By Tope Banso
Then the men of the city said to Elisha, ‘Please notice, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the ground barren’” (2 Kings 2:19 New King James Version).
After the prophet Elijah ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire and his successor, Elisha, had crossed over the Jordan back, the first miracle he performed was the healing of the bad water of Jericho.
The Bible does not provide any background information about the bad water of Jericho. We don’t know how long the city had had this problem and if it was a consequence of the violation of Joshua’s curse (Joshua 6:26) by Hiel who rebuilt Jericho at the expense of the lives of his children (1 Kings 16:34). It was most likely that the problem existed during the time of Elijah but there is no record that the men of Jericho approached Elijah for a solution to the problem.
Besides the prophet Elijah, there were the sons of the prophets at Jericho that the Bible talks about in 2 Kings 2:5. We don’t know if they brought the problem to the attention of Elijah or if they made any effort to solve the problem. If Elijah was aware of Jericho’s problem, probably he wasn’t sent to solve the problem. Nobody is sent to everybody.
Hear what Jesus said, “But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:25-27 New King James Version).
However, what is not in doubt is that the men of Jericho came to Elisha one day to seek his help. Obviously, Elisha was not a water engineer! Or a professional who could solve water problems. Yet, the men came to tell him about the problem. Evidently, they must have tried their best to solve the problem but it had defied solution. Coming to Elisha the prophet for a solution means that they had come to the conclusion that it was a spiritual problem.
One lesson here is that not all problems will respond to natural remedies. Some problems are spiritual and it is futile applying natural remedies. They won’t work. The problem confronting Jericho was spiritual and required a spiritual remedy. We don’t know how early the men of Jericho realized this. There are many people today that are applying natural remedies to spiritual maladies. It is high time they went to God for a solution.
When Moses was leading the Israelites in the wilderness, they had a water problem. After going three days without water, they came to the waters of Marah but they couldn’t drink the waters because they were bitter. “Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet” (Exodus 15:23-25 New King James Version). Glory to God! The power of God healed the waters.
Sometimes if your best efforts to solve a problem have not yielded the desired result, it could be a sign that you’re dealing with a spiritual problem. Jesus told His disciples who were asking him why they couldn’t cast out a particular demon it was because of their unbelief but added that the kind of demon they were trying to cast out “does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21 New King James Version).
You may need to fast and pray for victory over some problems. You may sometimes need other believers to pray with you. There is nothing to be ashamed of about that. Hear the words of Jesus: “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19-20 New King James Version).
According to the apostle Paul, if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it (1 Corinthians 12:26). He says in Galatians 6:2 that we should bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. This is true Christianity.
In some cases, it takes the intervention of the anointed servant of God to terminate the problems in people’s lives that have defied solutions. Such persons should not continue to suffer needlessly because of ego, ignorance, or unbelief. Approaching the anointed for prayer in faith does not make one less a child of God.
The apostle James says, “Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. (James 5:14-15 New Living Translation). Verse 16 adds that we should confess our trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that we may be healed; the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
The men of Jericho did the right thing by coming to Elisha instead of continuing to suffer in silence. 2 Kings 2:19 says, “Then the men of the city said to Elisha, ‘Please notice, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the ground barren’” (New King James Version).
We are not sure if prior to this time Elisha was aware of the problem they have brought to his attention. Only fake prophets claim to know everything. The prophet does not always know everything. A true prophet of God will know only what God has revealed to him. Any proof?
We can rely on the words of Elisha later in the case of the Shunammite woman whose son had suddenly died and when she ran to Elisha on the mountain, grieving, caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. Elisha said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the LORD has hidden it from me, and has not told me” (2 Kings 4:27 New King James Version). The prophet Elisha didn’t know what was wrong with the woman because the LORD didn’t reveal to him that her son had died. Therefore, it was possible that Elisha was not aware of the water problem in the city of Jericho. However, he could also have been aware.
It would have been foolish for the men of Jericho to continue to live with this curse of bad water when the prophet of the LORD was in their city. They could have doubted whether Elisha could help or not and miss their miracle. They could have looked down on Elisha despite the testimony of the sons of the prophets who were from Jericho that the spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha (2 Kings 2:15). That was after Elijah had ascended to heaven and Elisha had taken Elijah’s mantle, struck the water with the cloak, and the River Jordan divided, and he went across.
It is not every time that people suffering some afflictions are sensitive enough to recognize the anointed of the LORD He wants to use for their deliverance. Some sit down analyzing and criticizing the persons whose anointing would solve their problems. Some mock their prophets; some ‘stone’ them.
The men of Jericho didn’t behave like the people of Nazareth in the time of Jesus who said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?’ So they were offended at Him” (Matthew 13:54-57a New King James Version).
This was unfortunate. What a wrong response to the anointed! Jesus responded to their attitude by saying, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Because of their unbelief, He did not do many mighty works there.
However, the men of Jericho had a positive attitude. They esteemed the anointed. They had faith in his ministry otherwise they wouldn’t have brought the matter to him. Furthermore, they obeyed his instruction and he healed the water that had been a source of barrenness or infertility in the city.
Elisha said, “‘Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.’ So they brought it to him. Then he went out to the source of the water, and cast in the salt there, and said, ‘Thus says the LORD: I have healed this water; from it there shall be no more death or barrenness.’” (2 Kings 2:20-21 New King James Version). The water was permanently healed according to the word of the LORD that Elisha spoke. It wasn’t the salt that healed the water; it was the Word of the LORD that Elisha spoke. The power of God is in the Word of God. Whatever represents the water of Jericho or the waters of Marah in your life receives a divine solution today in Jesus’ name.
It is not all sicknesses that respond to medical or natural remedies. King Asa of Judah made this error. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign when he had a serious foot disease, he did not seek the LORD’s help even when the disease became life-threatening. He sought help only from his physicians (2 Chronicles 16:12). But his doctors couldn’t help him. He died in the forty-first year of his reign. Don’t neglect the help of God for that of human beings. It won’t work.
Look at 2 Kings 2:19 again: “Then the men of the city said to Elisha, ‘Please notice, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the ground barren’” (New King James Version). It’s not all that glitters that is gold. There may be more to what you’re seeing.
Jericho was a good place to live in looking at it physically. But there is more to Jericho than what was obvious to the eye. The water was bad and the ground was barren or unproductive. A prospective immigrant looking for a greener pasture might not have this information and relocate. Many have made choices or decisions by sight and are regretting today.
That new job offer, business deal, marriage proposal, relocation, car sale offer, etc. may be a ‘Jericho’. It may appear attractive but there could be a serious problem hidden. It may be pleasant to the eye and desirable like the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6) but the repercussion may be unpleasant. Anyone who chooses the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley may eventually be drawn to Sodom as it happened to Lot (Genesis 13:10-13).
Before you take that decision, have you asked the LORD about it? Have you found out His will? “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 New King James Version).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, heal the bad water of my life permanently. Turn the bitter water of my life into sweet water. Save me from making the mistake of relocating to ‘Sodom.’ Help me to make the right choices in life. Let me not make choices that I will regret forever. Have mercy on me and deliver me from the consequences of my wrong decisions in the past.
▪︎ Banso, an Abuja-based Minister, heads
Cedar Ministry International, and can be reached at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523; and
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947