Sermon delivered July 28, 2001 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Elisha: How to Raise a Dead Teenager

II Kings 4:8-37

#4 in a series on ELISHA

I would like to speak with you today about how to raise a dead teenager. Now, most teenagers are not dead. I think our teenagers are basically [pretty good people. They're on fire for Jesus. But, once in a while we have a dead teenager, one who just is as dead to the things of God. Have you seen those types? They're out there.

Youngsters become teenagers. That is the time when they are too old for an allowance and are too young to have a credit card. It's a terrible time. Their parents age as much as twenty years. Fortunately, all teenager are not like that as I have said. But there are a few that are deader than a crashed computer. Dead to the true Joys of life.

One mother of a teenage girl said: "My daughter won't tell me anything and I'm a nervous wreck!" A second mother of a teenage girl said: "Mine tells me everything, and I'm a nervous wreck."

What does a parent do when they walk into their teenager's room on Sabbath morning and that kid says, "I'm not going to church any more, and you can't make me! Not going." What do you do? Too often teens seem dead to the things of God. It's not only teenagers, sometimes it even runs up into the early twenties. They're dead to your advice, they're dead to God's purpose, dead to your advise, dead to the noble things. Alive to the world. Dead to God. Just plain dead! You look them in the eye and they're dead. Something has changed in there. They are not the nice little boy or girl that they were during all those years when you raised them up. You can tell that they are gone! Dead. Is there any hope? Is it possible to raise a dead teenager back to life?

Well, there is precedence in the word of God. There's a beautiful story here which gives you a step-by-step example on how you can raise a dead teenager back to life. Maybe your teenager been on drugs, they've gone the way of the world, they've even been in jail, or whatever. It's awful. I want you to examine this story. This is a true experience. It happened in the days of Elisha. If you have a dead teen, or even if you have a dead marriage, if there's something dead in your life, then you need to listen to 2 Kings 4.

Let's go over here to II Kings 4:8. One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do (I love the King James there. It says: "Great") woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat. She would make apple pie with everything else, I imagine.

She was well to do but more than that, she was wise. She was morally and spiritually great. All of God's children are great in His eyes. Psalm 16:3 (NLT). The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them! She was a saint.

2 Kings 4:9 (NIV) She said to her husband, "I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God." She does not call him a nice man, or a learned man, but a "Holy man of God." How special! Oh, that every minister were known this way.

Elisha was a circuit walking preacher who often passed by the house of this well-to-do couple on his way to visit the seminaries of the prophets. She had compassion on the tired preacher and would not let him go past without eating a meal. He would stop there. He would plan on it. Finally she convinced her husband, "Let's build a little room up on top of the roof of our house, and put a chair in there and a bed and a lamp and make room for this holy man of God. Finally she convinced him to do that and they made it into a regular bed and breakfast. Notice that the Bible gives no honor to the husband here. She initiates the upper room idea. The Bible calls her great, but the Bible never says anything positive about her husband other than the fact that he was out there with the reapers. Her husband went along with the idea. The Bible calls her "great" but her husband isn't venerated. Please observe that this "Great Woman" did counsel with her husband about the room. I believe that great marriages and good couples should consult with each other, don't you?

You can be a Godly woman despite your ungodly husband. There's a Bible precedence for that, isn't there. If you have an ungodly wife, you can be a godly man. She was a godly woman. I've heard it said that the wife is limited in her spiritual influence because she's supposed to be subject to her husband and if the husband is bad, she will never amount to a whole lot, spiritually. That's not true. Don't blame your lack of spirituality on anybody.

Abigail was married to a bad man. I Samuel 25 calls him a fool. Beautiful Abigail was a Godly woman. And so was the Shunammite woman. Her generosity eventually built an upper room for Elisha to stay in whenever he passed that way.

God repays generosity. If you give to God's work God will more than repay you.

Hebrews 13:2 mentions a custom they had in Bible times. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

In Bible times the great men of old took in strangers and often found out they were angels. In each case, the guest gave more than he took. You can't go wrong helping people.

Elisha wanted to do something for his benefactor. 2 Kings 4:12,13. He said to his servant Gehazi, "Call the Shunammite." So he called her, and she stood before him. Elisha said to him, "Tell her, 'You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?'" She replied, "I have a home among my own people."

She was content. Oh, that we would be content with what we have. This wealthy woman was content with a place to lay her head and friends to enjoy. Elisha quizzed his servant as to what they could give the woman. One thing good that Gehazi did, he detected the woman really missed having a child. At their age it would take a miracle from God to accomplish but what woman in those days would not want a child. She was humble did not want to bother the prophet with her deep felt desire.

Elisha called her and she came and stood in the doorway. Notice that she did not consider it proper to enter his room. Great women are decent and respectable. Modest women are needed. Great women are modest women. She stood in the door. She did not enter his room. Great women are decent and respectable.

Elisha announced that in 12 months she would be the mother of a baby and it would be a son! The news was breath-taking. Little did she dream that she would ever be a mother. and little did she dream that she would give birth to a son. The family name would continue and she would not lose her inheritance when her husband died. Psalm 127:3. Sons are a heritage from the Lord...

Back to 2 Kings 4:17, 18A. But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her. The child grew... Imagine how she loved this boy. Imagine the Godliness she taught him. Charles Wesley said of his mother: "I learned more of Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians of England." You learn more on the knee of a loving mother than you do in a seminary. I learned that. Imagine her prayers for her son. Imagine her love for this boy. I can also imagine this boy was very special to Elisha. Sort of like his grandson. The child of his prayers. This great woman brought him up properly in her Godly, orderly home. Such homes are special.

But problems come to all homes. And you can be an Elder in the church, you can serve in the church, and problems still come to godly homes. What happened here? II Kings 4:18B. and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers. Notice that the boy that morning he ran off lightheartedly, apparently full of life and vigor, to the harvest field to help his daddy. By noon he was a corpse. You never know what a day will bring, or an hour.

Verse 19. My head! My head! he said to his father. Sometimes our youth get strange things in their heads. And at times those things lead them down a path that leads to death. And we know it. And we can't stop it. Our teenagers need more than a good Head education. They need a personal experience with Jesus.

Some have supposed this boy had a heat stroke. But it happened a good deal before noon. The boy's father passed it off as a trivial thing. "I don't think there is much wrong here." and sent the boy home with a younger servant. Little did he know that his son was dying. How incapable we are of knowing what even the next hour will bring.

Verse 19B, 20. His father told a servant, "Carry him to his mother. You know, we still do that today. If the child gets hurt,"Well, go see your mother." After the servant had lifted him up and carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he died.

The dad wasn't much of a dad. The young boy had gone out that morning and wanted to help his father in the harvest. What did the daddy do for his son, personally? The servant had to carry him back to get help. Notice that when the boy got sick, the father had a servant take him to his mother. This does not seem to say much about the dad or his love does it?

Our age is the age when children are raised by the serpents. We don't get involved much as parents. They are raised by the TV, or day care, or stay at home alone. We dump them off and hurry on to work to pay our debts. I am sad this time has come upon the world. It is not God's ideal plan that we're living in today.

So, there he sat on his mothers knee. In her loving arms she cared for him. She kissed him, put a wet cloth on his hot face. She poured out her love for him. Show real love to your children while you can. Even a mother's powerful love cannot keep away the grim reaper. Death claims many of our young people. Old grave stones testify to this tragedy. Too many have died early in life. This boy's mother must have prayed hard for her son. Her loving arms held him.

But alas the Shunammite's son died in the arms of his grieving mother. How did she act? No record is given of her murmuring or wringing her hands and her grief and her tears and her crying? No. Custom in those days in a hot country would dictate a quick burial. But she did not even tell anyone he was dead. Immediately she carried him upstairs to Elisha's motel room and laid him on the prophet's bed. Why? Because she had not given up. When your teenager seems dead, don't give up. Never give up on your kids. Are your teenagers spiritually dead? Do you need a miracle for your children today?

She could not understand why God would give her a son only to take him away. She believed that God finishes what He starts. So did Paul Philippians 1:6 (NIV). ...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Again we see her faith and not the faith of her husband. She asked her husband for permission to go and see Elisha. He said in II Kings 4:23, "Why go to him today?" he asked. "It's not the New Moon or the Sabbath." "It's all right," she said. Why did she say that? Was everything all right? No. The son was dead. She had faith in the outcome.

Obviously it was her custom to sit in worship to God on the Sabbath. This was a godly mother. Godly mothers attend church. If you are the mother of a little child, you need to be in church. It's still a wonderful habit. She was a God fearing Woman! She is one of just two Old Testament women referred to in Hebrews 11:35 (NLT) Women received their loved ones back again from death. This was one of those ladies.

She was also a determined woman! 2 Kings 4:24. She saddled the donkey and said to her servant, "Lead on; don't slow down for me unless I tell you."

Shame on her husband. Her husband does not shine very well here. Notice who saddled the donkey. Have you ever done that? I've never put a saddle on anything. I don't know if I would know how. She saddled the donkey herself. This husband did not sense his wife's turmoil and does not try to share her burden. Marriage is a partnership where we try to lighten the load of our spouse.

She would have to travel twenty miles, or more perhaps, to reach Elisha. And a lot of that up hill. Are you willing to drive miles and miles to attend a church? Are you willing to travel a long way to take your kids to church school? Is that kind of commitment there for you? She had that kind of commitment. Good parents are willing to sacrifice for their children.

So this great mother set out on this long hard journey up into the mountainous country. Love does not consider personal hardships. Notice that she was not planning on a funeral; but she was planning on a resurrection! You need to expect the best from your teenagers. Stop preparing for their failure and start believing in their future! If you don't believe in your kids who will? This mother had a relationship with God and it saved her son. It wasn't his relationship that saved him, it was hers. Your connection with God could lead to the salvation of your children.

Where did Elisha live? Way up on a mountain! He set his affections on things above. His home was symbolic of his high spiritual elevation. He saw her coming and despatched his servant. 2 Kings 4:26 "Run to meet her and ask her, 'Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?'" "Everything is all right," she said. See how she spoke in faith. Today, we need people of faith. She does not doubt that her son will be okay. She looked beyond the gloom.

When she finally arrived at Mount Carmel she cast herself before Elisha and she grabbed his feet with both hands and held on. Notice that she didn't grab Gehazi's feet. We need leaders who are approachable. Gehazi's style had left her cold. Through tears and sobs she told him of the death of her only son.

Elisha jumped into action. Immediately he despatched Gehazi to go with the speed of Jehu and lay Elisha's staff on the deceased boy. Don't stop for anything! Today, that would be a rescue vehicle with sirens screaming and red lights flashing. Off Gehazi went in a cloud of dust.

Did this satisfy the desperate mother? NO! II Kings 4:30. But the child's mother said, "As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So he got up and followed her. Here's a prophet trying to keep up with a desperate mother. He knows how to get to her house. She doesn't have to lead the way. He's trying to keep up with her. She has an emergency. Had she changed her grip on his feet for a grip in his neck tie? Determined mothers get results.

Meanwhile, Gehazi arrived and ran upstairs and placed the prophet's rod on the face of the dead boy. He apparently stood passively by and got zero results. Notice that the rod did not bring life! A lot of you probably think, "I'm going to whale away on my children," you know. What brought life? Not the rod, but love brought life. Gehazi gave up so quickly on the youngster. If you look at all nineteen references to this man you see that he was of a poor character. In fact, he was sort of like Judas. And you can see the unfruitfulness of unregenerate ministry. Why Elisha had him for a servant we don't know. At times his actions were similar to Judas. We see the unfruitfulness of an unregenerate leader.

Gehazi ran back from the dead lad and soon met up with the returning pair and gave them his sad tale: "It's all over." That mother just kept hold of his tie and they marched on. Never give up on your teenagers. Not even when they fade away from God.

Was the boy dead? Absolutely he was dead! Some people said he wasn't really dead. Twice in verse 20 and 32 we are told of his death. His body had even gotten cold. What did Elisha do? He, like Elijah, stretched out his body over the dead body of the boy. Mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. He stretched out his body on the little boy. It sounds to me like the lad was close to fully grown.

Successful youth workers are not afraid to try unusual things. He did not only lay the staff on the boy but laid himself on the lad. He did not just give the word, he gave himself. And you need to give yourself to your children. He completely identified with the cold stiffened body of that dead stiffened teenager. Our youth must catch our warmth and love by contact. You need to touch your kids. You need to hug them. Even if they are twenty of thirty years old. Put your arms around your kids. Let them feel your love. Kiss them. Speak kind words to them. Don't give up on your children.

You youth and Sabbath School workers take note of the warmth, the contact, the way Elisha gave his very best to reach the dead youth and he got results. Do all you can to save our adolescents. Success comes when you make their issue your issue.

Elisha's mouth was on the dead boys mouth. This sounds a little like artificial resuscitation doesn't it? But it was not. Occasionally the prophet stopped for a season of prayer as he paced about. The boy's body was already cold and dead. He had been dead for hours. Elisha would make contact with the child and then go down stairs (Verse 35).

He must have prayed fervently for the boys life. Pray for your kids. Persevere. Continue praying for your kids. Ask and continue asking. Finally God brought life back into the body of the dead teenager. He sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. Never was there a mother in the history of the world that loved that sneeze. Maybe she could hear from downstairs. "What's that?" Seven times he sneezed. The dead boy came back to life. Faith was rewarded.

Let's trust in God. Even if your situation is hopeless. It is not hopeless unless you give up on it. What greater blessing can a child have than a mother or father who will not give up on them. Take your fears to Jesus. He will give you peace. Everything trusted to Jesus will be okay.


Hymn of Praise: #88, I Sing the Mighty Power of God
Scripture: II Kings 4:32-35
Hymn of Response: #530, It Is Well With My Soul


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