Lessons From Elisha, Part 27: In Control...Even of the Bad Stuff! -- By Lyn Chaffart

There are many lessons to be learned from stories of Elisha. This is the last in a series of 27 that focuses on the life of this great prophet of God.

“And Hazael . . . Stood before him and said, ‘Your son Ben-Hadad king of Aram has sent me to ask, “Will I recover from this illness?”’ Elisha answered, ‘Go and say to him, “You will certainly recover”; but the LORD has revealed to me that he will in fact die.’ . . . Then the man of God began to weep . . . ‘I know the harm you will do to the Israelites . . . The LORD has shown me that you will become king of Aram,’ answered Elisha. Then Hazael left Elisha and returned to his master. When Ben-Hadad asked, ‘What did Elisha say to you?’ Hazael replied, ‘He told me that you would certainly recover.’ But the next day he took a thick cloth, soaked it in water and spread it over the king's face, so that he died. Then Hazael succeeded him as king.” (2 Kings 8:9-15)

The last recorded story of the prophet Elisha does not take place in Israel or Judea. It takes place in the land of the enemy: Syria (Aram)! The fame of Elisha had spread far and wide within this enemy country. Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army had already been healed of Leprosy; the entire Syrian army had been struck down with blindness, led to Samaria, then treated with kindness and released, all because of this man. Oh yes. The Syrians knew about Elisha. So when it was reported that he was in their land, and it just so happened at that very time that the king, Ben-Hadad, was deathly ill, the king’s officer, Hazael, was sent to Elisha to find out if Ben-Hadad would recover.

Elisha’s answer to Hazael is very interesting: “Tell him, ‘you will certainly recover’; but the Lord has revealed to me that he will in fact die.”

What kind of an answer is that??? It sounds like a contradiction; like maybe Elisha is telling Hazael to lie to Ben-Hadad!

If you read through to the end of the story, it all becomes clear. The illness from which Ben-Hadad suffered would not have led to his death; nonetheless, Elisha was telling Hazael that his king would die anyway! And sure enough, the next day, Hazael “took a thick, cloth, soaked it in water and spread it over the king’s face, so that he died.” (vs. 15). Ben-Hadad would have recovered, but instead, as Elisha prophesied, he died, and Hazael became the next king of Syria.

What was Elisha doing in Syria, anyway? Why would God have taken such keen interest in a foreign, idolatrous nation who would seriously hurt His people, Israel?

Because God has His hand in history, whether for the good or for the bad! God is even in control of the bad stuff!

But Hazael would go on to severely oppress Israel (see vs. 12). Why would God bring about this awful thing that would ultimately hurt his people?

Israel, at this stage in their history, had turned away from God. Israel’s kings had led the people to seek after idols and devil worship. God was simply using Syria as a tool in His hand to punish the people, to get their attention and help them to remember that it was only by worshipping the only True God that their history was so rich in blessings! God cannot bless those who refuse to acknowledge Him, and what better way to get someone’s attention than to allow calamity into their lives?

God is in control of history, friends, both the good and the bad. And He sometimes allows the bad things to get our attention, to shape us into what we potentially can be in Christ. Sometimes those lessons aren’t very pretty, but we must always remember: “Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes.” (Rom. 11:34-36, THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

God’s in control, even of the bad stuff, and it’s for our own best interest! Let’s remember to praise Him always!

Love in Christ,

LynLyn Chaffart, Moderator, The Nugget, Scriptural Nuggets ( www.scripturalnuggets.org ), Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org

(To access the entire "Lessons From Elisha" mini-series, please click here.)