Highlights In Today's Reading:
A widow's two sons are delivered from slavery (4:1-7). A childless couple have a son (4:8-37). Elisha sustains life (typifying Jesus, the Bread of Life) (4:38-44). A leper is miraculously healed of his incurable disease (5:1-19) — foreshadowing Jesus, who alone can restore an incurable life of sin.
Syria and Israel were often at war over territory near their borders: The Syrians . . . brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my Lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for He would recover him of his leprosy (5:2-3).
When Naaman, the commander and chief of the Syrian army, appeared with a letter to Jehoram, king of Israel, asking that he be healed of leprosy, Jehoram incorrectly assumed the king of Syria was seeking an excuse to declare war (5:7).
Jehoram failed to recognize God in his circumstances. Even after Naaman was miraculously healed of leprosy, this evil king did not turn to the Lord.
Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God (5:20), also failed the test. What a wonderful future he could have had. Just as Elisha had been the assistant to Elijah, Gehazi could have become the honored prophet of God. But when he was tested, as we all are, his true character was revealed. He was cursed by greed.
Elisha had refused a very generous gift from Naaman, who had been miraculously healed of his leprosy. But greedy Gehazi was all too anxious for material things. He persuaded himself that God had blessed him with the opportunity to be wealthy, saying: As the Lord liveth, I will run after him (5:20).
Gehazi then told Naaman this story: Two young men of the sons of the prophets were in financial distress. Give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments (5:21-22).
But Elisha was not deceived, and, when Gehazi returned, he asked: Whence comest thou, Gehazi? (5:25). Quickly, Gehazi manufactured a lie. One lie usually leads to another. Probably, he thought nothing of his deception to gain wealth from someone who didn't need it. Sadly, Gehazi is an example of some today who see nothing wrong with taking things from someone who will never miss them as well as telling a lie when it benefits their self-interest.
Each of us must ask ourselves the question Elisha asked Gehazi, for we all have but one life to live and one God-ordained purpose for our short time here on earth. Is it a time to receive money . . . garments . . . oliveyards . . . vineyards . . . sheep . . . oxen . . . menservants, and maidservants? (5:26). Or is this an opporunity from God to further the purpose of Christ for us?
Jesus reminded His disciples: The fearful, and unbelieving . . . and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8).
Thought for Today:
Any desire for material gain above our desire to serve God robs us of His wonderful plan for our lives.
By the meal that took the poison out of the pot (II Kin. 4:40-41). Meal, made of crushed grain, speaks of Christ, who was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised (crushed) for our iniquities (Is. 53:5), thereby removing the poison of sin from us.
4:3 borrow not a few =b> get as many as you can; 4:6 stayed =b> ceased flowing; 4:10 candlestick =b> oil lamp; 4:27 vexed =b> deeply distressed; 4:29 Gird up thy loins =b> Fasten your loose, flowing garments with a belt.
Pray for International Shortwave Broadcasts in honor of Rick Hash • Staff: Tammy Davis • Government Official: Rep. Peter Welch (VT) • Country: Laos (5 million) in Southeast Asia • Major languages: Lao and French • Great suppression of all Christian activities • 58% Buddhist; 33% belief in spirits and ancestor worship; 2% Christian; 1% Muslim • Prayer Suggestion: Realize that you are insufficient without the Lord (Eph. 6:10-11).
Optional Reading: Romans 5
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 6:14