The resurrection of the dead is one of the foundational doctrines listed in Hebrews 6. It is also one of the commands that Christ gave to his disciples during their short-term high impact mission assignment. I am sure you have heard plenty of teaching about the Christ’s resurrection and our hope of resurrection to eternal life in heaven, but did you ever hear a teaching on how to raise the dead in this world? Me neither! It’s high time we dig into scripture to build our faith in this matter.
Introduction – avoiding disappointment
I have met a little boy who came back from being dead and my best friend raised a little boy who died during an open air meeting in Pakistan. I have been believing that we too will see such a miracle in our lives too. After all, faith comes by hearing. But there is a difference between a general faith and an expectant equipped faith.
Recently, I found myself in a conversation with my wife and mother about the episode in 2 Kings 4, when Elisha raised the son of the Shunamite woman from the dead. We got talking about how this passage is often preached purely allegorically: about how we need Christ’s eyes to touch our eyes, his mouth to touch our mouth etc. But it is as if no one dares to explore such passages in search for clues of how we can fulfil the command of Christ to follow in his footsteps and raise the dead too.
There are many parallels between raising the dead and praying for a cure for terminal illness. In both cases many believers never give much thought to healing or resurrection until the need becomes acute. Then they act out of desperation and not out of real faith and so are disappointed. I have seen people never really bounce back from the disappointment that goes with naive and unanswered prayer. It makes no difference if the disappointment comes in deliverance, healing or resurrection. Disappointment is not from God and not an appropriate reaction for anyone who wants to grow in God. So we need to do all we can to learn about these matters, before we get into situations where we need this type of faith.
I believe firmly that I will one day see someone raised from the dead. But what should I do during the waiting time? How can we build our faith and be optimally positioned to hear from God when the time comes and we need a strong faith connection?
Permission to enquire
As I was pressing into God for keys in this matter,So I began to talk to the Lord about the matter, and I protested, saying Lord, I cannot teach on something I have not witnessed or practiced. But then he reminded me that we have his permission to believe for things which we have not seen yet, (John 20:29). And he reminded me of the many times we reached out for healings that we had not yet seen. So it is legitimate not just to believe for something that we have not seen yet, but to also press into scripture to find keys that will grow our faith in the matter.
I think that the other spiritual gifts are good models in this matter too. Most people seek to learn about healing or prophecy before they rush off to heal the sick or prophesy. In those matters, people seem to be quite aware of the need to grow into an understanding that goes hand in hand with growing their faith. But when it comes to resurrection of the dead, people tend to think of it as something so supernatural, so divine, so impossible, that it must all be up to God and it must be futile to actually obtain some teaching or information about the matter before we go to pray for a resurrection.
Obviously when a loved one dies, it is too late to start learning about how to raise the dead. So let’s start today, so that when the time comes we will be prepared and equipped with the type of faith connection that it takes to be used by God in this kind of way.
In this Blog post, we will begin by looking at some patterns and in future blog posts, i hope to share more from insights that I obtained from 1) meeting a boy who was raised from the dead and 2) from by best friend who once raised a boy from the dead during a public crusade.
Christ’s commanded it?
Matthew 10:5-10 (ESV) 5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.
This is the command given to the twelve. Were the seventy two given the same command? Is raising the dead listed as one of the signs in the Great Commission passages. We need to explore this aspect in later studies.
Elijah and Elisha raising the dead
1 Kings 17:17-24 (ESV Strong’s) 17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
Elisha Raises the Shunammite’s Son
2 Kings 4:18-37 (ESV Strong’s) When the child had grown, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. 19 And he said to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 And when he had lifted him and brought him to his mother, the child sat on her lap till noon, and then he died. 21 And 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, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.” 23 And he said, “Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.” She said, “All is well.” 24 Then she saddled the donkey, and she said to her servant, “Urge the animal on; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite. 26 Run at once to meet her and say to her, ‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’” And she answered, “All is well.” 27 And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.” 28 Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?’” 29 He said to Gehazi, “Tie up your garment and take my staff in your hand and go. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not reply. And lay my staff on the face of the child.” 30 Then the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her. 31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. Therefore he returned to meet him and told him, “The child has not awakened.”
32 When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. 33 So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. 35 Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house, and went up and stretched himself upon him. The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. 36 Then he summoned Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” 37 She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground. Then she picked up her son and went out.
The number one way we build faith for any spiritual gift is by studying the operation of that gift in the scriptures. Resurrection will be no different. Furthermore, we need to gain revelation from God on the matter, and that comes from asking questions. Remember how Peter got his revelation of the identity of Christ? It was because Jesus asked the disciples questions. So the remainder of this post will be in the form of questions and not answers.
How many parallels can you find between these two accounts ? In each case:
- Where does the resurrection happen
- How did the child get there?
- How do the mothers react?
- What perplexes the prophets ?
- What does each prophet do to raise the child?
- How do the exact actions differ before life returns?
- What happens when life returns?
- How do the mothers react?
Learning about faith
What does the Widow of Zarephath conclude?
What makes a man of God?
Do you think the Shunamite woman had heard the story of Elijah raising the boy?
If so what impact did it have on 1) her actions 2) her words ?
Natural and spiritual communication
Why does the report of Elisha, Gehazi and the Shunamite keep emphasising the role of Gehazi as messenger?
What does the second account tell us about Elisha’s prophetic gift?
What is Elisha confident of?
What do you make of the staff?
- Look at other Bible ressurection stories and look for parallels and keys?
- Look deeper into later stories of Elisha to learn more about his spiritual gifts