Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”
The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?”
“You will see it with your own eyes,” answered Elisha, “but you will not eat any of it!”
2 Kings 7:1-2 (NIV)
The stories of the prophet Elisha are so filled with the mysterious and the miraculous that it’s easy for me to get focused on the stories and lose sight of the larger story that’s being told.
After the tribes of Israel were divided into northern and southern kingdoms, the two southern tribes that constituted the Kingdom of Judah clung to the house of David and to the worship of God in Jerusalem. The ten northern tribes making up the Kingdom of Israel denied the house of David and they freely embraced the regional and local pagan gods. Spiritually speaking, the northern tribes were prodigal children, and Father God wanted them to leave the spiritual pig slop of their wayward faith and come home.
The prophetic lives of Elijah and Elisha were exclusively centered among the prodigal children of Israel. They were God’s agents and the sheer number and concentration of miracles that God performed through them during this period of history are rivaled only by the time of Moses and the Exodus and by the ministry of Jesus and His apostles.
As I meditate on this in the quiet, I can’t help but think about what God is saying through each of these three chapters of the Great Story.
In the time of Moses, God’s people are enslaved by Egypt and God desires to free them from their slavery and lead them to a Promised Land.
In the time of Elisha, God’s people have abandoned God, and run away from their spiritual home. God desperately desires to convince them to come home.
In the time of Jesus and the apostles, the world is enslaved to sin and God desires to free me from this slavery so that I might be led to an eternal Promised Land.
I believe the miraculous in each of these chapters of the story are indicative of just how passionate God is in his desire for His creation and His people.
In this context, the story of the siege of Samaria in yesterday’s and today’s chapters take on a deeper and larger meaning than the events they describe. The horrific consequences of the siege should have shaken the leaders of Israel to turn back to God and cry out to God, but they refuse. Even when Elisha (who, along with Elijah, has already performed plenty of miracles that the king and his team know about) announces that God will miraculously lift the siege overnight, the immediate response is doubt. The subsequent miraculous fulfillment shows God’s people how much He wants them to turn their hearts back to Him. The fulfilled prophecy of doom for the King’s doubting official is a stark metaphorical contrast pointing to His people the consequences of their continued spiritual rebellion.
In the quiet this morning, I’m thinking about God’s heart desire as revealed, not only in the events of today’s chapter, but in the sending of Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for my sin, that I might be in relationship with Him. It’s basically the same message:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Like God’s people wasting away behind the besieged walls of Samaria, I can choose to believe, or not.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.