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That’s about all I can think when I read some of the OT stories. I’m not even talking about the violence that seems not to jive with Jesus. I’m just talking about how weird they are. It seems to get especially strange in the stories about Elisha in the first few chapters of 2 Kings. If you haven’t read them in a while, you should. I don’t have anything interesting or profound to offer. I’m sure if we studied all their historical and especially literary features, they’d come alive for us. But of course most of the time (like now) we don’t have time, so we’re left with nothing more than their weirdness. I guess I have a point to make: stories like this only make sense as part of a larger story. For instance, my initial guess is that in showing Elisha’s healing actions in behalf of one of the prophet’s wives, then the Shunammite woman’s son, and then Naaman the leprous Aramean general, the author is making a point about God’s blessings moving beyond Israel’s borders. We’d probably never get this, however, without knowing that the larger Scriptural story is about exactly that. And even if we did get it, it wouldn’t matter much apart from Jesus coming to sum up and send forward this ever-expanding blessing. So I guess, in spite of myself, I have learned something here: there is an ever-expanding wideness to God’s mercy and grace – that is, his healing power. Recently I’ve again been inundated with questions about “people of other faiths” and “people who’ve never heard” – it seems like this, with the exception of the problem of evil and suffering, is perhaps people’s biggest question today. I firmly believe in the “one way-ness” of Jesus (in these stories, see 5.15, where Naaman confesses Israel’s God as the one and only), but let’s remember that God’s people are pretty much always surprised by the wideness of the One True God’s embrace. Perhaps in the wise governance of God we’ve been given strange stories to remind us that we’ll never have it all figured out. At least I won’t.

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