Elisha died, and they buried him.
2 Kings 13:20a
The verses that close out chapter thirteen include the final prophecy, death, and posthumous final miracle of the prophet Elisha.
The final prophecy of Elisha is made concerning the victory of Joash/Jehoash, king of Israel (not Judah), over the king of Aram. J(eh)oash apparently heard about Elisha’s illness and went to visit him. While J(eh)oash was visiting Elisha, the prophet told the king to take some arrows and fire one out the window, then to hit the ground with the rest. The king hit the ground three times and stood up. The prophet was not happy, telling the king that he should have hit the ground five or six times and the prophecy would have been complete victory. Instead, there would be three victories. This prophecy was fulfilled after Elisha’s death and that fulfillment is recorded in verses twenty-two through twenty-five.
Elisha’s death is recorded as all death really should be: Elisha died, and they buried him. Just the facts. We can go on about how a person died, speculating on whether the death was a “good” death (whatever that means) or if it was premature or whatever. We can talk about the funeral and how the remembrance was beautiful and the body looked so peaceful (that is just good makeup work) and all of that claptrap. In the end, the simple truth is that we will all die and someone else will be left to dispose of our remains.
In the same verse that gives the simple truth that Elisha died and was buried, mention is made that Moabites would invade in the spring each year and that a group of people happened to be burying a man when the marauders showed up. The burial crew panicked and tossed the body into Elisha’s grave. When the dead man’s body came in contact with Elisha’s bones, the dead man was resurrected. God did one last miracle through Elisha and Elisha was not there to see it.
This leaves me with three thoughts.
One, I need to be clear on what God is saying. J(eh)oash heard Elisha tell him to hit the ground with the arrows and did not stop to ask what it was about or how many times he should hit the ground or how hard or anything. If God is speaking to me, then I need to take the time to be clear on what He is saying and what He is not saying. About a year ago, my wife and I bought a house and this purchase moved us a fair distance from the fellowship we have been a part of since we were we. This move has put a strain on serving and even attending services (one of our children gets loudly and obnoxiously whiny about car rides). We have prayed and stayed involved in the ministries we were a part of as much as opportunity allowed. Now, it seems that God is telling us to stand by. Not to step down or walk away so much as to stand aside for a moment while He does something. And we keep praying for clarity, because we do not want to leave a vacuum that God meant us to fill.
Two, everyone is subject to the same facts of life. We all have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Some middles are shorter than others; some ends more abrupt. Regardless of the details, we all begin and end. It would serve me well and make me a better servant to my God if I focused on the commonalities between myself and others rather than the differences.
Three, God does not need me. God performed a miracle with Elisha’s bones. The prophet had gone on to Heaven. God had no need for Elisha and God has no need of me. God allows me to serve Him. He permits my imperfect efforts because He loves me. Just as I work with my children and often (not always, I am not perfect) welcome them into the work I do around our house — gardening, building things, to name a couple examples — so, too, does God welcome me into His work. He could do it faster and better without my involvement. But He loves me and that shared activity is fellowship. That shared activity builds the bond between my Heavenly Father and his very Earthly son (me).
Father, thank You for this account of Elisha’s final prophecy, death, and posthumous miracle. Thank You for the encouragement and exhortation that each is to me this morning. Please keep me mindful that I need to be clear on what You are saying to me and that You really do not need me to accomplish Your work.