By Priest Isaiah White
In the Old Testament, Elisha is known as the greatest miracle worker amongst all prophets. His ministry was branded with miracles. He was a prophet whose messages were communicated through signs and wonders. He was filled with answers to private and public questions from his community. We draw many lessons from the life of Prophet Elisha. Since it is Easter season, however, let us turn our attention to the miracle performed through Elisha while he was dead.
This is found in 2Kings 13:20-21: “So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet.” This man, whose name the Bible does not mention, resurrected. According to my knowledge, he is the only resurrected person in the Old Testament. His resurrection was a message to the Israel of then, and it has much to tell us this Easter.
Meanwhile, Israel was spiritually dead because it had replaced Yahweh with Baal (1Kings 18:17-46, 21:1-29, 2Kings 10). This spiritual death led to economic death as well. Everyone was indebted and in poverty (2Kings 4:1); Israel became a political fugitive to the surrounding nations (2Kings 13:20). The narrative about the dead man and his burial preparations is symbolic to the present and future of the then Israel. A nation that has deserted the worship of God is headed to the grave. A family that has ignored the worship of God is dead; businesses and organizations where God is not the ultimate CEO are dead and ready for burial. Israel was not only without God, but even its prophets like Elijah and Elisha who drew it back to the right direction had died. All that remained of Israel were bones of Elisha in which they saw no hope.
While they prepared to bury the dead man, the enemy troops closed in. Because they couldn’t risk their lives for the dead, they threw the body into Prophet Elisha’s grave. However, the dead man resurrected as soon as his body got into contact with the bones of Elisha. Elisha is the only prophet whose life still ministered to both the dead and the living even in his demise.
Elisha is a symbol of Jesus Christ, whose life and death are equally beneficial to both the dead and the living. The dead body got in contact with the bones of Elisha and life was revived in it. Easter is a season for making contact. It is a period when the dead get in contact with the bones of the saints and their lives are restored. God used the bones of Elisha to exhibit two fundamental things we ought to appreciate this season: 1) We are dead and if not dead entirely, there is at least that part of us which is lifeless. 2) Life revolves around God Himself or (sometimes) His real agents, like Prophet Elisha. To deny that we are not dead is to dismiss the need for the resurrection. If Jesus never died, then He never resurrected but resuscitated. Resuscitation is not resurrection because it is not surviving clinical death, but coming out of a comma. Jesus Christ resurrected because He had died an eternal death. The miracle of our salvation is that our God defied, overpowered death and came back to life. The reality of the miracle in the Old Testament is that the man in question was dead and being buried; he came back to life and lived like other Israelites. Resurrection in all spheres of life (spiritual, physical, and socio-economic) will happen to only those who recognize how dead they are. Finally, the power of resurrection that raised this man was not in the bones of Elisha; it was through them. God worked a resurrection through the bones of Elisha because if the power was in the bones of Elisha, Elisha himself would have resurrected. God has and will work out our resurrection through Jesus Christ alone. That is why in this case it was not the bones of Baal’s prophets but Elisha – the man of God. Christians will resurrect not because the saints of their religions resurrected, but because Jesus Christ did (1Corinthinas 15:12-19).