Summary: Fifth in a series on Elisha. The Shunammite woman and Gehazi are recurring people in Elisha's life. God's word is powerful to work, in spite of the messenger. Make space for the word of God to be heard and received in your life.
SLIDE: Shunnamite Woman
> The Woman from Shunem’s Story
Spread throughout Elisha’s ministry are encounters with this woman from Shunem.
Her part of the story begins back in chapter four. Elisha periodically traveled through her town, a little to the south west of the Sea of Galilee.
She invited Elisha to come and eat. Soon, that became a routine. Every time Elisha came to town, he ate with her family.
This woman and her husband were wealthy, and at her suggestion, they decided to make some modifications to their home. On the upper level of their flat roof, they created a guest room for Elisha. They furnished it with a bed, and a lamp, a table, and a chair. They did this for Elisha because he was a holy man of God.
Elisha called her over one day and said, “What can I do for you? Can I put in a good word with the King, or with an army commander?”
She said, “No, I’m fine. I’m content here among my own people.”
Elisha’s assistant Gehazi spoke up and said, “Her husband is older, and they don’t have a son.”
So Elisha promised her that within a year, she would be holding a baby boy.
She reacted emotionally, begging Elisha not to deceive her, but he didn’t. And in a year, she had a baby boy.
This woman from Shunem reminds us that in living a life that honors God, it doesn’t mean we don’t have bad experiences.
SLIDE: Boy getting carried back to the house
A few years later, the boy was in the field with his father and got a terrible headache. A little while later, he died.
As quick as she could go, she went to get Elisha. She said to him, “I didn’t ask you for anything. I didn’t request a son. Didn’t I tell you not to lie to me?”
You may remember the story. Elisha sent Gehazi ahead with his staff to lay it on the boy, but the boy wasn’t raised. Elisha ended up twice spreading his body over the boy’s body.
The second time, the boy sneezed seven times and came back to life.
We would have expected that her role in Elisha’s life was done, but here in chapter 8, Elisha receives a prompting from God about a famine, and so he tells the woman to leave all her property and possessions behind, and to live in Philistine territory until the famine has passed.
The occasion of this story in chapter 8 is that she is now returning home. Her husband isn’t mentioned, so we wonder if he passed while they were away.
But her property has been occupied, and she is going to petition the king to receive back her land.
> Gehazi’s Story
In this story, there is another captivating character.
His name is Gehazi.
Gehazi has been present in many of the situations we’ve looked at, but I wanted to wait until this story to look at him more closely.
Gehazi is Elisha’s assistant and apprentice. In most situations, he is unimpressive.
Elisha was selected to follow in Elijah’s footsteps, but it becomes obvious that Gehazi won’t serve a similar role.
Gehazi is there when Elisha promises the Shunnamite woman a son…he suggested it.
He is there when the woman’s son has died. In fact, on her way to Elisha, Gehazi goes to greet her and she ignores him and goes past him. “Is everything ok?” “Yeah, things are fine.”
She doesn’t tell Gehazi a thing, but runs for Elisha.
Gehazi tries to raise the boy with Elisha’s staff, but only when Elisha arrives does the boy come back to life. Gehazi’s efforts were not blessed, and therefore failed.
SLIDE: Naaman and Gehazi
The worst story involving Gehazi is the conclusion to Naaman’s story.
You remember Naaman…the powerful military leader who was cleansed from leprosy.
He brought with him an enormous amount of money and gifts. Elisha absolutely refuses his money, wanting for Naaman to be only on the receiving end of God’s goodness, not able to try and pay anyone back for what God had done.
Gehazi got greedy. After Naaman left, he chased down Naaman and said, “We have a couple of visitors from the community of prophets, and Elisha is requesting that you give him two outfits and a talent of silver.”
Naaman was happy to give him the clothes, and said, Take Two talents.
Gehazi returned, and Elisha said, “Where were you?” “Nowhere.”
“Gehazi, this was not a time for accepting money and gifts. Because of what you’ve done, Naaman’s leprosy will now cling to you and your family.”
It is the last time in Scripture we see Gehazi in the presence of Elisha, and we assume at this point he was functionally fired.