Summary: God is a Giver of life and a restorer of hope. Crisis in life pushes us to look up to God and help us know Him in ways we cannot otherwise.
We will continue our look at the ministry of Elisha in 2 Kings 4.
• His ministry, in many ways, parallels that of Elijah in terms of the miracles that he performed.
• The author penned down these miracles to show us that Elisha did indeed receive that double portion of Elijah’s spirit.
Last week we saw how the Lord provided for a widow in great need.
• Today we are going to look at the second incident in 2 Kings 4 and it has to do with the death of a son in the family.
• God is going to restore hope for the hopeless and reveal Himself as the only HOPE we have. Let’s read 2 Kings 4:8-37.
Particularly in chapter 4 we see God’s care and concern for the ordinary, for the helpless and hopeless.
• We have a couple staying in Shunem (SW of the Southern tip of Sea of Galilee), a place Elisha passes by often.
• The Shunammite woman honoured Elisha as a man of God (a phrase used 8 times in this story) and showed him great hospitality.
• It started with just stopover meals but soon the host decided to provide a small room instead, so Elisha could stayover wherever he comes by.
• You can sense she takes delight in doing that. She honours God by using her wealth and resources to support the ministry of the prophet of God.
After some time, Elisha wanted to reward her for her kindness, but she didn’t really need anything because she is a well-to-do woman (4:8).
• What about moving on from this place to a better living or working environment?
• Elisha was willing to put a good word for her to the King or commander of the army, since he ministers before them.
• But she was contented to stay among her own people (cf. 4:13). She ask for nothing in return.
What to do for the woman who has everything? Bless her with a son.
• This was probably what the couple longed for, because we find her saying to Elisha at the end, why have you raised my hopes? (cf.4:28)
• Elisha proclaimed God’s blessing and “the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.” (4:17)
We have seen a couple of impossible births in the Bible – Sarah, Rebekah, Hannah, This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. God gave them hope.
• We’ve a couple of impossible births in the Bible, in Sarah (Gen 17), Rebekah (Gen 25), Hannah (1 Sam 1), Elizabeth (Luke 1)… God is the Giver of life.
Amazingly right after this good news, the author gave us a short biography of this boy’s life – in just two verses 4:18-19.
• 18The child grew, and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers. 19"My head! My head!" he said to his father.
• (No explanation given, probably heatstroke or a disease of some kind.)
• And in 4:20 he passed on. It was very abrupt: he grew (4:18), and he died (4:20).
The mother was suddenly thrown into a crisis, a very unkind one.
• The well-to-do woman, who has been enjoying a decent and independent life, now finds herself in a great need.
• And the more painful thought is this - the God, who gave her this gift, has now taken him away. That’s the conclusion most would just to.
What can she make of God here? Why didn’t God prevent this?
• This is not just her crisis, it is our crisis of faith too, when unexplained tragedy happens. We struggle with the same questions.
• Does God make us happy, only to increase our pain later on? Does God lift us up in order to drop us all the harder? If the Lord gives, why He takes away?
I’m glad that God has inspired writers to pen down such realities of life. Don’t have to camouflage anything. This are the painful realities of life.
• But we don’t live by sight, we live by faith, in a God whom we cannot see but we are willing to trust.
• In a crisis, our thoughts are directed towards God, who is present and in whom we can trust.
Her first reaction was to lay the child onto Elisha’s bed (not even his own bed) and rushed off to look for the prophet.
• She needs to hear from him; more precisely, she needs to hear from God.
• This is not a time to be angry with God, which is the mistaken but common response of most. We need God most at such times.
• God is still her source of hope, despite the perplexity of what is going on.