Framing the Story:
Elijah was a Prophet, like few in history. He called down fire from heaven on a wet sacrifice and God answered him. The King and Queen feared him. When he purged the Priests of the Canaanite god, Baal, Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah.
1Kings 19:3 "And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there".
The Scripture tells us that Elijah has a servant. After meeting the Lord on Horeb, he left to do the commands of the Lord. One of these was to select a wealthy young farmer as the future prophet to one day replace him.
Finding a Sucessor:
1Kings 19:19 "So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him." The time frame from Elisha joining Elijah seems to have been several years. Finally the day came for Elisha to be left to take the leadership that Elijah had held.
2Kings 2:1 "And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal."
Fielding a Prophet:
After Elijah was taken to heaven, Elisha found a man, who he would mentor as he had been mentored. On the surface all looked well, he faithfully served and did Elisha's bidding. He translated the Prophets words to a Gentile Shunammite woman who had often given them lodgings, as they traveled past her home.
She was barren, Elisha prophesied she would have a son, which happened as he said. A few years later the child died, apparently of an aneurism to the brain. She laid the child on the bed used by Elisha and traveled to find the Prophet. When Elisha heard what happened, the Bible tells us what he did.
2Kings 4:29 "Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child".
Flaws that led to failure:
1. Failure of Compassion.
"And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came near to thrust her away; but the man of God said, Let her alone: for her soul is vexed within her; and Jehovah hath hid it from me, and hath not told me." 2 Kings 4:27
Look at his attitude; the lady was desperate, but Gehazi 'thrust her away', only to be rebuked by Elisha.
Gehazi was given the Prophet's staff, in that culture a sign of authority, and commissioned to go straight to the dead boy and revive him.
2 Kings 4:31- 32 "And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked. And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed."
Now here is a Prophet in Training; but even with the Prophetic Commission, and the Prophet's Staff, he was powerless!
Did Elisha have more power than other prophets? The short answer is - No! None of the men of God had any power. The signs and wonders were done by God's power.
So the problem was not the power but the person.
There has to be a spiritual flow from the Lord, through those He uses, to perform His mighty acts.
This leads me to look for more signs of intrinsic flaws in the character of the man Gehazi.
2. Failure to Serve Freely.
Here is the next event in which Gehazi is specifically named. The Army Commander of the Syrian King, a leper, finds his way to Elisha seeking healing. Miraculously healed, he offers to give Elisha money and clothing. Elisha refused the proffered gifts, and told Naaman to go in peace. The bible picks up the story with the interesting word 'but'.
2 Kings 5:20 "But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him". He was not about to let some money and rich clothing from Damascus get away from him.
3. Failure to Discern Prophetically.
His return to the presence of Elisha resulted in a showdown.
Elisha knew what foreign kings were planning, and yet Gehazi thought the Prophet would not know what he was up to!
"But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither. And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and olive yards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?" 2 Kings 5:25-26
4. Facing God's Judgment.
Justly Elisha sentences Gehazi to the very sickness that Naaman had just been cured from.
He became a leper and the prophet said his children would likewise be lepers, which was not necessarily a judgment, but the normal effect of an infectious disease, for which there was no treatment in those days.
What happened to Gehazi? Our story places Elisha as living in Samaria at this time. Gehazi loses his job and as a leper is living outside the city with his sons.
Now a short while later in 2 Kings 7:1 the city is under siege and famine is in their midst, but verse 3 tells us that there were four leprous men sitting outside the city gate. Despairing of their lives they decide to surrender to the Syrians, but find God has done a miracle and the Syrian Army is fleeing for their lives.
2 Kings 7:8 "And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it".
The Jewish Rabbinical writings state that these men were Gehazi and his sons. If true their actions accurately reflect Gehazi's previous conduct. Certainly we find him in conversation with the King of Israel:
2 Kings 8:4 "And the king talked with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done".
So Gehazi was still around to tell about the things God had done through Elisha, but not through himself. When God works through a man, he chooses one who walks before Him with a pure heart, and honest motives.
Perhaps if we spent more time seeking to live pure lives we would see more of the manifestations of God's power in our lives. Jesus said "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). When our hearts are right we will seek God's Presence and not the Perks!
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