Sermon delivered September 8, 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.

Seasoned Citizens

2 Kings 13:14-21

Today we're going to conclude a series that we started ten long weeks ago on Elisha. Elisha is one of the greatest prophets in the entire Bible. Let's come to 2 Kings 13:14 a. This is the story of Elisha's death. He was a seasoned Saint. Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died...

You can see from that line that he was terminally ill. We all are. He was a Seasoned Saintly Citizen about 80 years old.

Did you know that Elisha had the record of having the most miracles of any person in the entire Bible other than Jesus. He had twice as many as Elijah, and he had asked for a double portion if Elijah s spirit and he got double the amount of miracles. He had lived a very productive life. But now he was suffering from a chronic illness from which he died. It took his life. The NIV uses the word suffer. He had fallen sick. And it was a lingering sickness.

Notice that God permitted a lingering illness to take a righteous man. Does God do that? Why would God do that? I think that is one of the biggest questions in the whole world. Why does God permit evil? I think the reason that He did that is because the old Devil must be permitted to annoy us to a certain extent or else he could claim he was not given a fair chance at us. Some people are exempt, while others suffer. I don't understand that. I can't figure out how this person gets chosen, I don't think they really do, or how this person is allowed to get sick and the other is not. I don't understand that.

But you can contrast this with Elijah. Elijah went to heaven without seeing death. He didn't have to die. You never read one place of Elijah getting sick. At the end of his life a golden fiery limousine with chariot wheels came down from heaven just scooped him up and off he went in a flash of sparks. That didn't happen with Elisha. Elisha's exit would not be translation or by heavenly chariot but exit by deterioration and eventual death and burial. Elijah went up on the high road, the glamorous road out, but Elisha went down the common road that most of us go out of this world.

Elisha had asked for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. But where was the double portion now? He did have twice as many miracles in his life as Elijah. But there was no miracle left for him personally. And that s a shame. Where was the double portion now? In fact there is no record of Elisha for the last 43 years. From the time that he anointed Jehu, the fastest driver in the bible, from 841 to 798 BC there is nothing about Elisha. Nothing at all!

What did he do during those years? You can search the bible - no miracles were recorded; just years filled with simple but steadfast service. You know, there is something to be said about that. God values a faithful life, a simple steadfast service, coming to church each week, doing your part, doing what he leads you to do. If that has been the story of your life, then you and Elisha have much in common. It is not the fabulous that are special in God s sight, but the faithful who are given a crown of life. I'd rather be faithful than famous.

The miraculous years had run dry. Now he was dying. Let me tell you something here. Don't ever get old. They tell me it is not easy. But Elisha did die well. Until you are prepared to die well, you are not prepared to live well. Pleas turn to Numbers 23:10. Do you remember Balaam? He makes an awesome statement here. "Let me die the death of the righteous, and may my end be like theirs!" The end of a righteous person is different than the end of a wicked person.

Now, they tell me that 100% of us die. I don't know if that s true or not. So far I think it has pretty well proven true. All generations except the last one eventually malfunction and kick the bucket. Is death bad? I've thought a lot about death this week. Matthew Henry said: "He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave." If your head is in heaven, don't be afraid to put your feet in the grave. It's like a trampoline, it's like a springboard. You're going to come up out of there some day.

Elisha was faithful until the end. Did you notice that no mention is made of his servant? It doesn't say that the servant ran out and the servant did this. Maybe he didn't have a servant any more. The servant was gone. Could it be that Elisha died alone? It is terrible to be alone and sick and face death, and that s what he faced. Yet you can search his story from one end to the other and you will find no complaints. None. Not one complaint does Elisha make. He did not fall into sin. He was totally faithful to God. He never got bitter, he never whined, he never grumbled. There is no complaint. There is no indication of any sense of failure or even disappointment. He was ready to go. Ah, that we might be ready to go. That's where we need to be. Like the apostle, Paul, he could say - I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy 4:7. That's what was going on here.

Now come back to 2 Kings 13:14 - Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him. He wept over Elisha. The King James says he wept "Over his face." As if the old prophet lying down on his death bed. And the king came and stood over him and looked down at his face and wept. And his tears were almost falling on the face of the prophet. He was on his death bed. He was weak. He was not good. And yet, the king went to visit him. You know, it's a good thing to go and visit those who suffering like that. People who are dying, go and visit them. They might not have long to live. When that idolatrous king saw that dying minister, it says that he cried. He had tears in his eyes. He cried. Elisha was obviously a loved pastor, a loved prophet, a saint, the minister of God.

The young godless King came and consulted with the prophet. He said, "What do you think I should do?" That's one good thing about the king. At least he did consult with the prophet. He consulted with God. And Elisha used his remaining strength, he musters up his strength to help the cause of God.

2 Kings 13:14. "My father! My father!" he cried. "The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" This is a repeat of 2 Kings 2:12. He called him, "The chariots and horsemen of Israel." In other words, Elisha was just like the army. Elisha was the protection of Israel, himself. His godly life had put a hedge around Israel. That's what Elisha has accomplished. By complimenting him like this, he was equating Elisha's presence as being more important than all the military forces of Israel. The King valued the help from an old godly Saint more than his whole army. That's wonderful. Elisha's very presence had blessed his whole nation.

Has God blessed America? Would you rather live in New Guinea or some other place? America has been blessed. Why? I believe because of the presence of Christians. Proverbs gives us some insight as to why a nation is strong and why it is not strong. That's why Israel was strong in that day. Because of Elisha. Proverbs 21:30, 31. There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.

When you look at some of the major victories of the United States in the Revolutionary War you see that God's hand was involved. Some of the weather even, everything was in our favor. We didn't have anything. George Washington went out there with nothing. And he beat the British. God intended for this nation to be a great nation because this nation started out to be a Christian nation. And you look at the battle of Dunkirk, you look at D- Day. God was leading. There's no question about that. Because of the presence of Christians in this nation. Godly Elisha, bald and old, was like a hedge of protection around Israel.

The presence of Christians in any country becomes a weighty influence to help that country to be protected and prosper. You may be the only person in your home that's praying, maybe you're a teenager, maybe you're an adult. You're the only one: your husband doesn't pray, your wife doesn't pray, your parents don't pray to Jesus any more, your presence in your home enables God's hand of blessing. Therefore, Godly people do shape history by their faithfulness.

2 Kings 13:15-17. Elisha said, "Get a bow and some arrows," and he did so. "Take the bow in your hands," he said to the king of Israel. When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king's hands. "Open the east window," he said, and he opened it. "Shoot!" Elisha said, and he shot. "The Lord's arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!" Elisha declared. "You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek."

He shot the arrow out the window that faced toward the east. As he did that, what was out there in the east? That is the area the Syrians had conquered. By shooting an arrow in the direction of your enemies was in keeping with the fine tradition of those times. East was where Hazael had already overcome Israel. The arrow was an act of faith. "You're going to be victorious. You're going to win." So this was a live parable. Elisha's old hands were over the hands of the king. I want you to know that God is involved in our battles. Whatever your battle is, God is involved. His hands are over your hands. That's how God does. 2 Chronicles 20:15, "The battle is not your's but God's" It is God's battle.

Notice that Elisha conducted a test to measure the size of the Kings faith. 2 Kings 13:18. Then he said, "Take the arrows," and the king took them. Elisha told him, "Strike the ground." He struck it three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times."

Obviously the prophet had great faith that God would help defeat the enemy. But the king's faith was small. He weakly struck the ground 3 times. You can't obtain victory over sin with weakness. You have to act decisively in your struggle in your conquest of these evil habits that you have. You can't get the victory on someone else's faith. You can't get to heaven on someone else's spiritual coat tails. You have to have persistence in your faith with God in your trials and overcoming sin.

The king only had a lukewarm faith. Why didn't he hit the ground five or six or ten times with bold enthusiasm? Why didn't he strike it so hard that a few arrows were broken? Why didn't he make the dust fly? He was lackadaisical. His success would be in exact proportion to his faith in God. Do your problems get answered? Could it be your faith is too small? Jesus said in Matthew 9:29, "According to your faith will it be done to you."

How many times did he hit the ground? Three times. How many victories did he have? Three victories. 2 Kings 13:25 Three times Jehoash defeated him, and so he recovered the Israelite towns. How many victories would it take to completely wipe out the Arameans? Maybe 6 or 8. Elisha did not tell him how many times to strike the ground. His sluggish lackluster enthusiasm would lead to defeat. If you expect little from God you will receive little. We are content with little growth, little joy, little Christ-likeness, little assurance. All because we have such little faith. Jesus wants zealous followers. He wants somebody that's excited about the Lord. That's what He wants.

Jehoash lived a mediocre life before God. His religion was halfhearted so his accomplishments were few. Let's get fully into Jesus! Oh friends, when you read the Bible, read it with enthusiasm. Don't be half asleep at the wheel. This is the wheel. Be wide awake with Jesus. Let's get fully in with Jesus. Are you on fire for God or are you just smoldering and smoking? Are you among the frozen chosen? Let's get on fire for God!

Only 3 times he smote the ground! Do you pray fervently a few times for your kids and then give up? Continue praying for your kids. For your lost loved one. Never give up. Keep on praying. Go the extra mile. We stop too quickly. One more letter, one more kiss, one more try.

How different the history of Israel would have been had King Jehoash fully trusted in God! So much depends upon the leaders. The king was lackadaisical and the whole nation went down the tubes. It's a scary thought that so much depends on the leaders. As the minister is, so goes the church. As the mother is, so go the children. As the father, so are the sons. Those who follow you deserve the best.

Why didn't Jehoash let fly with all he had? I don't think he really understood what was going on. He didn't really believe that striking the ground had anything to do with obtaining victory on the battlefield, but it did. Do you really get mad enough at sin? Don't go half-way. Give it all you've got. If God has given you a quiver full of arrows, use those arrows. Use all that you have against evil.

James 4:2- You want something but don't get it. Ye desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. I think that means to ask and keep on asking. Persevere in prayer. The laid- back King hit the ground 3 times and stopped to quick.

So, what ever happened to Jehoash? He did indeed win three great battles with the enemy. He had a partial reprieve, a little bit of peace. A few cities were reclaimed. But after that, the whole kingdom pretty well collapsed. Evil won the day because the king, the leader was not where he should have been. The cause of God was defeated. Let us be enthusiastic about Jesus!

Sometime after this Elisha died full of years and full of faith. That is a good way to die. The forces of evil probably threw a party when they heard of Elisha's death. But their celebration was premature. Why? Because a person's influence doesn't stop at his death.

My wife and I were in Alaska. One Friday night we stood on the deck of our cruise ship admiring the beautiful sunset. We took a picture of it and waited another fifteen minutes and took another one. I guess we took about five pictures trying to get the sunset. And it just came down, you know, and it took forever to set. And the glow lasted for two or three more hours, even after the sun disappeared.

Mrs. White says in Patriarchs and Prophets p. 481, "As the glow of the descending sun lights up the mountain peaks long after the sun itself has sunk behind the hills, so the works of the pure, the holy, and the good shed light upon the world long after the actors themselves have passed away. Their works, their words, their example, will live forever." Psalm 112:6. The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.

After Elisha died, God's protective hedge was removed from Israel. He was buried. Everybody pretty well forgot about him. They were sorry he was gone. Then the thieving Moabites raided their land and seized their crops. Israel's sins had limited God's blessings.

One day, long after Elisha's death, a group of mourners were trying to conduct a funeral at a remote cemetery. Suddenly a well armed band of heathen raiders appeared over the horizon. The little funeral party threw the corpse into the nearest place they could find, which was Elisha's tomb. They quickly opened the door to the crypt and threw their loved ones dead body into the entrance. Then they fled for safety.

Look at this in 2 Kings 13:21. By the way, this the last Old Testament reference to Elisha. Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

What is this telling us? That your good influence continues long after you die. You may think, "I'm old. I'm about ready to die. My kids aren't even in the kingdom. They've never become Christians. They aren't going to make it to heaven. My life has been a failure." If you die in Jesus, maybe even after you have died, your prayers will follow you and your kids will stand beside your grave and remember your love for them and your prayers for them. I stood by my grandmother's grave one time and thought about her righteous life. A grandson, standing there, thinking about the righteous life of a Godly saint. That happens. And that makes a difference. Your righteous life continues. That influence continues.

Elisha had been dead a long time. Only dry bones were left. The instant that dead corpse landed on Elisha's bones it came back to life! With supercharged resurrection power and brand new muscles, he sprinted out to safety.

If I landed on a pile of bones, some old dusty skeleton, in a dark vault I would probably jump up and run out too. But the Bible plainly says that this person was dead. Is your influence such that when others contact you they find life? Each of us has an undying influence. How well I remember the death and burial of my saintly grandmothers. A lot of good is so often interred with the bones of the saints. This has happened to you. You stand at the grave of a saint and remember their Godly life. It still has an impact on you. Your faithful life just might save your kids after your death.

Elisha's bones imparted life. A resurrection took place. This was a foretaste of what will soon happen to all Christians who have died in Jesus. The downward pull of death was overcome by the upward pull of Resurrection power.

Was there a message in this miracle for Israel? Yes! The little nation was as good as dead. The heathen vandals had all but conquered them. But if they were to make contact with God they could once again experience His power and protection.

Is there a message in this miracle for you today? Yes! Friend if your spiritual life is all but gone. If the forces of evil are raiding your boarders and you are almost defeated.... If you will come back to God and reestablish your relationship with Him, your spiritual life will be restored.

Elisha, the man of God, had died but the God of man lives on forever! And He lives for you. I hope that you will give all that you have to Jesus. Make sure you are a friend of Jesus. Follow Jesus. Give your life to Jesus. Be a friend of Jesus. Accept Jesus as your Savior because He is the Resurrection and the Life.


Hymn of Praise: #229, All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
Scripture: Psalm 71:17-18
Hymn of Response: #311, I Would Be Like Jesus


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