Death of Elisha
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.…

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.)

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.

Christianity's Power to Raise the Dead
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