The first few chapters of Second Kings read a little like the Gospel of Mark. In rapid succession both tell of miracle after miracle. Here again, we see that Elisha’s ministry points forward to the earthly ministry of Jesus. Both central characters are moved with compassion as they focus on the desperate needs of insignificant people living in dark and difficult days.
The first miracle occurred shortly after Elisha miraculously crossed the Jordan River and then traveled the short distance to the city of Jericho. As you recall, Jericho was the site of Israel’s first great victory in the conquest of Canaan. Its great walls had collapsed, and the city was utterly demolished. “At that time Joshua imposed this curse: The man who undertakes the rebuilding of this city, Jericho, is cursed before the Lord” (Joshua 6:26). Prior to the time of Elisha, someone rebuilt Jericho, and as an apparent result of the curse, the city’s water supply was foul. Knowing that God’s prophet was among them, “the men of the city said to Elisha, ‘My lord can see that even though the city’s location is good, the water is bad and the land unfruitful’ ” (2 Kings 2:19). Just as Jesus came to lift the curse of sin, Elisha, with the power and purpose of Heaven, compassionately healed Jericho’s water supply. “Elisha went out to the spring, threw salt in it, and said, ‘This is what the Lord says: “I have healed this water. No longer will death or unfruitfulness result from it” ’ ” (2 Kings 2:21). Although the citizens of Jericho were living under the curse, God compassionately reached down to restore.
Sometime later, a poor widow cried out for Elisha’s assistance. “My husband has died... Now the creditor is coming to take my two children as his slaves” (2 Kings 4:1). Sadly, in that culture, the lady’s predicament was far too common! “Elisha asked her, ‘... Tell me, what do you have in the house?’ She said, ‘Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil’ ”(2 Kings 4:1–2). She had so little, but as she approached God’s prophet, she believed that God had more than enough. She trusted God to meet her need. “Go out and borrow empty containers from all your neighbors. Do not get just a few. Then go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour oil into all these containers” (2 Kings 4:3–4). The widow took her tiny jar of oil and poured its contents into the first empty jar, filling it to the rim. Likewise with the second empty jar, and the third and the fourth. One after another, she filled empty jars, yet her little jar never ran dry. God took her little and multiplied it into much. When she had filled the last empty jar, her original little jar was finally empty. With the proceeds from the sale of the oil, the creditors were paid in full!
In the same chapter, Elisha announced that God would make a childless woman a momma. A year later, a bouncing baby boy was born (2 Kings 4:17). When, at a later date, that same little boy died, God used Elisha to restore his life! (2 Kings 4:35).
Later, during a famine, Elisha miraculously fed one hundred hungry men with twenty little barley loaves. Just as God had done with the feeding of the five thousand, the multiplied offering became sufficient. “So he set it before them... they ate and had some left over” (2 Kings 4:43–44).
Elisha had compassion for those living under the curse. He had compassion for the poor, the nameless, the helpless... regular folks a like me and you. Yep. Elisha foreshadows Jesus.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.