Where the world comes to study the Bible

The Life and Times of Elisha the Prophet— Grave Matters Or Runaway Corpse (2 Kings 13:1-25)

Introduction

Some of you may have read Jacquielynn Floyd’s recent column in the Metropolitan section of The Dallas Morning News.175 It was entitled, “Bible romance conquers all for this couple.” It is the story of the Flower Mound couple, Richard and Robin Shopes, who have been married for 23 years. In part, the story goes,

Richard and Robin, both deeply religious, met at their Illinois church. She was a high school teacher, and he was an assistant pastor. “I was falling in love with him, but I really couldn't tell how he felt about me,” Robin said. She had her doubts: Richard was six years younger and aflame with missionary zeal. They shared a deep faith but didn't have much else in common.… But Richard says, with engaging directness, that God gave him a helpful push one night when he and Robin went out for hamburgers after a church meeting. He wanted to offer some comfort because Robin's dearly loved mother was terminally ill, and she was dreading the loss. “It was more like I was ministering to her,” Richard recalled. “We were sitting there, and I asked what she thought she was looking for. “The Lord spoke to me and said, ‘She's looking for a husband, and you're it.’” Richard quit asking questions. Robin nursed her mother through her final weeks. Devastated, she sat alone at the funeral. “My sister had her husband, and my brother had his wife,” Robin said. “They both had someone for comfort, but I was by myself.”

The service had already started when Richard slipped into the pew next to Robin. There, in the presence of the whole family and Robin and her late mother and God, seemed like as good an opportunity as any to propose. “He leaned over and whispered, ‘What are you doing June 28?’” Robin recounts. “I said, ‘Why?’ and he said, ‘I thought we could get married that day’” …Still crying, Robin started laughing, too. The other mourners stared as she buried her face in her hands and wept and chortled. “My mother was gone, and I was so sad. And I was engaged, and I was so happy,” she said.

Stranger things than this have happened at a funeral. The story of the “interrupted funeral” of an unnamed Israelite in 2 Kings 13 is one of the funniest funeral stories I have ever read. Elisha died and his bones had been placed in a tomb. Some time after this, another body was being buried when the burial party looked up and saw a marauding band of Moabites approaching. They had to run for their lives, and they certainly did not have time to give this corpse a proper burial, so they hastily tossed the corpse into a tomb, a tomb that just happened to contain the bones of the prophet Elisha. When that corpse touched the bones of the dead prophet, the dead man came to life and stood up on his feet. What a sight that must have been! Why would this have happened, and what can it possibly teach us? Let us take a more careful look at our text to learn why God felt we should know about this “runaway corpse.”

Jehoahaz: The First Funeral
(2 Kings 13:1-9)

1 In the twenty-third year of the reign of Judah’s King Joash, son of Ahaziah, Jehu’s son Jehoahaz became king over Israel. He reigned in Samaria for 17 years. 2 He did evil before the LORD. He continued in the sinful ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat who had encouraged Israel to sin; he did not repudiate those sins. 3 The LORD was furious with Israel and he handed them over to Hazael king of Syria and to Hazael’s son Ben Hadad for many years. 4 Jehoahaz asked for the LORD’s mercy and the LORD responded favorably, for he saw that Israel was oppressed by the king of Syria. 5 The LORD provided a deliverer for Israel and they were freed from Syria’s power. The Israelites once more lived in security. 6 But they did not repudiate the sinful ways of the family of Jeroboam, who encouraged Israel to sin; they continued in those sins. There was even an Asherah pole standing in Samaria. 7 Jehoahaz had no army left, except for 50 horsemen, ten chariots, and 10,000 foot soldiers. The king of Syria had destroyed his troops and trampled on them like dust. 8 The rest of the events of Jehoahaz’s reign, including all his accomplishments and successes, are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Israel. 9 Jehoahaz passed away and was buried in Samaria. His son Joash replaced him as king.

When Jehu died, his son, Jehoahaz, became king in his place, reigning 17 years in Samaria. Unfortunately, he followed in the footsteps of the other kings of Israel. Specifically, he did not do away with the sinful ways that had been introduced by Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom. It was clearly the king’s responsibility to rid the kingdom of those religious practices that were offensive to God. Because of the failure of Jehoahaz to purge his kingdom of this false worship, God brought judgment on Israel for many years. Specifically, God used the nation of Syria as His chastening rod. Syria was ruled by Hazael and later by his son, Ben Hadad.

I am particularly interested in the relationship of verses 3 and 4:

3 The LORD was furious with Israel and he handed them over to Hazael king of Syria and to Hazael’s son Ben Hadad for many years. 4 Jehoahaz asked for the LORD’s mercy and the LORD responded favorably, for he saw that Israel was oppressed by the king of Syria.

In verse 3, we read that Israel suffered at the hands of the Syrians because of the chastening hand of God. Israel angered God by persisting in its sinful ways. God poured out His wrath upon Israel by giving them over to be oppressed by the Syrians. And yet in the very next verse (4) the author tells us that God had mercy on Israel, because He observed their suffering and also because Jehoahaz pled for God’s mercy.

The question might arise in the readers mind: “How can God be both the cause of Israel’s suffering, and the source of their deliverance as well?” If you stop to think about it, it is not such a difficult question to answer. If God brought Israel’s adversity upon them, then who else would we expect to end it? It was Elijah who announced that a drought would come upon the northern kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 17:1). Why, then, would we be surprised to learn that it was also Elijah who announced the end of this drought (1 Kings 18:1, 41-45)?

As I read the text, it almost seems as though Syria is taking too much pleasure as the “rod of God.” If the Syrians were not prevented from doing so, they would wipe out Israel. And so God calls a halt to Syria’s oppression of His people. He does so by sending a “deliverer” (verse 5). The word “deliverer” in the Greek translation of the Old Testament is the word “savior,” which is applied to our Lord in both the Old Testament and the New. The Hebrew word is transliterated “Messiah.” There are numerous theories as to who this “savior” is, but the author of this account does not choose to tell us. We do know that at this time Assyria began to flex its muscles by waging war against Damascus, which forced Syria to give up its attacks against Israel and to focus on defending itself against the Assyrians.176

The language of 2 Kings 13:3-5 sounds very much like that found in the Book of Judges. Israel sinned, God brought about judgment upon Israel by means of a nearby nation, the people of God suffered greatly, God took note of their suffering, God sent a deliverer, and the people failed to permanently renounce their sinful ways, thereby necessitating another cycle of divine judgment. While it is true that Jehoahaz did ask the LORD for mercy, one does not sense that there is any genuine repentance implied by our author. One can plead for mercy without admitting guilt or repenting of it. I take it that the deliverance God sent here was prompted by His compassion and not by Israel’s repentance.

Although the people of the northern kingdom of Israel are now living in peace, they fail to address their sins, which are the source of their affliction. They do not do away with the false system of religious worship instituted by Jeroboam. Indeed, there was even an Asherah pole plainly visible in Samaria. The point seems to be that they persisted in their sins and did not even attempt to hide them. They persisted in open sin and rebellion against God, in spite of His mercy and compassion. The author refers to the accomplishments of Jehoahaz, but he does not cite them. He merely provides a kind of footnote, so that the reader could consult another source for further information if he chose to do so (verse 8). Jehoahaz died and was buried in Samaria, and then was replaced as king by his son, Joash. This is the first of four burials in our text.

Jehoash (Joash): The Second Funeral
(2 Kings 13:10-13)

10 In the thirty-seventh year of King Joash’s reign over Judah, Jehoahaz’s son Jehoash became king over Israel. He reigned in Samaria for 16 years. 11 He did evil before the LORD. He did not repudiate the sinful ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat who encouraged Israel to sin; he continued in those sins. 12 The rest of the events of Joash’s reign, including all his accomplishments and his successful war with Amaziah king of Judah, are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Israel. 13 Joash passed away and Jeroboam succeeded him on the throne. Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.

Our author does not appear to be very interested in Jehoash, king of Israel. His obituary is very brief. He was the son of Jehoahaz and became king of Israel when his father died. He reigned over Israel for 16 years. He did evil in the sight of God. He, like those before him, did not abolish the counterfeit religion introduced by Jeroboam. If you were to sum up the reign of Jehoash, it could be done in very few words: “More of the same.” His one “accomplishment” was to wage a successful war against Amaziah, king of Judah. Some accomplishment! That’s much like boasting that you just fought with your brother and managed to break his nose in the process. One could almost say that this Israelite king performed the same function as Ben Hadad: oppressing the people of God. Joash passed away and was buried, succeeded by his son, Jeroboam. This is the second burial of our text.

Elisha: At Death’s Door
(2 Kings 13:14-19)

14 Now Elisha had a terminal illness. Joash king of Israel went down to visit him. He wept before him and said, “My father, my father! The chariot and horsemen of Israel!” 15 Elisha told him, “Grab a bow and some arrows,” and he did so. 16 Then Elisha told the king of Israel, “Aim the bow.” He did so, and Elisha placed his hands on the king’s hands. 17 Elisha said, “Open the east window,” and he did so. Elisha said, “Shoot,” and he did so. Elisha said, “This arrow symbolizes the victory the LORD will give you over Syria. You will annihilate Syria in Aphek.” 18 Then Elisha said, “Take the arrows,” and he did so. He told the king of Israel, “Strike the ground.” He struck the ground three times and stopped. 19 The prophet got mad at him and said, “If you had struck the ground five or six times, you would annihilate Syria. But now, you will defeat Syria just three times.”

Elisha had a long and fruitful ministry in Israel—nearly 60 years. He had seen kings come and go. He had witnessed the “exodus” of Elijah. Now it is time for his departure. Elisha was suffering from some form of terminal illness. In his last days, Elisha was paid a visit by king Joash. The author has already given us his assessment of this king, and it is not good (verses 10-13). If we had not just read this assessment of Joash, we would view verses 14-19 in a very different light. But as it is, we know that Joash was not a righteous man. His reign is summed up by the words, “He did evil…” (verse 11).

Why, then, did Joash pay the dying prophet a visit? Why did the king cry? And why did he say, “My father, my father! The chariot and horsemen of Israel!”? I am afraid that I know, and the answer is not really very encouraging. If we are going to understand this story, we must understand polytheism—a religion that worships many gods. The religion of Israel, as God established it, could be summed up this way: “One God does all.” There is only one God, and He is God of all. There are no other gods. He is God alone. And His sovereignty extends over all creation, over heaven and earth. There is no need for any other god.

The heathen religions of that day did not believe in only one God, who is sovereign over all. They believed in various “gods,” each of which had their own sphere of influence. That is why the Syrians could speak of a “god of the hills” and a “god of the valleys” (see 1 Kings 20:28). If “one God does not do all,” then the more gods you have, the better. This seems to be the mindset of Joash, king of Israel.

Let me attempt to illustrate this from my own experience. Quite a number of years ago, an elderly couple called the church where I served, asking for someone to baptize them. I went to their home to visit with them, as we did (and now do) with every candidate for baptism. I asked this couple why they wanted to be baptized. I was amazed at the husband’s response. “Well,” the man said, “we’re getting older, and we just want to be sure we’ve covered all the bases.” He went on to explain that they were not sure that any one “faith” could save them, and so they wanted to embrace every “faith” that they could, so that one way or the other they would guarantee their eternal future. I had to refuse to baptize this couple, and I tried to make it clear that there is but one Way to heaven, and that is through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This mindset of “having all the bases covered” is one that has been with us since the beginning.

Here, then, is the way I understand the visit of Joash to the dying prophet, Elisha. Joash was not a man of faith. He did not lead Israel in the ways of God. He did evil in God’s sight. He was not willing to rid Israel of the religion introduced by Jeroboam, but neither was he willing to rid the nation of belief in the LORD, as proclaimed by prophets like Elisha. By protecting and promoting several religions at the same time, he was trying to “cover all the bases.” Joash did not see Elisha as “public enemy number one,” as Ahab and Jezebel had once done with Elijah and other prophets. Joash saw Elisha as one part of his “religious portfolio,” a part that he did not wish to lose. And so, when the prophet drew near to his death Joash was panic-stricken. This was one of his “arsenals of defense.”177 Elisha was to Joash what my granddaughters’ “security blankets” are to them. Joash felt safe with Elisha nearby, and he was frightened by the approach of his death.

At first, I thought Joash’s tears were tears of love and of sorrow, prompted by the approaching death of a confidant and friend. But that is not really the case, as our author has indicated. Joash is concerned for himself, and for his kingdom, and no wonder. We have just been informed that under Jehoahaz Israel’s military forces had been greatly reduced by the king of Syria (2 Kings 13:7). I would assume that this was still the case when Joash became king. God was a kind of “last resort” to Joash, and when Elisha was dying, the king feared that he might lose his “point of contact” with God. His tears, then, were tears of fear, and perhaps even of self-pity, more than tears prompted by love.

Why, then, would Joash virtually repeat the words of Elisha, spoken at the time of Elijah’s departure into heaven?

“My father, my father! The chariot and horsemen of Israel!” (2 Kings 13:14b).

11 As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a fiery chariot pulled by fiery horses appeared. They went between Elijah and Elisha, and Elijah went up to heaven in a windstorm. 12 While Elisha was watching, he was crying out, “My father, my father! The chariot and horsemen of Israel!” Then he could no longer see him. He grabbed his clothes and tore them in two (2 Kings 2:11-12, emphasis mine).

15 The prophet’s attendant got up early in the morning. When he went outside there was an army surrounding the city, along with horses and chariots. He said to Elisha, “Oh no, my master! What will we do?” 16 He replied, “Don’t be afraid, for our side outnumbers them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he can see.” The LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw that the hill was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-17, emphasis mine).

In the past, I was inclined to interpret the words of Joash primarily in the light of Elisha’s words spoken at the departure of Elijah. I thought Joash was saying, in effect, “Elisha, you are at the point of death. You, like your predecessor Elijah, are about to be given an angelic escort into heaven. What a wonderful and comforting truth for you to know!” I am now inclined to understand Joash’s words more in the light of 2 Kings 6, where we also see a reference to “horses and chariots of fire.” I think that Joash is saying something like this:

“Oh no! Elisha, you are about to die, and when you die we will lose your access to the heavenly army of angelic beings (“the horsemen and chariots of fire”). These angelic forces were at Elisha’s disposal, to protect him and Israel. They were only seen when Elisha was present, and now that you are leaving us, we no longer have these “resources” available to us.”

Joash is not happy for Elisha, because of the marvelous exodus that he will soon experience. Joash is sorry for himself, because his primary source of divine intervention is leaving,178 and along with him, it would seem, the angelic forces of heaven. I believe that the context of our passage bears me out on this interpretation. What happens next in the chapter? The first and only other thing we read about Elisha and Joash is the incident with the arrows in verses 15-19.

Is Joash fearful that with the death of Elisha Israel’s security ends? He is wrong, and Elisha is going to show him that this is not the case. What a scene this must have been! The elderly prophet is terminally ill and is about to die. Today, Elisha would probably have been in an intensive care unit, with monitors attached, along with various other equipment attached to his body. And yet this prophet seems, as it were, to rise up in his bed and to summon the king to come closer to him, with his bow and some arrows. He then instructs Joash to aim his bow out of the open east window of his room. The prophet places his aged and perhaps trembling hands on the hands of the king as he shoots out the window. When the arrow flies out the open window, Elisha explains what this act was meant to symbolize. The arrow was a symbol of war. The initial battles that took place between Israel and Syria were often waged in Ramoth Gilead, to the east of Samaria. The bow and arrow, in the hands of Joash and Elisha, symbolized the wars that would take place between Israel and Syria. In symbolic form, it was the prophecy of Israel’s victory over Syria.

But Elisha is not done with Joash yet. Now he instructs Joash to take the remaining arrows and shoot them into the ground. Translators differ as to precisely what Elisha calls for here. Some believe that Elisha was telling Joash to take the arrows in his hands and to beat the ground with them. Perhaps that is so. But others believe that the prophet is telling the king to shoot these arrows, just as he shot the first one, only this time into the ground. I am inclined toward this latter view, though in the end it makes little difference.

Joash “struck the ground” only three times, which made Elisha angry. He fully expected Joash to draw inferences from the first act of shooting out the window to the east. The symbolic meaning of that gesture was clearly explained. Israel would fight with Syria and would prevail. Elisha expected Joash to apply this revelation to what he was commanded to do next. If the shooting of the first arrow was symbolic of winning a victory over Syria, then surely the striking of the ground with the arrows was also symbolic of Israel’s victory over Syria. Elisha had left it to the king to decide how many times he would strike the ground. If Joash had ten arrows, then he could have struck the ground ten times. This would have meant victory over Syria in ten battles. But Joash struck the ground a mere three times. Elisha was angry with Joash because he did not strike the ground more often, because by limiting the number of times he struck the ground, he limited the number of times Israel would prevail over Syria. Israel’s relief from Syrian oppression could have been thorough, but thanks to Joash, it would not be so. Even when given the opportunity to lead his nation in victory over their enemies, Joash failed to be the king he could have been.

The Third and Fourth Funerals
(2 Kings 13:20-21)

20 Elisha died and was buried. Moabite raiding parties invaded the land at the beginning of the year. 21 One day some men were burying a man, when they spotted a raiding party. So they threw the dead man into Elisha’s tomb. When the corpse touched Elisha’s bones, the dead man came to life and stood to his feet.

I would have gladly paid to witness this amazing scene. Elisha died and was buried. Our author makes no effort to describe Elisha’s departure in terms similar to those describing the departure of Elijah. Unlike Elijah, whose body could not be found, Elisha’s body remained behind and was buried. Our author avoids any description of Elisha’s death or of his burial. But the story he does tell us is related to Elisha’s death, and it is every bit as dramatic as the exodus of Elijah. It is a miracle unlike any other in the Bible.

An Israelite man had died, and his body was being carried to its burial place outside the city. As this funeral procession reached the burial place, a Moabite raiding party appeared on the horizon. Safety and protection were only to be found within the city walls, and so it was imperative for these men to get back to the city as soon as possible. This left them with a serious dilemma. What were they to do with the body of this man whom they were seeking to bury? They did not have time to give him a proper burial; they must dispose of his body quickly and flee to the city.

They looked about and saw a tomb nearby. Hastily, they cast the body of the dead man into the tomb. I doubt very much that these men knew or cared that this was the tomb of Elisha. As the lifeless corpse came to rest on the bones of the prophet, something absolutely amazing happened! The corpse came to life and stood up! There is where the story ends, but I wish I could have seen “the rest of the story.” I am inclined to think that the dead man had no desire to stay in that tomb, any more than he wished to face death a second time by being around when the raiding party arrived. I think that this man also ran as fast as he could toward the city. Can you imagine what it would have been like to see the look on the faces of the burial party as they saw their dead friend racing to catch up with them? What an incredible story this is!

But why is this incident recorded in the Bible? Well, it was a miracle, and the Bible contains a great many accounts of miraculous events. I believe God was making a very important—and very needed—point by means of this miracle, as we shall see in the concluding verses of 2 Kings 13.

Epilogue: Israel’s Victories Over Syria
(2 Kings 13:22-25)

22 Now Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel throughout Jehoahaz’s reign. 23 But the LORD had mercy on them and felt sorry for them. He extended his favor to them because of the promise he had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He has been unwilling to destroy them or remove them from his presence to this very day. 24 When Hazael king of Syria died, His son Ben Hadad replaced him as king. 25 Jehoahaz’s son Jehoash took back from Ben Hadad son of Hazael the cities that he had taken from his father Jehoahaz in war. Joash defeated him three times and recovered the Israelite cities.

Before we look at verses 22-25, let us pause for just a moment to reflect back over the entire chapter up to this point. We are first given an overview of the reign of Jehoahaz. In spite of God’s grace in sending a deliverer who gave Israel a time of peace, neither the king nor the people forsook the false religion instituted by Jeroboam. Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, did little better. He was an evil king, like his father. When he learned that Elisha was dying, he went to visit him. Elisha prophesied that God was going to give Israel victory over Syria—not as great a victory as it might have been, but three military victories were promised.

We then come to the story of the “runaway corpse,” in which a dead body that is being buried providentially comes into contact with the bones of Elisha the prophet. The dead body comes to life. Remember that Joash is not a godly king. He is the king who is the recipient of the prophecy given through Elisha while he is dying. The context seems to make it clear that Joash was afraid of what would happen to his kingdom after Elisha died. Now that Elisha is dead, Joash may very well have reasoned that this prophecy was no longer valid. I believe this bizarre miracle was divinely designed to give Joash courage and hope, so that he would engage Syria in battle, and thus experience the victories that God had promised.

Did the king fear that a dead man’s (Elisha’s) prophecies were now lifeless as well? News of this miracle certainly reached the city and the ears of the king. If Elisha’s bones still had power in the tomb, then surely his words were also to be trusted. I therefore believe that this miracle was specifically aimed at Joash. I am sure that the dead man appreciated the miracle as well, but I believe that this great manifestation of God’s power through the prophet spoke volumes to the king.

This is the reason this chapter in 2 Kings ends as it does. Syria oppressed Israel, we are told, throughout the reign of Jehoahaz and was likewise trying to do the same in the reign of Joash. But God felt sorry for His people as He looked upon their suffering. In addition, God was committed to keep His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And so it was that God gave Israel victory over the king of Syria at the hand of Joash. It is no coincidence that the last sentence of 2 Kings 13 informs us that Joash defeated Ben Hadad of Syria three times.

Conclusion

With this chapter, we come to an end of an era—the times of Elijah and Elisha. Other prophets will preach to the northern kingdom of Israel, but the time for Israel to repent is certainly running out. Israel’s day of judgment is coming. As we look at the “deliverer” or “savior” that God sent Israel, we are reminded that God’s salvation is not the divine response to Israel’s piety, and not even to her repentance. God brings deliverance to Israel because of His compassion and because of His unmerited grace. This is emphasized in the first and the last verses of the chapter.

That is the way it always is with God’s salvation. The “savior” whom God sent to Israel is like the Savior who was yet to come. Throughout Israel’s history, God would suddenly appear to deliver His people from the penalty for their sins, not because of their goodness or efforts, but because of His mercy and grace. Salvation is a manifestation of God’s grace, not a reward for man’s goodness. The “Savior” has now come, once for all, and God offers salvation to all who trust in His work on the cross of Calvary. The Savior is none other than the “seed of David,” who is the rightful heir to the throne. He died in the sinner’s place, bearing the sinner’s guilt and punishment, so that we might be forgiven of our sins and enter into His kingdom. What is required of us is that we believe in Him and receive His free gift of salvation? Have you trusted in Him and received the gift of eternal life?

I have said, as clearly and as forcefully as I can, that salvation is “of the Lord,” and that it is solely by His grace, and not our works. This does not mean, however, that men are to passively go through life, doing nothing, and waiting for God to do it all. Our text very clearly establishes a relationship between our works of faith and God’s unmerited blessings. Nothing could be more clear in our text than the fact that God would have given Joash as many victories as he struck the ground with his arrows. Elisha rebuked the king for not striking the ground more often. Thus, the number of victories Israel experienced over Syria was determined (humanly speaking) by the number of times Joash struck the ground. James tells us that, “we have not because we ask not” (James 4:2). Let us be careful that we do not turn the truth of God’s sovereignty and grace into a pretext for doing nothing, as though that were pious.

Finally, our text reminds us of the way a resurrection demonstrates the power of God and the certainty that His promises will be fulfilled. Elisha’s words to Joash may have been spoken in a weak and faltering voice. They were surely the words of a dying man. But the resurrection of that corpse spoke volumes to Joash and the people of Israel concerning the power of God through His prophet. It assures us that what God says, He will do.

If it was true of Joash, Elisha, and the unnamed corpse, how much more true is it of our Lord Himself, who died, was buried, and who was raised from the dead on the third day. How seriously would we take the words of our Lord if His body were still in the tomb? What hope would we have of eternal life? In the Gospels, our Lord made a point of staking everything He taught and claimed on His resurrection from the dead. It was the great and final sign that He was who He claimed to be—the Son of God and the Savior of the world:

38 Then some of the experts in the law along with some Pharisees answered him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. 41 The people of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; yet something greater than Jonah is here! 42 The Queen of the South will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; yet something greater than Solomon is here! (Mathew 12:38-42)

62 The next day (which is after the day of preparation) the chief priests and the Pharisees assembled before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that while that deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give orders to secure the tomb until the third day. Otherwise his disciples may come and steal his body and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “Take a guard of soldiers. Go and make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went with the soldiers of the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone (Matthew 27:62-66).

30 Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples that are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30-31).

12 Now if Christ is being preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty. 15 Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, when in reality he did not raise him, if indeed the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. 18 Furthermore, the dead in Christ have also perished. 19 For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone. 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. 22 For just as in Adam all die, so also all will be made alive in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:12-22).

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).


175 The Dallas Morning News, February 12, 2000, p. 35A.

176 “This deliverer probably was King Adad-nirri III of Assyria . . . who fought against Damascus (as well as against Tyre, Sidon, Media, Edom, and Egypt) and defeated it in 803 b.c. The Arameans consequently turned their attention from attacking Israel to defending themselves against the Assyrians. Thus Israel escaped Aram’s power and the people were able to return to their . . . homes and live in peace. Israel had to pay tribute to Assyria, but the nation was free from Aram’s attacks.” Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.

177 As we think back over the lifetime of Elisha, there were a number of occasions when God delivered Israel from her enemies, even though the king was wicked, and even though false religion was not removed from Israel.

178 If Israel’s “deliverer” (verse 5) is Elisha, as some suppose, then this adds even more weight to my argument. How fearful it would be to know that the “deliverer” is dying!

Related Topics: Character Study