Thursday, July 14, 2022

Elisha (2 Kings 2-6)

Elisha Receives the High Priesthood from God

READ 1 Kings 19:16

What is the Lord asking Elijah to do to Elisha?

Anoint or ordain him to the High Priesthood.

 

READ 2 Kings 2:3 and 5

What does the term “sons of the prophets” imply?

There were more prophets than one (Elijah wasn’t the only prophet - remember the Lord said there were 7000 followers of Jehovah in Israel, see 1 Kings 19:18).

There were men who were “sons” or disciples or followers of the prophets; they formed “guilds” or monastic communities and learned at the foot of the prophet.

They were not biological children of the prophets.

 

READ 2 Kings 2:9-10

What is Elisha asking when he pleads for a “double portion of thy spirit”?

He is asking for power in the High Priesthood, as Elijah has (or twice as much, if the verse is taken literally).

Why would Elisha ask for this power if he has already been ordained/anointed to the High Priesthood by Elijah?

Receiving or possessing the actual power of God is not the same thing as anointing or ordaining someone to “authority” in the priesthood; Elisha knows this as he has already been ordained to the priesthood by Elijah, but he lacks power in that priesthood.

Ordination is an official invitation, which is necessary but not sufficient to truly receive that which is offered (the High Priesthood).

Why does Elijah say “thou hast asked a hard thing”?

Giving power in the High Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God is not something that one person can give to another.

This is not the same as passing an office or calling or ordination from one man to another.

 

READ D&C 84:40 and JST Genesis 14:28-32

Did Elijah have this priesthood?

Yes!  Evidence includes: the drought, the barrel of meal, raising the dead, calling down fire from heaven, and his translation and ascension into heaven.

How does one receive this High Priesthood?

Directly from the Father, by His own voice.

There is no other way because this priesthood is an association or direct relationship with God the Father Himself; so be definition, there is only one way to receive it.

 

READ 2 Kings 2:11-12

Why does Elijah say to Elisha, “if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee”?

If the heavens are opened to Elisha and he sees the angels and chariot and fiery ascent into heaven, he will receive the High Priesthood at that time.

The proof for Elisha is whether or not he can see through the veil; if he witnesses Elijah’s ascent and sees God there, he will have the priesthood he is seeking because you cannot see God without it (see D&C 84:19-22).

What does Elijah saying “but if you don’t see me ascend when the heavens are open, you don’t have my priesthood power” imply?

It’s not up to Elijah - he can’t give the power or “mantle” to Elisha.

This is not a High Priestly succession issue - it’s up to God.

He is giving Elisha a clue: if your spiritual eyes are opened enough to be able to see my physical body be quickened and transform such that it can ascend the “way” of light into the heavens, you have received the power in the priesthood you are seeking – as manifested via the spiritual gift you now have.

Why does Elisha cry out “my father, my father” when the heavens are opened?

When the heavens opened and Elijah was taken up, God was there, too, with the angels, and gave Elisha the High Priesthood.

Elisha saw God, his “father”.

It is possible that Elisha was “sealed” to Elijah via the Law of Adoption – as the next “heir” to the High Priesthood After the Order of the Son of God.

Note: Elijah is not Elisha’s father (see 2 Kings 3:11 - his biological father is Shaphat); and if Elisha was engaging in some kind of fawning idol worship of Elijah, he would never have received the high priesthood because God will have no others before (or between) Him (and you).

 

 

Where is the Lord God of Elijah?

READ 2 Kings 2:14

Why does Elisha say, “where is the Lord God of Elijah”?

He is calling upon God in his first use of the High Priesthood to come out from behind the “pavilion” or veil which hides Him.

It requires faith but he acts in faith and watches while the waters part, showing he has power over the elements, as Elijah had.

“The point I want to take from this is that miracles and faith go together and that Elijah worshipped the Lord and had that power and understanding of priesthood things and spiritual things so that he, through his life and through his ministry, manifested the power of God among the people.  And then… Elisha, worshiping the same God and having the same faith, proceeded to do precisely, in principle, the same things.  Now I say, where is the Lord God of Joseph Smith?  Here we have the great prophet of the latter dispensation who saw angels, received visions, had miracles performed under his ministry in great number, and in due course was called home to his eternal reward.  He laid the foundation, he taught the doctrine, he gave us what we need to know to chart our course toward eternal life in this final dispensation.  One of the things that he said was this, ‘God will not reveal anything to Joseph, that He will not reveal unto the Twelve, and to the least and the last Saint as soon as he is able to bear it.’  Now I ask, are we walking in the path that Joseph Smith trod?  Are we receiving the revelations and the visions and working the miracles, doing the things that he did?  And if we are not, to the full measure that we should, well might we ask ourselves, where is the Lord God of Joseph Smith?” (Bruce R. McConkie, “The Lord God of Joseph Smith” BYU Speeches, January 4, 1972).  A very good question indeed: where IS the Lord God of Joseph Smith today?

Does Elisha’s receiving of this High Priesthood preclude anyone else from also receiving it concurrently?

No - remember Moses said “would to God that all of God’s people were prophets” (see Numbers 11:29) and tried to get the whole group of the Children of Israel to receive it so that they could enter into the rest or presence of the Lord on Sinai (see D&C 84:23-24).

This is not a Church Prophet/President/High Priest office succession scenario; remember the Levites are the only ones with Priestly authority under the Law of Moses to direct the “Church” at this time and they are in Jerusalem at the Temple - even Christ in mortality submitted to their authority, in that regard.

But it might be a “one person on the earth holding the keys to this power” scenario; but one must ask what the word “keys” refers to: authority and hierarchy or knowledge.

 

READ 2 Kings 2:23-24

What can we understand from this event?

Don’t mess with Elisha.

Elisha is bald but not happy about it.

Elisha is touchy when it comes to people mocking him (see also the “sons of the prophets” and Elisha’s “hold your peace” statement).

Elisha has power to curse, as well as seal.

Elisha is probably a “thinker” or “rational” personality type rather than a “feeler” – he may even be on the spectrum; he targets children as well as adults.

Although Elisha has the High Priesthood, he is clearly not perfect; implying that the Lord will give the High Priesthood or Holy Order to those who are not perfect, which should give us all some hope.

God’s knowledge of righteousness and our ideas of virtue are not aligned.

 

READ 2 Kings 3:11-14

Elisha was not known to righteous King Jehoshaphat of Judah, so how could he tell that Elisha was a true prophet of God?

The word of the Lord is with him: Elisha speaks the word of God as confirmed by the Holy Spirit within Jehoshaphat and any other listener who has that Spirit.

The Word of the Lord is with him: Elisha stands in the presence of the Lord and receives His words which he then shares with others (see v.14).

It is NOT about credentials or recognized priestly authority - Jehoshaphat’s priests in Jerusalem legitimately hold that authority and have those credentials before Israel.

For all the King knows, Elisha is an unknown man from the apostate Northern Kingdom, but the King of Judah recognizes him as a prophet of God.  This is particularly interesting given the backhanded compliment that Elisha gives him (“if I didn’t respect you as a righteous man, I wouldn’t pay any attention to you as the King of our rival nation”).

 

 

The Woman of Shunem

A “great” woman of Shunem asked Elisha to eat with her and her family whenever he was in the district.  She even built a room at her estate for him to use.  Elisha wanted to do something to repay her for her kindness.

 

READ 2 Kings 4:14-20

Why would the Lord give the woman what she most wants, only to take it away?

It is the Abrahamic Test.

God gives us opportunities to sacrifice all things, that our faith might be strong enough to learn our standing before Him, as He tells us we are saved, by His own voice.

 

READ 2 Kings 4:22-24

What is her response to this test?

Find the man of God.

Even though she has no idea where he is, she has faith that the Spirit will lead her, which it does.

This speaks to the woman’s backstory: How did she recognize Elisha in the first place?  What other sacrifices is she making besides helping Elisha?  She could have asked for anything from the prophet but what did she request? 

 

READ 2 Kings 4:27-28

What does she mean by “did I desire a son of my Lord” and “did not I say, ‘do not deceive me’”?

Asking for a son was too much to ask for - it was a hope she had given up on having - it was too close to her heart - perhaps she was “over it”, only to have Elisha read her heart and grant her fondest wish when she felt it was everlastingly too late?

The only hurt worse than not having a son was the fear of losing him once she was given him. 

And the Lord had done just that - taken her son.

Now she has spent a life in pain yearning for a righteous desire that looked to never come, and then when it did, it was taken away.

Why would the Lord not tell Elisha what was happening to the woman?

A test of his faith in the High Priesthood and in the Lord, too.

Perhaps he would have been tempted to use the priesthood to try and stop the death?

 

READ 2 Kings 4:32-37

Why did Elisha heal the child the way he did?

He lacked the faith to just command the boy to arise from the dead.

He understood how “virtue” or light/energy/love travels from one person to another and that proximity is key to the exchange (especially if you lack faith).

The nature of this trial (a dead child) led him to try to maximize the proximity or touchpoints between himself and the dead boy, to best enable the flow of light from himself to the boy.

It is interesting that he breathed into the boy – performing mouth to mouth resuscitation, but on a dead child; remember that Christ breathed upon the Apostles and they received the Spirit (see John 20:22) and God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life (see Genesis 2:7; Moses 3:19; Abraham 5:7).

 

 

Naaman the Syrian

Naaman the Syrian General contracted leprosy.  He was told by his wife’s servant, an Israelite, that he could be healed in Israel. 

 

READ 2 Kings 5:9-14

What does Naaman’s reaction to Elisha’s counsel teach us?

Our pride is the #1 reason we don’t receive all the Lord has for us - we have hard hearts instead of soft.

Our expectations of God or His messengers may be incorrect - God’s ways are not our ways.

Sometimes we mistake the ritual for the real thing (Did the Jordan River heal Naaman? Was it “magic” or “holy” water?).

Why was Naaman more willing to do some great thing than a simple thing like wash in the river?

The world loves a big show but the Lord works through the meek things of this world.

There is a difference between focusing for a finite time on accomplishing a big task and turning your whole life over to the Lord so that everything you do - big and small - is in line with His will (the first is easier because the second tells the Lord where the desires of your heart really lie over time).

 

READ Luke 4:27

What does the fact that Naaman was actually healed when he washed in the Jordan imply?

He had faith in the Lord God of Israel - faith enough to be healed.

None others in Israel had such faith, otherwise they would have both 1) come to Elisha and 2) washed in the Jordan and be healed themselves.

The Lord is no respecter of persons - you don’t have to be one of the “chosen people” to know God and exercise faith.

We can doubt, then repent and act, and the Lord will respect the act.

 

 

Lifting the Veil to See God’s Army

Later, the King of Syria set two traps for the armies of Israel, both of which were revealed to Elisha through the Spirit, who then foiled them.  Syria then decided to send an army to capture Elisha…

 

READ 2 Kings 6:14-17

What did Elisha ask the Lord to do for the boy?

Lift the veil from over his eyes so that he could see the truth - things as they really are.

In the same way that the unseen sub-atomic world is a part of the seen physical world we interact within, the spiritual realm is also part of the same ecosystem and impacts they physical world.  Just because you can’t see subatomic particles doesn’t mean they aren’t there and don’t impact you very literally – and the same goes for the unseen spiritual elements.

Is this how things really are?

Yes - we are mostly oblivious of what is going on across the veil - for good or for evil.

What can this heavenly host do for Elisha?

They are not just there to hang out - they can actually provide help in the mortal/physical/telestial world.

Part of the definition of priesthood power is a connection between this world and the one through the veil – an association between humans and gods or angels/spirit entities.

The spiritual realm and the physical world are connected in ways most of us do not see or understand - there is a cause-and-effect relationship; the degree to which spirit realm events impact the physical world, directly addressing spiritual issues is the best way to affect certain things in the mortal world.

These angels can affect the mortal armies that are menacing Elisha – either to protect him from them miraculously (as it appears from this side of the veil without seeing what actions the angels are taking on the others side) or to destroy the wicked soldiers who are seeking to thwart God’s work or do harm to His servant to whom He has promised protection while he is on His business or to guide him to escape their attack in one of various ways – from the miraculous to the mundane.

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