The Prophet Elisha's Servant ~ Gehazi
The Prophet Elisha’s Servant ~ GehazI!!
By Rodney W. Francis
In this message we take a look at the life of a man who was servant to the great prophet Elisha. Elisha was known by all in his day as “the man of God” ~ this expression of him is used at least 27 times (2 Kings 4:7, 9, 16, 21, 22, 25, 27, 40, 42; chapter 5:8, 14, 15, 20; chapter 6:6, 9, 10, 15; chapter 7:2, 17, 18, 19; chapter 8:2, 4, 7, 8, 11), and he certainly was used of the Lord in a mighty way. Gehazi, no doubt, spent much time with Elisha and would have been very well aware of the dedicated life he lived. Gehazi’s position would have been the envy of many an Israelite. To be servant to Elisha would certainly be a great honour. Yet we find time and again that Gehazi failed to take heed to the godly ways of his master. He manifested a heart that was never brought under the lordship of the God of Elisha.
The name “Gehazi” means “one who denies or diminishes” (Young’s Concordance); or another meaning is “valley of my vision” (A Dictionary of Proper Names by J. B. Jackson). He certainly was a small-minded, introverted “what’s in it for me?” kind of man. There are many “Gehazi’s” in the church today, and this article endeavours to bring before the reader some of the snares which befell Gehazi, in order that we might be found serving “the Lord of the Church” instead of “some lord in the church.”
We read about Gehazi in 2 Kings Chapters 4 to 8. As servant to Elisha, it was Gehazi’s lot to accompany Elisha as he went about ministering. One day as they were passing through a place called Shunem, a great woman constrained Elisha to stop by and eat. That woman perceived (Hebrew word is “yada” meaning “to know, to see, perceive, discern” – Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies) that Elisha was “an holy man of God,” and God touched her heart to build Elisha a little room to stay in each time he passed through. As Elisha and Gehazi were resting in that room, Elisha asked Gehazi what could be done for the woman in return. Gehazi informed him that the woman was childless, and Elisha declared unto her that she and her husband would have a son. He said to her: “About this time next year you shall embrace a son” (2 Kings 4:16). The woman could not believe what he said ~ but she bore the son anyway! The time came when the grown boy became sick and died. Immediately the mother sent to Elisha, travelling herself to where he was. Gehazi was with him. Here was a woman whose heart was crying out to Elisha to spare her only son which God, by a miracle, had given her. She was very upset (as any mother would be in an emergency such as this). When she saw Elisha she fell down and grabbed him by the feet. But Gehazi came near and pushed her away. Gehazi showed himself to be a man without compassion and without understanding. Tears did not melt him. His attitude was “I am servant to Elisha, and ‘no one touches him unless I say so.’” That brought a rebuke from Elisha, who then sent Gehazi to minister to the young man. Even with all of Elisha’s authority behind him, Gehazi was unable to minister life! He did not have what it takes! And yet he was servant to the great prophet who was known throughout all the land. Elisha went and ministered life to the young man and presented him alive to his mother.
NAAMAN THE LEPER
We next read of Gehazi in 2 Kings 5 in that well-known account of Naaman the leper. Naaman was captain of the host of the king of Syria, a mighty important man in anybody’s army. But Naaman was a leper. It came to Naaman’s attention that there was a prophet in Israel who could heal him. Thinking it was the king of Israel himself who could heal him, Naaman was sent to be healed by him. In the midst of that confusion, Elisha sent word to the king to send him down to him. Naaman was then instructed (by Elisha) to go and dip seven times in the river Jordan. On hearing those words Naaman turned and went away in a rage. But eventually he humbled himself, returned to Jordan and dipped himself seven times. He was healed just as Elisha said he would be!
Naaman was a wealthy man, and when he saw he was healed, he returned to “pay” Elisha for his services. Naaman called it a “blessing” ~ but Elisha refused to accept any money for what had happened. Even when Naaman urged him, he still refused. God’s Word and Work would not be tainted with the curse of money placing a price on what had happened in the healing of Naaman. (God give us more Elisha’s!). Gehazi had observed all that Naaman had tried to do, and after he left to return to Syria, Gehazi went after Naaman. Gehazi manifested a covetous heart. And that covetous heart caused Gehazi to lie to Naaman, saying that Elisha had sent him. Oh, he had a very spiritual reason to cover his lie with. He said that two young men of the sons of the prophets had arrived since he left, and his “gifts” were now needed to sustain them! Naaman, whose heart had been humbled by God only a short time before, and who was at that moment so full of the blessings of the Lord, was actually being seduced by the man who was servant to Elisha! By all means Naaman was only too willing to give to help “someone in the ministry.” But Gehazi had no intention of using the “gift” for the ministry ~ he wanted it for himself! On his return he hid those gifts which Naaman had given “for the Lord’s work” in his own house, and then returned to Elisha to continue serving him. The Spirit of God in Elisha knew what Gehazi was up to, and even though Gehazi tried to lie his way out of it, the judgment of God came upon him ~ Gehazi became a leper for ever!
BE NOT DECEIVED!
What a lesson the Scripture reveals here: One which all who are in Christian ministry would do well to take heed to. For, let us not deceive ourselves, there are many “Gehazi’s” in the church today who go about as “servants to a great prophet,” or a great organization, seeking by dishonest means to extract gifts of money from God’s people “for the work of the Lord.” Their carnal thinking has blinded them into believing that money is the all-in-all with regards to God’s work being accomplished. They are not too fussy how they get it as long as they get it. Even inside the church we have to remember that “the love of money is (still) the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10, KJV). Another translation says: “For the love of money is the first step toward all kinds of sin. Some people have even turned away from God because of their love for it, and as a result have pierced themselves with many sorrows” (TLB). We are answerable to God for the way we seek to promote the needs of His work, and we need to search our hearts and motives continually that we “grieve not the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30). Even though Gehazi presented a spiritual need as his reason, yet God looked upon his wicked heart and brought swift judgment upon him. Do you remember Ananias and Sapphira? (Acts 5). They were dealt with severely because of lying to the Holy Spirit in the matters of money and property. The Scripture is clear: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the Gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17, NKJV).
Comment on money:
It is my firm conviction that God is more than able to supply the needs of every ministry which He has raised up. Our duty is to walk with Him, doing what He asks of us, and then we can rest assured that he will provide for us. If He does not, then I question His will in the matter ~ the sooner it dies the better. Jesus said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted” (Matthew 15:13, NKJV). On the other hand the Bible tells us: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). In The GFM Ministry we have not majored on asking people to support us financially, as we have wanted to “let God be GOD” to us. We have been amazed at the way He supplies our needs to touch thousands of lives in more than 100 countries of the world!
If it does not, then the sooner we let it go the better. God does not need us to “promote His work” by carnal methods. Let His Word be the final authority ~ for what He says He can do He will do!
WE NEED OUR EYES OPENED!
We next read of Gehazi in 2 Kings 6, when Israel was at war with Syria. Because of the power Elisha held in Israel the whole of the Syrian army’s attention was focused on eliminating Elisha. Elisha had to be found and “put out of service.” Elisha and Gehazi were at Dothan together. The entire Syrian army were encompassed about them, ready to pounce on them the moment they made to leave. Gehazi was the first to arise in the morning and, when he went outside, he could hardly believe what he saw. There, all around him and Elisha, were the great host of Syria. Fear seized Gehazi’s heart. Panic-stricken he raced back to Elisha and told him the news of what he saw. As far as Gehazi was concerned they were doomed (he did not live in the revelation knowledge that Elisha did). When Elisha saw what Gehazi saw he was unmoved by the seeming impossible position he found himself in.
Notice the order in which Elisha addressed the situation: First to him of his own company ~ Gehazi!Gehazi was the biggest problem!! Elisha prayed that God would open Gehazi’s eyes “THAT HE MAY SEE. Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17). The prophet’s prayer opened Gehazi’s eyes to a very different realm to that which he normally walked in! Gehazi certainly needed his eyes opened. He was so blinded by his own corrupt ways, natural reasonings, circumstances, spiritual blindness, dishonest methods, selfish covetous life-style, fear and lack of faith ~ he was a greater hindrance to God working a miracle in that situation than the entire army of the Syrians!!
When his eyes were opened, he saw Elisha (and Elisha only) divinely protected by God’s heavenly host! Once Gehazi had been dealt with, then Elisha was able to disperse with the enemy (the Syrians did not present any real threat to Elisha)!!
Again we have an important lesson set before us. Even though the Christian might find himself actively involved with some well-known preacher, or church, or missionary organization, it is not a guarantee that his own relationship with the Lord is sufficient. Each Christian has to pursue and develop his/her own personal walk and relationship with God through Jesus. We must realize that we are answerable to God for the life we live. We might be able to “fool some of the people some of the time,” but it is God who keeps the record book! When the Christians have their “house in order” the enemy poses no problems to us!!
If it had not been for Elisha that day, Gehazi would certainly have died. He had tricked Naaman before and Naaman would be in no mood to spare such a one as he. Gehazi did not know Elisha’s God intimately ~ he only knew about Him. His knowledge was not strong enough to even bring conviction to his own heart of the standard God required of him. He could testify of what Elisha had done (2 Kings 8:4-5), but he himself had no testimony. He was in a noble position (servant to Elisha), but he did not know the God of Elisha. In spiritual things he was blind. This is a lesson and a warning to us that it is possible to live in the same house as a great prophet of God and yet remain almost totally blind to the benefits of such an honour to serve such. (One wonders why Elisha himself put up with Gehazi, considering all the problems he had with him? But he did, and there is a real lesson to be learned from that).
THE SPIRIT OF GEHAZI
Jesus warned us that “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matthew 10:36).We, the Christians, must be willing to repent of our carnal desires and methods, especially in our “worldly” methods in promoting God’s work. It is these anti-Scriptural things that have crept into the church which have become our biggest foes ~ not the world ~ the “Gehazi’s” who are pretending to be one thing and living another.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem He made straight for the temple of God and pronounced judgment upon those who were in there (Matthew 21:12-14). Why? They placed more value on money, and the getting of it, than letting God’s glory be revealed! How insulting to God can we be! Once Jesus emptied the temple of those “Gehazi’s” the place was used properly for the healing of the blind and the lame.
The greatest need of this hour is for God to be given His rightful place in the church, and in our lives! If He is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all! And if He is not Lord at all, then our lives are in a very dangerous position; for we will surely become a “Gehazi,” who outwardly had a noble position alongside the greatest Christian example of his day ~ but inwardly his heart was “a den of iniquity.”Let us not be deceived by these “Gehazi’s” any longer, but remember that Jesus clearly and definitely declared: “I will build My church, and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it”(Matthew 16:18, TLB).
God give us men like Elisha today ~ men of authority, vision, integrity and purpose ~ who will not succumb to the gifts and ways of men ~ men who will lay a hold on God and, who at all times, will seek to walk in the Word of Truth! May God’s Holy Spirit open our eyes in this hour to discern what His clear will is, and help us to humbly follow in His footsteps each and every day.
This is Chapter Three of Rodney’s book, “DISCOVERING THE GOD FACTOR,” available from The GFM Ministry.