Here at First Baptist Church of Cape Coral we have just concluded a series of life-lessons on the ministry and miracles of Elisha, the dominant Old Testament prophet of his time. His last miracle here on earth was fascinating. It occurred after he died. When the Moabites sent raiders invading the land, the Israelites hurriedly tossed the body of a dead Israelite soldier into the tomb of Elisha. When the body of the soldier touched the corpse of Elisha, the soldier revived and came back to life. Wow, what a miracle — even after Elisha was dead! It was one of the most astonishing one-of-a-kind miracles in all the pages of the Bible.
Elisha died by what the Scripture calls the “sickness” (or illness) by which he was to die. (II Kings 13:14) Scripture teaches that there are 3 kinds of sicknesses:
- Sickness unto chastisement, whereby God chastens us and gets our attention through illness. We need to respond with confession and faith, so that we do not die a premature death. I Corinthians 11:27-32
- Sickness unto the glory of God, which has a two-fold nature. The man blind from birth in John 9 was healed by Christ. That certainly brought glory to God — John 9. The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, suffered through a “thorn in the flesh,” which God did not take away. God told Paul that His grace was sufficent — II Corinthians 12:7-10. We can bring glory to God through patience and faith in the face of suffering.
- Sickness unto death, such as Elisha’s in II Kings 13:14. Unless the Lord returns first, any or all of us will eventually be subject to the illness that takes our life.
No matter what sickness we face, we are in God’s hands. And none of our lives will end until God’s purpose for us here on earth is completed. The Psalmist said, “My times are in Your hands!” The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes says there is “a time to be born and a time to die.” Revelation, chapter 1, tells us that Jesus Christ holds the keys to life and death.
In Elisha’s case, his ministry and life here on earth were complete. So, God took Him home to heaven. But then a miracle followed here on earth. Our influence and affect on others will also follow here on earth — even after God takes us to heaven!