THE GREAT FAITH OF ST. ELISHA
The time was about 150 years after King David reigned over Israel and several years after the earlier prophet Elijah had been sent to confront the nation, which had become steeped in idol worship. After being humbled by a severe drought and famine, Israel was on the path of returning to true worship.
At the end of Elijah’s lifework, a spiritual revival, however small it seemed, had begun. Be sure to read the article “Elijah the Prophet” to see how God got the attention of the nation. Elisha’s prophetic mission would now prepare Israel for further religious reforms.
Elisha was an Old Testament prophet who lived around 800 B.C., a time when God involved Himself in a very direct way with the people and the leadership of ancient Israel. Around this period, God sent at least 30 prophets, between the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, in an effort to turn their citizens away from idolatry and other sins.
Elisha the man of God
God, who sees in secret, always knows all who are His, and He had earlier declared to Elijah that there were 7,000 persons in Israel who had not done homage to Baal during a very wicked time (1 Kings 19:18).
As Elijah was nearing the end of his ministry, God directed him to anoint a younger man named Elisha to take his place. Elisha, son of Shaphat, was from Abel Meholah, of the Jordan Valley (1 Kings 19:16).
After a few years of training, Elisha would become God’s spokesman to the northern kingdom; and his ministry would be filled with signs and miracles, proclamations and warnings. He would become known as the prophet of peace and healing.
Elisha’s name in Hebrew means “God is salvation” (New Bible Dictionary). Elisha is mentioned only once in the New Testament, using the Greek version of his name, Elisaios, in Luke 4:27 (King James Version).