down near the river to chop down some trees. As they were cutting trees, one man lost the iron axe head from his axe and it fell into the river. So the man freaks out a little, because the axe wasn’t even his, he had borrowed it from someone else. So Elisha asks him where it feel and he cut off a stick and threw it into the water near where it had fallen, and by a miracle Elisha causes the axe head of IRON (so very heavy and dense) to float to the top of the water. How he got something so heavy and dense to float is a mystery! The man then reached out and grabbed the axe from the water.
During this same time the King of Syria was making war with Israel and he consulted with his servants, and Elisha helped the king of Israel. The King of Syria was upset that Israel seemed to know there plans a head of time and was convinced that there was a traitor among him. Until his servants pointed out that Elisha a prophet of God was helping them.
The Syrians however had Elisha and his servant, among other people surrounded in a city. Elisha’s servant was naturally afraid and feared death. But Elisha tells those around him; “… Feat not: for they that be with us are more than they be with them.” (2 Kings 6:16). Elisha prayed to God that they eyes of his servant would be opened to see a mountain full of horses, and chariots of fire (obviously spiritual help), Elisha then asked for the Syrians to be made blind and it was so.
When they arrive at the city blind (my guess is not physically blind, but blind in the way that they are not seeing things as they are), because Elisha tells them that they need to go to Samaria to find the man they are looking for, they don’t even recognize Elisha!
So they Syrians travel to Samaria and besiege the city. In these times a siege would take place by the Syrian army blocking out all business and trade from the city until the people were starved to death or starved into compliance with their new leader. This was an easy way for an army to take over an entire city, by controlling the commerce, money etc. The siege was successful, because within a short time a donkey’s head or a Dove’s droppings were worth so much that only the wealthy could afford them. That is how desperate people were for food! Some dove droppings towards the end of the siege cost an average worker more than one month salary. Imagine today someone paying $1,000 – $2,000 for some Dove droppings to eat!?!?
The chapter however gets worse… The king of Israel was passing by the city wall one day, when he heard a woman’s cry for help. So the king asked her what was wrong, and the woman told him; “…This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son.” (2 Kings 6:28-29). This shows us how horrible the famine was, that mothers were willing to eat their own children to fight away the pangs of hunger!
The king was super upset over what had happened and wanted to get revenge on Elisha and God. What can we learn from this? Well if we remember back to our reading, we learn that in Deuteronomy 28, God warned Israel about what would happen if they disobeyed God.
“And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee. And thou shall eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of they sons and of they daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given them in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thin enemies shall distress thee:” (Deuteronomy 28:52-53). So God had warned them about this! But they did not listen and now they have to live with the consequences of their own actions.