Saturday

13 June 2015

“So he prepared for them a great feast” (v. 23)

Psalm: Psalm 23


Background

It seems that Elisha is a trusted prophet who hands out punishment and restoration in equal measure. Just before today's passage we can read about the way he admonished his servant for taking goods from Naaman after Elisha had healed him (2 Kings 6:19-27). Elisha's treatment of his servant is severe, just as it seems to be with the armies of Aram, the difference being that he seems to be ultimately saving life albeit in a rather convoluted way. It reads as though Elisha is playing tricks with the enemy without disclosing his real intentions.

Elisha, frequently referred to as "the man of God" (eg v. 10), can see the impending battle looming between the Israelites and their enemies, the Aramaeans. Fearing the worst outcome he deliberately blinds the Israelite enemy in order to lead them to safety and when their sight is returned to them, Elisha encourages the King of Israel to feed his enemy well and from that day on, we are told, raids on Israel ceased.

Long before Jesus's teaching on loving your enemy and being gentle with those who persecute you (Matthew 5:43-45), we have this story of a man of God calling on God to save and protect all people, regardless of the nature of the relationship between them. Clearly the level of hate between the Israelites and the Aramaeans is intense, but it is an action that takes the pressure off rather than words.

Earlier this week we noted how bread has become a life-giving symbol for us. In today's passage food arrives for the Arameans, which marks the beginning of peaceful relationships between them and the Israelites. It heals the gap that had grown between these two ethnically different groups and brings them life and hope.


To Ponder

  • Sharing bread and wine together is a sacred activity. There is something in today's passage that suggests all food can be sacred. Reflect on how you appreciate food wherever you find it … in the supermarket or the farmers' market, in fast food outlets or restaurants, at home or with friends, or even discarded in the street or refuse bin. Consider ways in which you can suggest that all food is sacred and comes from God by the way you lead your life.
  • You may like to hold in prayer today all those who are broken because they have no food or who cannot eat whatever reason, praying that in tomorrow's world, through our actions, there will be bread for all.


Bible notes author: Margaret Sawyer

 

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