Summary: It describes how the life of Elisha is applicable to us
2 Kings 4: 8 - 36- the sixth sermon on the life of Elisha
Below is the outline of the sermon, I preached on 17 March 2012 at West Ewell Evangelical Church, Surrey:
Elisha moved on from miracle of the sufficiency of the widow’s oil
Now he is in Shunam – 5 miles from Jezreel (which had been the city of Ahab and Jezebel) and 20 miles from Carmel (where Elijah had the confrontation with the prophets of Baal)
1. Things look good
Sometimes, things can often seem beyond our wildest dreams.
Childlessness in the ancient world was a matter of deep regret and social reproach. Jacob’s wife Rachel cried out: ‘Give me children, or I’ll die!’ (Genesis 30:1)
What do we judge people by today? Children, marriage (‘wouldn’t he/she be an ideal spouse?’), financial status, position – even within the church , we can find the pressures of not conforming to the ‘ideal’
The pressure was on for children, so she asked Elisha for this solution.
a. God cares for his children
b. God is involved in all that we do
c. Faith is required regardless of social standing or financial position
In verse 16, she said: ‘Don’t mislead your servant, O man of God!’ It is hard to take in the truth of the promise, to think that hopes are raised to be dashed.
We should be seeking God for what He has laid on our hearts.
We can so often misquote Psalm 37: 4 (‘Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.’) – we have remember that we need to be walking so close to God in order to know His heart.
But she struck out in faith: Hebrews 11: 6 – ‘without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.’
2. Tragedy strikes
When things look good, tragedy can strike.
The illness that struck the boy was less likely to be sunstroke as rare among children in the Plain of Esdraelon – it has been suggested that it was cerebral malaria, cerebral haemorrhage or meningitis.
Although we do not believe in the health, wealth and prosperity ‘gospel’ in theory, sometimes we act as though we do in practice. How often do we act as though God owes us?
We can get so wrapped up in what God has given us – such as family, finance, health, position, gifts, talents – that we forget the Giver and take them for granted.
1 Timothy 6: 17 – ‘Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.’
There are the ambitions of youth that have diminished, the promises of God that seem to be unfulfilled, the anticipation of marriage that receded before the tides of tiredness and everyday life, the wanting to be with your spouse that ended at ‘until death do us part.’
In verse 27, Elisha showed empathy – the distress that the woman felt, he felt also even though he was not aware of the circumstances .
There are times of failure and frustration – times when we feel that God has withdrawn His hand. It could be broken friendships, promises not fulfilled, dreams shattered.
Our hope is that when our hopes are dashed and our ambitions are shattered, Jesus is our balm.
3. Turn to God
We have looked at how good things are given and then sometimes tragedy occurs
In verse 21, there was no preparation for the burial but the woman anticipated the resurrection. She laid him on Elisha’ bed – an act of faith since only one previous instance in the Bible of someone being raised to life when Elijah and the widow of Zarephath’s son (1 Kings 17: 17 – 24).
The woman had lost her son, but not her faith.
Neither the widow nor Elisha had read James 5: 15 – ‘the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well – but they knew its truth.
In verse 26, the words are literally ‘all is well’ – she knew that in the midst of tragedy, God was there.
We can see in verses 32 – 33 that the key is earnest prayer before God.
when we see the full situation from God’s perspective – either here or in heaven – we will understand that God was in control all of the time.
It is when disappointment, disability, disease, debt, despair and doubt that come knocking on your door that the only way is to press close to God.