Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Breath of New Life, Part 5

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss wants to know, where do you turn when crisis hits?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: There is no book, there is no conference, there is no anything! There is no person who can meet the crisis needs of your life or mine; that’s where we need divine intervention. 

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, October 30, 2015.

All week we’ve been in a series called "A Breath of New Life." Yesterday, we looked at 2 Kings and heard the story of a mom . . . we’re calling her the Shunammite woman.

When her only son died, she was able to say, “All is well.” Nancy will continue the series in a minute, but first we’ll hear from a listener who was moved by the sense of peace this mom showed.

Rebecca: I was amazed as I stood back and watched this woman on the pages of Scripture. She knew that life was about glorifying God. I think we sometimes forget that when we go through trials and hardships that there is often a bigger picture behind that. I was struck by the fact that she said, "All is well" a few times. I did what you shared. I looked up what the word "well" meant. I saw in Hebrew it meant "peace." I was thinking, She knew the Prince of Peace. She knew God. That enabled her to trust and say, "You're sovereign. I don't know why I'm going through this, but I'm going to trust You." Years later, someone like me could read that story and see God's glory displayed. She was willing to make herself available to be used for God’s glory.

Nancy: Rebecca, what you just shared sums up what this next section in this woman’s life is all about. It is about glorifying God and the story He’s writing in our lives, as we’re going to see. If you’ve just joined us for this series, we’ve talked about the hospitality, the generous heart of this Shunammite woman (she was from the town of Shunem). She added on a room to her house for the prophet Elisha.

We’ve seen how, through a miraculous act of God, she was given a son. Then several years later the child that she loved so dearly became ill and died. That’s what we saw in the last session.

She knew that there was no way this child could be restored to life apart from a miraculous act of God. The same kind of miracle that had given that child to her, it was going to take another miraculous act of God in order for her to get that child back. Based on the supernatural way God had provided this child, I think maybe it just didn’t make sense to this woman that God intended to take this child now.

This child was so clearly a gift of God. It maybe just didn’t seem to her consistent with God, that He intended things to end up this way. Now, in saying that, I realize that sometimes things do, in the short term, end up this way. But we’re only seeing the short term and not the big picture, which is what I want us to see today in this next section on the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4.

As the Shunammite woman is talking to Elisha, she’s going to pour out her heart to him. She’s gone the fifteen or twenty or so miles to see him. She’s undoubtedly had heard Elisha the prophet tell the story of another son who had died in the days of Elisha’s predecessor, Elijah.

That story is told in 1 Kings 17. You may remember there the widow of Zarephath, how she and her son were down to their last little bit of food and were about to die. God miraculously intervened and provided flour and oil for them to survive the famine. Then, when that woman’s son became sick and died, the distraught mother pled with Elijah, and God used Elijah to bring that child back to life.

Surely this Shunammite woman had heard that story. Those things don’t just happen every day, and I’m sure word had traveled. She knew Elisha, who knew all about that story, so she’d heard that story. She knew the power of God to give life—she had experienced that herself—and she knew about the power of God to overcome death.

She also knew that the spirit of Elijah had been given to Elisha. So as a result of all this, as she was making that trek on that donkey to Mt. Carmel, she was not going to give up hope for her son, whose lifeless body was lying on the bed of the prophet in the prophet’s chamber in her house.

Matthew Henry, the commentator, says, “In this faith she makes no preparation for the burial of her dead child, but for his resurrection.” She doesn’t know what God’s going to do, but she’s setting the way—so to speak—that God can, if He chooses, bring about a resurrection.

So leaving the child in the house, she saddles up the donkey, she hurries all those miles to find the prophet. Then, verse 27 of 2 Kings 4 tells us, "And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet."

She prostrates herself, she throws herself down at the prophet’s feet.

She’s perhaps out of breath. This has been a long journey. She’s gone as fast as she can, and she throws herself down at the prophet’s feet. I think it’s a picture of desperation; something is critically wrong, “I need help.” But it’s also a picture of respect, of humility. She takes her place at the feet of God.

Now, Elisha’s not God, but he’s a man of God—he speaks for God. Remember, as we said in the last session, she is seeking after God with all her heart. Then we see just a different picture in the next part of that verse: "And Gehazi [Elisha’s servant] came to push her away."

He didn’t have Elisha’s heart. He didn’t have God’s heart for this woman. This woman is an intruder. "What's she doing? She's bothering our day. She's interrupting; she's a distraction." I don't know what he was thinking. But he just pushes her off. Women weren't often respected. And here's an emotional woman—a high maintenance woman, as we sometimes say around here. What was he thinking? I don't know, but he tried to push this woman 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.'"

You see such a contrast between these two men. Elisha was a true servant of the Lord. When you’re a servant of the Lord, you love the Lord’s people—you have the Lord’s heart of compassion for them.

When you’re a servant of the Lord, you love the Lord’s people—you have the Lord’s heart of compassion for them.

Gehazi did not have the same core values that Elisha did, as you see in the next chapter as well (2 Kings 5), in another incident in his life.

Which makes me ask: When people in distress come my way, are they going to find me to be more like Gehazi? Or Elisha? When your children are in distress, when they have a need, when they are upset about something in their little world, or your husband is in distress, or someone in your church is in distress, or there is a high maintenance woman at your church who wants a few minutes of your time but you know it's not going to be a few minutes, you know it will be a long, hard discussion; are you more like Gehazi where you push people away? I can't tell you how many times I've done that—not literally, but in my mind and heart—pushing people away. I'm not really listening and not really caring. People have a sense of that. Or are you more like Elisha who says, "Here's a person in need. I'm not sure exactly what the need is, God hasn't shown it to me yet, but I care; I want to be God's representative"? He has tender compassion on this woman.

So she says to him in verse 28, "Did I ask my lord for a son?" Whose idea was this? You’re the one who brought this up. I was content, and then you had this idea of God giving me a child. "Did I not say, 'Do not deceive me?'"

"Don’t get my hopes up if they’re just going to be dashed." That’s what she begged the prophet when he told her about this child that was going to be born.

At this point, Elisha realizes that she hasn’t told him yet exactly what has happened, that there is something wrong with her son. Something has gone wrong; there’s some kind of crisis there. So he says in verse 29 to his servant, 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."

In other words, “Hurry!”

Presumably, Gehazi was a younger man, and Elisha knew the servant could outrun him. He said, "[You go] and lay my staff on the face of the child." 

The woman has raced to get to Elisha. Now Elisha sends Gehazi back the same way and says, "Don't get distracted; don't get delayed." He takes the situation seriously. Again, it's not clear why Elisha sent his servant for this clearly critical situation. Perhaps he was thinking, This is the fastest way to get to this child and take care of this situation. Maybe he was thinking that the staff, Elisha's staff would represent his own presence and God's power and there would be power that would come through that staff.

Verse 39, "Then the mother of the child said, 'As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.'" So she’s not going back with Gehazi; she’s sticking with the man of God.

She really believes that Elisha’s the one—God’s the one—who can help her in this situation. She has perhaps not seen the Spirit of God—the same sort of God’s presence—in the life of this servant. So here’s a persistent woman. She is not going to settle for less than God’s power, God’s presence, the man of God. So he arose and followed her.

Verse 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.'"

The child, in other words, is dead. There is no life.

This staff, in and of itself, was useless. It was just a piece of wood. It was not going to accomplish anything miraculous unless it had the power of God and the power of the man of God behind it. To me, what a picture this is of the futility of human effort, human plans, human programs apart from the presence and power of God.

In that desperate situation in your life, there is no program, there is no counselor, there is no book, there is no conference, there is no anything! There is no person who can meet the crisis needs of your life or mine. That's where we need divine intervention. We need the power of God. We need the presence of God. It's true of this little boy who has lost his life, but it's also true spiritually of prodigals, of children you have a heart for, of children you cry yourself to sleep for longing for God to restore. You do what you can do. You've home schooled them. You take them to a conference. You send them to this school, or this program, or this counselor, or you get this person involved, and you see no change. It's because those things have no power unless God chooses to intervene supernaturally.

Human effort without the presence and power of God is futile.

If you want to see that heart of your loved one, your friend, that person restored, you’ve got to get the presence and power of God involved. That’s what happens when Elisha gets to the house, verse 32 and 33, "When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord."

The word for "pray" there means to “intercede.” He puts himself between that child and God and grabs hold of the throne of grace, and says, “God we need you. Would you come and do what is needed in the life of this child?” That’s what an intercessor does. He comes between human need and divine capacity. “God we need you!”

Elisha knew that he had no power of his own to give life. Nor do you, nor do I. I don’t have power through this radio ministry to give life to anybody. We see lots and lots of women’s lives and homes being transformed through this ministry. We see marriages getting restored, people coming to faith in Christ, but I have no power to do that.

That’s why before I came here this morning, I was on my knees in my study saying, “Lord, would you come and speak to us today? Would you anoint these words with Your presence, with Your power, with Your Holy Spirit? Nothing will happen in women’s lives as a result of what is taught today, if You don’t do it."

We’re just a lifeless staff. We’re just Gehazi; we’re just Elisha. It’s no good without the power of God. So Elisha prays and recognizes that, “Apart from Me [Jesus says] you can do nothing.”

He does it alone. He’s alone there with the child; he shuts the door. There’s no spectacle—just private, earnest prayer.

I wonder how many of you moms, grandmoms, are taking time to shut the door and go into your closet and plead with God to intervene in the life of your child, your mate, your loved one. He prayed. Then, verse 34, "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."

Obviously, Elisha was bigger than the child, so I don’t suppose he put his whole body at one time on the child, but just part to part, hand to hand, face to face, putting himself on that child. It seems a little strange until you see that God uses it. "And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm."

Now this child was dead. This child is not in a coma, not just sick, not just sleeping. This child was dead. There was no life, and it wasn’t Elisha’s body that brought life to this child. It was the Holy Spirit working through the prophet of God, the man of God, to infuse new life and breath into the child’s lifeless body.

It’s a picture of how God wants to use us—life to life—laying ourselves on those who we love. It reminds me of Paul saying in 1 Thessalonians that “When we ministered to you, we were pleased to give to you—not only the gospel—but our very lives as well.”

You don’t bring new life to your kids or your friends or people who are needy in your neighborhood by just telling them the truth—we’ve got to do that—but you do it also by giving your life, by pouring your life, by investing your time and resources, by laying yourself on that person, so that God can work through you by the power of His Spirit to bring new life into the one you care about.

Well, this was a process involved here. Restoration wasn’t immediate. Verse 35 says, "[Elisha] 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."

There was a process here; there was perseverance.

Elisha didn’t give up when the child didn’t come back fully to life the first time. And finally, the child does come back to life. It’s a miracle! And then, verses 36 and 37, "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.' She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground. Then she picked up her son and went out."

I love her first order of business. You’d think the first thing she would have done was go and hug the child, right? But no. She goes back to the prophet’s feet. She started at the prophet’s feet, pleading with him to come, and now God has intervened.

So she falls back at his feet, bows to the ground—gratitude, worship. The first time she was at his feet in desperation, now she’s at his feet in elation, exhilaration. and celebration. She returns to give thanks before she picks up her child. The Shunammite’s story, amazing as it is, points us to a larger, grander story, as Rebecca mentioned a few moments ago.

The town of Shunem was actually a village at the base of the southern slopes of a hill called Moreh. It’s sometimes called Mt. Moreh, but it’s only about thirteen hundred feet high, so it’s more of a hill. Shunem is at the base of that hill. This miracle takes place in the village of Shunem.

Now, fast forward about nine hundred years. About two miles away from Shunem, on the opposite slope of that same hill of Moreh, the northern slope, is another town called Nain. Does that ring a bell? Luke 7:11–15,

Soon afterward [Jesus] went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her . . .

And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came up and touched the bier [the casket], and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

You can’t miss the parallels between the miracle that took place with the son of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4, and the miracle that took place nine hundred years later, two miles away, in the village of Nain. Both took place at that base of the same hill.

Both involved a dead child who was the only beloved son of his mother. In both cases, that son was that mother’s hope for future provision and survival. Both of those instances involved a man of God who was a prophet, and in both cases the child was miraculously restored to life. In 2 Kings 4, Elisha said to the mother, “Pick up your son.” In Luke 7, “Jesus gave him to his mother.” There are so many parallels between these passages.

As the crowd in Jesus’ day saw this miracle take place, they couldn’t have helped but make the connection between what they had just seen and the miracle that had been performed on that same hill nearly nine hundred years earlier by the prophet Elisha whom they so revered.

Elisha’s miracle-working ministry was actually a preview of the greater miracle-working ministry of Jesus. So after Jesus brings back to life this son in the village of Nain, Scripture says,

Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!"and "God has visited his people!" And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

Keep in mind, Jesus was the promised Messiah. The Jews had clung to this hope for centuries. He was the one whom Moses called The Prophet. The purpose of Jesus’ miracles was to validate His claims to be the Son of God, the promised Messiah.

The people had a hard time believing that. So in the village of Shunem and then nine hundred years later in the village of Nain, two miles away, the response to a dead son being raised to life was one of worship and joy and amazement. The people in Jesus’ day realized, “This is that prophet that Moses talked about!” They connected the dots.

“He’s not just some ordinary man. This is a man of God!” It was part of the revelation of their realizing who Jesus was, as they connected the story to what had happened nine hundred years earlier. They realized that God was the powerful, redeeming God who had come to deliver His people from the ravages of sin and death.

The Shunammite woman, who was so deeply grieved over the loss of her son, had no way of knowing that she was part of a bigger story and that God was orchestrating events in her life that were intended to point people to Jesus nine hundred years later . . . and thousands of years later, us, as we read and talk about this story today.

We need to remember that our lives are not just about what we can see and experience here and now. They’re part of a continuum—a great drama of redemption that God is unfolding over the ages to bring glory to His Son and to destroy the works of the devil, as we read in 1 John 3.

So in this story of the Shunammite’s son being raised back to life, we see a powerful foreshadowing of the whole theme of resurrection, the promise of the resurrection. Death is a powerful foe that is humanly irreversible, but this miracle there in the village of Shunem demonstrated that God has the power to bring the dead back to life.

He is the God of resurrection. In fact, if you follow the story of this woman of Shunem, you see that there’s the miraculous birth, there’s this unexpected death, and then the miraculous coming back to life. Who does that remind you of? Another son—God’s own Son—who had a miraculous birth, who died a violent death that He didn’t deserve, for crimes that He did not commit, and who was miraculously raised back to life by the power of God.

That same God still has the power to bring the dead to life. In fact, according to the Scripture, if you are a child of God, you have already experienced a resurrection. Ephesians tells us that,

[We] were dead in trespasses and sins . . . But God, who is rich in mercy . . . when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ . . . and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:1–6).

This story also encourages those of you who are moms, who have friends that you love who are not walking God’s way, to lay hold of God, to cling to Him for the spiritual life, the eternal life—to redeem the lives of your children, your grandchildren, your family members and others that you love. Won’t you remember that God is able to do the impossible?

God is able to do the impossible!

That’s what we read in Hebrews 11:35, “[By faith] Women received back their dead by resurrection.” But remember, not all of them received back their child in the here and now, because that verse goes on to say, “Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.”

You’ve got to have the big picture in mind, seeing that God is a redeeming God who will raise to life those who have died in Christ. That resurrection may not be here and now, but there’s another resurrection coming—the resurrection of those who are dead in Christ.

The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise. The Shunammite’s son died again at some point, as did Lazarus after he had been raised from the dead, but this story reminds us that death is not final. There is a resurrection.

Those who die in faith, He will raise back to life, and so Paul says, after he talks about the dead in Christ rising, “Therefore, encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess 4:18). 

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss in the series "A Breath of New Life." We’ve been looking at the story of a woman who lost her only son and was able to respond in faith, saying, “All is well.” So many little inconveniences pop up in life that make us act like all is “not well.” Nancy’s given us important perspective on focusing on God’s glory in small annoyances and big tragedies.

Each circumstance, whether small or big, is an opportunity to cry out to God for help and to watch Him work. We will be visiting the theme “Cry Out” throughout 2016 by airing messages and series on prayer. We’d like to give you a reminder to be crying out to God in prayer through the year by sending you the 2016 Revive Our Hearts Wall Calendar.

Each month, you’ll read a different quote from an Evangelical leader about what it means to cry out to God in prayer. And I think you’ll appreciate the beautiful artwork that went into the calendar as well. Nancy’s here to tell you more about this gift.

Nancy: Evelyn Christenson was a dear friend of mine. She's now with the Lord. She was a woman who had such a heart for prayer. You've heard her before on Revive Our Hearts. In our 2016 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar, you'll read these timely words from Evelyn Christenson.

We work, pull, struggle, and plan until we are utterly exhausted, but we have forgotten to plug into the source of power—prayer.

That's the source of our power. God is the source of our power. When we cry out to him in earnest, prevailing, fervent, believing prayer, then we plug into the source of the power that sustains this universe and that can transform our hearts, our homes, our churches, and our world. There is no power like the power of God that is released into our world when God's children begin to pray. So I want to encourage you to be a part of a remnant of women who are crying out to the Lord—seeking Him, seeking His face, humbling ourselves, repenting, and asking Him to come and visit our land and have mercy on us for "such a time as this."

This 2016 wall calendar is called "Cry Out: A Plea for Earnest Prayer." We would love to send you a copy when you send a donation of any amount to help support the outreaches of Revive Our Hearts. Just give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. Let us know you'd like to make a donation, and be sure to request the "Cry Out" wall calendar when you make you gift. If you'd like to give online, you can do that by visiting us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: On Monday, Nancy wraps up this series and answers this question: Is there such a thing as a chance occurrence? Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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