Illustrating Perseverance in the Bible

Illustrating Perseverance in the Bible

Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.”
–2 Kings 5:10

People sometimes wonder, “Is perseverance a biblical attitude? Isn’t that a name-it-and-claim-it theology of positive thinking?” Let’s look at two great illustrations in the Bible of perseverance.

The first is in Joshua 6–the story of Joshua and the wall of Jericho. God had promised the Israelites that they would possess the land of Canaan. But there was a giant obstacle in their way: the nine-acre city of Jericho and the large wall that stood around it. In Joshua 6:2, God said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors.” Then God gave Joshua detailed instructions that said, in essence, “I want you and your men to march around this wall once a day for six days, and go back to your camp. Then on the seventh day, march around the wall seven times, and on the seventh time the priests will blow the trumpets and the people will shout, and the wall will come down.” So Joshua and his men marched around one time, then went back to the camp. They did the same the second, the third, the fourth days. I’m sure by the fifth day they started to have doubts: “Joshua, are you sure you got the instructions right?” But they kept going. I imagine by the seventh day they were tired of marching in that hot Palestinian sun. But they kept doing what God told them to do, and by the end of the seventh time on the seventh day, when they blew the trumpet and shouted, the wall came down. My point is: if they hadn’t gone far enough, they would have missed God’s blessing.

Another great example of perseverance is the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. Naaman was the captain of the Syrian army, and he contracted leprosy. He asked the prophet Elisha what he should do, and word came back from Elisha exactly what he needed to do to be healed from leprosy. “Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean’” (v. 10). When Naaman heard that, he “was furious” and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper’” (v. 11). Naaman thought it was going to be easy. He thought all Elisha would have to do was say, “Be healed,” and he could get on with his business. Sometimes we think, “God ought to just zap me and make me successful. You mean I’m going to have to work at this?” Finally, Naaman was willing to obey. In verse 14, “He went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.” Can’t you just see it? Naaman went down in the water, came back up. The leprosy was still there. He went down the second time, the third time, the fourth time, the fifth time, the sixth time. Had he stopped and said, “This isn’t working,” he would have missed the blessing. It was after the seventh time of coming up out of the water that Naaman saw the leprosy was gone. That’s what perseverance is: continuing in spite of the obstacles.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Perseverance over Defeat” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.