Summary: This is the story of how Elisha restores a child to life. What does it have to do with evangelism? Simple, someone needed to hear the Word from God, and so God sent someone out.
In verses 8-11
A Shunammite woman realizes a man of God which passes by continually. He was an evangelist, out spreading the Word of God. The woman sensed a need for the traveling prophet, so out of kindness she had prepared a room for him to use while he was there for his journey. I would think it was similar to a Bed & Breakfast or like the new AirBnB’s.
Many years ago, when true evangelism was going through our nation, there were many believers that had a spare room in their home, which they called the ‘prophet’s chamber’. I remember those days when a visiting preacher would stay in church members home during a revival week. That way the visiting preacher didn’t have to pay for a hotel room nor meals.
How often do we offer assistance to those that pass by in our lives that may need some type of assistance? What has happened to the old-time revivals with visiting ministers? Where are they now?
In verses 12-19
Sometime later, Elisha tells his servant to bring the Shunammite woman to him. It appears that the prophet wanted to repay her and her husband for their kindness. She was asked was there anything that she was in need of. Elisha’s servant told him that she was without child. Elisha tells her that she would have a son. This is very similar to the case of Sara and Abraham in Genesis.
Time passes and she gave birth. Time passes again, and the child goes out to help his father but unfortunately, he was ill and died. Why? We don’t know. What we do know is that an answered prayer has a tragic outcome.
In verses 20-25
The woman had faith. She did not blame nor curse God. She lays her deceased child on the bed of the man of God. We’re unsure why this is but we could presume that she began to have belief in the God that Elisha served. The passage doesn’t say anything about her praying to God, just that she tells her husband that she is going to search for the man of God that had been there at their home. She had confidence that he could be restored.
The woman broke tradition. It was not the new moon of the sabbath. She got out of the normal rituals. How often do we get ourselves stuck in the same routine? ‘We’ve always done it this way’. Times may come when we need to change from our old habits or rituals. God doesn’t change but we may need to so that we can reach others.
In verses 26 -30
The man of God had compassion for others. He sent his servant to inquire about her and her family. He didn’t know about her current situation, he just remembered her and her family.
Do we have true compassion for others in the world?
When she got to the man of God, Elisha, she fell at his feet. Elisha’s servant was about to move her, but Elisha stopped him. Elisha was unsure of her reason to be there. He states that ‘the Lord had hidden it from him’. She seems angry and asks him why did he deceive her? Elisha tells his servant to go to the child and place his staff on the child’s head.
The woman said she would not leave Elisha. So, the man of God went to where the issue was. There are times we need to get out and go. It’s more important to go to the problem. Don’t sit back and wait for others or for the problem to come to us.
In verses 31-37
Elisha’s servant got there first and did as instructed. However, the child did not wake up. The condition was recognized, and the man of God was not defeated by failure. Not his failure but the failure of the world. Elisha knew the objective, went into the inner chamber, and prayed to be endued with power. Elisha cried to God in faith and belief. Maybe Elisha saw the similarities between this situation and the one Elijah was in.
Prayers do get answered. Maybe not in the way we want, but in accordance with God’s will.
The action that followed the prayer was that the child came to life. Elisha, in faith, had called unto God and the child was restored. We can only imagine the woman’s response.
There is a need for us to be alive as well. Don’t be a dead servant. Do not settle for nothing except life. There is life in Christ. We need to show true concern for others as we share the Gospel. Those who take the life of Christ to a dead world must do so with deep conviction and in fervent prayer. Those dead in sin come to life when they come in contact with Christ.