The Prophet Series: Elisha, part 11
The Prophet Series: Elisha part 11.
2KI 4:26-28 Please run now to meet her and say to her, 'Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?'" And she answered, "It is well." When she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came near to push her away; but the man of God said, "Let her alone, for her soul is troubled within her; and the LORD has hidden it from me and has not told me." Then she said, "Did I ask for a son from my lord? Did I not say, 'Do not deceive me'?"
She answered, shalom, i.e., "It is well," that she might not be detained by any further discussion so that she may bear her need to the prophet. The real wants of our innermost heart are not peddled to anyone who will listen. If we find that we can’t wait to tell every passerby, then they are not true and pure desires from the source of goodness. If the desire is for attention and sympathy, then we bear everything to anyone who asks. True and good desires from the mercy of God are sacred. As we wait for them, sometimes impatiently, and sometimes with a broken heart due to the pain of loss and time, they sit in our hearts in sacred rooms that only a few may enter, and more often than not, only God may enter.
Upon seeing the prophet all manner of memories must have filled her, but not their many conversations, his instruction, or their laughter together, rather the promise of the child, the gifted chamber that the lifeless child now lies in, and her admonition most of all, which she has gone over in her mind again and again during the twenty mile journey across the life filled valley, “Do not deceive me.” All her heart has been like a large lake pressing against strong dam. The dam is now broken.
Gehazi seems to be the type of person who wants to stick with protocol at all cost without being able to adapt to the needs of others. He sees her emotional outburst, which caused her knees to fail and fall to the feet of the great prophet, as immodest. How often have men and women such as this thrust away an unwelcomed person in need? Such was Simon the Pharisee when the woman burdened with sin burst in upon their dinner seeking the Lord. Such were the disciples when the women were bringing their small children to the Lord of glory for blessing. Should we not first clearly see the true needs of others before we empress our protocol upon them? Christians live in a hard and selfish world. We must not let the world’s callousness form a layer of ice over our hearts.
Elisha is a spiritual man who knows that the needs (not the wants) of people sometimes outweigh the dictates of manners and protocol. “Let her alone, her soul is troubled within her.” Not knowing what is wrong; Elisha desires to comfort the great woman with mercy.
The prophet seems genuinely shocked that God had not revealed to him the Shunammite woman’s hurt. This shows us how often God communicated with Elisha. God would not speak to prophets concerning things which they could easily know, but to only provide them with important revelations of things no one could know but God alone. The same is true for the revelations of the Bible to all of us. The word of God does not concern itself with issues of the details of life that are easily discerned. God does not tell you what profession you should choose, or who to marry, or how many children to have. He does not tell us what happened to the dinosaurs. He does not state the size of the universe or the number of stars. He gives us divine revelations of the things we could never find without Him, which so often centers on His person and essence, His salvation, love, and mercy. The scripture never asks for our ingenuity in order to find its hidden secrets. The Bible hides nothing from God’s own. All is laid open and bare without confusion or “shifting shadow.” The scripture simply asks for our obedience.
Elisha, thinking this is something of such magnitude that God should have spoken of it, is surprised that God had not, but the Lord knows that Elisha will know just what to do. Elisha will know this because God has already shown him His own person, will, and way; things he could not discern alone.
It deserves our notice that Elisha does not arrest her outburst of anguish. The most intense grief is not inconsistent with real spirituality. “Only unbelief is to be watched against, lest, either in joy or in sorrow, we forget Him that sent it.” [Edersheim, Elisha the Prophet] The woman does not come to Elisha in unbelief. She knows that the child was given to her by God. She simply doesn’t understand why God would give the gift of all her desires only to take it away. Less grief would have been in her life if the child had never been born.
God says that if we love Him, He will give us the desires of our heart, PSA 37:4. Sometimes it seems that God then seeks to take the desires away, but this is only a test of the heart.
ECC 11:1 Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.
God knows our heart, and He wants to show us the depth of our faith. Will we say the same as Job? “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be His name!” None of us can answer that question until we are in the thick of the trial, and for this reason, such trials cannot exist only on the pages of our Bibles. They must envelop themselves around us.
2KI 4:29-31 Then he said to Gehazi, "Gird up your loins and take my staff in your hand, and go your way; if you meet any man, do not salute him, and if anyone salutes you, do not answer him; and lay my staff on the lad's face." And the mother of the lad said, "As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." And he arose and followed her. Then Gehazi passed on before them and laid the staff on the lad's face, but there was neither sound nor response. So he returned to meet him and told him, "The lad has not awakened."
It is difficult to discern why Elisha would send his servant ahead of them in this capacity. Perhaps it was to calm the woman or perhaps it was to test her, but we cannot know with certainty. Some believe that Elisha was revealing that true power was not in the staff, but in God alone, and I personally believe that this explanation is closest to the truth, for when Gehazi returned with the bad news the woman would have despaired. If the prophet’s staff sent by the prophet cannot perform the miracle then is all hope lost? This is the thinking of all who put their trust in outward means for God’s spiritual results. The days of relics are gone. No one is looking for pieces of the cross or the blood of saints, but there are some who are constantly looking to overt signs or means as proof that God is going to deliver. We are only to look to God’s promises and His character.
Gehazi is also instructed not to salute any man or respond to a salute, both of which would result in conversation, or as my friends in Oregon like to call it, “visiting.” Elisha likely knew that Gehazi, full of his own self-importance might have bragged about carrying the prophet’s staff and the importance of his mission. We can draw a great lesson from this. When we are about the Father’s business, on God’s errand, we must have the work foremost in or minds, above all other things and acquaintances. “The ministerial work brings with it the obligation of entire self-forgetfulness, self-denial, and self-devotion. No other object, no other joy, no other engagement must occupy us, compared with that of serving the Lord.” [Edersheim, ibid.]
The woman makes clear that she will not leave Elisha’s side while both of them live. For us, this is the declaration in our heart that we will not leave the Lord, not until we see His deliverance. Much that is in the world will entice us to leave His side. The world will show us that enough time has gone by, revealing that He is not going to deliver. “He has forsaken you,” is the voice of the cosmos. However, behold the messenger bringing the good news, how blessed are his feet upon the mountains! Your God reigns! (ISA 52:7) Like Jacob, we must not let go until He blesses us with deliverance, and if I am stuck with a limp for the rest of my life as a consequence, then so be it. He is the only One who can deliver.
Where am I to go if I leave the Lord’s side?
JOH 6:66-69 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore. Jesus said therefore to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?" Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. "And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God."
2KI 4:32-33 When Elisha came into the house, behold the lad was dead and laid on his bed. So he entered and shut the door behind them both, and prayed to the LORD.
Prayer is the mighty weapon of the prophet and is still as much in the hands of the saints. We seek God’s favor for a particular situation. He will always answer, and even an answer of “no” for the present circumstance is a “yes” in some other way. Elisha pleaded to God concerning His promise, concerning the woman, and her grieving household. These burdens He cast upon the One who has taken upon His shoulders the yoke of mankind.
2KI 4:34-37 And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm. Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes. And he called Gehazi and said, "Call this Shunammite." So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, "Take up your son." Then she went in and fell at his feet and bowed herself to the ground, and she took up her son and went out.
He stretched himself over the boy until he became warm; the living stretching itself over the dead. We pray for the dead all around us, known and unknown. The unbelieving are dead and without Christ, and we intercede for them since they will not do so for themselves. We ask that the living Christ may lay over their death and that they would warm to the gospel, the only source of life. We who are alive must pray and pray, for the harvest is abundant but the workers are few.
When deliverance comes we must bow ourselves to the ground and thank God for His endless mercies. Again and again He opens up the windows of heaven and showers the dead with life.
The Lord bless you and keep you,