2 Kings 13:5
So the LORD gave Israel a deliverer, and they escaped the power of the Arameans. Then the people of Israel lived in their own homes as they had before.
Sermons
Israel's Humiliation Under JehoahazJ. Orr 2 Kings 13:1-7
The Reigns of Jehoahaz and Joash, Kings of IsraelC.H. Irwin 2 Kings 13:1-13
The Death of ElishaD. Thomas 2 Kings 13:1-21
Defection2 Kings 13:2-13


2 Kings 13:1-13, with 2 Kings 13:22-25
Observe here -

I. THE PERPETUITY OF EVIL. How sad it is to read of one king after another, "He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord"! And then the statement is usually made, "He departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin." A bad man does harm to others besides himself. "None of us liveth to himself." Not merely while we live, but after we are gone, our lives and words and deeds will influence others. We may think ourselves very obscure and insignificant, so insignificant that we may argue it does not matter to others how we live. But who can measure the circle of his influence? In ways that we know not, influence may reach other hearts and other lives. Oh! how dangerous is one evil influence in a community! It takes a long time to do away with its effects.

"The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones." Let us be careful how we are influencing others. For good or for evil we are exercising some influence, however unconsciously, on those around us. If we would influence men for good, we ourselves must live near to God.

II. THE MERCY OF GOD. God punished Jehoahaz and his people for their sins. "He delivered them into the hand of Hazael King of Syria, and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael, all their days." When suffering or troubles come, let us see whether the cause of them is not within our own hearts and lives. But he mingled mercy with judgment. God is ever on the watch for signs of the prodigal's return. His ear is ever open for the cry of penitence, for the faintest' prayer for forgiveness and help. Jehoahaz besought the Lord, and the Lord hearkened unto him; for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the King of Syria oppressed them" (ver. 4; see also ver. 23).

Come, let us to the Lord our God
With contrite hearts return;
Our God is gracious, nor will leave
The desolate to mourn.

"His voice commands the tempest forth,
And stills the stormy wave;
And, though his arm be strong to smite,
'Tis also strong to save."

III. HUMAN INGRATITUDE. Though God delivered them from their difficulty and distress, and gave them peace from their enemies, yet, when the difficulty was over, they forgot all about God's mercy. They went back to their old sins. "Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat... but walked therein" (ver. 6). How prone the human heart is to forsake God! The Books of Judges and Kings are full of illustrations of this painful fact. By forsaking God the Israelites brought themselves into misery and bondage. Time after time God raised up judges and kings and prophets to be the means of their deliverance. But when these were dead, or when the immediate danger had passed away, once again the people forsook God. It is the same in the history of the individual. How ungrateful we are for God's unceasing and unfailing goodness! How forgetful of his commandments and his promises! "The way of man is not in himself; and it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." We need all the influence of Divine grace to keep us in the way that is right.

IV. A HUMBLED NATION. To what a low level sin reduces a nation! How shamefully Israel was humiliated before Syria! The King of Syria only left to Jehoahaz fifty horsemen, ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; "for the King of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing." The fate of Israel, the fate of other mighty nations of the past, are a great national lesson to be remembered so long as the world shall last. Ought we not earnestly to pray that this great British empire, which has been built up by God-fearing men, and which God has blessed and honored so highly, may not forsake God for secularism or gross corruption, and thus fall into the fate of the fallen nations of the past? Knowing how great are the forces of evil, it becomes every true Christian to be more valiant for the truth, to be more active in everything that will extend the kingdom of Christ in this and other lands. - C.H.I.







And Elisha died, and they buried him.
Homilist.
Death is no respecter of persons; the most illustrious, as well as the most obscure, must bow before his cold sceptre, and depart from the scene of life. This miraculous incident was designed and calculated to make a wholesome moral impression on the mind of the age. It had a tendency to

(1)Demonstrate to all, the divinity of the prophet's mission.

(2)To show the honour with which the Eternal treats the holy dead.

(3)To prove the existence of a power superior to death. And

(4)To foreshadow a future state.

I. WHAT ARE THE SPIRITUAL REMAINS OF THE HOLY DEAD WHICH HAVE A QUICKENING POWER? What are those remains of the holy dead, which, like the bones of the old prophet, have a power to quicken the dead? The answer may be comprised in one sentence — Gospel thoughts, and Gospel virtues. Such thoughts have a life-giving force. They are the voice that calls up the soul from its grave of sensuality and sin; they fall upon the dead spirit like the quickening rays and refreshing showers of heaven upon the seed that is buried in the soil. What effect they had when uttered by the apostles! By them they woke the slumbering mind of their age, and turned the world upside down; and from the days of the apostles to this hour, whenever they have been brought into direct contact with soul, there has been the touch of life. Who has not felt their power? How often, as they have fallen from the lips of a Christ-inspired minister, have they passed like an electric fire through the audience, startling them with new and strange emotions. Every Gospel thought is charged with a life-giving power. But we say Gospel virtues as well as thoughts. Gospel virtues are but Gospel thoughts in feeling and in action; they are thoughts in their fullest development, and strongest power. It is the Gospel incarnate, made flesh, dwelling and working amongst men.

II. WHERE ARE THE SPIRITUAL REMAINS OF THE HOLY DEAD WHICH HAVE A QUICKENING POWER? Where are they to be found?

1. In the memory of men. It is a solemnising thought, that the spirits of living men are the resting-places of the thoughts and virtues of men that are gone.

2. In sacred literature. Books are filled with the spiritual remains of the holy dead. They are valuable chiefly on this account.

III. HOW ARE THE SPIRITUAL REMAINS OF THE HOLY DEAD WHICH HAVE A QUICKENING POWER TO EXERT THEIR QUICKENING POWER? It was by contact with the bones of Elisha that life came to this dead man; and it is by contact with these Gospel thoughts and virtues, that spiritual life is to be produced. The life of a grain of corn, which contains the germs of future harvests, depends upon contact with certain elements. The energy of explosive matter depends upon contact with fire. A piled mountain of powder is powerless until it is brought into contact with the spark. It is even so in this case; unless we bring our spirits in Conscious contact with these remains they will avail us nothing. How is this contact to be obtained? By devout reflection. The most sacred things and the most powerful elements of truth may be deposited in the memory, yet, unless we prayerfully reflect upon them, they will be foreign to our hearts; we shall never feel their quickening touch.

1. That every age

is increasing in responsibility. As good men depart, the world grows richer in the means of spiritual improvement: every soul that lived a holy life here, left behind it elements of life.

2. We must not judge of men's usefulness by the results of their lifetime.

3. That wonderful revelations may be anticipated on the Day of Judgment.

(Homilist.)

Death is not the great termination; it is only the great interruption. We are endowed with a being which yearns for endless existence. We have a profound feeling that only eternal existence would justify the Creator in our making. All over the world, especially as men advance in power of reflection, the more fully do they become convinced that the original instinct of the human heart is a Divine implantation, and that man shall measure his duration with the duration of eternity. But when we have said this, we have not said all; when we talk of the boundary, death, being an interruption, we are not thinking mainly of eternal existence in the unseen. There is an impression prevalent among us that, when we come to that boundary stone of our being, we are for ever done with this planet; that we have completed our course, and that there is nothing more to be said; the places that knew us will know us no more; our career is finished; the world henceforth must lack interest and charm for us; we have no more place among the dwellings of men. But that is just the thought I desire to dispute, and I wish to remind you that the interruption which we call death does not deliver even from this world. It only changes the mode of our activity and influence in this world. For there is a life even after the body has perished, and the voice has gone dumb. for ever — there is a voice, there is a life that continues among the children of men. And it is to this our attention is drawn by the peculiar narrative read in your hearing. It is not surprising, that the bones of a prophet should make a man alive, nor that the voice of an Abel should sound with strange force down through the generations. When we come to think of the great duties of life, while, of course, we win consult the living, are we not nearly always directed to the dead? A young man has to go out from England, and he knows not whither he is going; his mother admonishes him to take Abraham as his guide, who also went out into Ur of the Chaldees, but who took God with him. A young man is going into a great city, he is to be tempted and tried, and his minister admonishes him to read Daniel, who, in the midst of Babylon, kept his windows open towards Jerusalem, and held communion with the Highest. Another lad is bound to enter upon the great responsibilities of life, and Paul summons to him the admonitions of a Timothy, or some other servant of God whose influence still continues. And when the conscience is burdened with guilt, and the soul burns for peace, it is not to some living minister, to some living Church, to some living power, but it is rather to the death of Jesus Christ, and through that death up to His throne, that the inquiring soul is pointed. And just here we touch on the historic marvel of the ages — Jesus Christ. He illustrates transcendently my thesis. We are fascinated by His earthly career — its purity, simplicity, graciousness, beauty — all attract us. And yet, after all allowances are made for the sick healed, the dead raised, and the outcasts reclaimed, how immeasurably greater has been His posthumous influence than was His brief, humble life! So palpable is this that some theological schools maintain that this surviving influence is what He meant when He promised the mission of the Holy Ghost. It is claimed that just as we feel the spirit of Browning, or of Morris, or of Ruskin, when we meditate on their works, so, whenever we think of religion, the spiritual effluence of our Lord's life is deeply realised. I am not persuaded that this restriction of His promise is warranted; but still we must all admit that the Christ of to-day is more potent than was the Christ of Nazareth, and that, as the ages roll, He becomes an ever-increasing power on the thought, conscience, and conduct of the individual, and on the movements and development of society as a whole. So that, turn as we may, we find that patriarchs and apostles, and fathers and mothers, and poets and school teachers, and enthusiasts and men of letters, and politicians and statesmen, and preeminently the Christ, all these from out the unseen, are moulding us and shaping us. But wherein lies their peculiar power, because certainly this posthumous life is a most potent life? How are you to explain it? I suppose one reason why it has such influence with us is, that it is the most independent life. The dead respect no one. We are frail, fallible, liable to change; but when the curtain falls, the work is ended. If it is an incomplete thing, like the statue of Moses, it must for ever remain unfinished. No tears can change it, no regrets revolutionise it. There it abides. "What is written is written." Moreover, this is an enlarged life. It becomes universal. We are all more or less provincial. We are hedged in by our narrow, local limitations. It is difficult for us to rise above them. But when we die, that is all cast aside. Do you suppose when I read Thomas a Kempis I think of him as a Roman Catholic? Not at all. I read his noble words as universal truths; he has ceased to be aught but a Christian. Very well; when death has emancipated us, and we are free of our limitations, then the posthumous life surges onward, influencing and controlling men. And we never really think of Jesus Christ as a Jew when we pray to Him, and carry to Him our burdens and our guilt. The world has lost sight of the localisms of His ministry. To us He is neither Jew, Greek, nor Barbarian. He is quite beyond all racial distinctions. He is the "Son of Man" — the representative of humanity. When He lived He may have been to His followers provincial — but now He has lost the complexion of the old Hebrew race, and has become world-wide, cosmopolite, universal. Moreover, I suppose this power is to be traced to its continuity, to — its indestructibility. There is a charm in that which lasts. The purpose of the posthumous life. I have tried to analyse the power, and what is the purpose? Why is it that God permits us all to share in this posthumous life? And why is it that God reminds you through me of our posthumous life? It is to impart a higher sense of responsibility. It is to teach you in your little day, it is to assure you that your influence will not die with you, however humble you may be. You are starting currents that will flow into the sea of existence beyond your day. You are throwing a stone into the mighty sea of being, and the waves will extend in ever-widening circles until they beat on the shores of eternity. Great is it for a man to live; awful the responsibility. It is likewise the purpose to add new dignity to humanity. For it is responsibility that makes dignity. You are engaged in a work that is marvellous in its power and in its range. Try to understand it, you will be anxious to be fully equipped, you will be anxious to realise fully what the meaning of God's Word, when it talks to you about a judgment to come. Nor do I think I am far wrong in asserting that we have in this posthumous life a suggestion of what the scientists call the survival of the fittest. True it is "the evil that men do lives after them," and it is not true that the "good is oft interred with their bones." There is a famous picture of the battle with the Huns which decided the fate of Europe. It presents the field at night covered with the slain, but over and above the wounded and the dying the ghosts of both armies are seen in deadly conflict. Though dead, they yet fight. So it is with truth and error, right and wrong, virtue and vice, and with the hosts of those who in former ages were arrayed on the side either of light or darkness. The conflict continues, and ultimate victory must rest with the cause of justice and honour.

(G. C. Lorimer, D. D.)

1. The Jews thought this the crowning miracle of Elisha. Certainly it is unique in the pages of Holy Scripture, and it has also the distinction of being peculiarly offensive to modern thought. The author of Ecclesiasticus sums up his praise of Eliseus, "After his death his body prophesied. He did wonders in his life, and at his death were his works marvellous" (Ecclus. 48:13, 14).

2. Let us look at the circumstances. Elisha was dead and buried. His funeral, according to Josephus, had great pomp. The Moabites were still unsubdued, and infested the land of Israel. Some men were bearing a corpse to burial, when they suddenly "spied a band of men," and, in their eagerness to escape, thrust the corpse into the open tomb of the prophet, and, upon contact with the sacred body of Elisha, the man "revived and stood up on his feet."

3. That the men did this with any idea of restoring the man to, life seems scarcely worth discussion. Their intention is manifest in the text. The Israelites did not believe that the dead could raise the dead, though Elisha had raised the dead, when alive, by means of prayers and actions; nor would they have willingly deposited the body of a sinner in the resting-place of the holy prophet. Fear in the emergency led to this action, and accounts for it, God overruling it to His own purposes.

I. THE MIRACLE.

1. I should like to notice at the outset what a very short and unadorned account we have of this marvel. It is related within the limits of a single verse. How calm and restrained is the narrative! It gives the simple fact, without any embellishment or note of admiration. This in itself betokens an inspired writer. A similar instance of conciseness and composure may be found in St. Mark's account of our Lord's ascension and session to the right hand of the Father: "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19).

2. This is the record of a miracle, and the credibility of miracles is admitted to be a common point of assault in the present day. Perhaps, this arises from looking too much at the miraculous from the lower rather than the higher side. In other words, to fasten our thoughts upon it as an infringement of natural law rather than to regard it as a Divine work, wrought for a moral purpose. The overruling of a lower law by a higher cannot be accurately described as an "infringement," for it is a part of universal law. A miracle is an exceptional occurrence, to awaken man to a sense of the Divine presence and power.

3. But this miracle is especially "offensive" to the sceptic, because of the instrument which God employed in effecting it — a dead body. When there is a living agent who operates, whether prophet or apostle, the wonder-working is not so far remorea from human experience. The spiritualist resents the idea that there can be sanctity and "virtue" in human remains. And yet, as it has been often shown, there are other miracles in the Bible of a kindred nature, as, for instance, the cures wrought through the touch of the hem of Christ's garment (Mark 5:28, 29), through the "handkerchiefs and aprons" of St. Paul (Acts 19:12), and the shadow Of St. Peter (Acts 5:15).

4. It may be admitted that miracles wrought through martial Objects seem more in keeping with the New Testament than the Old; for now God's Son has entered into relations with matter through the Incarnation, thereby elevating it, and imparting to it new qualities. But God uses what instrument He wills, and when He wills, for the accomplishment of His purposes; and, as we shall see, the miracle in the Old Testament may be a type and picture of future truth — a dramatic representation, so to speak, of Christian mystery.

II. WHAT IT TEACHES.

1. The sanctity of Elisha. This event seems to be in his history a sort of counterpoise to the rapture of Elijah. Both were victories over death — the one, by his passage up to heaven without subjection to the "last enemy" (1 Corinthians 12:26); the other overcame death after he was dead and buried.

2. The power of God,

3. As the miracle was calculated to invest the memory of Elisha with a fresh halo of reverence, and to exhibit the Almighty power of God, so was it designed to breathe hope into the hearts of the depressed Israelites at a period in their history when they needed something to encourage them, and to revive their confidence.

4. Beyond, however, the temporal purpose, there was, we believe, a typical and prophetic significance in this wonder. Does it not point to Christ's death as the means of bringing back life to man? Although all His acts were redemptive, His death was the principal. "We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son" (Romans 5:10). He "by His death hath destroyed death" (Proper Preface, Easter). Our reconciliation was effected "in the body of His flesh through death" (Colossians 1:22). But the miracle not only pictures the efficacy of Christ's death; it teaches also that to know its quickening power we must be in union with Him. It was when the man "touched the bones of Elisha, he revived." There was contact before there was life. So there must be union with Christ, sacramental, moral, spiritual, if we would be restored; for only "if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death shall we be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6:5). But the union must be moral as well as sacramental — the one the outcome of the other — for "he that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk even as He walked" (1 John 2:6); that is, the life which God has given within must be, is bound to be, shown forth in the outward imitation of Christ's life. And this union must be spiritual, the spirit of man corresponding with the guidance of the Holy Spirit — an obedience of love.

5. The text, too, is a type of bodily resurrection, though a return to mortal life.

III. LESSONS.

1. Let us be careful, in our view of nature and of the fixity of natural law, that we do not make God into a "mechanical Deity" (Mozley). The soul, made in the image of God, is "conscious of will" in itself, and therefore "declares for a Deity with will"; upon which the power of miracle follows.

2. God can use what may seem to be the most unlikely instruments for the fulfilment of His designs, inert matter to be the vehicle of life and grace.

3. Observe how God fores to honour His saints, and thereby to make His power to be known (1 Samuel 2:30).

4. Lastly, let us be mindful of the truth that the death of Christ is the meritorious cause of all our gifts and graces, and that through union with Him alone have we spiritual life — "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live" (John 5:25) — the life of grace in the soul here, the life of glory in the body also hereafter.

(Canon Hutchings.)

Outlines from Sermons by a London Minister.
Several views have been taken of this incident. By some it has been regarded as a mere Hebrew myth; others have supposed that there was an inherent virtue, or life-giving power, in the bones of Elisha, and that the same power exists in the bones of all men of extraordinary goodness. From this point of view it has become a corner-stone of the doctrine of the efficacy of relics. With regard to the first, the occurrence is related as a historic fact as much as any other in the Old Testament, or as much as the raising of the daughter of Jairus in the New Testament. If it is to be rejected because it is a marvel, almost all the historical books of the Bible may be set aside for the same reason. As to the second view, experience contradicts it. We will therefore accept the fact as it stands, assuming that "it was not the prophet's bones which brought the dead to life, but the living God." Notice therefore —

I. THAT THE RESURRECTION OF A DEAD MAN THROUGH THE MEDIUM OF THE BONES OF ANOTHER MAN IS NEITHER CONTRARY TO REASON NOR TO THE TEACHING OF OTHER PARTS OF SCRIPTURE. If God gave life to man at first, it is surely in His power to restore it by any means, or without any visible means, and it is not more extraordinary than the clothing of the rod of Aaron with beauty and fruitfulness, or the dividing of the Red Sea at the outstretching of the rod of Moses. The rod was the medium, but God gave the power; the prophet's bones were the medium, the life-giving power was God's.

II. THAT SUCH A MIRACLE WAS IN KEEPING WITH THE WONDERFUL LIFE OF THE PROPHET ELISHA. He was a man raised up by God to do a special work. The whole of his public life was marked by miracles. As his predecessor, Elijah, had been honoured by a miraculous exodus from the earth, so it seems fitting that some similar mark of honour should be given to Elisha, either at the time of his death, or after it.

III. THE PROBABLE INTENTION OF THE MIRACLE. It was probably intended to revive, in the mind of Israel, hope in God as to the future of the nation. Elisha, on his dying bed, had foretold the deliverance of Israel from the yoke of Syria: their present sufferings from the Moabites would naturally discourage the heart of the people, and lead them to forget the promise, which was not yet, it may be presumed, completely fulfilled. This resurrection by means of hope in Elisha's Elisha's dead body would be the means of a resurrection of God. Suggestions:

1. God would have the dust of departed saints remind us of their holy lives.

2. The dust of the godly dead may bear witness that they are still living. Its very contrast to the body when it was animated by the living soul, seems to testify to the fact that they must still be living. We speak of the body as theirs, thereby recognising the fact of their existence. The bones are hero called Elisha's bones, suggesting, at least, his continued existence although disunited from his human body.

3. God retains His relationship with His children, even with their bodies, after they have left the world. The miracle here recorded is a proof that God was still the God of Elisha.

(Outlines from Sermons by a London Minister.)

Elijah was carried up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Elisha died in his bed like other men. Josephus tells us that he had a great funeral. With the death of Elisha there was a distinct letting down in the position of Israel among the peoples round about them, and it was not long before outlying tribes that had been respectful and friendly became arrogant and dangerous. The Moabites soon began to invade the land, not with any large army, but with plundering bands that were very aggravating, and very mischievous. It was the occasion of one of these raids by the Moabites that furnished the opportunity for this miracle. Elisha had been buried, according to the custom of the people at the time, in a cave in the side of a hill, excavated out of the rock. A while after his death there was another death in the community, and the neighbors were carrying the dead man to his burial. The Jews of that time didn't use coffins, and the body was bandaged and wrapped instead. As these people were carrying the remains of their friend to some tomb in the vicinity of the tomb of Elisha, they suddenly discovered, not far away, a company of armed Moabites, and saw that they had not time to go to the place they had intended for burial. The tomb of Elisha was nearest, and they rolled back the heavy stone from the door and put the dead body into the cave with that of the body of the prophet. But no sooner had the body which they carried touched the bones of Elisha than the life came back to it, and the man revived and no doubt returned home with his friends. We may find a probable motive for this miracle in the fact that it called world-wide attention, so far as world-wide went in those days, to Elisha. It gave him great prestige among his own people. They said about him that he was the prophet "whose dead body prophesied," and the memory of Elisha's faith in God, his devout and prayerful life, his pure and noble career, meant more to the people than it could have meant before. This would seem a sufficient reason for the exercise of the Divine power in thus honouring the dead body of the prophet. It is for us to find the spiritual significance of the miracle for teaching to our own souls.

1. We may learn from this incident that the influence of a good man or a good woman does not terminate with life on earth. How true that is in our national life. Who would for a moment contend that the influence of George Washington ceased with the citizens of the American Republic when his body was buried at Mount Vernon? His influence is greater to-day, perhaps, than ever before. And if we turn from these great historic illustrations and come into the narrower but tenderer sphere of our own life horizon, how true it is. How true it has been with us that some of the most important influences in making us the people we are to-day have come from those whose bodies have long slept in the grave.

2. It is certainly a serious and important question for us to ask ourselves, whether the life we are now living is of such a character that after we am dead men will be influenced by it for good. There are those who hear me who can bear witness that they are even now under the curse of dead men. The influence of people who have gone to their account still comes back to them, and affects them, and makes it harder for them to be good and easier for them to do wrong. I can imagine nothing more terrible than that. No doubt Dives remembered that during his lifelong association with his brothers all his influence over them had been evil. He had sneered at goodness; he had mocked at conscience; he had recklessly disobeyed God, and he felt that hell would be more bearable if he did not have it upon him to remember that he had brought his five brothers to hell with him through his influence.

3. If we are to be such vital personalities for goodness that our influence while we live and after we are gone from the earth shall be a revivifying power to awaken goodness in other souls, we ourselves must come into personal touch with Jesus Christ, who alone can bring to life and power all possible goodness in our hearts. The man who was buried in the grave of Elisha was not revived until his body came in personal.contact with the bones of the prophet. So we, though we be dead in trespasses and in sins, snail be revived to righteousness and spiritual living when we are brought into personal contact with the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ was buried in the tomb of Joseph nearly nineteen hundred years ago, but He arose from the dead, and He ever liveth at the right hand of God to make intercession for us.

(L. A. Banks, D. D.)

I. GOOD MEN NEVER OUTLIVE THEIR USEFULNESS. Elisha had pursued a brilliant career, after the mantle of Elijah fell upon him, for a series of years; then for more than forty years his name is not mentioned in the national annals. It is not certain that God has nothing more for men to do because they are permitted for a period to remain in obscurity after having been prominent. It would have been sadly to misinterpret Providence, if, when quietly caring for the schools of the prophets and contrasting those days of more humble service with his former days of miracle-working and eminence, he had grown fretful and been disposed to question whether life were worth the living unless it could be a grand life. When Luther's voice was confined within the walls of the castle of Wartburg, and his soul was alternately chafed and bowed down with despondency under confinement which secluded him from what he supposed to be his great work, he was not released from further duty. He did not read on those gloomy walls God's declaration that there was no more for him to do. No, he was being trained in his imprisonment for still greater service; and he went forth at last more powerfully to struggle because kept in durance so long. When obstacles rise in our path which we feel ourselves too weak to remove, or heights are before us which we cannot scale, or duties demand vigour and perseverance which we cannot manifest, we may not declare that we are no longer Called to serve. God will furnish some station for every watchman, some field for every worker. Every part of a Christian's life has its bearing on the whole, and no part is useless, even to the end, unless we so determine. God had this brilliance of old-age service in view throughout Elisha's long years of faithful quiet devotion to his trust, and in not one year was the Master unmindful of the servant or the servant toiling in vain.

II. A GOOD MAN WILL BE ANXIOUS, EVEN TO THE END, RESPECTING THE CAUSE OF GOD. The king seems to have come to the prophet's house only to express his sympathy and respect. Convinced that he could not live, he wept over the face of the man of God, and called to mind his own exclamation when he saw Elijah parting the heavens in his ascent: "O my father, my father! the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof!" With a kind of abrupt eagerness, as though he felt that he had little time, Elisha called for the bow and arrows — which but for his purpose would be much out of place in such a scene — and by two forms of illustration which were appropriate, he summoned the king's attention to what he knew to be most important for him. The thought prominently in his mind was twofold: that the king and the people must feel that deliverance from their fears could come only from God; and that the extent of this deliverance would depend on both their faith and effort. If he could not merely say this, but impress it on the king, his high office as prophet would again be magnified, and Israel would again be saved by his agency. The opportunity to do this caused the duty of life to be superior to the possible experiences of the final hour. Heaven was, for the moment, eclipsed by the earth, and the welfare of his people was of more value than his own. The great need of the Church is such complete consecration to God and identification with His cause in purpose and life. Individual comfort, money, position, are little; the glory of God, the kingdom of Christ, are everything. Men change, trot God will abide; men die, but God will live. The venerable Eli heard the messenger from the camp of Israel say that his people had suffered loss in battle, with only ordinary signs of sorrow; that his own sons had been killed, with only the tears which the father could not restrain; but when he said that the ark of God had been taken by the enemy, the aged priest fell back from his seat and died, "for he was troubled for the ark of the Lord." Joshua after the defeat at Ai must have felt the dishonour that would come on himself — must have been distressed on account of the loss of Israel; but he was unable to express his feelings as he thought of the reproach the Canaanites would heap on their God, and could only exclaim, "What wilt thou do unto thy great name?" Many other instances might be quoted. They all make known the same spirit — a spirit that regarded the highest interests at the cost of any lower — that could bear anything but the overthrow of what they prayed might abide. It has been the same in all ages, and had supreme exhibition in the Lord Jesus Himself. This was the language of His mission and life and death. "Father, glorify Thy name," was His perpetual prayer; and He and His Father were one in purpose and act as everything personal was lost in the object for which He came.

III. THE GOOD MAN'S INFLUENCE LIVES AFTER HIS BODY DIES. Our posthumous influence does not receive enough of our thought. A man may be forgotten, his name may be unknown, and strangers may tread upon his grave or disturb his ashes to make room for their own dead, but the works he made in life will be seen and the power he possessed will be felt by those who follow him. How often does the form of some friend of other days come back in our thoughtful hours to cheer our sadness or excite our tears! How often do the words of wisdom or folly uttered long since by him awaken echoes in the cells of memory, and his example come up before us now! Whether connected with scenes of wickedness or with the hallowed exercises of devotion, all these affect our character, modify our influence on others, and, insensibly perhaps, but really, change our life. Our graves, in a sense, have a power as had Elisha's. This is the natural consequence of our social relations, for even existence with another affects both that other and ourself. "No man liveth unto himself, and no man dieth unto himself," is a law of our moral nature; and character in its very elements is immortal. We feel to-day the influence of men in the earliest times. The vibrations of that subtle medium of communication between soul and soul through which are conveyed the thoughts and feelings of men over the whole world shall never cease, and from age to age they bear their burden to affect the thoughts and feelings of all within their range. So, on the other hand, the labourer in the cause of evil has a power equally endless. We must not measure the curse to mankind of a wicked life by its immediate effects. Paine, that man for whose infamy apologists and defenders have sprung up in our day seeking to hide his deformity, has gone to judgment, but his works and his sins remain to wither and blight wherever they reach, accumulating power as they stretch on.

(J. Ellis, D. D.)

I. We have in this incident a striking illustration of THE POSTHUMOUS INFLUENCE OF GOOD MEN. Nothing in the material world is lost. A grain of sand, however long you crush it, can never be destroyed. You may change its form, — crush it into yet smaller particles, — cause it to enter into new combinations, but you can do no more. The water that is absorbed from the sea is not destroyed; it descends again in showers to enrich the earth. In like manner, human character and influence last for ever. Every man has an influence; in this sense, no man liveth to himself. There is about us all an unconscious influence, what may be termed our personal atmosphere; and there is our conscious influence. The least action or word, even a look, — all make their impression; and issue in results, long after their time. The motion of your hand, or the sound of your voice, produces a succession of pulsations which, like Tennyson's "Brook," "go on for ever." As we thus influence the natural world, so we influence the moral and spiritual world. This unseen yet mighty power, which we all possess, and of which we cannot divest ourselves — which lives in us, and works through us every moment, clothes our lives with a terrible solemnity. Not only is our influence felt during life, it is even felt after we are dead. Our usefulness, or hurtfulness in life, remains in active operation after we are gone. "It may be swallowed up in the great social aggregate, like the rivulet in the river, or absorbed like the dew in the mists and vapours; but it does not, it cannot perish. It survives all the personal fortunes of the individual from whom it emanates on earth; it outlasts the monument, however enduring, that is raised over his dust." Founders of empires, legislators, patriots, philosophers, inventors, reformers, Christian teachers, — all these live through all ages —

Their speaking dust

Has more of life than half its breathing moulds.Bad men, as well as good, leave their mark behind them; and perpetuate their influence long after they are dead. Hundreds of years after Jeroboam's death, we find the people of Israel over whom he reigned walking in his footsteps, committing "the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat who made Israel to sin." The writings of Voltaire and Paine and Hume and Byron are a curse to humanity to this day. Thank God! the evil shall be stamped out; while the good shall bear fruit for ever. "The memory of the wicked shall rot; but the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance."

II. GOOD MEN LIVE AFTER DEATH IN THE RESULTS OF THEIR ACTIONS. Their conduct centuries, and even millenniums ago, tells on mankind to-day. Abraham's obedience to God's command; the legislation of Moses; Paul's acceptance of the Christian faith; Wickliffe's translation of the Bible into the English tongue; Luther's renunciation of popery; all these mark great epochs in the history of mankind, and are felt in the national life and social manners and religious progress of this nineteenth century of the Christian era. It would be easy to instance men of our own time, whose influence will reach on for good through all future generations. William Carey, John Williams, David Livingstone, Michael Faraday, Abraham Lincoln — these and others whom I might name — who shall attempt to calculate the blessings accruing from their character and work? Sometimes, those actions which seem to us the least noteworthy, are most fruitful, and live with mightiest power. The poor widow, when casting her two mites into the temple treasury, was wholly ignorant of the fact that Christ saw her, and would so signalise her self-sacrifice as to make it a pattern for universal imitation. So with ourselves, passages in our lives which awaken no interest in us at the time, or which, if of interest to ourselves, we may not for a moment think of identifying with others, may prove pregnant with great and lasting issues. Sometimes a man's name may be forgotten, yet his works remain. We know not who invented the plough, his name has perished; but the instrument remains one of the most useful inventions, and indispensable to civilisation. History has not preserved the names of the men who first crossed the sea to preach the Gospel to our forefathers here in Britain; but what wondrous results have followed their apostolic mission! Our own country has been raised thereby to the highest point of greatness, and sits queen among the nations; while from us the Gospel has sounded forth to the ends of the earth. We must die, and after a few years our names may be forgotten; but some action of our life, of which at the time no heed is taken, may become fruitful, even to the distant future, with richest good.

III. GOOD MEN LIVE AFTER DEATH, IN THEIR WRITINGS. A man embalms his thoughts and feelings, the best part of his nature, in his books. "Books," says John Milton, "contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are. A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose, to a life beyond life." There is such a quickening power in some books that the dullest and deadest minds that come into contact with them are quickened by their inspiration. The books of Moses, the Psalms of David, the proverbs of Solomon, the predictions of the Hebrew prophets, the four Gospels, the apostolic letters, the visions of John, are among the supreme powers that govern and guide the world. Confucius and Plato and Aristotle still sway their sceptre over human souls. Bacon and Shakespeare fashion men with plastic power. Who shall reckon and tabulate the results of s City of God, of Paleario's Benefit of Christ's Death, of the The Imitation of Christ Imitation of Christ, of Calvins Institutes, of Luthers Commentary on the Galatians, of Bunyans Pilgrim's Progress, of Baxters Saints' Rest? Who shall the influence measure of the hymns of Gerhardt and the Wesleys and Watts and Cowper and Doddridge? Dead souls have been born again through them; dark souls enlightened; weak souls made strong; sorrowful souls inspired with gladness and joy. Their

Distant voices echo

Through the corridors of time,

and make the Church of God resonant with praise. The influence of Christian writers is seen in an interesting light, in the way in which one book becomes the parent of another through successive generations. About the close of Queen Elizabeth's reign, a Puritan minister, called Edmund Bunny, met with a book written by a Jesuit priest, named Parsons; and, excluding the Popery, he recast the book and published it with a new title. A copy came into the hands of Richard Baxter, then a boy in Shropshire; and its earnest appeals led to his conversion. He grew to manhood, became a laborious preacher of the Gospel, and a voluminous writer. Among other books, he wrote the Call to the Unconverted, twenty thousand copies of which are said to have been sold in a single year. Twenty-five years after Baxter's death a copy of this book fell in the way of Philip Doddridge, a youth at St. Alban's, and brought him to God. He became a Christian minister and author, writing, in addition to other works, The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, which has been translated into several languages, and made useful to many souls. Thirty-three years after the death of Doddridge, William Wilberforce was setting out on a journey to the South of France, and, at the suggestion of a friend, took a copy of this book to read on the journey. The perusal of it led to his consecration to Christ. He found time, amid all his political and philanthropic duties, to write his Practical View of Christianity, a work which has passed through more than one hundred editions, and which, among the upper classes of society especially, has been a powerful leaven of righteousness. When Legh Richmond was a young curate in the Isle of Wight, still ignorant of the Gospel, a college friend sent him a copy of Wilberforce's book. He began to read it, and could not leave off till he came to the end. The result he thus describes: "To the unsought and unexpected introduction of Mr. Wilberforce's book, I owe, through God's mercy, the first sacred impression which I ever received as to the spiritual nature of the Gospel system." Another copy of the same work taught Dr. Chalmers the way of salvation, and made him such a distinguished preacher of Christ's Gospel. Legh Richmond, as you know, afterwards wrote the touching story of The Dairyman's Daughter; and Dr. Chalmers preached and published some of the ablest and most effective sermons of the age. Who knows how this genealogy may lengthen as time goes on; and what other books may trace back their ancestry to the copy of Bunny's Resolution, lent to Richard Baxter's father.

IV. GOOD MEN LIVE AFTER DEATH, IN THEIR SPOKEN WORDS. In this way: a faithful preacher of the Gospel in a town or district will make a mark that remains for ages. Take such cases as Fletcher of Madeley, Jay of Bath, Hall of Bristol, Raffles of Liverpool, Parsons of York, M'Cheyne of Dundee. The places where these men lived and laboured must be impregnated with their speech of past years, as with salt. In the came manner, the words of men of greater note and influence live on a larger scale.

V. ONCE MORE, GOOD MEN LIVE AFTER DEATH, IN THE MEMORY AND EXPERIENCE OF SURVIVORS. "The immortal dead," says George Eliot, "live again in minds made better by their presence." We remember and copy their example. In our recollection of their excellences, we forget their faults, if faults they had.

(W. Walters.)

1. In the facts and incidents of his early history we may find Elisha prefiguring Christ. He came from Jordan, gifted by the hand of Elijah with the power of the Spirit; and surely there is some resemblance here between him and our Blessed Lord, baptized by John in the same river of Jordan, when the Holy Spirit like a dove abode upon Him. Nor can I forget the eminently religious home in which Elisha was brought up at Abelmeholah, "the meadow of the dance," — reminding me of another home in Nazareth, where even a child understood what it was to be about "His Father's business." Is there nothing, also, in the fact that Elisha was called from the plough to be a prophet, and that up to the period when He began His public ministry, the Master, with the sweat standing in bead-drops on His lofty brow, stooped low and worked hard at a carpenter's bench.

2. In close connection and intercourse with matters of this world, we may find Elisha prefiguring Christ. Like John the Baptist, Elijah to a large extent lived out of the world — away from and above it, in stern sublimity. Elisha, on the other hand, as we have seen all through the course of these lectures, was a citizen of the world, and mingled — as we would say in present day language — in all the great national and political movements and events of his time. In like manner, one of the chief complaints against the Divine Author of Christianity was this: His publicity — "The Son of man came eating and drinking" — and His apparent insurrection against constituted authority. The first was true, for "He could not be hid"; the second was false, for His kingdom was not of this world, else would His servants fight. The Elijah-like type of character — the hermit, the recluse, the solitary — was not reproduced in Jesus Christ. Such a type of character, in fact, was essentially unfitted for a religion that was to conquer the world. Christianity was to be a religion for common life.

3. In his intimate communion with the other world, find another important and apt-to-be-forgotten element in Elisha prefiguring Christ. Elijah and John the Baptist had little or nothing of this. True, Elijah was fed by the ravens, and miraculously sustained by an angel under the juniper tree; yet he had no such revelations and glimpses of the unseen world — beyond "the still small voice" — as were vouchsafed to Elisha. "And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw: and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." "I, even I only, am left," was the wail of Elijah: to Elisha, on the other hand, was given, in a manner the most extraordinary, the anticipation by hundreds of years of the great Christian doctrine of the Communion of Saints. "Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the firstborn which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect."

4. In what I shall term the discerning of spirits, and the reading of the thoughts and intents of the heart, we have another line of parallel in Elisha prefiguring Christ. "Went not mine heart with thee," said the prophet to Gehazi. When Jehoram, at the siege of Samaria, sent the executioner to take the prophet's life, "See ye," said the man of God, "how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head." Now how innumerable are the illustrations in the life of Christ of Divine prescience and discerning of spirits, as furnished in the four Gospels, I need not stay to tell. "He knew what was in man." And it is by bringing things to the Master's test that we, as by a new and subtle sense, can detect insidious unbelief, and transmit the faith of the Gospel pure and inviolate, as the beloved disciple assures us in a passage which is full of much solemn truth. "The anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you; and ye need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, end even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him." The one infallibility in the universe is in Christ, because Christ is God. There is another side to this thought. If Christ knows what is in man, He is just the Saviour for us, "the sympathising Jesus."

5. In moral magnetism of character we see Elisha — in an infinitely lower, I admit, but still a sufficiently important and admissible sense — in his work and ministry prefiguring Christ. The attractiveness of Elisha's character we have had ample occasion during these lectures to see. I think our great painters have seldom been less successful than in painting pictures of Christ. I have seen scores of them; but the face has either been too effeminate, or too colourless and uncharacteristic, and sometimes even too despotic — of all things in the world — to satisfy the portrait of the Bible, or the unpainted portrait of the heart. The best life of Christ is in the four Gospels, and the best pictures of Christ are there also.

(H. T. Howat.)

It was a touching memorial to their comrade, the warrior of Breton birth, La Tour d'Auvergne, the First Grenadier of France, as he was called, when, after his death, his comrades insisted that, though dead, his name should not be removed from the roils. It was still regularly called, and one of the survivors regularly answered for the departed soldier, "Dead on the field." The eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews is such a roll-call of the dead. It is the register of a regiment, which will not allow death to blot names from its pages, but records the soldiers who have, in its ranks, won honourable graves and long abiding victories.

A dead man, if he happen to have made a will, disposes of wealth no longer his; or if he die intestate, it is distributed in accordance with the notions of men much longer dead than he. A dead man sits on all our judgment-seats, and living judges do but search out and repeat his decisions. We read in dead men's books, we laugh at dead men's jokes, and cry at dead men's pathos! We are sick of dead men's diseases, physical and moral, and die of the same remedies with which dead doctors killed their patients! We worship the living Deity according to dead men's forms and creeds! Whatever we seek to do, of our own free notion, a dead man's icy hand obstructs us! Turn our eyes to what point we may, a dead man's white immitigable face encounters them and freezes our very heart! And we must be dead ourselves before we can begin to have our proper influence on our world which will then be no longer our world, but the world of another generation, with which we shall have no shadow of a right to interfere.

(N. Hawthorne.)

Christian Age.
This incident comes to us from the workshop of the great chemist Faraday. One day when Faraday was out, a workman accidentally knocked into a jar of acid into a silver cup. It disappeared, and was eaten up by the acid, and could not be found. The acid held it in solution. The workman was in great distress and perplexity. It was an utter mystery to him where the cup had gone. When the great chemist came in and heard the story, he threw some chemicals into the jar, and in a moment every particle of silver was precipitated to the bottom. He then lifted out the silver nugget and sent it to the smith, where it was recast into a beautiful cup. If a finite chemist can handle the particles of a silver cup in this way, what cannot the infinite Chemist do with the particles of a human body, when dissolved in the great jar of the universe. He can handle the universe as easily as Faraday can handle an acid jar, and can control it at will. Whatever the particles of the resurrected body may be, Paul says it is going to be changed so as to become a spiritual body.

(Christian Age.)

A great fable sometimes encloses a great truth. It is an old story of the Empress Helena, how she went to the Holy Land to find the Cross. Excavations were made, and they found three crosses; but how were they to know which was the true one? So they took a corpse, and put it upon one and another; and, as soon as the corpse touched the Saviour's Cross, it started into life. Now, you are demonstrating the divinity of Christianity, and that is how you test it — it makes these dead men live..

Links
2 Kings 13:5 NIV
2 Kings 13:5 NLT
2 Kings 13:5 ESV
2 Kings 13:5 NASB
2 Kings 13:5 KJV

2 Kings 13:5 Bible Apps
2 Kings 13:5 Parallel
2 Kings 13:5 Biblia Paralela
2 Kings 13:5 Chinese Bible
2 Kings 13:5 French Bible
2 Kings 13:5 German Bible

2 Kings 13:5 Commentaries

Bible Hub
2 Kings 13:4
Top of Page
Top of Page