Perhaps my favourite Bible story is tucked away in the second book of Kings.¹ In fact it may have been overlooked by many due to its shortness of length. It is contained in just two verses in chapter 13.
Elisha had been sick and finally died. He was interred in a mausoleum. Israel’s kings were far from living up to God’s Word. Consequently the surrounding troublesome nations were causing problems.
One day a group of Israelites was carrying the body of a man to his final resting place. As these men struggled under their awkward burden, a band of Jordanian² troublemakers appeared from behind a hill.
All thoughts of a peaceful funeral soon disappeared as self preservation crowded the Israelites’ thinking. What to do? Where to run? What about the corpse?
There wasn’t a lot of time for considered decision making. So in a flash they unanimously decided to dump the body and hot-foot it out of there! It just so “happened” that Elisha’s crypt was close by. And so, with an absolute absence of decorum, the deceased friend was bundled in with Elisha! And not a moment too soon.
I guess the four minute mile was smashed at this time by not one, but all of the pallbearers. As the locals hid from the marauders, their dead friend was left in the eerie gloom of Elisha’s resting place. The man of God was dead. His body was no more. He was just a pile of dry, whitened bones.
But God enacted a miracle that day. On coming into contact with Elisha’s dry bones, the dead friend was immediately invigorated with renewed life as he was resurrected. I suppose it was a toss-up between the resurrected man and the funeral party who was most surprised! [pullquote]
Imagine awaking from death on a pile of bones in a gloomy tomb. Imagine his friends coming out of hiding when the coast was clear only to run into their “dead” friend heading back into town from the cemetery. I imagine there were little groups of villagers with their heads together that evening, desperately trying to come to grips with the day’s events. How could this be? What happened here? The inspired author doesn’t dwell on this anymore. We’re left to reach our own conclusion. Man dies; body touches Elisha’s bones; dead man springs to life.
I can only speculate that this insignificantly sized story has a significant lesson for us. Elisha truly was a dedicated and loyal prophet of the true God. His life was packed with great deeds of servitude and miracles. His influence over the Israelite nation was divinely powerful. Even in death his influence continued. There must be a lesson here for us.
We are called to represent God in today’s society. We have the opportunity to be influential to those we see each day. We may not have an opportunity to directly discuss God’s plan of survival directly with anyone. In fact, if we tried, it could well have an opposing result than desired
Sure, at times we will be offered a more direct opportunity to discuss what Christ has done for us, but more often what people silently experience in our presence will have a greater effect on them . . . even when we have moved on. The often underrated “Spirit fruit” exhibited in a Christ-like life will bring new life to many who would shun a more direct invitation to salvation. Others will know if we have the Holy Spirit in our lives. They will see and experience love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance³ in our treatment of them.
Perhaps we should stop praying for the Holy Spirit—it’s a gift that’s already here—and start praying for the fruits of the Holy Spirit to grow and mature in us. Who knows? A life may be saved from being in contact with us.
Phillip Lomman writes from East Lynne, NSW.