Prophet of Peace
THE work of
Elisha as a prophet was in some respects very different from that of
Elijah. To Elijah had been committed messages of condemnation and
judgment; his was the voice of fearless reproof, calling king and people
to turn from their evil ways. Elisha's was a more peaceful mission; his it
was to build up and strengthen the work that Elijah had begun; to teach
the people the way of the Lord. Inspiration pictures him as coming into
personal touch with the people, surrounded by the sons of the prophets,
bringing by his miracles and his ministry healing and rejoicing.
Elisha was a
man of mild and kindly spirit; but that he could also be stern is shown by
his course when, on the way to Bethel, he was mocked by ungodly youth who
had come out of the city. These youth had heard of Elijah's ascension, and
they made this solemn event the subject of their jeers, saying to Elisha,
thou bald head; go up, thou bald
head." At the sound of their mocking words the prophet turned back,
and under the inspiration of the Almighty he pronounced a curse upon them.
The awful judgment that followed was of God. "There came forth two
she-bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two" of them. 2 Kings
allowed the mockery to pass unnoticed, he would have continued to be
ridiculed and reviled by the rabble, and his mission to instruct and save
in a time of grave national peril might have been defeated. This one
instance of terrible severity was sufficient to command respect throughout
his life. For fifty years he went in and out of the gate of Bethel, and to
and fro in the land, from city to city, passing through crowds of idle,
rude, dissolute youth; but none mocked him or made light of his
qualifications as the prophet of the Most High.
should have its limits. Authority must be maintained by a firm severity,
or it will be received by many with mockery and contempt. The so-called
tenderness, the coaxing and indulgence, used toward youth by parents and
guardians, is one of the worst evils which can come upon them. In every
family, firmness, decision, positive requirements, are essential.
which the youth who mocked Elisha were so lacking, is a grace that should
be carefully cherished. Every child should be taught to show true
reverence for God. Never should His name be spoken lightly or
thoughtlessly. Angels, as they speak it, veil their faces. With what
reverence should we, who are fallen and sinful, take it upon our lips!
should be shown for God's representatives-- for ministers, teachers, and
parents, who are called to speak and act in His stead. In the respect
shown them, God is honored.
also, is one of the graces of the Spirit and should be cultivated by all.
It has power to soften natures which without it would grow hard and rough.
Those who profess to be followers of Christ, and are at the same time
rough, unkind, and uncourteous, have not learned of Jesus. Their sincerity
may not be doubted, their uprightness may not be questioned; but sincerity
and uprightness will not atone for a lack of kindness and courtesy.
spirit that enabled Elisha to exert a powerful influence over the lives of
many in Israel, is revealed in the story of his friendly relations with a
family dwelling at Shunem. In his journeyings to and fro throughout the
kingdom "it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a
great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as
oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread." The mistress
of the house perceived that Elisha was "an holy man of God," and
she said to her husband: "Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee,
on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool,
and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall
turn in thither." To this retreat Elisha often came, thankful for its
quiet peace. Nor was God unmindful of the woman's kindness. Her home had
been childless; and now the Lord rewarded her hospitality by the gift of a
The child was old enough to be out in the field with the reapers. One day
he was stricken down by the heat, "and he said unto his father, My
head, my head." The father bade a lad carry the child to his mother;
"and when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on
her knees till noon, and then died. And she went up, and laid him on the
bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out."
distress, the Shunammite determined to go to Elisha for help. The prophet
was then at Mount Carmel, and the woman, accompanied by her servant, set
forth immediately. "And it came to pass, when the man of God saw her
afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, yonder is that
Shunammite: run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it
well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the
child?" The servant did as he was bidden, but not till she had
reached Elisha did the stricken mother reveal the cause of her sorrow.
Upon hearing of her loss, Elisha bade Gehazi: "Gird up thy loins, and
take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute
him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff
upon the face of the child."
mother would not be satisfied till Elisha himself came with her. "As
the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee," she
declared. "And he arose, and followed her. And Gehazi passed on
before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was
neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told
him, saying, The child is not awaked."
reached the house, Elisha went into the room where the dead child lay,
"and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord. And he
went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his
eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself
upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned,
and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself
upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his
Gehazi, Elisha bade him send the mother to him. "And when she was
come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son. Then he went in, and fell at
his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went
So was the
faith of this woman rewarded. Christ, the great Life-giver, restored her
son to her. In like manner will His faithful ones be rewarded, when, at
His coming, death loses its sting and the grave is robbed of the victory
it has claimed. Then will He restore to His servants the children that
have been taken from them by death. "Thus saith the Lord; A voice was
heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her
children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.
Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from
tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, . . . and they shall come again
from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the
Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border."
comforts our sorrow for the dead with a message of infinite hope: "I
will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from
death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy
destruction." Hosea 13:14. "I am He that liveth, and was dead;
and, behold, I am alive for evermore, . . . and have the keys of hell and
of death." Revelation 1:18. "The Lord Himself shall descend from
heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump
of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive
and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet
the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 1
Thessalonians 4:16, 17.
Saviour of mankind, of whom he was a type, Elisha in his ministry among
men combined the work of healing with that of teaching. Faithfully,
untiringly, throughout his long and effective labors, Elisha endeavored to
foster and advance the important educational work carried on by the
schools of the prophets. In the providence of God his words of instruction
to the earnest groups of young men assembled were confirmed by the deep
movings of the Holy Spirit, and at times by other unmistakable evidences
of his authority as a servant of Jehovah.
It was on the
occasion of one of his visits to the school established at Gilgal that he
healed the poisoned pottage. "There was a dearth in the land; and the
sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his
servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the
prophets. And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a
wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds
his lap full,
and came and shred them into the pot of pottage: for they knew them not.
So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were
eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God,
there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof. But he said,
Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for
the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot."
also, while the dearth was still in the land, Elisha fed one hundred men
with the present brought to him by "a man from Baalshalisha,"
"bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of
corn in the husk thereof." There were those with him who were sorely
in need of food. When the offering came, he said to his servant,
"Give unto the people, that they may eat. And his servitor said,
What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the
people, that they may eat: for thus saith the Lord, They shall eat, and
shall leave thereof. So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left
thereof, according to the word of the Lord."
condescension it was on the part of Christ, through His messenger, to work
this miracle to satisfy hunger! Again and again since that time, though
not always in so marked and perceptible a manner, has the Lord Jesus
worked to supply human need. If we had clearer spiritual discernment we
would recognize more readily than we do God's compassionate dealing with
the children of men.
It is the
grace of God on the small portion that makes it all-sufficient. God's hand
can multiply it a hundredfold.
resources He can spread a table in the wilderness. By the touch of His
hand He can increase the scanty provision and make it sufficient for all.
It was His power that increased the loaves and corn in the hands of the
sons of the prophets.
In the days
of Christ's earthly ministry, when He performed a similar miracle in
feeding the multitudes, the same unbelief was manifested as was shown by
prophet of old. "What!" said Elisha's servant; "should I
set this before an hundred men?" And when Jesus bade His disciples
give the multitude to eat, they answered, "We have no more but five
loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this
people." Luke 9:13. What is that among so many?
The lesson is
for God's children in every age. When the Lord gives a work to be done,
let not men stop to inquire into the reasonableness of the command or the
probable result of their efforts to obey. The supply in their hands may
seem to fall short of the need to be filled; but in the hands of the Lord
it will prove more than sufficient. The servitor "set it before them,
and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the
sense of God's relationship to those whom He has purchased with the gift
of His Son, a greater faith in the onward progress of His cause in the
earth--this is the great need of the church today. Let none waste time in
deploring the scantiness of their visible resources. The outward
appearance may be unpromising, but energy and trust in God will develop
resources. The gift brought to Him with thanksgiving and with prayer for
His blessing, He will multiply as He multiplied the food given to the sons
of the prophets and to the weary multitude.