One wonders if perhaps Elisha saw Gehazi as being to him what Elisha was to Elijah, an heir-apparent to his own work. Indeed, Gehazi had been with him from at least since the miracle with the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:12), witnessing God’s providential care of the prophet, seeing Elisha raise the dead (4:32ff), and now the curing of Naaman’s leprosy (5:1-14). Gehazi had seen God’s power firsthand in incredible ways. He had to be aware of Elisha’s inclination to execute justice on the ungodly–from disrespectful lads to the rebellious Moabites. But Gehazi had some internal problems, moral weaknesses that would literally plague him. Notice 2 Kings 5:15-27.
First, he rationalized (20). Elisha had continuously shown his faith in God’s ability to provide. Naaman generously offers to give the prophet a handsome reward. Gehazi witnessed Elisha’s refuse to “take a present” from the army captain (16). Elisha was more focused on Naaman’s physical and spiritual cleansing. Rather than trusting God’s provision, Gehazi saw an opportunity for himself. He thought to himself, “As the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him” (20). We get in a lot of trouble when we feed our desires for what we want and work to convince ourselves it is the right thing to do. Maybe Gehazi forgot about Achan (Josh. 7:20-21). Remember this warning: “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts” (Prov. 21:2). In other words, we can find a way to justify any sin in our hearts, but God sees through it. So it was with Gehazi.
Second, he premeditated (21). He chases Naaman down. How often he rehearsed the story he was about to share, we don’t know. But even if he made up the story on the spot, it was in his heart before it was on his lips. Later, the prophet Isaiah would warn, “Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the Lord, And whose deeds are done in a dark place, And they say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?” (29:15). Micah adds, “Woe to those who scheme iniquity, Who work out evil on their beds! When morning comes, they do it, For it is in the power of their hands” (2:1).
Third, he lied (22). Up to this point, Gehazi’s sin was personal and internal. At any point, he could have reversed course with a penitent heart. He could have repented of his coveting. He could have stopped his pursuit. Instead, he catches up with Naaman, who asks him what’s wrong. Then, he audaciously tells this whopper: “My master has sent me, saying, ‘Behold, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothes’” (22). He must have been very pleased when Naaman gave him even more than he asked for. Maybe, the rationalizing servant even convinced himself God was with him since things were turning out so well for him financially.
Fourth, he covered up (24). After the deed was done and he was returning to his “day job,” Gehazi gives evidence that he knew he was dead wrong. He went to his house before returning to Elisha, and he dropped off his stash before nonchalantly “went in and stood before his master” (25a).
Fifth, he lied again (25-26). Elisha does something we’ll see again in the case of Peter and Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1ff). The prophet asked him where he had been and Gehazi lies to him. Lying is a cascading crime. Usually, it requires more lies to protect the previous ones. Unfortunately for Gehazi, Elisha already knew the truth. Would things have been less severe for the servant if he had come clean? We’ll never know.
Ironically, a heathen obeyed God and was cleansed. Now, a servant of God disobeyed Him and was sullied with the stain of his sin. He found out what Moses once told Israel: “…you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). The leprosy of Naaman clung to him and would on his descendants forever (27). Thus ended the story of Gehazi, special servant of the mighty prophet. Thus began the story of Gehazi, the terminal leper.
We live in an age where the moral compass of the world is broken. As we are in the world, we find ourselves tempted to abandon “true north.” It is so important for us to stay vigilant (1 Pet. 5:8), keeping our conscience sensitive (1 Pet. 3:16) and our motives pure (1 Chron. 28:9; 1 Th. 2:3). The world needs examples of moral strength, in an age where rationalizing evil, plotting evil, and doing evil are commonplace. Honesty, integrity, unselfishness, humility, and the like are qualities the world will not find within. They will have to see it reflected in the lives of people whose ethics derive from God and His Word.
5 thoughts on “The Unethical Understudy”
Thanks for another biblical lesson that is so much needed in today’s world. If Christians don’t stand tall in Christ, who will. Keep up the good work. RD McDaniel
The Old Testament is filled with awesome lessons. Thank you for these thoughts
Amen. Thanks for being a loyal reader, my friend.