Take My Staff and Run

by LA UBF   06/29/2008     0 reads



 Take My Staff in Your Hand and Run

2 Kings 4:8-36; 5:1-27

Key Verse 4:29

Elisha said to Gehazi, "Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand and run. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy's face."

The book of 2 Kings begins in turmoil: a believer consults a demon. It ends with disaster: the destruction of the Lord's temple. The Lord had already predicted the downfall of Israel prior to the beginning of the kingdom age. For in the first place it was not the Lord's idea that the Israelites should be ruled by human kings. The Israelite's request for a human king was rebellion against God. Through their request they effectively replaced the Lord, who is the perfect king, with humans, who are bags of imperfection. The Lord God called the Israelites out of Egypt into the worship of God. In so doing, the Lord God intended each of them to be a worshiper of God. As each person learns to worship the Lord, they would all live under the wings of the Lord's protection and provision in great peace and joy. But they rejected the Lord. However, the Lord did not abandon them. In compassion he raised up his prophets. 

The question for us then is, "What was so special about the prophets that the Lord found them worthy of being chosen as his instruments?" Answering this question would serve the purpose for us tonight, that is, to offer ourselves as the Lord's instruments for righteousness. In the account of Gehazi found in 2 Kings, we can find some clues to the answer to this question. While there are many other clues that are found in the 2 Kings, tonight we would like to focus on the relationship between Elisha and his servant Gehazi to answer the question. Let’s look at their relationship in two parts.

I. What Gehazi could have become.

A close study of the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, in particular) reveals that God's will for all who come to worship him is for each person to rise to the level of a prophet and live as a servant representing God's word. Elisha is a good example. Although many consider Elisha one of the greatest prophets, we must remember that he was not a born prophet. He was not born into the family of a prophet or prophets. Like many he was a lay person. Yet, as the Lord's call fell upon him through Elijah, he accepted the call, burned the bridge behind, and put himself in service of his master Elijah. Eventually, he became a great prophet. 

The same could have been true of Gehazi. Unlike many he had a special privilege to be in service of Elisha. We do not know how he came to join Elisha's ministry. But one thing is clear: he was the only person whom Elisha allowed (or called) to serve him nearby. The reason for this blessedness is because the closer you are to a man of great stature, such as Elisha, the greater the opportunity is for you to learn and grow up. We can easily understand this truth when we think about what made Elisha to be a man of such great prophetic caliber. It was first thanks to his close relationship with his master Elijah (2Ki 3:11). Had it not been for the opportunity to serve Elijah as his personal gopher, Elisha would not have been able to become what he became. 

The miracle of raising the son of the Shunammite woman from the dead back to life proves the point further. As we see in the key verse, as soon as Elisha found out why the Shunammite woman came to him, the first thing he did was call Gehazi. What did he say to him? 2 Kings 4:29 reads, “Elisha said to Gehazi, ‘Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand and run. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy's face.’ ” Why did Elisha call Gehazi first? Of course, it was because he trusted Gehazi as his top disciple. Had Gehazi not been so close to him, would Elisha have sent him for such an important mission as this? There is evidence that Elisha had other prophets under his supervision. Yet it was Gehazi that Elisha sent to fulfill such an important task. Certainly, Gehazi had a great privilege to learn from a great master. 

Had Gehazi learned what he should have learned, he could have become a great prophet, performing twice as many miracles as the miracles his master performed. 

But as we shall soon see, he did not learn "anything" from his master. He did not exploit the opportunity he had. His example then reminds us of the possibility that we too might commit Gehazi's error. Like Gehazi, we too might ignore the greatness of the opportunity we have in the Lord, and thereby sleep on the golden opportunity to learn from the Lord. It is quite probable that just as Gehazi screwed up big time, and that to his great shame, so also it is very possible that we goof up on the great opportunity to learn of the Lord Jesus Christ and fail rise to Jesus' greatness. Unlike any other great man or woman, Jesus is the author of all who are great. He is the author of all miracles. He is the maker of all prophets. In fact, it is Jesus Christ who established all of the prophets throughout all generations. It is Jesus who empowered them to do what they were equipped to do. Plus, in order to facilitate us to grow to his level and enable us to do things that are even greater than what he did, Jesus promised to send, and indeed did send, the Holy Spirit who is at work within us (John 14:12; Eph 3:20).

What then was the one thing which Gehazi should have learned? I say, 'the one thing,' because learning from our master is not as complicated as it seems. Why? First of all, one is more important than two, for as has been said, "Two is one divided." When we learn one thing we can start learning two, then three, then four and so on. By the same token, when one does not learn even one thing, he has not learned anything, and so cannot go for more. Speaking of the same truth, Jesus said to a rich ruler, "One thing you lack. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. The come and follow me."

So what is the one thing Gehazi could have learned? We can find an answer to this question in 4:29, "Elisha said to Gehazi, ‘Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand and run. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy's face.’" We do not know what kind of training program Elisha maintained for Gehazi. Most likely, to the very date when the Shunammite woman came because of her son's death, Gehazi did not have any chance to learn the prophetic power firsthand. Perhaps all Gehazi was asked to do (or was trained to do) until that time was doing chores, such as chopping wood, carrying waters for his master, laundry, etc. 


But this time it was different. He had the opportunity to learn of a prophet, for when he was asked to take his master's staff and run, he had his first hands-on project. It was the first on-the-job training. 

How did the training go? In learning from a master it is critical for a student to follow the instructions of his teacher both in spirit as well as in letter. So let us think about the instructions. 

First, tuck your cloak into your belt.

This instruction reminds us of Jesus' instruction on the right attitude (or preparedness) of a servant: "Be dressed ready and keep your lamp burning."  

At first glance this instruction concerning a cloak or a belt does not seem critical. Depending on how you read it might strike its reader as insignificant as a driver being asked to fasten a seat belt before hitting the gas pedal. Yet we know that God is the God of economy: he does not do what is not necessary. Had this sort of instruction not been necessary, Elisha would not have said what he said. So we admit that no matter how trifle it may seem, we should not ignore any instructions, rather we must follow them in spirit as well as in letter. 

We can easily understand this concept when we think about the mishaps that occur in our day to day life, such as a car accident. Why do car accidents occur? Our daily experiences indicate that when a car accident occurs there is always a reason for such an accident: a driver or drivers involved in the accident not following instructions, however small, such as the instruction to stay focused on driving, the need to look into mirrors, or the requirement to remain alert on what is going on with respect to other cars nearby. 

For a student who registered for a prophetic school, the instruction to tuck one's cloak into his belt goes a long way for it keeps the student usable and effective throughout his tenure as a servant, because the point of this instruction is to ask the servant to keep his spirit, mind, and body in a watertight, good, working condition. It is to keep the student protected from all counter-influences that work against the operation of the prophetic power God intends to release in and through the servant. It is to keep the servant compatible with God who is working. This is the call to keep a servant in a "serving" (or "running") mode, the call to keep himself in top working condition to best serve the will of his master. 


Second, take my staff in your hand and run.

While the instruction in regards to the cloak and belt goes to one's attitude as a servant, this instruction goes to the means by which to get the work done. Here "my" staff refers to the staff that belongs to his master Elisha. It is something which Elisha relied upon. Symbolically, it refers to the source of power with which Elisha always got the work done. We can better understand this concept when we think about what the staff is made of. What is it made of? We know the answer: it is a mere wood stick, a dry, dead piece of wood. Yet it refers to the nature of the instrument God calls us to use. What are the characteristics of a staff? First of all, since it is a wood piece which is dead, it denotes that in order for God's servant to be worthy of God's use, he must remain as dead as a staff. In practice it means that one must die to himself so that he would not rely on himself but on God's power fully. Then God can release his power fully without being disrupted by the servant's ideas, will, desires, or emotions. 

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the Risen Jesus explained this concept to the Apostle Paul saying, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Thus the Apostle Paul declares, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 

So here is what we ought to remember: both you and I are nothing, compared with the greatness of God's power. If God can work a miracle such as sending sheep, bringing about God's healing for the sheep, or getting prayer topics answered even in an impossible looking situation, such a miracle or miracles have nothing to do with us: it has everything to do with God who alone deserves the full credit. 

“Take my staff in your hand and run.” This instruction then reminded Gehazi that he was nothing. If any great work was going to be done, like the boy coming back to life, it would be only because of the credit of the God of Elisha. [Note: Elisha means "God is my deliverance".] 

[The call to "run" has to do with the "due diligence" with which a prophetic student is called to bring God's help to where it is needed. It is like a fire-truck speeding to a patient's house, weaving its way through traffic.]

Third, do not greet him; do not answer those who greet.


This instruction has to do with getting out of the way humanistic influences or forces that are from external sources. Among all the counter forces, human beings are the most devastating. As I mentioned earlier, while the staff symbolizes God being the only source of power, the call to greet no one or the requirement to answer no one who might bust in even with good intentions, such as greeting, goes to cutting off at the source all the counter influences that work against the operation of God's power. This is very important for even a slightest hint of interference, such as a man with an unclean (or adulterated) spirit that is transmitted into the life of a prophetic student from an unbelieving person, can be catastrophic.

In practice, the call to not greet anyone or not to answer anyone greeting, has a million different aspects of application (like where to go or not to do, what to see or not to see, whom to meet or not to meet, etc.). One aspect of it can be practicing asceticism, not in a legalistic way adopted by a carnally minded man, but in the way adopted by spiritual men, such as John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, and our Lord Jesus Christ. John the Baptist lived in a desert area. His clothes were made of camel's hair. He wore a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. It might be difficult for us to copy his lifestyle as it is. But the point remains the same: by adopting a simple lifestyle fully devoted to God, he kept himself away from the worldly, secular, humanistic influences. In the same way, while we live and work in a metropolitan city, we must be cautious of materialistic and humanistic influences, so that our relationship with the Lord would remain intact. For we are told repeatedly in the Bible that we must live a life that is holy, as it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy" (Lev 11:45), and "Without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Heb 12:14). 

Part II. What Gehazi became.

Did Gehazi learn anything from this field-work training? The evidences are that he did not learn anything. The first evidence is that although he went to the house of the boy and put the staff on the face of the boy, the boy did not come back to life. Why? Was it because something was wrong with Elisha's instructions? No. Examine all the rest of the miracles Elisha performed. Miracles took place without any wrinkles, perhaps except in the case of prophesying against the Moabites in 2 Kings 3:1-27.  Then what might have gone wrong? The answer is obvious. It was due to Gehazi. We can withdraw this conclusion from the way the Bible describes him, particularly his lack of sensitivity to the pain suffered by God's flock as well as to the will of his master Elisha. God's servants must be sensitive to the ailments others suffer from. Consider the way he treated the Shunammite woman. When she came to seek help from Elisha he rudely pushed her aside, and he did it against the will of his master (2 Kings 4:27). This indicates that he was not a good student, much less a servant. Another clue is the episode in which he asked General Naaman for gifts. After sneaking out of the premises he asked and took a truckload of gifts from the general. Yet he told a lie to his master, saying he did not go anywhere. “But Elisha said to him, ‘Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money, or to accept clothes, olive groves, vineyards, flocks, herds, or menservants and maidservants? Naaman's leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.’ Then Gehazi went from Elisha's presence and he was leprous, as white as snow" (2 Kings 5:26-27).

In conclusion, let us read 2 Kings 4:29, "Elisha said to Gehazi, ‘Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand and run. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy's face.’ ” Like Gehazi we are blessed to be called to live as missionaries serving the Lord. What then can we learn from the Lord? What does the Lord want us to become? What is at least the one thing we must learn in serving the Lord? In many ways our generation resembles that of Elisha. And how can we offer ourselves to the Lord as the Lord's instrument?

One word: take my staff and run

Class Exercise: 

1. Skim through 1 and 2 Kings. How many kings served in the kingdom of Judah? (          ) How many kings served in the Northern Kingdom (called Israel)? (          )

2. How long did the kings of Judah rule altogether? [In other words, how long did the Southern Kingdom last?] (       ) years. How long did the kings of the North rule altogether? (      ) years

3. Upon Elijah's departure, Elisha cried out saying, "My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" (2Ki 2:12; Read also 2Ki 13:14). What does his cry indicate about: 1) the relationship between Elijah and Elisha; and 2) the importance of a man of God, such as Elijah? 

4. Elijah means (in Hebrew) "The Lord is my God." Elisha means, "The Lord is my deliverance." What do these meanings indicate about: 1) the Lord God; and 2) the way to serve the Lord in our generation?


      The time he first saw the king of Israel, Elisha was angry at the sight of the king, which apparently disrupted the spirit of prophecy working in him so that he had to ask to bring a harpist for him.