Elisha was considered a father to the prophets of Israel. He travelled often and they gathered to him when he was near, to hear what it was God had to teach them. Many also came to his home and stayed with him there so they could learn from him. As a prophet, The Holy Spirit was upon Elisha and he spoke the Word of God to people, including the other prophets who turned around and did the same. Glorifying the Lord has two effects. People seeking God, seeking goodness or betterment will be drawn to the light and so make it possible for them to find God and His righteousness. The people who practice wickedness and seek themselves will be repulsed by the light and try to stay in the darkness. In Luke 8:16-18 Jesus explained it this way,
“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
Believer, whether you have been gifted with prophecy, with teaching, or with pastoring you have the Holy Spirit. You have the Word of God and you are charged with being a light and sharing it. You have to shine that light so that those seeking God will find Him. The more you share, the more you use the gifts God gave you in sharing Jesus, the more He will grow you and your gifts. If you have been gifted with hospitality, yet you do not use that gift to show the world who Jesus is, then that gift will dwindle to non-existence.
You are also charged with learning God’s Word. Acts 2:42-47 describes the believers’ devotion to learning and teaching and the effect that had.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, tothe breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
The more you receive the Word, the more you give the Word to others. This was the case with Elisha, the father of the prophets and the sons of the prophets who sought to learn from him in order to better glorify the Lord. In fact so many were coming to learn from him that his guest house needed expanding. Verses 1-3 read,
“Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us. 2 Let us go to the Jordan and each of us get there a log, and let us make a place for us to dwell there.” And he answered, “Go.” 3 Then one of them said, “Be pleased to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I will go.”
They were not building a permanent place to live, they were building a place that would make the temporary place, the “college dorm” more comfortable. And they all participated. They put effort into their pursuit of the Kingdom of Heaven. They each went out and got a sturdy log from the banks of the Jordan. Learning is important. It is necessary. But we do not learn and do nothing with the degree. We take what we learn and we teach others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 reads,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”
Teaching others what we have learned, speaking the Word God gives us is a natural part of maturation in Christ. Paul exhorted the believers not remain stagnant perpetual students in Hebrews 5:11-14.
“About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
Notice too, that we are to continue learning. We do not keep learning the basics of ‘A is for apple.’ We move on to reading and then comprehension and writing. We keep going and we do not stop learning. We use what we have learned.
Elisha was very aware of his role as a teacher and mentor to the sons of the prophets. When his students asked him to come with them, he didn’t hesitate. And when a “teachable moment” came along, he used it to teach. Verses 4-7 read,
“So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5 But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water, and he cried out, “Alas, my master! It was borrowed.” 6 Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float.7 And he said, “Take it up.” So he reached out his hand and took it.”
The circumstance made the man panic. The lost axe head was not his. It had fallen into the deep river and he had no idea how to get it back. He would have to repay a debt and he had no idea how to do it. The same circumstance allowed Elisha to show the awesome power of the Lord. The student was not as spiritually mature as Elisha. Though he had faith, it was not as strong as the father of the prophets yet. Elisha didn’t glorify himself by making a big show. He cut of a stick and threw it in the water and the axe head floated up as if it were now somehow buoyant rather than iron. The student was able to pick it up.
Elisha did not scold the man for not knowing that nothing is impossible with God. He showed him that nothing is impossible with God. He spoke gently and compassionately. He did not only speak, in fact he only asked one question. He acted. He demonstrated God’s loving power and gave the man back the borrowed axe head.
Teaching does not have to be with eloquent words. Leading does not happen with speeches. Elisha went with the men, he led by example, he taught by doing. Let him be an example to us. Believer, are you a student? Are you learning more of the same or more of the mystery? Are you speaking and living what you have learned? Or are you the perpetual student afraid to use the degree you have earned? I encourage you as Paul encouraged Timothy,
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7).