The Prophet Series: Elisha: Conclusion
The Prophet Series: Elisha conclusion.
2KI 13:20-21And Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites would invade the land in the spring of the year. And as they were burying a man, behold, they saw a marauding band; and they cast the man into the grave of Elisha. And when the man touched the bones of Elisha he revived and stood up on his feet.
After their death people can leave behind an impact to the world, either for good or evil. Of course, that depends on how they lived. Guys like Judas Iscariot are known for the evil they’ve done and guys like Jesus and Paul are known for their good and sacrifice of life. God was not done with Elisha when he breathed his last. God was not done with Paul either. We still read Paul’s letters along with the other apostles and men who wrote God’s inspired words, all of which lived what they penned. Living after them and inspired by them are men who likewise gave their lives for the gospel of Christ, who went to lands far and wide to preach it at any cost, and who wrote some pages of the truth as they had come to know it from the inspired scriptures coupled with their own experiences.
The impact of these men and women live on as well. I am overjoyed when I find one of them. It’s like opening their tomb and reaching in and touching their bones and feeling life from God. I may not like all that they write, but I don’t have to. My latest find is George MacDonald. I find some of his work to be lacking in grace, but other parts inspiring and insightful. I don’t throw out the whole thing. None of the commentaries of men are the inspired word of God. But that doesn’t stop us from learning from them, being inspired by them, and therefore, having our lives effected by them long after they went to sleep.
Some people live for this left-behind-impact. If they can, they build things and put their name on them. They write memoirs and explain all of their exploits in a nice light, justifying the not so enlightened ones. No Christian should do this. Though you might say that you can’t afford to build a library or to pay a publisher, nor do you have time to plan or write them, it is not with these things but in our minds that we can plan out our legacy, which is a silly thing to do. It wasn’t told to Elisha that his bones would be the vehicle by which resuscitation would come to a man. Elisha simply followed the Lord’s will in love and so must we. And by doing so, we leave whatever impact upon others and upon time the God desires in His hands.
If we learn of the Lord, love the Lord, following His will in the quest for living righteousness by means of the Spirit of God then we will have an impact that outlives us. The One who spoke and gave light to the world through us will still be working in the lives of those affected by us after we are gone.
When it starts it doesn’t stop.
From the moment Elijah laid his mantle upon Elisha his recorded life was in service of the Lord until his death, and as we see here, even after his death. There are no part-time callings in the body of Christ. A distracted and deceived Christian might hope that he’s an obscure tendon or maybe an extra finger or something in the body that isn’t used very much, a sort of appendix of Christ. We are all called to serve all the time, being always ready for the work that God has prepared for us, EPH 2:10.
In light of this truth, Elisha’s first public act was in connection with Moab as is his last. His service is bordered by Moabite bookends and a life constantly lived for the Lord in between. The moment we are born-again we are elected in Christ, and we are commanded to walk in a manner worthy of it.
EPH 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.
EPH 4:1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Think about what Elisha missed out on by doing this. Well, I can’t think of anything significant, can you? I can say with confidence that he didn’t miss out on a thing. But imagine what he would have missed if he rejected Elijah’s mantle. A life given to God has gains never imagined in the life without Him.
EPH 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
A type of Christ.
There are a bunch of types of Christ in the Old Testament and Elisha is a significant one. The service all of us do must be manifestations of Christ, exemplifying and glorifying Him and not ourselves. This was true of Elisha. As the Tabernacle was a picture of Him, so we are to be a picture of Him in this world. We are each predestined to become conformed to His image, ROM 8:29. Elisha performed his last act after his death and by this act a man was brought to life - an act depicting the heart of the Savior. So when Christ resurrected He brought justification and life to all who would believe on Him.
When Christ rose from the dead, all of His other miracles laid back and became subordinate to it. All of them that were healed would die. Those that were raised would die again. But Christ would never die again. The significance of this is simple - victory over death. However, its impact is far from simple. What would eternal life now do to the soul or heart of man who possessed it? What light would shine in him and what fears would be banished from him? After the resurrection the miracle of healing became an eternal healing of the soul and being brought back from the dead was just a taste of eternal life within that all who believed in Him would have. Every Christian should know something of the answers to those questions above and also marvel at how much he does not know and yet will know. Amazingly, even knowing this, the Christians still finds himself at times dealing with fear, thinking he is enshrouded in darkness, despairing, and gloomy. He only imagines this, as the family of the deceased man imagines they have lost him, but none of it is true.
Winter to spring.
The disciples all thought the mission of Jesus was over when He died. With His death the mission died. He told them that He would rise again, but so fantastical was the thought that it wasn’t even entertained. Fortunately, it only lasted three days, but for the disciples, men and women who believed on Him and loved Him, it was three days of a dark and cold winter in their hearts. Elisha died and then in the spring the Moabites started their excursions into the land, so with the new grass and flowers came lusty Arabs. Elisha’s body lay on a slab in a rock fissure covered by a stone for the long winter, but spring was dawning, and so was life.
The Syrians, oppressors of Israel for so long, had been severely weakened by three Israeli victories [see the three arrows from last blog], however, Israel was still not strong. The land lay open and undefended to which Moabites took the advantage and invaded in small marauding bands, taking what they wanted, emptying the storehouses of grain from last season’s harvest, and harassing and killing the Jews. Winter always turns to spring.
Though the earth is under a curse, growing thorns and thistles, every spring the planet bursts into life with new growth. This past month my morning walks have been enhanced with daffodils as well as white and purple crocuses growing in front yards and in the park, and even with the unexpected frosts we’ve had, they still survive, albeit growing more slowly. In some places on our planet, spring is a beautiful spectacle. Wild flowers planted by God outshine the greatest of man’s gardens. Imagine what it would look like upon an earth not cursed. So also, as spring came to Israel, fresh green mantled the tomb of Elisha. Life grew where there was only rock and bones, and life lingered where death should only be found.
Yet, another mournful family brings their sorrows and their dead to the graveyard. It so happened on this day that this family came to the same tombs that held Elisha’s body. We are not told why they would have rolled away the stone that lay over Elisha’s grave, but we do know that they were in proximity to it, and when the marauding Moabites fell upon them, they rushed to stash their dead in Elisha’s tomb and make haste to safety. One hopes that they didn’t have time to roll the covering stone back since the dead man would have been made alive only to live out a measly few days trapped in a tomb. As comical and ironic that would be for us, we can confidently determine that the door was open, since no one, including the author of 2Ki, would have known about the miracle.
If the family had stayed but a few more minutes they might have seen their beloved emerge from the tomb alive, and then we wonder, would they have been afraid of the approaching Moabites after that?
Elisha doesn’t go to heaven in a chariot like his predecessor, but he does something in death that would not be witnessed again until the resurrection of our Lord. Both Elijah and Elisha brought sons back from the dead, but only Elisha does this after he himself has died. The raised man is a witness for this fact for years. God is not a God of the dead but of the living. The grave is not the end. God has given eternal life to His people through faith.
LUK 20:37-38 "But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. "Now He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him."
NUM 3:13 For all the first-born are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the first-born in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am the Lord."
Crowned with glory.
The fact that we, sinners born in sin and death, should be crowed with glory and honor is astounding. I don’t think that even most learned of all of us knows the half of it. It is truly a resurrection life now for all of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior. The believer who loves the Lord and understands what he has been delivered from lives his life in light of eternity. He is heavenly minded. The things and the people of this earth only hold value for him in that he sees the glory of God in them. His own things are meaningless, except as God may use them, and this alone is important. This heavenly minded man or woman is the one who actually does the most earthly good and has the greatest impact on it. Those who live for the earth have only a negative impact in the long run, for they are blind to the glory of God in all things.
PSA 8:3-6When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers,
The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained;
What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him?
And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?
Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God,
And dost crown him with glory and majesty!
Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands;
Thou hast put all things under his feet,
The dead still speak.
In the first two centuries AD, the church had a number of martyrs, more than we know. Despite persecution, they proclaimed the Christ, some at the cost of their lives. Were they seeking for fame and personal glory, perhaps to get a statue of themselves in a town square? They did so because they knew that Jesus lived. Their lives are strong testimonies to the resurrected Christ whom some of those in the church’s first two generations had seen or knew a trusted someone who had. Who would endure and suffer for His sake who did not believe the resurrection?
Christ still speaks to us though none of us have met Him personally, or rather we should say in visible, physical form. We hear Him in the gospels. We also continue to hear Paul, John, and Peter. We hear these dead men and we are given life. The dead man touched Elisha’s bones and was made alive. We hear those who came after the first two generations, who lived and died breathing the gospel and the truth of Christ to the world, and we find life. They loved the truth, they loved the Lord, and because of that, they had love and mercy for a lost world of men who frantically sought for fulfillment, not to be found in the world, but in the hearts and words of those who were the light of the world.
Perhaps none of us reading this will become another Paul or whomever extrabiblical famous Christian you happen to admire, but we will have the same impact on many who are connected to us in the few years that we run the race set before us. Not all are authors or writers of the truths of scripture, but all Christians are lights of the world and are called to witness loud and clear through their lives, works, and words - all.
Death has been vanquished.
Amazingly, after this miracle is loved and admired by the people of Israel, that the group of priests who would come to be known as the Sadducees would reject the notion of the resurrection. It was to them that Christ said that God was not the God of the dead but of the living. Yet neither did the disciples believe when Jesus claimed He would rise again, nor the women so close to Him. Jesus alone knew this. I still marvel at how lonely He must have been at times.
Elisha’s bones perform his last deed as a type of Christ, just as he was a type during his life. Meeting at his tomb were a group of Jews and a group of Moabites, Gentiles. At the cross of Christ stood Jews and Gentiles, and when He died He completed the work to give both parties life. Everyone whom Jesus touches lives.
Goodbye Elisha. It was an honor and a pleasure meeting you and getting to know you and the experiences of your life. We are all better for it. In death you have touched us all with life.
To Him be all glory and honor,
Pastor Joe Sugrue
Grace and Truth Ministries