During Elisha’s ministry, the focus of God’s plan for the Israelites shifted from their past and present to their future. God used Elisha to manage the transition. Elisha’s reputation became a vehicle for him to minister to leaders inside and outside of Israel. Because people began to believe in God again, Elisha was able to direct everyone’s attention toward the change that was about to take place.
Israel’s relationship with Syria had become more and more of a problem as they fell into idolatry. King Ahab’s covenant with Ben-hadad had done little to ward off attacks. Ben-hadad II was not as ruthless as his father, but was still determined to keep the Israelites from breaking free from his control. In order to starve them to death, “Ben-hadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria” (2 Kings 6:24).
The word translated besieged, tswur (tsoor) means to cramp or confine (6696). Basically, what Ben-hadad did was surround Samaria with his army so the people couldn’t go out and get food. Eventually, the situation got so bad, “an ass’s head sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver” (2 Kings 6:25).
“Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria” (2 Kings 7:1). Elisha’s prediction indicated that the situation would be turned around overnight. For the most part, people were used to seeing Elisha perform miracles, but the dramatic change he described was beyond people’s comprehension.
“Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? (2 Kings 7:2). What he was referring to was God’s blessing flowing freely to his people. The people of Israel were so steeped in sin that it was unimaginable that God would suddenly make everything right.
What the people of Israel still didn’t seem to understand was that God’s blessing wasn’t dependent on them being good. God didn’t bless the Israelites because they were good people. God blessed the Israelites because they were his people. “And it came to pass as the man of God had spoken” (2 Kings 7:18).
The Israelites unbelief was the real reason God kept punishing them. In spite of continual demonstrations of his miraculous power, the people of Israel would not give up their idolatry and worship God. Finally, God brought judgment on the people of Israel through Ben-hadad’s successor, Hazael. After seeing a vision of what Hazael would do to Israel, Elisha wept.
And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child. (2 Kings 8:12)