Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Story of Elisha

2nd Kings 2:15 to 2nd Kings 13

When the young men who were in the schools of the prophets saw Elisha divide the waters of Jordan, they knew that God was with him, as He had been with Elijah they came and bowed down to the ground before him, to do him honor.

They, as well as Elisha, had seen Elijah taken up by the fiery chariot but they thought that God might perhaps have carried him, in that way, to some other part of the country.

So they begged Elisha to let fifty of them go and seek him. Elisha at first forbade their doing so, but at last he gave them his consent. So they looked for Elijah for three days. But they did not find him because he was with God in heaven.

Then the people of Jericho came to Elisha, complaining that, though the situation of their city was beautiful, as he saw, the water was almost poisonous, and the soil was barren.

So he told them to bring him a new bottle, with a little salt in it. And when it was brought, he went to the spring where the water that supplied the neighborhood rose, and throwing the salt into it, he declared that God had taken away the filth from the water, so that from that time neither men nor cattle would be injured by drinking it, nor would it any longer render the soil unproductive, as it had done.

After this, Elisha went to Bethel and when he was near the city, some young men came out ridiculing and insulting him and they mockingly told him "go up," as his master had done.

This was a shocking sin, for it was turning into mockery that great miracle that God had just done, of carrying Elijah, living as he was, into heaven. Elisha knew that God's anger would fall upon them for such wickedness and, turning back toward the young men, he told them that they would be punished. And immediately two fierce female bears rushed out of the wood, and killed forty-two of them.

God enabled Elisha to do many miracles. He brought a dead child to life again. He healed the Syrian general, Naaman, of an incurable disease; fed a hundred of the prophets with a small quantity of bread; and did many other wonderful works.

When Elisha lay dying, Jehoash, king of Israel, came, and wept over him. Then Elisha told the king to shoot an arrow out of the window, and afterward strike the ground with the whole quiver-full, to show the king that he should overcome his enemies, the Syrians.

When he had done this, Elisha died.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Elijah Taken To Heaven

1st Kings 18:41 to 2nd Kings 2:14

Elijah returned with Ahab to Jezreel, a beautiful place where the king had a palace. Jezebel threatened to kill the prophet so he fled for his life out of Israel, into the kingdom of Judah, to Beersheba.

There he left his servant, while he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness. Here, weary and worn out with his troubles, he lay down to sleep under a juniper-tree, and begged God to let him die.

While he slept, an angel touched him, bidding him to rise and eat and when he looked, he saw a cake baked on the coals, and a bottle of water by his side. So he ate and drank, and then lay down again.

A second time the angel touched him, and told him rise and eat and that food which God had sent him sustained him for forty days and nights, while he traveled through the wilderness to Mount Horeb. And there, after storm, and earthquake, and fire, God appeared to him in a wonderful manner.

The time came when God would take Elijah to heaven without dying like other men. As he and Elisha,, who was to succeed him as prophet, went on their way, Elijah, knowing what God was about to do for him, tried to persuade Elisha to leave him to go on alone.

But Elisha clung lovingly to his master, and would not leave him. At Bethel and Jericho, scholars of the prophets, who lived there, came out to them, asking Elisha if he knew that God would that day take away his master from him. Elisha answered them, "Yes, I know ;" and again Elijah would have sent him away, but he would not go.

They traveled together till they reached the river, where Elijah wrapped his mantle together, struck the waters, and they were divided, standing on each hand, so that he and Elisha passed over on dry ground.

As they still went on, suddenly there appeared in the air a chariot of fire, with horses of fire, which, parting the two asunder, carried up Elijah in a whirlwind to heaven.

When Elisha saw it, he cried after him, "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel, and the horsemen !" Then he took the mantle that fell from Elijah as he went up, and turned back to the Jordan and as he stood on its bank, he struck the waters, exclaiming, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?"

Then the waters were divided as they had been before and Elisha went over on dry land.

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