Whenever I watch a television show or a movie that starts out with some fantastic event, fades to black, and the viewer is presented with a message like, “48 Hours Earlier,” I heave a sigh. While this is a popular trope for film and television, it’s also a story-telling device that crosses all narrative boundaries. However, I still don’t care for it. I suppose I’m a chronological guy.

The Bible is one book I know of that doesn’t follow a chronological order, and sometimes I forget that. However, I was reminded of it today when I read this verse from 2 Kings 8:4

The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, “Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.”

2 Kings 8:4 (NIV)

It’s hard to forget about Gehazi and what happened to him in 2 Kings 5 when Naaman the Syrian was healed of leprosy. After being healed of leprosy, Naaman offered gifts to Elisha, the prophet. However, Elisha turned down Naaman’s gifts and sent him home, but Gehazi had something else in mind.

After Naaman had traveled some distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”

2 Kings 5:19-20 (NIV)

Gehazi gets two talents of silver and two sets of clothing from Naaman and goes back home. When he gets home, he hides the silver and clothing. Then, he presents himself before Elisha as if nothing had happened, but Elisha knows better.

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 (NIV)

When someone got leprosy, they were isolated from others because they were unclean. Naaman wasn’t an Israelite, so those rules didn’t apply to him. There are also different degrees of leprosy, so Naaman may have had a lighter or another form, or perhaps it wasn’t advanced. Since Gehazi was cursed with leprosy in 2 King 5:27, he couldn’t have been hanging out with the king in his court in 2 Kings 8:4 unless these events weren’t chronological.

Rather than a sigh when I read something like this in the Bible, I find that it enriches the story. Now, we know that the story of Naaman happened at least seven years after Elisha raised the Shunammite woman’s son from death because of what 2 Kings 8:1-6 tells us.