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February 26, 2017

"ELISHA AND THE SHUNAMMITE"

TEXT: 2 Kings 4: 18-37
READING:  Psalm 17: 1-5

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SUBJ: The account of Elisha raising the Shunammite’s son and the exhibition of faith and the power of God with both; especially to consider the manner of raising the child as both pointing to Christ and as an example to us.

AIM: That we might rest in the promise and power of God in all things and be inspired by two examples as seen here.

INTR: The prophets Elijah and Elisha are unique in most aspects of their ministries and in the lives of both we are given some insight into the Lord’s dealings with His Old Testament prophets. They were written about rather than doing the writing.
1. Elisha was the successor to Elijah having ministered to him for a time and we recall his prayer for a double portion of the Spirit of Elijah. It seems that it was answered.
2. The account of Elisha’s life seems to be told around the many miracles performed through him and this one is special.
3. We began with the sequel to the story that began with the earlier encounter with the Shunammite, the provision of the prophet’s chamber and his desire to do something for her; the answer was a son. We pick up the account with the death of the son.

THESIS: Every miracle in scripture has an unmistakable reference to the Lord and His power and that will never change. However, the bringing of the miracle in some cases involves a great deal of faith and effort on the part of the recipients of such things.

I. The death of the son and the mother’s faith (vv. 18-21)
1. The Shunammite had originally perceived that Elisha was a man of God and served him accordingly and this did not change.
1) Even with the illness and sudden death of the child
2) And in the face of that which would ordinarily bring anger and great grief.
2. The account is concise and to the point: the child left in the morning well and by noon he was dead.
3. It is here we note the genuineness and strength of her faith in that:
1) She quietly lays the child’s body on the bed in Elisha’s room
2) She proceeds to make preparations to travel the 16 miles to where she knew him to be and

II. Her faith and Elisha (vv. 22-28)
1. She makes proper application to her husband who had no idea what has happened and why she was so anxious to go. Provision was made and she departed with a servant.
2. Her sense of urgency was very plain and so she hastened on.
3. She is seen by Elisha before she arrived and he sent Gehazi his servant to meet her with a greeting asking after her and the family.
1) The greeting included concern for her, her husband, and the child who Elisha, no doubt, loved.
2) Her answer was quick: “it is well!”
i. As to her and her husband we can understand
ii. But, her son was dead and she was not irrational – she believed that he would be raised.
4. Her approach to Elisha was not that she worshiped a man; it was rather that the Lord had revealed himself in this man and so she sought his mediation.
1) Gehazi did not understand
2) Elisha understood that the Lord did not let him in on things until he needed to know
5. She reminded Elisha that he had solicited the request that had brought her the son and that it was inconceivable that it was only to bring grief to her – her faith was tenacious and persistent!

III. The participatory faith of Elisha (vv. 29-37)
1. There was an ineffective attempt to bring off the miracle by sending Gehazi with his staff -- No voice and no hearing.
2. This work would require full participation by the prophet.
3. The miracle accomplished:
1) Reality was met – “the child was dead.”
2) His connection was intimate – the child was on his bed
3) It was a matter to dealt with alone with the Lord and prayer (entered the closet and shut the door).
4) Intimate involvement was required (personal involvement attached to his prayers)
i. Body to body
ii. Mouth to mouth (the breath of life); eyes to eyes (saw no man); hands to hands (to reach out to the Lord).
iii. Even then it came in stages – the body warmed and then after a repetition awoke.
4. He sent Gehazi to call the Shunammite – it is to be suspected that the prophet was exhausted at the effort.
5. We would recognize in this what was required of Christ our Lord and the communication of Spiritual life and function to us. The breath of life in regeneration, seeing by the eye of faith and laying hold on eternal life are all communicated to us by intimate contact with Christ.