Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Luke 1:39-45; Ephesians 5:1-6; Psalm 119:81-88; 2 Kings 3-4
The list of miracles described in 2 Kings, especially chapter four, are remarkable. How do we account for such miracles today, especially in our grief? Can a couple today who grieve over their infertility expect that God may grant them a child ‘in their old age’? When we grieve the death of someone we love dearly, could they be brought back to life? While the Shunammite woman’s story ended in joy, most of us feel more like the psalmist. We grow faint and weary waiting on God to provide us some comfort (Psalm 119:81-84). We may then read the miracles in 2 Kings 4 with scepticism. Some find these accounts so incredible, so unlike anything we see today, that they reject their veracity. They add fuel to their belief that the Bible is a book of fabricated myths, written for miracle-believing peoples from an era long before science and medicine demonstrated what was and wasn’t possible.
When God miraculously sent water into the valley, Elisha noted, ‘This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord’ (2 Kings 3:18). If God is God, sending water or oil or a pregnancy, is no big deal. The Creator of all life can easily restore life to the dead. If we find it impossible to believe such miracles, how will we accept the idea of the virgin birth that we read about yesterday? We, like Mary, will be blessed if we believe what the Lord has said (Luke 1:45). One of those things is that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
We have not been promised that God will win all our battles, give us children or prevent them from dying young, or fill our pots with oil (or pockets with money). But we have been given certain promises. What God commands is trustworthy (Psalm 119:86) and that Jesus loved us enough to die for us (Ephesians 5:2). We can trust that whatever life throws at us, God will be there with us, whether he provides a miracle or not.
We cannot prove that Elisha’s miracles took place; but neither can someone prove they didn’t. They are remarkable events – but that is by definition what any miracle would be. But they are also not unique. Abraham and Sarah received a child long after their childbearing years were over. Someone else took jars of water and filled them with a valuable liquid: wine (John 2). Someone else took a small number of barley loaves and fed thousands (John 6). Someone else responded to a grieving woman and raised a man from the dead (John 11). To the Jews, Elisha was a renowned prophet and man of God. Jesus came and did the same sorts of miracles. These should have convinced those watching Jesus that he was sent by God. In this way, God provided the miracles of 2 Kings 4 as a means of pre-authenticating that Jesus was sent by God for a specific task: to give himself up as a sacrifice for our sins (Ephesians 5:2). We may have difficulty believing that these miracles took place. But the difficulty may ultimately lie with whether we believe God is God. If he is who he claims to be, it is an easy thing what he did through Elisha and through Jesus.