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The Woman of Shunem

Scripture: 2 Kings 4:8-37
Date: 08/26/2006 
This sermon tells the story of the Shunammite woman and how Elisha raised her son from the dead. We need to remember, like Elisha, Jesus still passes by today and we need to make room for Him. Jesus wants to have a relationship with you. He does not force Himself.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning. If you have your Bibles I’d like to encourage you to turn them to the Second book of Kings, chapter four. We will be spending most of our times in a single story this morning that some of you are acquainted with. It’s the story of the Shunemite woman, and I’ve titled the sermon this morning “A Place for the Prophet”. A place for the prophet. I think there’s a little misprint in your bulletin. What does it say “Shuman”? The woman of Shuman. It’s actually supposed to be Shunem, but I think most of you were able to figure that out. In this story we’ll find that it has some great lessons that talk to us about our relationship with the Lord and about prayer more particularly. So turn in your Bible to 2 Kings 4:8, and I’ll be doing some expository preaching as we go. This is one of the many adventures of Elisha. Elisha is one of my favorite characters in the Bible. He had a double portion of the spirit of Elijah and he’s very much a type of Christ in the Bible. I’d like to do a whole series sometime and just go through all of the exploits and the adventures and the miracles of Elisha because he’s probably one of my favorite, if not my favorite Old Testament character. “Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she constrained him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, that he turned in there to eat some food.” Now Shunem was a town in the territory not far from Jezreal.

It was about five miles I think south of Mt. Tabor sort of in the middle of the Promised Land. There was a settlement there. You remember when the children of Israel drove out the Canaanites they didn’t drive them completely out. Some of the nations that were still left in Israel, you had some Hittites and you had some Shunemites , they were a friendly people. They were considered a very bright and a beautiful people. You remember when they were looking for a young maiden to take care of David in his old age; they finally found one of the most beautiful girls in the kingdom was a young girl named Abishag the Shunemite. Then later in the Song of Solomon it talks about this Shunemite and they wondered if Solomon had taken a fancy to this nurse who took care of David in his old age. They never were technically married. It’s possible some of the Hebrew traditions say that this Shunemite woman is a relative or an ancestor of Abishag, but it tells us she was a notable woman. That word notable there, it means that she was high, it actually says high and mighty, but that doesn’t sound good in our vernacular. She was noble. She was a mighty woman. She was a prominent woman. This was a woman who was great in the community. She was intelligent. She was respected. She and her family had some substance and they had servants and land. But she had a heart for God and she knew that Elisha was a man of God. Everybody knew who Elisha was. The kings knew who Elisha was, but Elisha still lived a humble life and he would walk down the road with his servant Gehazi. Elisha continually went on a circuit visiting the different schools of the prophets to teach and to encourage.

He went through the lands of Israel something like an itinerant prophet and a judge. She thought, you know, we’ve got one of the men of God. He has a relationship with God and he’s passing by. Let’s give him something to eat. Let’s invite him to stay here. So it says here that she constrained him to eat some food. That word constrained, you notice in our scripture reading it talks about Paul and Silas. Lydia was also a great woman. She constrained them to stay with her. What happened to Lydia and her family? They learned the truth. They were baptized. They were saved because they had bought the man of God into their home. You remember the story of Rahab. Rahab invited the spies to stay with her. She received them and because she received these two messengers she and her family were saved. Does Elisha still travel today? Well, he does. Elisha, the word Elisha is very similar to the name Jesus. The name of Jesus is Yashua and that means Jehovah. One of the names for God is Jehovah. Yah-Jehovah is how they said it so it’s Ya-shua. That means God is Savior. Elisha name is the other prominent name for God, Eloheim-shua. That’s Eli-shua. So it means “my God is Savior.” That’s what his name was. Very similar to the name of Jesus. Jesus still passes by today. Many people miss a blessing because they don’t invite Him in. He just passes by. I think we need to make it a point. Did Martha and Lazarus invite Jesus to stay with them? Were they glad they did? Their brother was resurrected because of that. Jesus still passes by today and He wants to abide with us, but we need to make a place for Him. I’m getting ahead of myself in my story.

She says to her husband, this is verse nine of 2 Kings 4, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly.” On a regular basis we see him going by. “Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall…” It was not uncommon for people to have a way to walk up on the roof. In the Bible times they would sometimes eat meals up there in the cool of the day. Remember Peter was praying on the roof when he had the vision. The Bible says that they went up on the roof when they let that other man through. David was walking on the roof of his house and he got in trouble watching Bathsheba. They often had a place on the roof with a little balcony or girdle that went around it. She said, “We’ve already got a second story. Let’s build a room up there for this prophet, this upper room.” The Holy Spirit is poured out in the upper room, isn’t it? Jesus has the new covenant in the upper room with his disciples. Let’s make a place for him, and let’s put a table. There’ll be a place for him to read and eat, a chair, a lamp stand, a bed, place for him to rest, and it will be a little Motel 6 room for him. Simple but comfortable. You notice they don’t give him the basement. They don’t even give him a mother-in-law’s room that’s sort of an outback thing where the cattle are, but it’s on the roof. It’s the high place, a place of prominence, an upper room. We want him to be, whenever he’s around we want him to stay there. Now if Elisha represents Jesus, do you have a place in your house for Jesus? Do you want him to reside there? She said look, this man of God is passing by. We don’t want him to just stop and eat. We want him to abide. We don’t want to just have a meal with him, we want him to dwell with us. Do you just see Jesus when He comes by once a week and maybe you have a potluck together or do you want to have a place in your house for him? Now as you read on in this story you’re going to find out that not only did Elisha come to her house, she went to his house. So stay with me, and don’t forget that point.

So they did this. It says in verse 11, “it happened one day that he came there,” he came just expecting some food because she had often fed him, “he turned in to the upper room and lay down there.” Now can you imagine his joy? It probably brought tears to his eyes. This is an old prophet. He’s wandering around the circuits of Israel and who is it that makes a place for him? Is it an Israelite or is it someone who is not even a Jew? It probably made him sad that his own people weren’t saying we want to make a place for you, but it was one of the heathen that said, “I know who you are. You’re a man of God. Nobody is recognizing who you are.” Didn’t Jesus say, “A prophet is not without honor except among his own kin”? The pagan woman knew that this was a man of God. You know it’s interesting that the gospel, when we are overseas Amazing Facts almost always baptizes many times more people in pagan countries than we do in Christian America. Why is that? Maybe we take it for granted, we have enough religion to inoculate us against the real thing. It’s on the TV, it’s on the radio, we’ve got Bibles in every hotel room and we sort of think that by osmosis, vicariously through exposure we must be Christians because we’re just surrounded with it. But you go to some of these pagan countries and they say, “Oh, that’s the truth! This is a man of God.” And they come out by the thousands and they get baptized by the hundreds where in our country if you have an evangelistic meeting, if you baptize ten or fifteen there is cause for great rejoicing. What is it? The children of the world are often wiser than the children of light. The Greeks said, “We want to see Jesus.”

Christ said, “Many will come from the east and the west and sit down in the kingdom with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” The children of the kingdom, they’ve got the Bible, they know what the truth is, but they don’t recognize how important it is to invite the man of God to abide in their home. Now I’m not trying to solicit you invite me home for dinner. There’s not a subliminal message here. I just want to make that very clear. I’m talking about inviting Christ in to have a dwelling place in our upper room. He is so overwhelmed, I would like to have seen the expression on his face when she takes him up. Evidently they don’t speak the same language because he speaks to her through Gehazi. Gehazi must have understood the dialect of the Shunemites and they go back and forth and he says, “Say this to her.” “Say that to her.” And she communicates back to Elisha through Gehazi, but she brought them upstairs and they’re smiling and they open the door and there’s a little window probably flowers on the windowsill, and a little table, but it’s got a little tablecloth on it and there is a lamp there and some oil for the lamp, and the bed that’s all made up cozy, and a little nightstand with a Gideon Bible. No, she’s probably got some scrolls there for him or I don’t know, but you know. Some olives in the bowl and some bread. She made it nice, wanted him to feel welcome so that he’d want to say, “Whenever I’m in the neighborhood, that’s where I’m stopping.” Is your life disrupted when Jesus comes or are you joyfully wanting to make your life a place that entices him to abide with you? Does it make you nervous when you see Jesus passing by and you’re thinking, “I hope He keeps on going,” or are you thinking, “Oh, I hope He stops here. I want Him to move in.” The Lord doesn’t want you to just know about Him; He wants you to have a personal relationship with Him. He wants you to make a place for the prophet. Do you have a place for the prophet in your home? So they built this room on the roof of their house and she made it all comfortable and who knows maybe he came at night and there was a light on in there. She said, “Let’s put a lamp there.” She did all of this to take care of him.

Elisha called Gehazi and he said, “Call this Shunemite woman.” When he called her there, she’s standing in the doorway. She stood before him and he said to him, Elisha is talking to Gehazi, “Say now to her, ‘Look, behold, you’ve been concerned for us with all this care. You’ve had all this care for us and you’ve demonstrated love. You’ve welcomed us. You’ve rolled out the red carpet. You’ve made us a home. What can we do for you? I want to do something for you.’” Now this is where, to me, it’s very exciting. If Elisha represents the Lord, and if this woman represents the church and the attitude that every Christian should have and when we welcome the Lord to abide with us, and He says, “I want to come in and sup with you,” He’s saying I want to do something for you. What’s the desire of your heart? And then he goes on, he says, “Think big.” He says, “Do you want me to speak to the king on your behalf or the general? Maybe there’s someone who’s been giving you a hard time; I know the leader of the army. I know the king.” Everybody knew Elisha. You remember Elisha prayed and armies were stifled. Elisha prayed and great things happened. He prayed and iron swam. You didn’t mock Elisha. He prayed and bears beat up irreverent children, and so when a prophet with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit says, “Is there something I can do for you? I can pray for you. I can talk to the king. Maybe he’ll stop taxing you. I can talk to the general; do you want some soldiers to guard your fields? What do you want? I want to do something for you.” What would you ask for if the Lord says, “What do you want?” I like that when Elijah said to Elisha, “What shall I do for you?” He said, “I want a double portion of your spirit.” And when God said to Solomon, “Ask what you want.” He said, “I want your Spirit” essentially. He said, “I want wisdom” which is one of the gifts of the Spirit. And now Elisha is saying, “What can I do for you?”

What would you ask for if God says, “What do you want?” She didn’t ask for anything. She says, “Oh, I dwell among my own people. We’re secure. We don’t need the army. We don’t need the king.” Do you know what that really says? First of all, she’s a humble woman. That’s one thing. Secondly, she was not doing it for a reciprocal favor. So often when others do things they expect something in return. Jesus talked about that. He said, “Even among the heathen they do something for someone else expecting a favor in return.” She says, “I don’t want anything but to know that you’re comfortable in my home. I want a relationship with you. I want the presence of God that you exude.” She said, “I know this is a holy man.” How did she know he was a holy man? I think Elisha carried around with him the atmosphere of heaven. She said, “I want that in my home. That’s enough for me. I’m not asking for favors. Nothing makes the Lord happier than for you to say, “Lord, I want You in my life, I want You in my heart not because of what’s in it for me.” You know how many people are accepting Christ because they want some fringe benefits? Now stay with me. This is a very important truth. It’s appropriate to say I am accepting Jesus because I want my sins forgiven, because I want eternal life. Some people then accept Jesus because it’s been presented to them that you accept Him and He’ll heal you physically, He’ll make you rich, He will give you victory over your enemies.

There are fringe benefits and a lot of people buy into a very selfish, self-centered form of Christianity. It’s often called name it, claim it, prosperity preaching theology. You’ve probably heard these pundits on television and radio saying, “You accept Jesus and He’s going to heal everything and He’s going to give you money and you’re going to be wealthy and everything is going to go fine.” That ends up, you start wondering, what is their reason for accepting Christ? Shouldn’t it be that we just want His holy presence in our life? What is the ultimate promise of the saved? God will be with them. What’s the final promise of Jesus? I will be with you. That ought to satisfy us. Matter of fact, Paul was so close to the Lord, he says, “Even if I’m not in heaven, if you’d save Israel.” Moses said, “Lord, take my name out of the Book of Life. Just save Your people.” Sometimes we think that we’re to ask God into our lives to make us happy. Jesus does want you to have abundant life, but that’s not the best reason. God doesn’t say “accept Me so you can be happy.” He wants us to be holy. She said, “This is a holy man.” The ultimate object in Christianity is not to give us all the giggles and to satisfy all of our desires. Ultimately God is trying to save us from our sin, not just to make us happy, but to make us holy. So often we think what’s in it for me?

She doesn’t say anything that she wants. I want you here in my home. That’s enough. God Himself will be with them. But then Gehazi notices something. He says, “Look, she’s not asking for anything.” Verse 14, “So he said, ‘What then is to be done for her?’” And Gehazi whispers back to Elisha, “Actually, she has no children, and her husband is old.” Something like the predicament of Abraham. He said, “Call her.” She’d already gone back downstairs. He said, “Call her back.” They’d been discussing up in the upper room as they were eating, “What can we do for her?” They said, “This is it.” So she comes back upstairs, “she stood in the doorway.” That’s significant. Then he said to her, “About this time next year you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord.” Why does she say no? Because she doesn’t want a son? She’s not saying, “No, I don’t want a son.” She’s saying, “No, you’re kidding. Don’t say that. That’s been the big vacuum in our lives is the absence of children. We have no heir. Here we’re wealthy and we’re respected, but no children in our home. Don’t say that unless you mean it. Don’t tease me.” That’s what she’s saying. She’s not saying no I don’t want children. Yes, that was the biggest desire in her life. She says, “No, my lord. Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!” That’d be too good to be true! Don’t tease me like that. You know in Bible times one of the most important things that any family could have was children. “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them” was the attitude among the Jews. They did not have social security. In order for you name to go on, you needed children. In order for you to be taken care of in your old age, you needed children. Not having children, they interpreted that you are not blessed of the Lord because God had told Adam and Eve, “Go forth, be fruitful and multiply,” and if you couldn’t multiply, God was not blessing you. So this was a very important part of the mindset.

It’s an interesting trend that’s happening in Europe. In many of the first world countries they’ve not only reached a place of zero population growth, but in some countries now they have negative population growth. It’s mostly in your first world countries. You know what I think is interesting? Italy leads the list in this category where they forbid birth control. That tells me they’re not listening to the pope because they actually have, I think, two percent negative population growth in Italy other than some immigration. Among the people they’re getting smaller in their families. So that whole idea of having children and being fruitful is not a first world idea anymore. Now they’re sure growing in India and Africa and many of the third world countries, but back in Bible times, having children was very important.

Now she stood in the doorway when he makes this promise to her and he says, “About this time next year, you will embrace,” not only does he say a kid. He could have said that and been nebulous. He specifies what the gender will be which shows he’s a prophet of God, right? He says, “You will have a son.” It wasn’t that boys are worth more than girls; it’s just that the boys typically led out in the family name meaning your family name will go on. She’s overwhelmed by this promise standing in the threshold. Where was the blood of the lamb applied? Wasn’t it in the doorway? The fact that she’s standing there in the doorway when she receives this promise of a son, who does that son of the woman represent? He is a type of Christ and that will become clearer as we go on with our story.

It says, verse 17, “the woman conceived, and bore a son when the appointed time had come, of which Elisha had told her.” Just when Elisha said she had what Elisha said. She had a child and she had a boy; the right time and the right gender. “…of which Elisha had told her.” By the way, Elisha is a type of Christ, his word never fails. Everything he says is going to happen. Now you’re awfully quiet but is this teaching making sense? Alright. It gets better. So the child grew. Everything is fine, and over the period of time Elisha would come, he’d stop with Gehazi and they’d visit the woman. They’d stay in the room. It was a time of rejoicing. He’d tell what’s happening as he visits with the sons of the prophets. He’d tell her what’s going on in the palace as he visits with the king, and he watched the child grown and probably bring him little knickknacks and gifts and he got to be sort of Uncle Elisha for the boy. Really, if he’s not a godfather, who is? Do you see what I’m saying? He said, “You’re going to have a son,” and it’s all because of his promise that this happens. So there was a love relationship between this family and evidently, Elisha lived up in Carmel, every Sabbath she and her family went to the prophet and he would then have a gathering of people who came from around the kingdom that were loyal and the northern tribes and he would preach and teach them. Stay with me. You’ll see what happens.

So the child grew. Now it happened one day that he went out to his father to the reapers. This miracle son is out in the field with his father during the harvest. This is another way that he’s a type of Christ. Christ was sent by the father into the field. The field is the world, Jesus said in His parable of the sower and the seed. Then suddenly, no explained reason, the boy begins to cry out. He says, “My head! My head!” The boy is holding his head. The commentators aren’t sure. This may have been some form of meningitis. Our son Micah had meningitis when he was real little. It causes a great pain in the head as the infection gets within the meninges, this membrane that surrounds the spinal cord and the brain, and it can be very painful. They didn’t know if it was sunstroke. He’s out there in the field working with his father. The father doesn’t think it’s very serious. He thinks, he’s got a headache. He doesn’t feel well. Take him… What do fathers do when they don’t know what to do with a sick child? Take him to mom, right? I don’t know what to do with him. Mothers are typically a little more natural nurses than fathers are. Carry him to his mother, and when he had taken him, she brought him to his mother. He sat on her knees until noon. She’s rocking him back and forth, but he doesn’t get better. He gets worse. He stops breathing. He dies. Now can you imagine the devastation of this mother? This child was the light of their lives. Even Sarah at least had an Ishmael in the family. She had no other children. All of her hopes and dreams and fulfillment were centered in this child. Came as a promise of God and now she sees that he is thoroughly dead.

You know in the story of when Elijah raises a child, it says there was no breath left in him. In the language you just wondered if his breathing was shallow. But with this child it says he died. He’s dead. Can you imagine the questions that were racing through her mind? Why God would give her a child then take him away at such a time of his youth? It broke her heart, but you know what? Instead of despairing and calling the mortician she refuses to accept it. She says, “This child has come as a result of the yearning of my heart and the prayer of my heart. It was my greatest desire, and it came in the answer to prayer. Something is wrong here. God is not going to allow this.” She refused to accept that, and perhaps she remembered Elisha telling her the story of how his master Elijah had raised a child of a widow he dwelt with. She said, “If Elijah did it; Elisha can do it because he’s got twice the spirit of Elijah.” So she doesn’t accept it. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God. It’s almost like she’s not, she didn’t lay him on his bed. She doesn’t lay him on her bed. She lays him on Elisha’s bed. When you have a relationship with Jesus, when someone dies and they have a relationship with Jesus they sleep in Christ’s tomb and everybody sleeping in Christ’s tomb comes back to life. She lays him in the bed of Elisha. She sends a message to her husband, and she says, “Please send me one of the young men...” All of the young men are out in the field with the father reaping.

It’s harvest time, “…and one of the donkeys that I might run to the man of God and come back.” The father doesn’t know what’s going on. He says, “Why are you going to him today?” Notice. “It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.” You know what that implies? It was her custom to go during the Sabbath day and when they used to have a special Sabbath every new month on the new moon. So he’s saying, “I could understand your going on the Sabbath.” You know what this tells me? This woman went to Elisha on the Sabbath. The husband wouldn’t have questioned that. Isn’t that right? Isn’t that what it’s saying? But why today; it’s a workday. We’re harvesting. That’s, I think, a very important Old Testament example that they did still keep the Sabbath then and Elisha taught on the Sabbath day. She said, “It is well.” In other words, trust me. Let me go. So he sends a servant. She saddles a donkey and she says to her servant, “Drive.” That word drive means get going in haste. “Go forward. Do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” Drive forward. Do not let up. Now any of you ever ridden a donkey before? They don’t have a smooth gait like a horse. The ride of a donkey, it’s one thing to ride on a donkey walking but when a donkey gallops, I’ll tell you what, it’s like riding a pickup truck with no leaf-springs down a dirt road that’s covered with potholes and washboard. She’s saying, “Go. I don’t care how uncomfortable it is, I don’t care how hard it is, don’t let up unless I tell you.” There was an urgency to get to the man of God. So she saddled the donkey. “So she departed and went…” I’m in verse 25, “and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel.” Now the word Carmel means faithful field.

Isn’t it interesting that Elijah went from the widow’s house to Mount Carmel also? “And so it was, when the man of God saw her afar off,” you know, you see this cloud of dust and a couple of donkeys are bouncing pretty fast. Someone says, “That’s the Shunemite and her servant. I wonder why she’s coming?” Sometimes God would reveal things to Elisha. One time someone came to Elisha’s door and before they even knocked on the door, Elisha said, “I’ll tell you who is at the door and I want you to grab them when they come in because he’s an assassin.” God revealed these things to Elisha, but he didn’t know why she was coming. Prophets don’t always know all things. They’re not all-knowing. “Look, there is the Shunammite woman. Please run now to meet her,” something is wrong. She’s in a hurry, and ask her, “Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?” Elisha had this relationship with this family now like Jesus did with Martha, Lazarus and Mary where there was a closeness there. That’s why when Martha sent the word to Jesus, she says, “The one whom you love.” There was a love relationship with the family where he would abide. She said, “All is well.” In other words, I’m not telling you what the problem is. Yes, things are fine. She wasn’t going to tell her husband. One reason she didn’t tell her husband, he might say, “Oh, look. The child is dead. Don’t bother the prophet. Let’s just have a funeral.” She wasn’t going to accept that.

You notice Abraham didn’t tell Sarah when he took Isaac to the mountain, did he? Now I’m not trying to endorse keeping things from your spouse. I’m just saying when you’re doing the work of God, don’t let anyone stop you from doing it even if it is your spouse, right? She wouldn’t even tell Gehazi. She went directly to Elisha because she said I have a relationship with him. “Now when she came to the man of God at the hill,” he lived in a home up on a hill, and “she caught him by the feet.” Isn’t that what Mary did with Jesus when he rose? Now she grabs him by the feet, and it’s a pretty violent grab evidently. Gehazi thinks, “Oh, no! she’s tackling him.” Gehazi is the servant of Elisha. He’s like the body guard for the prophet of Israel. He probably had a little earpiece and sunglasses like the CIA. He went to thrust her away. Elisha said, “Let her alone.” No, she’s got a broken heart. “Her soul is in deep distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me.” She said, she doesn’t say exactly what the problem is. She says in sort of a cryptic form, “Did I ask for a son of my lord? I didn’t say, when you said, ‘What do you want?’ I want a son. Did I not say do not deceive me?” Now he puts two and two together, something is wrong with the boy. She probably never let that boy out of her sight and here she is here alone.

Then he said to Gehazi, “Get yourself ready, take my staff in your hand, and be on your way. If you meet anyone, do not greet him; and if anyone greets you, do not answer him; but lay my staff on the face of the child.” He knows now that the child has died. I want you to notice something. This is similar to the language that Jesus uses when He sends out the apostles preaching. If you look in your Bible in Luke 10, Jesus sent them out and he said, “Carry neither money bag knapsack or sandals and greet no one along the road.” Why would you tell evangelists not to greet anyone on the road? Well, he wasn’t saying, “Don’t be unfriendly.” Jesus is saying, “As you go from town to town to preach the gospel, don’t get sidetracked along the way chatting with idle talk, but you have a mission. You go to that mission and don’t be distracted to the right hand or to the left.” One time God sent a prophet from Judah to reprove King Jeroboam, and God told the prophet, don’t stop anywhere on your way. Don’t eat bread, don’t drink water. Give your message and get out of town. Don’t stop on your way out of town.” He didn’t listen. He got distracted, he stopped somewhere and he ended up dying because of that distraction. When God tells us to do something, He wants us to make that the priority and not turn out of the way or get distracted from it. The priority was to go to the boy and to bring him back to life using the staff. That staff represents authority.

Let’s go back here to the story and pick up. “Lay my staff on the face of the child.” The mother of the child says, “As the Lord lives and as your soul lives I will not leave you.” Now what does that sound like to you? Do you remember the book of Ruth? In the book of Ruth it says that Naomi said, “Go back to your people.” She said, “No, I’m not leaving you. Where you go I will go. Where you lodge I will lodge. Your people are my people. Your God, my God. Where you die, there I’ll die, there will I be buried. God to so to me and more also if anything but death separates you and me.” Before Elijah went to heaven Elijah said to Elisha, “The Lord has sent me to Gilgal. Stay here.” What did he say? “As the Lord lives, I will not leave you.” Three times to Elisha she says, “As the Lord lives, I will not leave you. I am going to stay with you. I built a room on my roof because I want to be with you. You’re the one who has the power.” You know, I also can’t help but wonder if you read the next chapter you find out that Gehazi the servant of Elisha, his commitment to his master was dubious. He wasn’t totally committed. She may have picked up on that. Sometimes he seemed a little bit covetous and grasping. He seemed a little bit interested in the things of the world, and now Elisha is sending Gehazi. He’s trying to train him in as a prophet. He said, “You go do this.” But his heart isn’t right. She said, “No, no, no. I’m not going to be satisfied with that. The life of my child is on the line.” I know sometimes I’ve been in hospitals before and a child is in a serious condition and you want to see the doctor and they send in some attendant and they say, “I’ll take care of you.” You say, “No, no. I want the doctor.” Any of you ever been in that situation before? I don’t want an orderly, and as much as I value nurses, I don’t want the nurse; I want the doctor. She’s saying, “I’m not letting go of you. The power of God is with you.” Sometimes I think that we transfer trust from Jesus to His associates. We transfer trust from Christ to pastors and evangelists and deacons and elders and our relationship sort of is piggybacked on somebody else. Paul said, “Don’t follow me except that I follow Christ.” Our relationship must be with Jesus. Some people follow preachers. You know what ends up happening? Those preachers get into trouble and their faith is destroyed, but if you are clinging to Jesus. What happens if Gehazi goes astray? It doesn’t shake your faith. You know what I’m saying? We need to keep our faith on the Lord. I’m not going to let go of you.

“Now Gehazi went on ahead of them, and laid the staff on the face of the child…” He did what he was told, “but there was neither voice nor hearing. Therefore he went back to meet him, and told him, saying, ‘The child has not awakened.’” You know they’re referring to death as sleep here. “And when Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord.” Now you know it’s not clear from this verse here when he says he shut the door behind the two of them if it’s just him and the boy or if the mother went in with him. And he prayed to the Lord. You remember when Jesus went in, He raised the little girl and He shut the door, He shut out all of the unbelievers. Elisha evidently excuses Gehazi. Maybe there was an unbelieving spirit in his servant. He says, “Look, you need to go outside and I’m going to go in.” Maybe he invited the mother in. We’re not sure who the two of them is, probably him and the boy. “And he went up and lay on the child…” Now this has confused people. He put his mouth on the mouth of the child. We don’t know, the boy may have been five, seven years old. “…his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm.” Some have read this and they’ve said this is the first case of someone giving someone else artificial respiration, and he was trying to warm him up, and he was breathing in his mouth and trying to raise him.

I don’t think that’s what it’s saying here. Elisha is a type of Christ. He is communicating his life to the life of the child. Some people think it looks a little bit seedy. Here you’ve got this hairy old prophet that lays himself upon a child like this. That’s because our minds are corrupted with what happens in the world today. It’s actually a beautiful thing that’s happening here. Elisha represents Christ, and he is allowing the vital force from his life to go out of him into the child. He’s saying, “Lord, take my life and give it to the child if you must.” More than that, what does the mouth represent in the Bible? Isn’t it the word comes from the mouth? He puts his hands on the hands of the child. That represents the works. He puts his eyes, Jesus says the eyes represent the discernment, on the eyes of the child. It’s basically saying that when we have Christ stretch Himself upon us, we are warmed by His life. He gives us His hands representing His works. He gives us His vision. We want to see through His eyes, don’t we? His mouth on our mouth, “Lord, let me speak with your lips. Let me see with your eyes.” Matter of fact, I wrote a song kind of about this. It says, “Lord, let me see with Your eyes. Lord, let me speak with Your lips. Lord, let me give with Your hands.” This is what it’s talking about; he is exuding his life into the life of the child and the boy became warm. “He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again” he goes back downstairs, and what is he doing when he walks back and forth? He’s praying sort of like when Peter, didn’t Peter raise Dorcas in the upper room? He knelt and he prayed first. He’s praying and he goes back up and he does it again.

He’s not going to give up. “…and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.” Seven times Elisha said Gesundheit! Do you know what that means? Well, it’s a Yiddish word, but it basically, when someone says “God bless you” or when someone sneezes they used to believe that you were expelling something evil. Even with their primitive understanding of medicine back then they understood, they recognized that someone could catch a cold by someone else communicating or aspirating them with a sneeze. They used to think an evil spirit left someone when they sneezed because they figured they understood it. Someone who had a bad cold, they started sneezing around others, they got it. So when he sneezes seven times, how many devils did Jesus cast out of Mary Magdalene? Seven devils. It’s representing that he is being totally delivered from whatever it is that made him sick; he’s being healed. And he revived. Now he says to Gehazi, “Call this Shunemite woman.” So he called her and she came in to him and he said, “Pick up your son. I want you to know he’s alive. Take him in your arms.” So she went in and she fell at his feet again. Isn’t this like Mary at the resurrection? She bowed to the ground and she picked up her son and she went out. Now this to me is one of the beautiful stories in the Bible. Can you imagine her rejoicing? She gets a child by virtue of a miracle twice.

Now let me just, in case you’ve missed some of these lessons here, let me reiterate them for you very quickly. Elisha represents Jesus. He will not force Himself upon us. We must invite Him in. You remember when Jesus was walking down the road to Emmaus with those two disciples and finally they came to the turnoff to their village and Jesus acted like He was going to keep on going, and it says “they constrained Him to come in.” That’s where we get that song, they said, “Abide with us. It’s almost dark.” “Abide with us, fast falls the eventide.” They constrained Him. He came in. If they had not plead with Him to come in, He wouldn’t have come in. You remember when the angel said to Lot, “We’re going to stay in the street,” and he urged them to come in. Now were the two on the road to Emmaus, were they happy that they invited Jesus in? They found that it was Jesus. They hadn’t invited Him in, they never would have known it was Him that talked to them. Was Lot happy he invited the angels, that he urged them to stay with him? Was Lydia happy that she had Paul and Silas come to her home? Was Rahab happy that she brought the two spies in? By the way, Elisha and Gehazi, Paul and Silas, the two on the road to Emmaus, the two spies, you notice there’s two, two, two, two?

It represents the two witnesses, the word of God, the law and the prophets, the sword with two edges. We are to have the two witnesses in our upper room, and when we do that it saves us. The other thing was, he said, “What do you want? I will give you the desire of your heart.” She didn’t even ask; but God knows what you want. He blessed her. When she made a provision to make him comfortable in her house, he gave her the desires of his heart. Do you want your prayers answered? Invite the prophet to abide with you. Invite God to be comfortable in your life. He will work miracles for you. He wants to abide with you. He said to Zaccheus, “I want to abide at your house.” If He’ll abide with Zaccheus who is the chief of sinners in that town, He’ll abide with you, right? He wants to have a relationship with you. You know there are going to be people who will be in the kingdom that didn’t understand all the things you may understand theologically. There may be some people in the kingdom who maybe didn’t even understand about Jesus or maybe did not know about the Christian religion but they had a relationship with God, and they loved Him. Do you have a love relationship with God? She loved Elisha. He was a holy man. She wanted that holy influence in her home. Do you want holiness in your home? God will give you the desires of your heart. Some of you, He can’t trust you answering your prayers because your heart is not right. But if you have an abiding place in your heart for Christ, He’ll be there.

Now who does this woman represent? The church, and we are all the church. What was her greatest desire? That her family might grow; that she could have children. What should be the greatest desire of the church? To have new births, right? Soul-winning, evangelism, that should be our desire, that there might be new children that are born into the family. Some people, you know we’re doing this other NET meeting in a few weeks, another evangelistic meeting. This will be now the third one that I’ve done. Of course, we here at Central Church, we have participated in every single NET meeting. Sometimes we make more of it than others, but we always have it turned on, we always have the doors open, we always invite people. Some folks say, “Ah, Pastor Doug, you’re going to wear the church out. Shouldn’t we take a year off of evangelism?” Why do we exist? The whole purpose is that we might grow, right? That’s our greatest joy is to see others come to Christ. Then we should pray for resurrections. Sometimes those who are born in the family die. Sometimes they backslide and they need to be raised again. So not only are we praying for new births, we’re praying for the ones who are in the house that are dead. What do you do with them? Put them on the bed of Elisha, give them to the Lord, pray that God will bring them back. Frequently the pastors get together, and Karen has a real burden for this, she’s always going through the membership lists, she’s saying, “Where are these people? Let’s call them. Let’s get them back. What do we do to get them back?” Because sometimes they were born, but then they died again. That hurts even more than if they’d never been born. It’s like that woman felt.

But wait. There’s more. I always laugh when I hear that. Get your credit card out now. If you order now, we’ll add… another verse. There’s more to this story. 2 Kings 8. The Shunemite woman is not out of the Bible yet. I’m going to just read this quickly because there’s not time for much more than that. 2 Kings 8:1 “Then Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life…” You know what kind of frustrates me? It never tells us what her name was. Was it Sally or Jane? Give us a name. It just says the woman, this woman, great woman, Shunemite woman, the mother, what’s her name? I always want to know what her name was. I think it’s almost deliberate that her name is not given because she represents the church. Her role is so great it doesn’t even give an earthly name because she’s much more than that. Like that woman in Revelation 12, it says, “I saw a woman…” Doesn’t tell us her name. “…clothed with the sun, standing on the moon, stars above her head, that great woman…” Well, this Shunemite woman, great woman, is also a type of that. “Then Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, ‘Arise and go, you and your household, and sojourn wherever you can sojourn; for the Lord has called for a famine, and furthermore, it will come upon the land for seven years.’” Now this is the second time in the Bible that a prophet divinely warns somebody that a seven year famine is coming, and that they should be spared. Wasn’t there a seven year famine that Joseph predicted?

Did God preserve His people during that seven year famine by the word of the prophet? “So the woman arose and did according to the saying of the man of God, and she went with her household and” dwelt “in the land of the Philistines” that’d be the same as Israel going to Egypt for “seven years.” And where did Naomi go? She went to Moab during the time of famine. “It came to pass, at the end of seven years, that the woman returned from the land of the Philistines; and she went to make an appeal to the king for her house and for her land.” Evidently because she was not an Israelite and she had left the land of Israel, they sort of annexed her property while she was gone. During the famine somebody, maybe one of her neighbors, they said, “Look, she’s a Canaanite. She’s a pagan.” She’s not a physical Jew even though she probably was in church more than some of them. “We’re taking her home with that upper room.” The only thing she can do now is she can go to the king. Now she needs the king’s help, and says, “Please, I need my land back.” Now at the same time she’s going in to make her appeal for the land, Gehazi is in talking with the king. It’s just one of these strange coincidences that you find in the Bible like the very night, I love these stories, the very night that Haman is going to the king to ask for the death decree of Mordecai, the king can’t sleep and he’s got the court scribe reading the records and he hears how Mordecai saved his life. At the very moment that Haman comes in asking for this death warrant for Mordecai to be signed, the king says to Haman, “I would like to honor Mordecai.” The providence of God is amazing. This woman now is praying. She’s on her way to the king.

She doesn’t know why is the king going to listen to this pagan woman and give her back her property? But she says well, “I am friends with Elisha. Maybe…” At the same moment that she’s going in before the king, the king, in his quiet moments he wants to hear about some of the great exploits of Elisha. He calls in Gehazi, he says, “You were right there with him when he did all these great things. Tell me about some of the exploits of Elisha.” Gehazi is right there at the king, and he says, “Let me tell you. I saw where Elisha raised a boy back to life.” He’s telling the king the whole story, and while he’s telling the story there is a knock at the door and it was common when the king sat, he would sit during certain hours of the day and people would come and he would offer judgment. He was the supreme court, so to speak. They said, “We’ve got one more case, your highness. There’s a woman here who’s got something. We didn’t want to let her in. We hate to bother you because she is a Shunemite, you know.” It turns out that as soon as she darkens the door the king might have waved her off. It says, Gehazi had just finished telling these stories, “as he was telling the king how he had restored the dead to life, that there was the woman whose son he had restored to life, appealing to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, ‘My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son’” who is probably now a strapping teenager. What a providence. “‘…this is the woman, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.’ And when the king asked the woman, she told him.” What her problem was. “So the king appointed a certain officer…” he said, I’m sending an official agent with you, saying, “Restore all that was hers, and” anything that land produced during the seven years of famine “until now.” I’m giving it all back to you with interest. Now what does this all mean? This is a wonderful story, friends. That woman represents the church.

That woman and her son represents Christ, the woman and the man-child in Revelation that you hear about. This planet has been kidnapped by the devil. There are approximately seven thousand years in the Bible scenario of salvation. You’ve got, if you add up the ages of Adam, you’ve got about four thousand BC. Right now we’re at about six thousand years. How long is the millennium? One thousand years. And then will everything be restored? No, it’s all going to be restored with interest. It’s going to be even better. God is going to not only restore his original plan for Adam and Eve for his people, but it’s going to be even better for the redeemed because Christ Himself will dwell with us. There will be no tree of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. We’re going to have not only the joy of creation; we’re going to have the joy of creation plus salvation. It’s even better. And so here Elisha, not only is her son restored, all of her substance is restored because she has a relationship with Elisha. How important is it for you to have Jesus abide with you? How important is it for you to have a personal relationship with Christ? Don’t you want Him to be restored in your life?

I’ve done this before, but there are people watching the tape and it fits here, that have never heard this. I want to remind you in closing, there are seven examples in the Bible of women who were barren that had miracle babies always boys. You’ve got Sarah who is barren, through a miracle she has Isaac. You have Rebecca who is barren, Isaac prays, she has Jacob. She has Jacob and Esau, but Jacob is a type of Christ. Rachel is barren, she has Joseph, a type of Christ. Minoah’s wife, her name isn’t given either, Minoah’s wife is barren, miraculously has Samson. Hannah, Elkanah’s wife Hannah, has Samuel. She’s barren. Samuel is a type of Christ. Elizabeth is number six. She has John. Then of course Jesus with Mary. The seventh would be the Shunemite woman. Jesus, of course, He would be the eighth really because was Mary barren? Mary isn’t really in that list; she’s not barren. So you’ve got seven examples. Let me list them for you again: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Minoah’s wife, Hannah, the Shunemite woman, Elizabeth. Have you got that? All of them have baby boys. They’re all types of Christ so we’d recognize Him when He came.

The main theme of this story is that Jesus wants to have a relationship with us. I’ll submit to you that as Elisha passed by and she didn’t want to miss that opportunity, Jesus is passing by right now. He’s saying He wants to have a relationship with you. He will not force Himself on you. You must ask Him, and if that means constrain Him, plead with Him, then plead with Him, friends. Amen? But you want to have Him in your upper room. He will give you new life. He will give you the desires of your heart. Make Him comfortable in your home, and you can abide with Him eternally. If He abides with you now, you will abide with Him then.

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Heroes of Faith by Doug Batchelor

Heroes of Faith by Doug Batchelor
God's Promises




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