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toddler pushing play mower June 23 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 2Kings 4; 2Kings 6:1-7; 2Kings 8:1-6

Be a Servant

The home is the ideal place for teaching family members to serve. Those who do not serve in the home may not be motivated to serve elsewhere. That is why parents are wise to assign their children chores and to lead them into doing projects for others without pay so they might learn to help others in need.

The prophet Elisha was a servant and had learned to be a hard worker at home. He was plowing a field with twelve pairs of yoked oxen when Elijah the prophet of Israel met him; Elisha had prospered. When Elijah put his cloak upon Elisha, it signified the passing of the power and authority of his prophetic office. This was well understood by Elisha because he kissed his father and mother goodbye, slaughtered the oxen and burned up his equipment to host a farewell party (1Kings 19:19-21, The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., edited by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.529). He gave up his wealth and family to serve God. Would we be willing to do that?

For a time, Elisha served beside his mentor and would not leave his side. Then the day came when Elijah was taken from him. Elisha had come to know him well and was grieved. Elijah told him to ask one request of him before he was taken away, and Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit. Then he saw Elijah carried away up to heaven in a whirlwind (2Kings 2:11). According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary p.540, Elisha was asking for the rights of the firstborn, but he was not asking for property, power, or position; Elisha was asking for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit to fall on him, that is, the spiritual commitment and fervency which Elijah possessed. He especially needed courage and tenacity to complete the mission of removing Baal worship in Israel and Judah (1Kings 19:17). He would also face kings from Israel and Judah who were hostile to God. Do we need courage and tenacity for completing a difficult mission from God? If we ask God, He will supply what we need (James 1:5-6; Philippians 4:19).

Most of the miracles God did through Elisha were used for the service of others. Both the nations of Judah and Israel were going through some tough times. The Arameans from the north invaded Israel and Judah, and Edom was a threat from the south. There was also a famine in the land. Elisha used God’s gifts to help people. Do we do that?

In today's Bible reading Elisha cares for the needs of a widow, a barren woman, and a company of the prophets.

A wife of one of the prophets is left a widow with her two sons. She is in desperate straits because she is in debt and a creditor threatens to make her boys slaves to pay it. Elisha instructs her to get as many jars as she can, and God will fill them with oil. She sells the oil to provide their needs.

Elisha helps a barren woman. She is a wealthy Shunnamite woman, who is kind to him and gives him a place to stay. However, she has no prayer of having children. When the prophet announces that next year she will have a son, she tells the prophet not to get her hopes up. However, the following year she does bear a son. One day, tragedy befalls the boy. He has a severe headache (maybe a stroke) while he is in the fields with his father. The boy dies and his mom is very distraught. She seeks Elisha. Elisha comes back with her, raises the boy back to life and gives him back to his mother.

During a famine Elisha helps to feed the company of the prophets. Different vegetables are gathered to put into a stew and wild gourds are accidentally added. These poison the stew and make it so it can't be eaten. Elisha puts a little flour in it and the stew is made tasty. There is nothing magical about the substance added—God performs a miracle.

Also during the famine, Elisha, under the power of God, multiplies twenty small loaves of barley bread to feed 100 prophets of God. This miracle reminds us of how Jesus will later feed masses of people, 5,000 at one time plus women and children, with just five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:16-21). Elisha’s miracle is small compared to the miracle of Jesus but a miracle just the same. God can even use our small gifts for His glory.

During the seven year famine, Elisha cares for the Shunnamite woman and her family. He advises them to go away from Israel to Philistine territory until the famine is over. When she returns, although her land could have been seized by others, the LORD is gracious—He moves the heart of King Joram to return the land to her and her family, plus the proceeds from the harvests while she was away. Have we suffered hard times? The LORD is gracious. Let's ask and trust him to help us.

Once again Elisha helps the company of the prophets. They are trying to fell some trees to build a new meeting place by the Jordan river when an axe head flies off a handle and into the water. Alas, it was borrowed; what can they do? Elisha cuts a stick and throws it into the water. Miraculously, the iron axe head floats to the surface of the water so it can be retrieved. It is a miracle of God and another way Elisha serves others.

Are we servants (not slaves)? Do we use what talents and abilities we have been given to help people? Our labor of love will not be forgotten. The author of the book of Hebrews will later encourage believers in Christ, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10, NIV).

Lessons to Live By

  • Do we know Jesus? He was the ultimate servant, sacrificing His life for us when he was crucified. He offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...)
  • Learning to serve starts at home.
  • Would we be willing to give up our wealth and family to serve God? (this does not imply abandoning our family and responsibilities that He has given us)
  • Do we need courage and tenacity for completing a difficult mission of God? If we ask Him, He will supply what we need.
  • Let's use what talents and abilities we have been given to help people. Our labor of love will not be forgotten.
  • God can even use our small gifts for His glory.

Focus Verse

Galatians 5:13 (NIV) “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”

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A Look Ahead: In our Next Lesson God will use Elisha to show others Who is God. Join us and be encouraged to believe and share it.

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