10 Steps in Raising the Dead
2 Kings 4:22-37
With six children, my mother had to deal with finding ways to keep us all busy and entertained. In the summer, she could just send us outside to play and lock the screen door, so we would not be running in and out. She would call us when lunch was ready and then after lunch it was back outside to play. However, there were those rainy days during summer vacation and snow days during the school year. During those times, she sent us upstairs to play. It would not take long before we became rowdy enough that mom would have to come to the bottom of the stairs and yell: “If you kids do not quiet down you are going to raise the dead.” At first this was a scary thought. I was hoping that if ghosts did awake, they would be like Casper the friendly ghost. However, as time went by, we learned to play ghosts whenever she would warn us about how loud we were getting.
The Bible does speak to the idea of raising the dead and not just Jesus, Lazarus, Eutychus, Tabitha, etc. in the New Testament. Elisha raised a boy from the dead during his ministry. A little bit of background is in order before we see how he went about raising the dead. There was a woman of Shunem who told her husband they should provide a place for the travel prophet of God, Elisha, to stay so they prepared a room for him. In it she placed a bed, a table, a chair, and a lampstand. She mostly likely provided some other necessities in her little Bed and Breakfast for this holy man of God. Maybe a mint on the pillow or a Gideon Bible in the table drawer. Elisha wanted to reward her kindness. His servant Gehazi noted to Elisha, “actually, she has no son, and her husband is old” (2 Kings 4:14). Elisha promised her, “about this time next year you shall embrace a son” (4:16) so she was blessed with a son.
“And the child grew. Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers. And he said to his father, “My head, my head!” So he said to a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out” (4:18-21). What else is a mother to do? Her promised son is now dead. The Shunammite woman had enough faith in the God who gave her a son to call for the prophet that God might give her back the son she just lost.
Those in sin are dead in sin (Rom. 6:23). The Bible does teach us how to be made alive to Christ. Paul wrote, “and you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).
How to Raise the Dead
Seek God’s Help
The next thing this mourning mother did was to call her husband and request of him, “please send me one of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and come back.” (4:22).
When seeking lost souls dead in sin, Christians need to seek God’s help in prayer. Paul wrote, “therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, … For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1,3,4).
So he said, “‘Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.’ And she said, ‘It is well’” (4:23). This was not a lie she was telling her husband. This mother had so much hope and faith in God that with confidence she knew all will be well or it will be well soon.
There are so many Christians who will make excuses for not going, when Jesus wants us to go make disciples. The excuses are many. “People just will not listen…they are not interested in spiritual things…I am afraid they will reject me and anything I will have to say.” The main reason the Gospel does not work today is that Christians are too lazy or fearful to work the Gospel.
Paul preached with great confidence. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).
“‘Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, ‘Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.’ And so, she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel. So it was, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to his servant Gehazi, ‘Look, the Shunammite woman!’” (4:24-25). She was fervent and willing to do her best to save her son.
Today, it takes zeal and boldness to fervently seek the lost. In 1 Corinthians 9:16 Paul wrote: “for if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”
Trust in God’s Saving Power
Elisha commands Gehazi, “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.” Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me.” So, she said, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?” Then he said to Gehazi, ‘Get yourself ready, and 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’” (4:26-29).
Again, we see the mother’s confidence that all will be well and more of her zeal to save her son. But one thing to note, is the faith of Elisha to act immediately. He sends Gehazi to prepare for his coming. We may not know why his staff was important in regard to the dead child, but we do know that it represented God’s power to save.
The soul winner of today does not rely on a rod, but the Word of God. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (Js 1:21).
Confirm the Need
“And the mother of the child said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.’ So he arose and followed her. Now Gehazi went on ahead of them, and laid the staff on the face of the child; but there was neither voice nor hearing. Therefore he went back to meet him, and told him, saying, ‘The child has not awakened.’ When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed” (4:30-32). Back then they did not have the medical technology to determine whether a persona was truly dead at least in the early stage of death. So, Elisha confirmed this.
To save someone with the Gospel one first needs to judge that a man or woman is dead in sin. Next, he needs to convince the sinner of his desperate spiritual condition. You can never save a soul, until they see they are lost in sin.
When Elisha arrived at the house, he “went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord” (4:33). Prayer alone will not save those dead in sin. However, one cannot save souls without recognizing the need for prayer. Jesus, when recognizing the vast harvest of souls, He encouraged his disciples, “therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:38).
Next Elisha “went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, 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” (4:34). First, Elisha used his staff, next he prayed, now he tries something different. All these attempts by Elisha were not to be seen as trial and error, but they were necessary actions of a man of God desperately do all he knew to do at the moment.
For the soul winner, if one way does not work try another. If the lost do not responsd to the first invitation – give them a second. Fishing for fish and fishing for men have a very important factor in common – success demands patience.
Now Elisha “returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes” (4:35). There are times God has healed immediately during a miracle or delivered in a moment those who needed His supernatural protection. Other times God has chosen a to take His time. Do not give up too soon. How many times in shows and movies do continued efforts restore life using CPR when others have given up.
Rejoice in Their Salvation
“And he called Gehazi and said, ‘Call this Shunammite woman.’ So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, ‘Pick up your son’” (4:36).
In his three parables of the lost (the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son), Jesus shows the necessity of rejoicing at finding that which was lost. Jesus said, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).
Thank God and Take Care of the Saved
Look how the Shunammite woman responded. “So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and went out” (4:37). She thanks God for the saving her son from death and immediately started caring for him.
Too often the newly risen soul is left on the steps of the baptistry to fend for themselves. Instead, they need to be cared for as a newborn babe in Christ. Prayers of thanksgiving need to be offered up to God.
Have you tried to raise those dead in their trespasses and sin lately? Remember these ten steps in raising the dead.
– Daniel R. Vess