The Miracles of Elisha / Paul is arrested in Jerusalem: July 2nd 2021

Elisha came to the rescue of the company of prophets who had made a revolting and toxic stew out of gourds from a wild vine (2 Kings 4:40). Elisha stirred some flour into the pot, making the stew harmless. Jesus promised his disciples that they would be able to eat poison and it would not hurt them (Mark 16:18). Jesus can counteract anything toxic we encounter. In the garden of Eden, vines would not produce toxic gourds – everything would have been pleasing to the eye and good to eat. The toxic vegetables are symbolic of the selfishness of warped creation where everything tries to protect itself even if that means poisoning others. God counteract the poison in the stew through the addition of bread flour. Jesus is the bread of life, who counteracts evil in the world today.

A man came with twenty loaves of barley bread and Elisha commanded it be given to a hundred men. The Lord had said: ‘They will eat and have some left over’ (2 Kings 4:43). This prefigured the feeding miracles of Jesus when baskets were filled with leftovers after food was miraculously multiplied to feed thousands. 

A young Israelite girl had been taken to Aram as a slave. She served the wife of the commander of the army, Naaman. He was a valiant soldier and highly regarded but he had leprosy. The young slave girl was adamant that if he went to see the prophet Elisha, in Samaria, he would be healed. Naaman actually listened and asked permission from the king to go. Naaman, the commander of a fearsome army, had humbled himself to obey the advice of a young girl.

Elisha was confident that God would heal Naaman – despite the king of Israel’s despair that the request to heal Naaman was a plot to start a war. Elisha instructed Naaman to wash seven times in the River Jordan. Out of pride, Naaman refused to do this simple task until he was persuaded by his servants to give it a go. He had to overcome his pride to be healed. Elisha refused to take payment as should all Christians. We have received freely and so we must give freely. Naaman took earth back with him as a souvenir, presumably so that he could pray to God kneeling on the soil of Israel (2 Kings 5:17).

Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, was consumed by greed and secretly ran after Naaman to get something from him. He lied that he had been sent by Elisha and that he was collecting money and clothing for prophets. Naaman gave him clothes and silver. Gehazi then lied to Elisha by saying that he hadn’t gone anywhere. However, you can’t hide things from a prophet. Elisha’ spirit had travelled with him. Some famous saints have demonstrated the supernatural gift of ‘bilocation’ (being able to be present in more than one place at the same time), most famously Padre Pio. ‘As to how Padre Pio with God’s help accomplished such feats, the closest he ever came to an explanation of bilocation was to say that it occurred “by an extension of his personality”’ https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/padre-pios-bilocation-and-the-odor-of-sanctity-13853  

Elisha sacked Gehazi and cursed him with leprosy.     

One of the prophets accidently dropped an iron axe-head into the River Jordan. This would have caused embarrassment and expense as it was on loan. Elisha cut a stick and threw it where the axe head had sunk and the iron floated to the surface.

The Arameans were at war with Israel. Elisha supernaturally overheard the plans that the king of Aram spoke in his bedroom and so the king of Israel was always able to avoid the enemy soldiers. The Arameans went to capture Elisha, who was in the city of Dothan. The Aramean army surrounded the city. Elisha was not perturbed. He knew that God’s army was camped around him. He prayed that one of his servants should be allowed to see the supernatural horses and chariots of fire around Elisha (2 Kings 6:17). God listened to Elisha’s prayers and struck the enemy with blindness. Elisha led the blind enemy soldiers into the city of Samaria, where he prayed for them to regain their site. He advised the king of Israel to be kind to their enemies as Jesus would later command (Matt.5:44). They gave them a great feast and sent them away. The Arameans stopped raiding Israel in return.

Acts 21:27-22:21

The whole of Jerusalem went into uproar as Jews from Asia tried to kill Paul. They accused him of teaching people everywhere against their people, the law and the temple and were under the mistaken impression that he had taken Greeks into the temple (Acts 21:28).

Roman soldiers saved Paul by arresting him. He had to be carried into the barracks to keep him away from the violence of the mob.

Paul asked permission to address the crowd from the steps of the barracks. The crowd became very quiet when he addressed them in Aramaic. Paul informed them that he was also a Jew, thoroughly trained in the law by Gamaliel. He told them about how he used to persecute Christians until his conversion on the road to Damascus. He was to be a witness of what he had seen and heard. He had been baptised to wash his sins away before being sent to the Gentiles. The Lord himself had said that those in Jerusalem would not accept his testimony.  

What was we waiting for? Let us move on to people who will accept our testimony.

Psalm 79:1-13

Christians are often the object of scorn and derision. People who rage against sexual scandals by church ministers have fallen into the most basic trap of the devil. All professionals have fallen colleagues. Doctors, nurses and teachers have all done terrible crimes against the people entrusted to them but unbelievers do not shun these professions. They know that most of them are trustworthy.

However, the unfaithful will seize on the sins of church ministers. They use them to confirm their prejudices, which blind them to starting on the road to salvation.

We know that God is great and will praise him for ever. The Holy Spirit will sanctify us if we hand ourselves over to him. God will pour his wrath on those who fail to acknowledge him and refuse to call on his name.

He longs for us to repent so that his mercy can rush to meet us.

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/8527011991

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