A Dead Man's Power
2 Kings 13:20-21
And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.…

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.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.

WEB: Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.

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