You might remember that Elisha had asked for the spirit of Elijah before he went into heaven a few chapters ago in 2 Kings 2. That request was granted because he had the perseverance to follow Elijah until the end.
Today, in 2 Kings 4, we get to see some of that spirit put the test.
2Ki 4:27 And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the LORD hath hid it from me, and hath not told me.
2Ki 4:28 Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me?
2Ki 4:29 Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child.
2Ki 4:30 And the mother of the child said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And he arose, and followed her.
2Ki 4:31 And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked.
2Ki 4:32 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.
2Ki 4:33 He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD.
2Ki 4:34 And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.
2Ki 4:35 Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
I realize that was kind of a long passage, but how many times do you see people brought to life again? Just like Elijah brought a person back to life, Elisha had now performed the same thing.
However, neither of them were actually the miracle workers. They were the instruments that were used.
God was in both of these situations, and that ultimately mattered here. Elijah and Elisha certainly provided the faith, and they were available to be used. However, they were not superheroes; they served a super God.
That is obviously the lesson for us. God is still in the miracle business. He is still all-powerful, and He is still right here. We need to be willing to be used in whatever way God wants us to be. We might not raise people from the dead, but we can make a difference in the world.
I think that we sometimes forget that the Christian life takes work and persistence. In 2 Kings 2, Elijah is about to be pulled into heaven, and he and Elisha are walking around together. They begin their journey at Gilgal in verse one. Elijah told Elisha to stay behind, but he wanted to continue walking on with his mentor.
Then, they journeyed on to Bethel in verse three, and the same process repeated itself. Elisha decided to continue the journey with Elijah, and in verse four, they arrived at Jericho.
Not surprisingly, Elijah told him to stay behind again, but Elisha wanted to continue on.
Even though these cities were not incredibly far apart, it took some effort to walk with Elijah. It wasn’t like they had cars or trains to carry them around. There had to be a sense of commitment, and there had to be a sense of work involved.
However, there was a reward in store for Elisha.
2Ki 2:9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
2Ki 2:10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
If he did not follow Elijah until the end, he would have never been given this tremendous gift. Back in Jericho or in any of the other cities, he had no idea that this was coming, but he knew that he wanted to continue following Elijah.
I think that the same thing applies to all of us who are following Jesus. We may not necessarily understand everything during the way, but we do know two very important things. We need to continue following, and all of the following will be worth it in the end.
Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Here we are in another book of the Bible. 2 Kings 1 is honestly a pretty depressing chapter. Ahab died, so his son Ahaziah came on to the throne. He got sick, so he sent messengers to a different god to find out if he would ultimately recover.
2Ki 1:2 And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease.
God did not like it too much, so he sent Elijah to basically go and straighten everyone out. He found the messengers and delivered a pretty harrowing message.
2Ki 1:6 And they said unto him, There came a man up to meet us, and said unto us, Go, turn again unto the king that sent you, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that thou sendest to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? therefore thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.
Ahaziah was not excited as you might imagine, so he sent men to arrest Elijah. That did not work out so well.
2Ki 1:9 Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down.
2Ki 1:10 And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
2Ki 1:11 Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly.
2Ki 1:12 And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
I think that this shows is a pretty important point about God. Not only is He powerful, but He has a definite plan in place for the world. He knew that Elijah has a lot more work to do, and there is no way that Elijah would be killed before that plan happened. Even the best plans (or I guess the worst plans in this case) have no hope if they go against what God wants.
I think that we can all agree that Ahab was a pretty bad man, but I also think that he had a conscience at the end of 1 Kings 21.
For a limited background, he wanted a vineyard that was owned by a man named Naboth. He offered to trade another piece of land for it or pay the equivalent in cash. However, Naboth would not sell it.
Naturally, Ahab started moping around, but his wife Jezebel had a plan.
1Ki 21:7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
1Ki 21:8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.
1Ki 21:9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:
1Ki 21:10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.
Everyone went through with the plan, and Naboth ended up dead.
That is where God brought Elijah back into the picture. He essentially proclaimed a death sentence on Ahab.
1Ki 21:20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.
1Ki 21:21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,
1Ki 21:22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.
1Ki 21:23 And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.
1Ki 21:24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.
This is where we get to the interesting part. He was an evil man, and it was never a good sign when Elijah came in and told you were going to be eaten by the dogs when you died. However, I want you to see his reaction.
1Ki 21:27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.
1Ki 21:28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
1Ki 21:29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.
God was willing to forgive, or at least somewhat reduce the penalty for, Ahab after all of the evil that he did. He got his heart right with God and humbled himself. Isn’t that great news for all of us?
We all have the same opportunity to repent and get our hearts right. The offer is still open today, and if you need more information on that process, pop over to my “Start Here” page.
When we think that we have it tough, I think that we can learn a lot from Elijah in 1 Kings 19.
He had to run for his life on account of Queen Jezebel.
1Ki 19:2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
He ran away, and while he was in the wilderness, it seems like he had a serious bout with depression. He actually wanted to die.
1Ki 19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
You have to admit that this was a terrible time for him, and I think that we can learn a lot about handling problems by listening to his response.
While he was in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights, God asked him what he was doing there.
1Ki 19:10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
He was willing to talk to God. I think that there is a tendency for people to absolutely shut down when something goes wrong. They think that God has abandoned them, and they stop trying to communicate with Him.
Elijah never did that. When he was upset, he called out to God. When God spoke to him, he was willing to respond.
He never stopped communicating with God. Even though he was the only one in Israel who was doing it, he kept his prayer life active. As a result of that prayer life, God led him to his apprentice Elisha. All of that happened because he never stopped listening to God. I hope that we do the same thing when tough times come.
I think that there is a part of all of us that wants to be like Elijah in 1 Kings 18. He’s just coming back from a miraculous experience where he saw God raise a young boy from the dead. Then, he has the courage to face off with King Ahab and essentially tell him that the entire reason there was no rain in Israel for three years was because of his disobedience.
1Ki 18:18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
Finally, and I think this is the most audacious part, he issues a challenge. He challenges all 450 prophets of Baal to try make fire rain down from the sky. All of those prophets were allowed to work together, and Elijah was going to stand alone as the only one requesting that the true God send down fire. All of the people in Israel were supposed to there to see who ultimately won.
First, he was outnumbered. You would think that 450-to-1 would tilt the table in favor of Baal. Apparently, the people of Israel were kind of undecided as to which one was really real or perhaps they thought that both of them were equally real, so I have to imagine that the crowd was assuming that the group that was able to yell louder would ultimately prove to be true.
Second, he was unpopular. Like I already pointed out, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were not excited about Elijah. After all, he blamed all the problems in Israel on the leadership. Right before the encounter, we discover that Elijah was virtually alone in this fight.
1Ki 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
1Ki 18:22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
I think that this is the kind of boldness that we’re lacking in the world today. As Christians, sometimes we allow ourselves to be shouted into submission. Because our opponents sometimes have loud and influential voices, we figure that it isn’t worth trying to argue for what we believe in.
However, that is not the approach we should take. We need to be more like Elijah. We need to be willing to stand alone if necessary and rely on God to give us strength. There is no indication that there was anything special about Elijah except that he was a prophet. That should be encouraging. We might not feel that we have the talent for defending Christianity, but even living a life that is different than what the world preaches makes a statement.
The world might not be the easiest place to be a Christian, but that doesn’t mean we back down. We need to continue living the way that God wants us to live.
1 Kings 17 proves one very important thing. Faith works.
The obvious highlight of the chapter comes at the end when Elijah prays, and God revives the widow’s son.
1Ki 17:20 And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
1Ki 17:21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.
1Ki 17:22 And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
However, there have been many grieving mothers and fathers who have prayed for their children over the years after a tragic death. These people might have had just as much faith as Elijah. Why is it that it worked in this particular instance?
I would like to submit that the reason that God answered his prayer was because it fit into the master plan. However, I would also like to reemphasize that without faith in the first place, I do not believe that God would have used Elijah in the way that He did.
The obvious question you need me to answer now is what purpose God had for this situation. Why would He have a boy die if He was only going to raise him again in a short time?
I think that most of that comes back to Elijah being at the right place at the right time. Israel was in a terrible situation under King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Elijah got his start by telling Ahab that there would be no rain in Israel. This reminds me of Moses telling the Pharaoh about all of the plagues in Exodus.
This was a country in need of a revival, and God was going to use Elijah to help make that process happen. However as we all know from watching TV or reading books, many people come along who claim to be a prophet or some other special designation.
Elijah was obviously different. He didn’t just talk about being a prophet; he had a body of evidence to back up his claim. He even had a witness.
1Ki 17:24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.
God gives us exactly what we need at the right time. He knew that He was preparing Elijah to do great things. Without this type of demonstration, perhaps people would not have thought that Elijah was legitimate. God chose him as a prophet, and then He supplied him with everything needed to be successful in that role. Earlier in the chapter, we read about God’s physical provision for Elijah, and through this miraculous healing, we can see God positioning Elijah to have the influence he needed to make a difference in Israel.
I like how God essentially issues a challenge in the middle of Deuteronomy 32. He obviously knows that He is the only God, but not everyone believed that.
Deu 32:36 For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.
Deu 32:37 And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted,
Deu 32:38 Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.
Deu 32:39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
This is very much like Elijah and the prophets of Baal. In a similar way, he challenged them to actually have their own gods answer their requests. Needless to say, they did not respond, and when Elijah prayed to God, He did respond.
In verse 39, it is also interesting that God holds life and death. That encompasses the whole of the human experience. We really don’t have any other option. Therefore, it logically follows that there is nowhere we can go and not have God with us.
Now, that can be a comfort for those of us that know and love Him.
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He is not just one of many gods. He is the only God.