What if this One Thing is Causing us to Miss God?
Do you remember Gehazi? He’s one Bible character that doesn’t get a lot of Sunday School time. But, you probably remember the role that he plays in Scripture. Gehazi was Elisha’s servant. He was blind. The only problem was…he didn’t realize he was blind.
In 2 Kings 6, the king of Aram became enraged at Elisha because, through the direction of God, he continually foiled Aram’s plans to attack Israel. So, the king of Aram changed his focus. Instead of attacking Israel, he sent his army to capture Elisha.
“Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
When the servant of the man of God [Gehazi] got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:13-17).
Until that point, Gehazi probably didn’t realize that he was blind. He had walked with the man of God for extended periods of time, but was never intimate with God like Elisha. In spite of his proximity to Elisha, something was blinding him to the ways of God.
So, why wasn’t Gehazi growing in God along with Elisha? If he was such a close companion of Elisha, if he was witness to all of the miracles, why was he so often blind to the things of God? Well, we could just call it God’s sovereign decision and leave it there…but I think the previous chapter of 2 Kings gives us further insight.
In 2 Kings 5, Naaman (who, ironically, was the commander of the armies of Aram) came to Elisha in hopes that he could be cured of leprosy. Elisha told Naaman to wash himself seven times in the Jordan River and he would be healed. And it happened just as Elisha said.
Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused (2 Kings 5:15-16).
Gehazi, frustrated with Elisha’s failure to accept a monetary reward, eventually tracked down Naaman and made his own request for material gain. He told Naaman that Elisha now wanted seventy-five pounds of silver and two sets of clothes for his services.
When he went in and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”
“Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.
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—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow (2 Kings 5:25-27).
This may be a stretch, but do you think Gehazi could have been blind to the things of God because of his love for money? Do you think materialism could have clouded his spiritual sight? If so, he wouldn’t be the only one in Scripture with this problem.
Judah, the son of Simon
In the gospel of Matthew, there is a guy known as Judah, the son of Simon. He was one of Jesus’s disciples. He was there when Jesus sent out the seventy two to the surrounding towns and villages to preach the good news of the kingdom. He wasn’t as close to Jesus as some of the other disciples, but he was a consistent eye witness to the “image of the invisible God.”
It is likely that he, the son of Simon, was in the boat when Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves…calming the storm. There is a good chance that he was present when the legion of demons was driven out of the Gerasene man. He probably sitting in the home of Simon the Leper…he may have even been reclined around the table with Jesus…when a woman came in and anointed Him with very expensive perfume. Chances are high that this kind of financial waste drove him crazy. After all, he was the responsible for handling the money bag of Jesus and his disciples. You probably know him best by the Greek form of his name – Judas.
In spite of walking in the dust of Jesus’s sandals for a couple of years, he was blind. He missed it. He was a firsthand witness to the kingdom of God breaking into the everyday lives of the people, but he didn’t have the eyes to see God. He was spiritually blind.
One of the last acts of his life gives us some indication of what caused his blindness. He agreed to hand over Jesus to the religious authorizes for thirty pieces of silver. In other words, he may have missed God because of his love for material possessions.
One final story
According to the Bible, this kind of spiritual blindness may be contagious. Apparently, it can spread within certain groups of people. And the church runs a real risk of catching this disease.
Do you remember the Church at Laodicea? According to Revelation 3:17, this group was “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” But, they did not realize it. And what was the cause? Verse 17 spells out the origin of their condition in very distinct language. They were blinded by affluence; “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.”
This world is hard to navigate when you’re blind. But, it’s even worse to suffer from blindness and not know it.
Maybe those of us who live in affluence should take a cue from Bartimaeus. Maybe we should cry out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And when He asks what we need, instead of complaining about how we need more possessions, maybe we should simply say, “Rabbi, I want to see” (Mark 10:47-51).
With His grace, we can have the vision of Elisha instead of the eyes of Gehazi.