Moab Defeated by Joint Armies
Chapter 3 recounts a time when the kings of Israel (Joram), Judah (Jehoshaphat) and Edom (well…governor of Edom) united to confront Moab. Joram was a notch better than his ancestors, but still far from being good in God’s eyes. Still, for some reason, this union was allowed and the unified front assembled and marched through the desert to confront Moab.
After a roundabout march of seven days, the army had no more water for themselves or for the animals with them. 2 Kings 3:9
This is interesting from a military perspective. Logisticians are notorious for saying, “logistics wins wars,” because armies can’t fight without provisions. Here we see the great plans of these three kings runs aground. Jehoshaphat knows what to do: find a prophet and ask God. My question a this point is simple: why didn’t you ask before you started marching?
Nonetheless, they figure out that Elisha is the prophet to ask, so they find him and pose the question. Elisha only agrees to entertain the question because Jehoshaphat has joined the battle, so he intervenes and asks God for support. The response is favorable. Water will appear miraculously and they will win the battle.
The next day, water appears and the issue of verse 9 is resolved. In addition, the Moabites are fooled by the sun reflecting off of the unexpected pools of water at sunrise and decide to go and grab the plunder:
To the Moabites across the way, the water looked red–like blood. “That’s blood!” they said. “Those kings must have fought and slaughtered each other. Now to the plunder, Moab!” 2 Kings 3:22-23
Fools. Convinced that the Israelites were dead and dying the Moabites pounce in to grab plunder only to find an able and fit army that slaughtered the Moabites. End of chapter 3: “The fury against Israel was great; they withdrew and returned to their own land.” (2 Kings 3:27)
The Widow’s Olive Oil
Here’s an interesting story of God’s provision for a widow who seeks Elisha’s help. One of the company of prophets died and his widow has two sons and apparently some debt that is to be collected by making slaves of her two sons. The plan is simple and secret: collect empty jars from our neighbors and bring them to your house and shut the door, then fill all of the jars from the one jar of oil you have. She doesn’t hesitate, doesn’t question his direction, she simply does what he says. When all the jars were miraculously filled, the oil stopped flowing.
She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” 2 Kings 4:7
The Shunammite’s Son Restored to Life
To set the stage for this story, “a well-to-do” woman lived in Shunem where Elisha often traveled to (or through). She talks to her husband and the add a room to their house for Elisha to stay in when he is traveling through.
“Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.” 2 Kings 4:10
How cool is that! Elisha wants to bless her so he asks his servant (Gehazi) what can be done. He tells Elisha that she has no son, so Elisha lets the woman know that within a year she will have a son. She is very humbled by this announcement and scared at the same time.
The boy grows, but apparently has a brain tumor or something that causes him extreme headaches. The boy dies and his body is placed on Elisha’s bed in their house. Elisha sends Gehazi to lay his staff on the boy’s head, but when that doesn’t work, Elisha takes direct action. He closes the door so he and Gehazi can pray. Again, a private miracle happens. The boy is revived and reunited with his family.
Two More Stories of Elisha
The first story labeled, “Death in the Pot” refers to stew in a pot that was made during a famine. Apparently is was really horrible, so Elisha adds some flour and the stew is fixed! Whatever was harmful in the stew was immediately neutralized.
The second story is a precursor to Jesus’ feeding of 4,000 or 5,000. In this story, 20 loaves of fresh bread are used to feed 100 men at the word of Elisha.
“Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: “They will eat and have some left over.” 2 Kings 4:43
They are all fed and indeed, some was left over.
God provides his people. Always. Many times this provision comes in private, one to another, no fanfare, no public display. God is not a magic genie to be summoned upon, but rather the Lord of all, worthy of praise. Our part of the process is to give it all to God and trust completely in his provision. Lord, help me to do my part.