Summary: It describes how the life of Elisha is applicable to us
This is the final reference to Elisha's ministry of 50 to 60 years, after 10-15 years of his apprenticeship to Elijah. He could be about 80 years old at the time of this passage.
It has been calculated that 42 miracles were recorded by these two prophets– Elijah performed 14 miracles and Elisha performed 28 – in nation that wandered from God.
It has been considered that there was a period of silence of 43 years from the last reference to Elisha to this point.
Month of August has been designated ‘What will be your legacy?’ month, and the 2012 Olympics emphasis was on legacy.
Illustration: A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore where a seagull lay dead in the sand. ‘Daddy, what happened to him?’ the son asked. ‘He died and went to heaven,’ the Dad replied. The boy thought for a moment and then said, ‘Did God throw him back down?’
1. Legacy whilst alive
There is a glimpse of close relationship between king and prophet – with the king's reference to ‘my father’ – for he was anxious at the loss of the true prophet.
Jehoash, grandson of Jehu ( who had instigated the uprising against Ahab's house), was evil in God’s sight (verse 11); but he recognised the impact of God upon the nation. We are reminded that Elisha called out after Elijah when the latter was departing on a chariot to heaven:‘My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!’ (2 Kings 2: 12). Coming from the king, it was ironic as Israel only had 50 horsemen and 10 chariots, but the Lord had a host (cf. siege of Dothan when servant’s eyes opened).
The king also recognised Elisha as the defence of Israel, physical as well as spiritual and moral.
Elisha put his hand on Jehoram’s hands as a sign of godly guidance – ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but My Spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts.’ (Zechariah 4: 6)
The extent of victory was limited by man’s failure to persevere. The three arrows was probably half a quiver. It could also signify that, in the expeditions against Arameans, Israel was to look to God for direction and strength. The nation defeated because one man failed to do things God’s way.
We could be like Jehoash in starting to do it God’s way but not completing the task. The result can a lost way leading to community and our nation as it is.
Many people are like Jehoash – attending church, regular reading God’s Word, regular praying, serving God in many ways – stopped but these activities need to done 24/7.
If we want to be blessed and see victory for the kingdom of God, we need to do things God’s way.
If we stop too soon in witnessing for the Lord, the work of the Church will be impeded – we cannot stay still; so if we are not moving forward then will be going backwards for Satan will not stop his work.
We need to have the same attitude as Nehemiah to returning exiles: ‘Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’ (2: 17). We need to dream big dreams for God and witness to others of His love for them. As John Wimber remined us ‘faith’ is spelt ‘r-i-s-k’. We need to be discontent where we are now and want God to move in our lives, neighbourhood, nation.
Small thoughts will limit our horizons and how God will work in and through us. Although Elisha was on his sick bed, he still had words that God wanted him to speak.
We need to listen to God through reading Bible, talk with Him, godly counsel.
We will be consistent with what He has already said.
Visions are worth living for, but it will involve sacrifice and commitment.
Gary Collins stated: ‘When vision fades, passion cools, enthusiasm dissipates, indecision and inertia take over, and hope disappears.’
Jeremiah 29: 11 – 13: ‘”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”’
Sometimes nothing will blow our socks off. Illustration: An old missionary couple had been working in Africa for many years and were returning to New York to retire. They had no pension, broken health – feeling defeated, discouraged and afraid. They discovered that booked on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions. No one paid any attention to them. They watched the fanfare that accompanied the president’s entourage, with passengers trying to catch a glimpse of the great man. As the ship moved across the ocean, the old missionary said to his wife, ‘Something is wrong. Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and have no one care a thing for us? Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody cares two hoots about us.’ ‘Dear, you shouldn’t feel that way,’ his wife said. Her husband responded: ‘I can’t help it; it doesn’t seem right.’ When the ship docked in New York, a band was waiting to greet the President. The mayor and other dignitaries were there. The newspapers were full of the President’s arrival, but no one noticed the missionary couple. They slipped off the ship and found a cheap flat on the East Side, hoping the next day to see what they could do to make a living in the city. That night, the man’s spirit broke. He said to his wife, ‘I can’t take this; God is not fair.’ His wife replied, ‘Why don’t you go in the bedroom, and tell that to the Lord?’ A short time later, he came out of the bedroom, but now his face was completely different. His wife asked, ‘Dear, what happened?’ ‘The Lord settled it with me,’ he said. ‘I told him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder and simply said, “But you’re not home yet!”’