A man came from Baal Shalisha with barley grain in a knapsack, twenty small loaves. Elisha told him to feed the people, and he protested, thinking it was not nearly enough for one hundred men. Elisha declared that it would be enough with some left over. The man obeyed the word of Elisha and it came true.
In this same passage, Naaman, commander of Syria’s army and a mighty man of valor, came to see Elisha. He had leprosy, a very serious skin disease. A Hebrew girl that had been taken in one of Naaman’s raids told his wife about Elisha, and the king of Syria wrote a letter commending Naaman to the king of Israel. Naaman took gifts with him: ten talents of silver (750 pounds) and six thousand shekels of gold (at least $60,000.00) and ten changes of clothing. This was quite a gift to be given in exchange for his healing. When Naamancame to the king of Israel, he tore his clothes (a sign of shock or mourning) thinking the king or Syria sought an opportunity for a quarrel. When Elisha heard of the king’s action, he called for Naaman. When Naaman and his entourage came to Elisha’s house and stood at the door, Elisha sent a message that he should go and wash in the Jordan seven times to be healed. Naaman was upset that Elisha had not come out to greet him and wave his hand over the leprous spot and heal him in some pageant of spirituality. Also, he disdained the Jordan as being inferior to the rivers of Syria. He went away in a rage. However, his servants helped him change his perspective and he went to the Jordan River and dipped seven times, and was healed. He returned to Elisha, declared that there was no god like the God of Israel, and offered Elisha the gifts he had brought. Elisha refused the gifts. Naaman requested two mule-loads of earth to take back to Syria, for he would sacrifice to no other god but Jehovah. He asked forgiveness for the fact that he would be forced to go into the temple of Rimmon (the Syrian god) with his king from time to time and bow with the king, for which Elisha forgave him. Then Naaman went a short distance away from Elisha. The rest of the story will be recounted in tomorrow’s blog.
A little reflection: Doubt is trumped by faith. The man from Baal Shalisha thought Elisha had overstepped his expectations when he told him to feed one hundred men (and their families) with twenty small loaves of barley bread. This is a precursor to Jesus’ feeding the five thousand in the gospels, but nevertheless shows us the power of believing when God speaks, either through a prophet or directly. When we have faith in God, we get to see the astounding! Another thought: Status is trumped by desperation. Although Naaman was the commander of Syria’s army, and even became indignant when asked to wash in a muddy river, he changed his tune when he realized that the disease that made him unclean and untouchable could be healed by obedience to a command that seemed beneath him. When he laid aside his pride, he was healed. And finally: It is not about the show. Elisha did not even come out and speak to Naaman. Instead, he sent his servant (presumably Gehazi) to give Naaman instructions. This offended Naaman, who thought the healing would be some type of pageant or magic trick. Too often, we look for the big name with the big television ministry or the big stadium, and think “If they would just call me out and speak a word over me, I would get what I want from God.” Stop chasing the drama and just believe.
Moral of the story: it is not about how, it is about Who.