Donate to The 'God Is Just A Prayer Away' radio broadcast

Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012

The Death Of Elisha - August 12, 2005


II Kings Thirteen

Sermon of the Week #200531 – August 12, 2005

In the fourteenth verse of Second Kings thirteen the death notice of Elisha, the prophet, is given, “Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he would die.” Elisha had a long ministry. At least fifty years in the Lord's vineyard. Some say it was more like sixty‑five years. Not many servants of the Lord can serve that long. Yet Elisha, like all others, went the way of all flesh. We need to be reminded of the obvious from time to time that we, too, are mortal. We won't be here forever. Especially is this warning needed for the Christian, the Christian who sometimes may think that he may be above the death of sinners.

In the main life of Elisha, as revealed in scripture, is the account of one miracle after another. He raised the dead. He multiplied food. He caused the head of an axe to float. He cured leprosy. He saved a school of prophets from food poisoning. He parted the waters of the Jordan. Many and varied were his miracles and here he comes to the place when, like all other men and lesser men than he, he must die.

There is no program of holiness that we can perform that will exempt us either. Like Elisha and all other prophets and Apostles, you are going to die. Being a Christian will not save you from it. Being a Christian will keep you out of Hell, but it will not keep you out of the grave.

If you became a Christian at the age of ten and lived until seventy and never missed a prayer meeting in that sixty years, you would have attended 3,120 prayer meetings, but you are going to die. If you had never missed a single evening service in all that time you would have attended 3,120 night Church services, but you are going go die. If you had never missed a single Lord's Supper on Sunday morning in all those years, you would have had 3,120 Lord's Suppers, but you are going to die. All together if you had attended 6,240 different service totals, that wouid be a wonderful record, but you are going to die. Yes, and in addition to this, if you had preached ten thousand sermons and baptized ten thousand people into Christ and given fifty percent of your income in the offering plate, there is no way that a record of service like that would stave off the grim reaper---you are going to die.

The latest cracked‑brain scheme that I heard on a national news report about overcoming death, if not to escape it's clutches, was to freeze people when they die. At this point over one hundred people are in it. Twelve of the over one hundred have died and have been frozen. I think they said it costs one hundred thousand dollars to get it done, and if you want the cut‑rate price you can pay thirty‑five thousand dollars and get only your head frozen. It is presumed that a hundred years from now when they thaw your head, the aforesaid head will grow a new body. Part of the process when you die, besides freezing you, is to pump you full of a liquid that acts on your remains like antifreeze. The trick will be in about a hundred years to get you thawed. They have not figured out how to accomplish that yet. It seems that liquid expands when it is frozen and that may present a problem. One of the twelve who has already been frozen died of AIDS and said before his death that he looked forward to being brought back at a time when all his family and friends would be dead. He said it would be just like going to Paris now. You don't know anybody over there and he said that would be exciting. One of the twelve was a heavy metal musician who died at the age of twenty‑nine and another was a seventy‑three year old psychologist whose kidneys gave out on him. That is a likely pair---a heavy metal musician and a psychologist. I wonder what provisions they have made for their souls? I personally don't think their souls will be frozen along with their bodies. While I am no man's judge, I wouldn't be surprised that their souls are in a place where nothing freezes. But regardless of this procedure, you are going to die. Of course, they are not denying you are going to die; they were just trying to figure a way to get back. I personally plan to come back, but I have a better way of doing it than that ---I shall return.

So like we have been saying, Elisha was sick with the sickness whereof he would die. Elisha did die, but in his death there are several lessons we can learn, not about death but about living.


Verse fourteen continues; not only does it say that Elisha was sick with the sickness whereof he died but then it says that he had a visitor to his dying bedside. The King of Israel, King Joash, came to see him. He wept over his face and said, “O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.”

Now that was quite a compliment. Joash recognized the new strength of Israel was not in their armies, the real power was spiritual power. The prophet Elisha represented the real strength of the nation.

We need to recognize that as far as America goes, our strength is not in how many bombs we have, how big our armies are, and what fire power we have. All of this is important at this stage of the game, but our real strength and reason for our greatness is in the spiritual. There is the chariot of America and the horsemen thereof.

Every time I pass by a Church of Christ building---a small frame or a large impressive building---full of worshippers, I say, “There is the chariot of America and the horsemen thereof.” The greatest danger to the American way of life is not communism but the empty Church pew. Someone has observed that we in America are living on the momentum of a Godly ancestry and when that momentum slows down we are in trouble. If you drive down the road and take your foot off the gas, put the gears in neutral, the car will keep going on momentum for a short distance. We are in the momentum mode at this point. When the momentum comes to a halt that will be all she wrote.

Whenever I see the words IN GOD WE TRUST on our coins, I say, “The chariot of America and the horsemen thereof.” Every time I hear a gospel sermon on the radio, there it is again, “The chariot of America and the horsemen thereof.” There is our power. It is nowhere else. Someone else has said that America is great because she is good; when she stops being good she will stop being great---“The chariot of America and the horsemen thereof.”


The next lesson for life from the death of Elisha is in verse fifteen,. Elisha told the King to take his bow and arrows. And he took his bow and arrows and he said to the King, “Put thine hand upon the bow.” He put his hand upon it, and then we are told that Elisha put his hands upon the King's hands.

In the instruction that would follow, it is evident that not only would King Joash be doing something with his bow and arrows, but that the hand of God would be in the thing that was to be performed. It is doubtful that the frail hand of Elisha added to the strength needed to draw the bow, but it was symbolic of the power of God that would be with the King.

So it ought to be with us in our various ministries. I like to think that the hand of the Lord is on my ministry. If the hand of Jesus is not on the “God Is Just A Prayer Away” radio broadcast then I ought not to preach another sermon---I ought to shut down right now. If the hand of Jesus is not on this ministry you ought not send me another dollar of support. If the hand of the Lord is not on it, it is not worthy of support.

I am convinced that many a ministry that seems to prosper financially and is famous among the people of the nation may not have the hand of the Lord upon it, if I can judge from the message that is preached and sung. This is true unless God calls different people to preach conflicting messages. Would God call one person to tell people to “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” and then call someone else to go on the air and tell people that you don't have to do it. If all the ministries on the air today have the hand of God on them, then there are an awful lot of people preaching a message that God never called them to preach and singing a message that God never called them to sing. Measure all you hear by the Word of God. Is the hand of Jesus on that ministry?

The gospel song is appropriate when we think of the death of Elisha and King Joash.

In the last sad hour when I stand alone And the powers of death combine,

While the dark waves roll He will guide my soul By the touch of His hand on mine.


Verse seventeen provides us with another lesson from the death of Elisha about life. Elisha told the King, “Open the window Eastward” and he did so. Then Elisha said, “Shoot” and he shot. Elisha said, “That is the arrow of the Lord's deliverance. Thou shalt smite the Syrians till thou has consumed them.” Then he said, “Take the arrows.” He took them. Elisha said, “Smite on the ground.” And he smote three times and stayed. The man of God was wroth and told him that he should have smitten five or six times. Because thou hast smitten three times that is all the victory you will have. You could have completely destroyed the enemy if you had hit the ground five or six times.

Joash is like a lot of us. He was content to do less than he could have done. Some Churches are content to have one hundred in attendance when they could have two hundred. Some are content to have five hundred when they could have sent two hundred down the road to another community and started another congregation. Some are content to read the Bible through one time in a lifetime when they could have read it through several times a year---year after year---gaining a tremendous familiarity with the will and the Word of God. Why be content to do less than you can do? Some are content to give a measly ten percent of their money when they could have given twenty‑five percent. Why be content to do less than what you can really do? Some are content to spend five minutes in prayer a day when they could spend one hour. Why be content with doing less than you are capable of doing? Why smite the ground only three times when you have it in your power to smite it again and again. Hit it again, hit it again---harder, harder. Why be content to attend one service per week when you could attend three or four every week---prayer meeting, Sunday night, revival, Sunday morning---why do less when you could do more? Hit it again, hit it again---harder, harder.


Another lesson from the death of Elisha about life is in the actual death of Elisha and what happened after he was dead.

Verse twenty tells us, “Elisha died, and they buried him. After the funeral a band of Moabites invaded the land at the coming of the year. It came to pass as they were burying a man, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood up on his feet.” How about that?

We don't know who the man was, it does not say; but on the way to the cemetery the undertaker and the pallbearers were frightened by a gang of murderers and decided to dump the corpse in the first convenient sepulchre, and it happened to be the grave of Elisha. When they let him down and he touched the bones of Elisha he got up and went home.

Elisha is a type of Jesus in many ways. Here was a man who had died and he came in contact with the body of Elisha and came back to life. One more resurrection to be chalked up to the score of Elisha.

He is typical of Jesus because Paul said, “Know ye not that as many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death.” Jesus died on the cross and was buried and arose again. When we die to sin and are buried with him, as Paul says, “In the watery grave of baptism” we do not go down into the water alone. We go down, and there we contact the body of Jesus in His death---baptized into his death. When we, by faith, touch the body of Jesus, we are washed in the blood---our sins are remitted. We are infused with the gift of the Holy Spirit and we, like this man that touched the bones of Elisha, also arise and walk---walk in the newness of life.

Have you been buried with Christ in baptism? Have you contacted His blood? The benefit of the death of Elisha is seen in the resurrection from the dead. It prefigured our own experience in our death to sin and not only that, but there is something beyond that. Jesus said, "Marvel not at this: the hour cometh when all that are in the tomb shall hear the voice of the Son of God and shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”