2 Kings 4: Lessons from Elisha’s Miracles Regarding the Grace that Jesus Offers Everyone

Introduction: In 2 Kings 4, God performed five miracles through Elisha. In the Bible, the number five is associated with God’s grace. These five miracles foreshadowed several types of grace that Jesus offers to everyone. These include: (1) freedom, (2) new life and sometimes fertility, (3) hope, (4) compassion and love, (5) eternal life, (6) restoration, and (7) provision.

First, Elisha miraculously multiplied anointing oil to provide for a widow of a deceased prophet. The oil symbolized the Holy Spirit. Elisha’s miracle foreshadowed the freedom from bondage that Jesus offers to everyone through the Holy Spirit. Second, Elisha then blessed an infertile couple with a child. Elisha’s miracle foreshadowed the gifts of new life and sometimes fertility that Jesus offers you. Third, when the boy died unexpectedly, the mother believed in faith that God could resurrect him. Jesus also offers you hope in Him when all seems lost. Fourth, Elisha offered the grieving woman compassion and love when her boy died. Jesus also offers you His compassion and love. He loved the world so much that He gave His life so that all might live. Fifth, through Elisha, God then miraculously resurrected the dead boy. This miracle foreshadowed the gift of resurrection and eternal life that Jesus offers to all who believe. Sixth, Elisha later performed a separate miracle where God used him to restore a poisonous stew to feed God’s prophets. Jesus can also restore you from the contamination of sin. Finally, at a later time, Elisha miraculously multiplied bread to provide for 100 hungry followers. This foreshadowed when Jesus used five loaves of bread and two fishes to feed 5,000 hungry followers. Elisha’s miracle foreshadowed how Jesus offers to provide for your physical needs.

1. Freedom: Jesus Offers Freedom from Bondage Through the Holy Spirit. 2 Kgs. 4:1-7.

  • Elisha miraculously multiples anointing oil to become plentiful to help a window. In the first of five miracles, God multiplied a small amount of anointing oil to provide for the widow of a deceased prophet: “1 Now a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord; and the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.’ Elisha said to her, ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?’ And she said, ‘Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.’ Then he said, ‘Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few. And you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out into all these vessels, and you shall set aside what is full.’ So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons; they were bringing the vessels to her and she poured. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her, ‘There is not one vessel more.’ And the oil stopped. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.’” (2 Kgs. 4:1-7). Here, a prophet accumulated debts that the widow could not repay at the time of his death. The creditor showed the widow no mercy and threatened to turn her sons into slaves. In the face of evil, the widow showed faith because she knew that God is full of both mercy and grace.

God’s miracle through Elisha in multiplying oil to bless a poor window1

  • God’s law prohibits enslaving His people. The creditors’ attempt to enslave the widows' children was offensive to God (2 Kgs. 4:1). God multiplied the anointing oil to both free the widow from her family debts and to provide for her family (2 Kgs. 4:7). God’s law allowed for debtors to serve in indentured servitude. Yet, these people had to be released after six years of service (Ex. 21:2-4; Lev. 25:39-40; Dt. 12:12). Debts also had to be forgiven at the Jubilee year (Lev. 25:39-40). More importantly, God prohibited believers from enslaving God’s people under any circumstance: “If a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you, you shall not subject him to a slave’s service.” (Lev. 25:39). “But Solomon did not make slaves of the sons of Israel; . . .” (1 Kgs. 9:22). “Now our flesh is like the flesh of our brothers, our children like their children. Yet behold, we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters are forced into bondage already, and we are helpless because our fields and vineyards belong to others.” (Neh. 5:5). “that each man should set free his male servant and each man his female servant, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman; so that no one should keep them, a Jew his brother, in bondage.” (Jer. 34:9). God also does not want you to hold others captive to their debts when they cannot repay you. God calls upon you to forgive others in the same manner that He forgives your debts (Eph. 4:32).

  • God’s law required compassion and protection for widows. The creditor tried to avoid God’s law against abusing a widow by enslaving her sons. Yet, this would still render the window destitute by taking away the people who could support her. Thus, the creditor’s actions violated God’s law against mistreating windows: “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry;” (Ex. 22:22-23). “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.” (Dt. 10:18). ‘“Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” (Dt. 27:19). ‘“Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,’ says the LORD of hosts.” (Mal. 3:5). Like Elijah, God also calls upon you to help others in need. “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.” (1 Jo. 3:10).

  • Jesus offers the gift of freedom through the Holy Spirit from your bondage to sin. In the Old Testament, anointing oil symbolized the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 16:13). Because Elisha was not present when the miracle took place, this highlighted that God alone was responsible for this miracle. The oil also never burned out. This foreshadowed the miracle of the Holy Spirit that Jesus made possible through His death. We were also prisoners to sin. Yet, Jesus came to free all imprisoned by sin: ‘“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed,” (Lk. 4:18). Through the Spirit, you are no longer under any obligation to obey the cravings of the flesh. The Spirit gives you the power to be freed from the wages of sin and death: “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, . . . So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Ro. 8:6, 12-13). “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:8). Have you set your mind on the things of the Spirit to stay free from bondage?

  • Jesus requires that you act in faith to receive the gift of the Spirit. Unlike the widow, fools fail to prepare to receive the Holy Spirit: “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.” (Matt. 25:1-4). “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.” (Lk. 12:35-36). When you are feeling tempted, pray for the Spirit to empower you to resist the bondage of sin.

  • The Holy Spirit will only fill an empty container. The widow was told to look for only “empty vessels.” (2 Kgs. 4:3). In a similar way, God is looking for a “vessel of honor” to do His will: “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Tim. 2:21). If you are filled with pride or the things of the flesh, you are not giving the Spirit room to guide you. Thus, you must empty yourself of worldly things to let Him fully protect you.

  • God gave in direct relation to the measure of her faith. The amount of vessels that God filled was limited only by the number of vessels that the woman retrieved. If she had collected more vessels, she would have received more oil. If she had collected fewer vessels, she would have received less oil. If the woman’s faith was not backed up by any works, it would have been dead, and her sons would have become indentured servants. If you do not act in faith to receive the gifts of the Spirit, your faith is dead: “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (Ja. 2:17). Is your faith visible to others?

  • Keep yourself free from debts to others and the things of the flesh. Just as the woman had to collect empty vessels to allow God to bless her, keeping yourself free also requires affirmative effort on your part. You should not accumulate debts that you cannot repay: “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” (Ro. 13:8). Nor should you willingly become a slave to the desires and temptations of your flesh. Have you given Satan any openings to enslave you?

  • God also never intended to imprison His servants in loneliness. In these verses, God reveals that prophets could have wives (2 Kgs. 4:1). God also clearly stated that the Aaronic priests could have wives (Lev. 21:7). Not a single verse in the Bible prohibits a priest or minister from marrying a believer. Just as God never wants a person to be bondage to debt, He does not want people in bondage to loneliness. These verses should guide Catholics regarding where a priest can marry today - - they should be able to do so.

2. New Life: Jesus Offers You the Gift of New Life and Sometimes Fertility. 2 Kgs. 4:8-17.

  • Elisha miraculously causes an infertile couple to have a child. In the second of five miracles, God used Elisha to transform an infertile couple and gave them a child: “Now there came a day when Elisha passed over to Shunem, where there was a prominent woman, and she persuaded him to eat food. And so it was, as often as he passed by, he turned in there to eat food. She said to her husband, ‘Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God passing by us continually. 10 Please, let us make a little walled upper chamber and let us set a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; and it shall be, when he comes to us, that he can turn in there.’ 11 One day he came there and turned in to the upper chamber and rested. 12 Then he said to Gehazi his servant, ‘Call this Shunammite.’ And when he had called her, she stood before him. 13 He said to him, ‘Say now to her, ‘Behold, you have been careful for us with all this care; what can I do for you? Would you be spoken for to the king or to the captain of the army?’’ And she answered, ‘I live among my own people.’ 14 So he said, ‘What then is to be done for her?’ And Gehazi answered, ‘Truly she has no son and her husband is old.’ 15 He said, ‘Call her.’ When he had called her, she stood in the doorway. 16 Then he said, ‘At this season next year you will embrace a son.’ And she said, ‘No, my lord, O man of God, do not lie to your maidservant.’ 17 The woman conceived and bore a son at that season the next year, as Elisha had said to her.” (2 Kgs. 4:8-17). Shunem was located in Galilee. The Shunammite was a “prominent woman.” (2 Kgs. 4:8). Thus, God had blessed her with wealth. Yet, unlike many wealthy people, she was not selfish. Instead, she gave to support God’s prophet without seeking any type of reward. At first, she wanted to feed him. She then wanted to give a place to rest and restore himself from his long journeys. Elisha asked what she wanted, and she asked for nothing (2 Kgs. 4:13). Because she used God’s gifts for His Kingdom without seeking a reward, God rewarded her.

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621 – 1674) “Elisha and the Shunammite woman” (painting 1649)2

  • God rewards those who generously give to Him and the poor. Jesus later alluded to this miracle to reveal how a person who helps one of God’s representatives in secret and without an improper motivation, will receive His reward: “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Matt. 10:41-42). “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” (Heb. 6:10). “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”’ (Matt. 25:40). Are you financially supporting missionaries, church leaders and others helping those in need?

  • Jesus blessed you with your life. Even if you never need to turn to Jesus for problems of infertility, you can give thanks that Jesus miraculously created you in the womb: “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” (Ps. 139:14). Most take their lives for granted. Many can only complain about their lives. But Jesus deserves praise for making you.

  • Jesus also blessed His believers by making them new creations. If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you can also give thanks that He has made a new creation out of you: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17). “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Ro. 6:4). Yet, you must actively work to make sure that you do not corrupt the new creation that Jesus has created: “and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Eph. 4:24). Are you living as a new creation?

  • God can also restore an infertile family with fertility. In ancient cultures, it was considered a mark of a curse or shame to be infertile (e.g., Gen. 16:1; 18:10-15; 25:21; 30:1-2; 1 Sam. 1:6). Yet, God has the power to restore a person from any deficiency or reproach. This includes, but is not limited to, infertility. As an example of this, God promised Abraham that he would restore Sarah’s infertile womb at an old age: “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” (Gen. 18:14). Likewise, God healed Rebekah’s womb and also granted her children (Gen. 25:21). As another example, God transformed Hannah’s womb and blessed with her son Samuel (1 Sam. 1:9-18). With God, any miracle is possible: “And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’ (Matt. 19:26). ‘“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”’ (Jer. 32:27). “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2). If you are suffering from infertility, pray for Jesus to restore you. It might not be part of His will for you. But, if it is part of His will, He will respond to your prayers to Him.

  • Only God can transform you. Like the dead wombs in Sarah, Rebekah, Hannah, and the woman here, you were also once dead to sin. “ . . . you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” (Eph. 2:1). Like their restored wombs, you must also be born again of the Spirit through faith in Christ: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”’ (Jo. 3:3). After each woman placed their trust in Him, He transformed them. Have you placed your trust in Jesus so that He can transform you? If He has transformed you, are you praising Him?

  • Your generosity can bless others in unintended ways. The woman only intended to bless Elisha, and without any promise of a reward. Yet, in this process, she also blessed her servant Gehazi. The same term for servant is used to depict Elisha’s service to Elijah (1 Kgs. 19:21). Elisha would speak through Gehazi to communicate with the woman (2 Kgs. 4:11-13, 15, 25, 29). This in turn allowed Gehazi to become a servant to Elisha as he served God. When you serve, you may inspire others by your example.

3. Hope: Jesus Offers You Hope in Him When All Seems Lost. 2 Kgs. 4:18-24.

  • The woman’s faith that God would use Elisha to restore her son. After seeing the miraculous birth of her son, the Shunammite woman did not lose faith after seeing his tragic death. Instead, she quietly put her hope in God’s grace to resurrect her son: “18 When the child was grown, the day came that he went out to his father to the reapers. 19 He said to his father, ‘My head, my head.’ And he said to his servant, ‘Carry him to his mother.’ 20 When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her lap until noon, and then died. 21 She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door behind him and went out. 22 Then she called to her husband and said, ‘Please send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and return.’ 23 He said, ‘Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath.’ And she said, ‘It will be well.’ 24 Then she saddled a donkey and said to her servant, ‘Drive and go forward; do not slow down the pace for me unless I tell you.’” (2 Kgs. 4:18-24). The father was out directing the harvest with his servants when his son became ill and died. From the context of the story, it appears that the woman tried to keep the boy’s death a secret until Elisha arrived. Unaware of the boy’s death, the husband questioned why the wife wanted to send a servant to Elisha if it was not a new moon festival or the Sabbath, days meant for religious observances (Nu. 28:9-15). She may have heard how Elijah raised from the dead the son of a widow (1 Kgs. 17:21).

The Shunammite woman’s son experiences head pain and then dies3

  • The woman prepared in faith for the boy’s resurrection. A normal reaction would be to first grieve and then prepare for a funeral. Yet, the woman put the child on the prophet’s bed to prepare in faith for his resurrection (2 Kgs. 4:21). Your resurrection also requires faith: “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6).

  • Jesus gives you hope when you face death and sorrow. Like the Shunammite woman, you can give your grief to Jesus when a believer dies. When a believer in Jesus dies, you can place your hope in His promise that the deceased person is only “asleep” until He returns: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” (1 Thess. 4:13-14). “who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.” (1 Thess. 5:10). “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Ro. 14:9). “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;” (2 Tim. 2:11). Knowing that your loved one is in a better place that you cannot see is the kind of faith that God expects from you: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). “while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18). “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?” (Ro. 8:24). “for we walk by faith, not by sight-- we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:7-8). If you know someone is grieving the loss of a believer, let them grieve. Yet, also encourage them that the believer is merely “asleep” until Christ returns to take that person home. Likewise, when you experience turbulence in the world, He is the source of your peace (Eph. 2:14; Col. 3:15). No matter what you are suffering from, put your hope in Him.

4. Compassion / Love: Jesus Offers You His Compassion and Love. 2 Kgs. 4:25-31.

  • The woman showed faith-led obedience in following Elisha’s directions. After seeing the distraught Shunammite woman, Elisha showed her compassion in comforting her: “25 So she went and came to the man of God to Mount Carmel. When the man of God saw her at a distance, he said to Gehazi his servant, ‘Behold, there is the Shunammite. 26 Please run now to meet her and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’’ And she answered, ‘It is well.’ 27 When she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came near to push her away; but the man of God said, ‘Let her alone, for her soul is troubled within her; and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.’ 28 Then she said, ‘Did I ask for a son from my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?’ 29 Then he said to Gehazi, ‘Gird up your loins and take my staff in your hand, and go your way; if you meet any man, do not salute him, and if anyone salutes you, do not answer him; and lay my staff on the lad’s face.’ 30 The mother of the lad said, ‘As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ And he arose and followed her. 31 Then Gehazi passed on before them and laid the staff on the lad’s face, but there was no sound or response. So he returned to meet him and told him, ‘The lad has not awakened.’” (2 Kgs. 4:25-31). Mount Carmel had become a place of worship for Elisha following Elijah’s miracle there (1 Kgs. 18:16-45; 2 Kgs. 2:25; 4:25). Yet, even at this holy place, Elisha showed that he did not have superpowers of foresight. Until God showed him what was happening, he had no idea that the child had died. He could only see that she was in distress. He also could not initially bring the child back to life on his own. Only through God could Elisha restore the lost child. The woman would need to cling to Elisha in faith-led obedience. Elisha in turn would need to cling to God in faith-led obedience. Elisha initially thought that he could save the boy by placing the staff on the boy’s face (2 Kgs. 4:29). Dating back to Moses, the staff was a symbol of a prophet’s God-given power and the prophet’s authority (Ex. 4:1-4; 17:8-13; Ps. 23:4). This also allowed the glory to go to God and not to the prophet. Yet, the woman did not want Elisha to send his servant Gehazi with his staff. Instead, she wanted Elisha to go himself. Eventually, Elisha gave into her requests (2 Kgs. 4:30). Gehazi reached the boy first. Yet, he could not restore the boy (2 Kgs. 4:31). God’s plan required that Elisha plead in humility and submission to save the boy.

  • Cry out to God and depend upon Him alone. After initially hiding her emotions from Gehazi, the woman revealed to Elisha that she was filled with bitter sorrow: “Then she said, ‘Did I ask for a son from my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?’” (2 Kgs. 4:28). God tested this woman the same way he tested the widow of Zarephath before Elijah raised her son from the dead. Despite having seen God’s miracles, she also bitterly complained when her son died: “So she said to Elijah, ‘What do I have to do with you, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance and to put my son to death!”’ (1 Kgs. 17:18). Yet, unlike the widow of Zarephath, the Shunammite woman came in faith believing that God would empower Elisha to resurrect her dead son. Upon seeing Elisha, “she caught hold of his feet.” (2 Kgs. 4:27). This showed her humility and submission before God’s representative. Throughout this account, she showed greater faith than most in either Northern Israel or Judah. When you are struggling or in pain, God also wants you to cry out to Him and give Him your burdens.

  • Jesus is filled with compassion for his people. Gehazi tried to keep the woman from touching the feet of God’s prophet, believing that it was inappropriate: “And Gehazi came near to push her away;” (2 Kgs. 4:27). Yet, Elisha rebuked him “Let her alone.” (2 Kgs. 4:27). Elisha allowed her mourning because God is filled with compassion and love for His people. As His representative, Elisha would try to show the same compassion and love. Jesus is also filled with compassion for the people: “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt. 9:36; Mk. 6:34). “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” (Is. 49:15). Jesus loved the world so much that He gave His life so that all might live: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jo. 3:16). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro. 5:8). “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (Jo. 15:13). If you feel alone in your grief, you can always know that Jesus cares about your pains.

  • Be compassionate and loving to others. Just as Elisha showed compassion to the woman, God calls upon you to show compassion and love to others: “Thus has the LORD of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother;”’ (Zech. 7:9). “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (Jo. 13:34). When others are suffering, do you make time in your busy schedule to show them love and compassion?

5. Eternal Life: Jesus Offers You the Gift of Resurrection and Eternal Life. 2 Kgs. 4:32-37.

  • Elisha miraculously resurrects a dead child. In the third of five miracles in this account, God resurrected the boy when Elisha was unable to do so with his staff: “32 When Elisha came into the house, behold the lad was dead and laid on his bed. 33 So he entered and shut the door behind them both and prayed to the Lord. 34 And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm. 35 Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes. 36 He called Gehazi and said, ‘Call this Shunammite.’ So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, ‘Take up your son.’ 37 Then she went in and fell at his feet and bowed herself to the ground, and she took up her son and went out.” (2 Kgs. 4:32-37). Elisha resurrected the boy in a manner similar to Elijah (1 Kgs. 17:21). The child sneezed seven times and then opened his eyes (2 Kgs. 4:35). The number seven is symbolic of God’s completed work. This showed that God has completely healed the boy. The mother showed her gratitude and thankfulness as she bowed to the ground before Elisha (2 Kgs. 4:37). Their humility and faith was a condition precedent to God’s miracle.

Benjamin West (1738 – 1820) “Elisha raises son of the woman of Shunem” (1765)4

  • God exalts those who humble themselves before Him. Elisha was forced to humble himself before God the same as Elijah did before resurrecting a boy: “Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the LORD and said, ‘O LORD my God, I pray You, let this child’s life return to him.”’ (1 Kgs. 17:21). Paul later fell on Eutychus to resurrect him in a similar way after he fell off of the third story of a building: “And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. 10 But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, ‘Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.”’ (Acts 20:9-10). God will also use you when you humble yourself before Him: “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.” (Lk. 1:52). “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Jam. 4:10). “So that He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” (Job 5:11). A nation will also be healed when it humbles itself before God: “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14). Do you walk with humility while serving God?

  • Jesus alone has the power to resurrect the dead. The resurrections that God performed through Elijah and Elisha foreshadowed Jesus’ future resurrection of Lazarus: “This He said, and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.’ . . . When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth.’ . . . Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.” (Jo. 11:11, 43, 45). Yet, there was an important difference between the miracles performed through Elijah, Elisha, and Jesus. As one commentator observes: “Elijah and Elisha rightly begged God to raise the dead. Jesus commanded the dead to be raised.” (David Guzik on 2 Kgs. 4).5 Thus, you can only put your faith in Him. You cannot put your faith in people.

  • Jesus promises eternal life through Him. If you have faith in Jesus, He also promises that you will have eternal life in heaven: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jo. 3:16). “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,”’ (Jo. 11:25). “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.” (Jo. 5:21). He also promises you a dwelling place in the eternal Promised Land (Jo. 14:2). Your inheritance in heaven is so great that it cannot be adequately described in words (1 Cor. 2:9; Ro. 8:18). Have you given thanks for the eternal life that Jesus offers you?

6. Restoration: Jesus Can Restore You From The Contamination of Sin. 2 Kgs. 4:38-41.

  • Elisha miraculously causes poisonous stew to become healthy. In the fourth of five miracles in this account, God used Elisha to make a poisonous stew edible for the disciples: “38 When Elisha returned to Gilgal, there was a famine in the land. As the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, ‘Put on the large pot and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.’ 39 Then one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and sliced them into the pot of stew, for they did not know what they were. 40 So they poured it out for the men to eat. And as they were eating of the stew, they cried out and said, ‘O man of God, there is death in the pot.’ And they were unable to eat. 41 But he said, ‘Now bring meal.’ He threw it into the pot and said, ‘Pour it out for the people that they may eat.’ Then there was no harm in the pot.” (2 Kgs. 4:38-41). This fourth miracle took place during a seven-year famine in Israel (2 Kgs. 8:1-3). Elisha came to dine with the prophets in Gilgal where Elijah went before his rapture (2 Kgs. 2:1). At the time, the prophets suffered from hunger. While foraging for supplies, they accidentally created a stew from poisonous plants. God used Elisha to miraculously restore the stew.

Elisha transforms poisonous stew into healthy stew6

  • Elisha used his gifts to restore that which sin had contaminated. To demonstrate God’s power to heal and cleanse, Elisha previously restored the putrid and cursed waters around Jericho (2 Kgs. 2:19-22). This showed that he had the same power given to Moses when he cleansed undrinkable waters for the thirsty peoples: “Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them.” (Ex. 15:25). In addition to your eternal life, God wants to restore your life on Earth as well: “Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and make supplication to the LORD your God, that He would only remove this death from me.” (Ex. 10:17).

  • Jesus can also restore you when you cry out to Him in faith. Like the “death” found in the stew (2 Kgs. 4:40), Jesus can restore you from the curse of death, sin, and decay. Most of His miracles were focused on restoring people damaged from different types of diseases or ailments. His healing of the woman who bled for 12 years is one example. (Lk. 8:42-44). If you are suffering from an ailment, turn to Jesus for your restoration.

7. Provision: Jesus Offers to Provide For Your Physical Needs. 2 Kgs. 4:42-44.

  • Elisha miraculously expands limited food supplies to feed 100 men. In the final fifth miracle in this account, God used Elisha to transform a small amount of food to feed 100 men: “42 Now a man came from Baal-shalishah, and brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And he said, ‘Give them to the people that they may eat.’ 43 His attendant said, ‘What, will I set this before a hundred men?’ But he said, ‘Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’’ 44 So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.” (2 Kgs. 4:42-44). Elisha gave his servant 20 loaves of bread and limited grain to miraculously feed 100 men. Moreover, his servant Gehazi still had bread left over after feeding the men. This again showed Elisha’s great faith and God’s faithfulness to keep His promises.

  • Out of love, God provides for His people. God previously used Elijah to transform a small amount of flour into an ongoing source of food for a widow and her son (1 Kgs. 17:14-16). Elisha’s miracle here also involved food. The two miracles show God’s love and desire to provide for His people. His care for you is not limited to your eternal life.

  • Jesus also showed love for His people by providing for them. These miracles also foreshadowed Jesus. He is the bread of life for all mankind (Jo. 6:35). When 5,000 people following Jesus ran out of food and became hungry, He also provided for them. He transformed five barley loaves and two fishes to miraculously feed the masses: “And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, ‘I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.”’ (Matt. 15:32; 14:13-21; Jo. 6:9, 11; Mk. 6:30-44; 8:1-10; Lk. 9:10-17). God does not want you to rely upon yourself when you are in need. Instead, if you are need, turn to Jesus to provide for you.

  • God can use your love for Him to show compassion for others. The unnamed man from Baal-shalishah made a “first fruits” offering to Elisha (2 Kgs. 4:42). In the Old Testament, the first fruits of a person’s labor were to be given to God through His priesthood (Lev. 23:20; Nu. 18:13; Dt. 18:4-6). Elisha then used this man’s generosity to bless others. When you tithe, you also allow God to bless others with your generosity.