The Dead Man Quickened

2 Kings 13:20‑25  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
This is the closing expression of the power of God in our prophet. But the way of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, is reflected here still. For by His death we live. To touch the dead body of Jesus—that is, to have faith in His blood—is to be justified and live.
But it is not so much in that general way, as belonging to all sinners, that we get Jesus here, but in connection with Israel, whose prophet Elisha was. For Israel is to be raised up on the earth, after Elijah, theHeavenlyMan, has been translated to His place on high. And Jesus will yet raise Israel to life and the kingdom in the latter day, after He has accomplished His mercy and His purpose with the church, His heavenly witness.
And as the man of grace and power for Israel, here we see Elisha doing his last service. Israel was now in confusion before the face of their enemies. They were put to the worse by the Moabites. The most they can do is to bury their dead; for, we know, that is the service of the dead—”Let the dead bury the dead.” This is shortly, but strikingly, marked as their condition here; but One who has died already, carries life—unlooked-for life, for them. This is shortly, but strikingly marked here. The power of reviving lay in the sepulcher of this mystic prophet.
And so with Jesus, the Messiah and Lord of His Israel. Things will be seen in Him according to this pattern when it shall be said, “The Lord shall judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants, when He seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up or left. And He shall say ... . See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal.” According to Ezekiel, the dry bones shall live; then the Lord will open the graves of His people and bring them out of their graves.
“At evening time it shall be light,” we read. And again, “He turneth the shadow of death into the morning.” Of these holy and august powers, we have faint touches in our prophet’s history.
For in the evening of his days, when he was dying, we saw a light shining, as in the case of Joash and the arrows, that was worthy of his life’s meridian hour. And now, after his sun is gone down, even in the night of the tomb, the full power of the returning morning appears. It all has still a mystery in it. It is mystic ground as well as holy ground that we tread through these histories, and in the spirit of our minds we must tread softly, as ever, with unshod feet, but still be in company with happy thoughts of Jesus and His ways.
Thus have we closed the story of “the great things that Elisha hath done.” Great things they surely were. We have, however, if I may so call it, a short appendix to it, which I read as very characteristic and significant. I mean the notice taken in the last four verses of this chapter, of the times of Jehoahaz and Joash. (See 2 Kings 13:22-25.)
We are told that Hazael of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz; but the Lord was gracious, and had respect to His people, remembering in their behalf His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He gave Joash three victories over the son of Hazael, according to the sign of the arrows with which, by command of Elisha, he had struck on the ground; and he took out of his hand the cities of Israel which his father had lost to Hazael in war.
Here we get the God of the fathers of Israel and His covenant of blessing, in company, too, with the mystic arrows of our prophet, strikingly owned. And this is, as I observed, very significant and characteristic. For Elisha’s ways had been ways of grace and power towards Israel, shadowing, or typical, of the ways of Messiah in behalf of His people. And now that those ways of our prophet had all been run, as we have seen, and even in death he had given life, and made the buried ones to go up from their graves, in a little postscript we get this mention of Abraham’s God and His covenant, by which Israel was to be secured and blest, in spite of all that was against them.
Is not this like the moral of the whole story? Is not this, as it were, the key to the mystery, or the sense of the parable? Thus, in this history of Elisha, we learn that the Lord has pledged succor and strength and grace and revival to Israel in the latter day. It is Israel delivered and blessed that we get here.