SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
2 Kings 4:1-5:27
4:1 Now a wife of one of the prophets appealed to Elisha for help, saying, “Your servant, my husband is dead. You know that your servant was a loyal follower of the Lord. Now the creditor is coming to take away my two boys to be his servants.” 2 Elisha said to her, “What can I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” She answered, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a small jar of olive oil.” 3 He said, “Go and ask all your neighbors for empty containers. Get as many as you can. 4 Go and close the door behind you and your sons. Pour the olive oil into all the containers; set aside each one when you have filled it.” 5 So she left him and closed the door behind her and her sons. As they were bringing the containers to her, she was pouring the olive oil. 6 When the containers were full, she said to one of her sons, “Bring me another container.” But he answered her, “There are no more.” Then the olive oil stopped flowing. 7 She went and told the prophet. He said, “Go, sell the olive oil. Repay your creditor, and then you and your sons can live off the rest of the profit.”
8 One day Elisha traveled to Shunem, where a prominent woman lived. She insisted that he stop for a meal. So whenever he was passing through, he would stop in there for a meal. 9 She said to her husband, “Look, I’m sure that the man who regularly passes through here is a very special prophet. 10 Let’s make a small, private upper room and furnish it with a bed, table, chair, and lamp. When he visits us, he can stay there.”
11 One day Elisha came for a visit; he went into the upper room and rested. 12 He told his servant Gehazi, “Ask the Shunammite woman to come here.” So he did so and she came to him. 13 Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tell her, ‘Look, you have treated us with such great respect. What can I do for you? Can I put in a good word for you with the king or the commander of the army?’” She replied, “I’m quite secure.” 14 So he asked Gehazi, “What can I do for her?” Gehazi replied, “She has no son, and her husband is old.” 15 Elisha told him, “Ask her to come here.” So he did so and she came and stood in the doorway. 16 He said, “About this time next year you will be holding a son.” She said, “No, my master! O prophet, do not lie to your servant!” 17 The woman did conceive, and at the specified time the next year she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.
18 The boy grew and one day he went out to see his father who was with the harvest workers. 19 He said to his father, “My head! My head!” His father told a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 So he picked him up and took him to his mother. He sat on her lap until noon and then died. 21 She went up and laid him down on the prophet’s bed. She shut the door behind her and left. 22 She called to her husband, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so I can go see the prophet quickly and then return.” 23 He said, “Why do you want to go see him today? It is not the new moon or the Sabbath.” She said, “Everything’s fine.” 24 She saddled the donkey and told her servant, “Lead on. Do not stop unless I say so.”
25 So she went to visit the prophet at Mount Carmel. When he saw her at a distance, he said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, it’s the Shunammite woman. 26 Now, run to meet her and ask her, ‘Are you well? Are your husband and the boy well?’” She told Gehazi, “Everything’s fine.” 27 But when she reached the prophet on the mountain, she grabbed hold of his feet. Gehazi came near to push her away, but the prophet said, “Leave her alone, for she is very upset. The Lord has kept the matter hidden from me; he didn’t tell me about it.” 28 She said, “Did I ask my master for a son? Didn’t I say, ‘Don’t mislead me?’” 29 Elisha told Gehazi, “Tuck your robes into your belt, take my staff, and go! Don’t stop to exchange greetings with anyone! Place my staff on the child’s face.” 30 The mother of the child said, “As certainly as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So Elisha got up and followed her back.
31 Now Gehazi went on ahead of them. He placed the staff on the child’s face, but there was no sound or response. When he came back to Elisha he told him, “The child did not wake up.” 32 When Elisha arrived at the house, there was the child lying dead on his bed. 33 He went in by himself and closed the door. Then he prayed to the Lord. 34 He got up on the bed and spread his body out over the boy; he put his mouth on the boy’s mouth, his eyes over the boy’s eyes, and the palms of his hands against the boy’s palms. As he bent down across him, the boy’s skin grew warm. 35 Elisha went back and walked around in the house. Then he got up on the bed again and bent down over him. The child sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. 36 Elisha called to Gehazi and said, “Get the Shunammite woman.” So he did so and she came to him. He said to her, “Take your son.” 37 She came in, fell at his feet, and bowed down. Then she picked up her son and left.
38 Now Elisha went back to Gilgal, while there was a famine in the land. Some of the prophets were visiting him and he told his servant, “Put the big pot on the fire and boil some stew for the prophets.” 39 Someone went out to the field to gather some herbs and found a wild vine. He picked some of its fruit, enough to fill up the fold of his robe. He came back, cut it up, and threw the slices into the stew pot, not knowing they were harmful. 40 The stew was poured out for the men to eat. When they ate some of the stew, they cried out, “Death is in the pot, O prophet!” They could not eat it. 41 He said, “Get some flour.” Then he threw it into the pot and said, “Now pour some out for the men so they may eat.” There was no longer anything harmful in the pot.
42 Now a man from Baal Shalisha brought some food for the prophet—20 loaves of bread made from the firstfruits of the barley harvest, as well as fresh ears of grain. Elisha said, “Set it before the people so they may eat.” 43 But his attendant said, “How can I feed a hundred men with this?” He replied, “Set it before the people so they may eat, for this is what the Lord has said, ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” 44 So he set it before them; they ate and had some left over, just as in the Lord’s message.
5:1 Now Naaman, the commander of the king of Syria’s army, was esteemed and respected by his master, for through him the Lord had given Syria military victories. But this great warrior had a skin disease. 2 Raiding parties went out from Syria and took captive from the land of Israel a young girl, who became a servant to Naaman’s wife. 3 She told her mistress, “If only my master were in the presence of the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his skin disease.”
4 Naaman went and told his master what the girl from the land of Israel had said. 5 The king of Syria said, “Go! I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman went, taking with him 10 talents of silver, 6,000 shekels of gold, and 10 suits of clothes. 6 He brought the letter to the king of Israel. It read: “This is a letter of introduction for my servant Naaman, whom I have sent to be cured of his skin disease.” 7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill or restore life? Why does he ask me to cure a man of his skin disease? Certainly you must see that he is looking for an excuse to fight me!”
8 When Elisha the prophet heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent this message to the king, “Why did you tear your clothes? Send him to me so he may know there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood in the doorway of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent out a messenger who told him, “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan; your skin will be restored and you will be healed.” 11 Naaman went away angry. He said, “Look, I thought for sure he would come out, stand there, invoke the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the area, and cure the skin disease. 12 The rivers of Damascus, the Abana and Pharpar, are better than any of the waters of Israel! Could I not wash in them and be healed?” So he turned around and went away angry. 13 His servants approached and said to him, “O master, if the prophet had told you to do some difficult task, you would have been willing to do it. It seems you should be happy that he simply said, ‘Wash and you will be healed.’” 14 So he went down and dipped in the Jordan seven times, as the prophet had instructed. His skin became as smooth as a young child’s and he was healed.
15 He and his entire entourage returned to the prophet. Naaman came and stood before him. He said, “For sure I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel! Now, please accept a gift from your servant.” 16 But Elisha replied, “As certainly as the Lord lives (whom I serve), I will take nothing from you.” Naaman insisted that he take it, but he refused. 17 Naaman said, “If not, then please give your servant a load of dirt, enough for a pair of mules to carry, for your servant will never again offer a burnt offering or sacrifice to a god other than the Lord. 18 May the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to worship, and he leans on my arm and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.” 19 Elisha said to him, “Go in peace.”
When he had gone a short distance, 20 Gehazi, the prophet Elisha’s servant, thought, “Look, my master did not accept what this Syrian Naaman offered him. As certainly as the Lord lives, I will run after him and accept something from him.” 21 So Gehazi ran after Naaman. When Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from his chariot to meet him and asked, “Is everything all right?” 22 He answered, “Everything is fine. My master sent me with this message, ‘Look, two servants of the prophets just arrived from the Ephraimite hill country. Please give them a talent of silver and two suits of clothes.’” 23 Naaman said, “Please accept two talents of silver.” He insisted, and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, along with two suits of clothes. He gave them to two of his servants and they carried them for Gehazi. 24 When he arrived at the hill, he took them from the servants and put them in the house. Then he sent the men on their way.
25 When he came and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” He answered, “Your servant hasn’t been anywhere.” 26 Elisha replied, “I was there in spirit when a man turned and got down from his chariot to meet you. This is not the proper time to accept silver or to accept clothes, olive groves, vineyards, sheep, cattle, and male and female servants. 27 Therefore Naaman’s skin disease will afflict you and your descendants forever!” When Gehazi went out from his presence, his skin was as white as snow.